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Florence Hollis and Rosemary Ross Reynolds papers

Identifier: SSC-MS-00203

Scope and Contents

The papers include biographical material, correspondence, newspaper clippings, awards and certificates, memorabilia, lecture notes, student papers, case records, writings and speeches, published articles, papers by colleagues, code data used in research, tape cassette recordings, magnetic recordings (reel to reel), one videotape, agency records, and photographs. The bulk of the papers are Florence Hollis's, but the collection also includes the papers of Rosemary Reynolds. A portion of the teaching and case material, in addition to the more personal papers, were used jointly by both women and the greater portion of these documents are located throughout the Hollis collection. The bulk of the material dates from the 1930s through the mid 1980s.

The papers document the personal and professional activities of Florence Hollis and Rosemary Reynolds. They also provide information about broad changes in the social work profession. These changes are documented through correspondence, agency records, and speeches and writings, in which Hollis and her colleagues describe some of the new trends in the field, particularly from the 1970s onwards. In addition, the case records provide valuable information about the changing interpretations and treatment approaches of clinicians working with clients who are confronting a range of issues, from incest to concerns about racial identity.

Important correspondents in the collection include Charlotte Towle, Lucille Austin, Florence Day, Eileen Younghusband, Anni Hofer, Ruth Zobrist, Inga Gottfarb, and Frank March. There is also some correspondence from Gordon Hamilton and scant correspondence from, and other material related to, Bertha Reynolds and Betsey Libbey.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1790 - 1993
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1930-1986


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

This collection must be screened by an archivist for student records and case files before being used by researchers. Please contact special collections staff at a minimum of two weeks in advance of your visit for access.

Portions of several series containing confidential information are closed for seventy-five years from the date of creation. Correspondence from Judith Mishne, a former Columbia University faculty member, has been restricted until Mishne's death or the year 2044.

This collection formerly requried an access agreement. It was changed to requiring screening by an archivist in 2022.

Conditions Governing Use

Mary E. Woods retains copyright for unpublished works of Florence Hollis and Rosemary Ross Reynolds during her lifetime. Thereafter, copyright is owned by the Sophia Smith Collection. Copyright to materials authored by others may be owned by those individuals or their heirs or assigns. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights. Permission must be obtained to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use."

Biographical / Historical

Florence May Hollis was born on January 11, 1907, to Bertha Hoerig Hollis and Louis Herbert Hollis of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After graduation from the Philadelphia High School for Girls, where she was chosen as class valedictorian, Hollis entered Wellesley College where she majored in sociology and psychology. During her Junior Month Program, which included exposure to both social work theory and field work, Hollis began her commitment to social service work. After completing her B.A. in 1928, she began an apprenticeship at the Family Society of Philadelphia and took courses at the Pennsylvania School of Social Work. A fellowship awarded her by the Family Society took her to Smith College School for Social Work, where she studied casework under Bertha Reynolds. There Hollis earned a Master of Social Science degree in 1931. Her thesis, "Emotional Factors in the Attitudes of Clients Toward Relief: Seven Case Studies," was published later that year.

In September 1931, Hollis took a post as district superintendent at the Family Society of Philadelphia. She remained there until 1933, when she assumed the position of district secretary at the Institute of Family Service (Associated Charities) in Cleveland, where she was responsible for administration and supervision of case workers. During her tenure in Cleveland, she received an invitation to assume Bertha Reynold's position as associate director of the Smith School for Social Work. She declined, firm in her commitment to the Cleveland agency and to long-term casework. She was also a member of the Cleveland 'think group,' which included Florence Day and Rosemary Reynolds as members. During this period Hollis and Reynolds strengthened a friendship and professional association which was to become central to them both.

Hollis's teaching career began in 1934 when she taught one course in casework at Western Reserve University, while still maintaining her position as district secretary in Cleveland. Gradually she assumed a heavier course load at Western Reserve and by 1937 was appointed fulltime assistant professor. The following year she began a study of social casework. Her findings were published in 1939, in Social Casework in Practice: Six Case Studies. In 1940, professing a deepening interest in teaching casework and in research, Hollis began taking courses through the Department of Social Economy and Social Research at Bryn Mawr College, where she received a fellowship from the American Association of University Women to study the social and psychological factors contributing to marital difficulties. While working on her doctorate, she taught at the New York School of Social Work, (later Columbia University School of Social Work), and also served as Director of Publications for the Family Service Association of America, editing the Journal of Social Case Work (previously The Family.) Hollis's doctoral dissertation, completed in 1947, was published in 1949 under the title Women in Marital Conflict. The same year that Hollis completed her dissertation she had major surgery, undergoing a left radical mastectomy after being diagnosed for cancer.

For much of the next twenty years, Hollis continued to teach at Columbia and to maintain a small clinical practice at the Community Service Society of New York. From 1955 to 1962, she taught summers at the Smith College School for Social Work. In 1964, Hollis's widely acclaimed book Casework: A Psychosocial Therapy was published. The first edition was translated into several languages. Subsequent revised editions, published in 1972, 1981, and 1990, continued to attract a wide audience.

As a full professor at the New York School, Hollis also remained active in research. Beginning in the late 1940s she started to develop ideas for a classification system used to describe the techniques used by caseworkers in their direct work with clients, and during a 1958 sabbatical the work began to take on a definite shape. The classification system or "typology" she developed was based on a content analysis of casework records both written and taped. The study, which extended into the 1960s, received funding through a National Institute of Mental Health grant. Hollis's classification system generated some interest in the academic community and other clinicians have expanded on the work.

Hollis retired in 1972 and in 1977, with her companion and colleague, Rosemary Reynolds, moved to Crosslands, a retirement community in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. For more than forty years the friends had shared both professional interests and a common living arrangement. Most likely, they had first met during the period between 1928 to 1930, when both were taking coursework at the Pennsylvania School of Social Work. When Reynolds died on September 18, 1980, Hollis received many condolences on her loss.

Rosemary Ross Reynolds, the daughter of Mary and Chauncey P. Reynolds was born in Chicago on April 10, 1906. Her father was editor of a farm paper, and after his death, Mary Reynolds became the household editor of five weeklies and then the Farm Journal, a national farm paper. Reynolds received her A.B. from Mount Holyoke College in 1928. The recipient of the Patten Memorial Scholarship, Reynolds went to London after graduation to study the social conditions there. She also received a fellowship for two years of study at the Pennsylvania School of Social Work, where she received her M.S.W. in 1935. Before completing her graduate work she took a position as caseworker with the Family Society of Philadelphia, where she worked from 1930 through 1933. Following this she assumed the position of district secretary at the Cuyahoga County Relief Administration in Cleveland. She also served as a case consultant and case supervisor at the agency. In addition, Reynolds began teaching at Western Reserve University, School of Applied Social Sciences, where, from 1934 to 1936, she served as an instructor and field advisor.

In 1937, Reynolds left the Cleveland agency to take a post as regional consultant with the Family Service Association of America, where she oversaw the services in five mid-western states. When she left the agency in 1940, to continue her schooling, she had a good deal of practical experience behind her as well as eight published articles. Reynolds completed two years of full-time post-graduate study at Bryn Mawr College Department of Social Economy and Social Research, before taking a permanent post at the Community Service Society of New York. In 1951, she became a district director, first in the Chelsea-Lowell area and then in the west side of Manhattan. In 1962, she assumed the directorship of the Department of Central Services, providing services for persons age sixty or older. Upon her retirement in 1971, Reynolds had been with the Community Service Organization for twenty-nine years.

Hollis had been diagnosed with lymphoma the year prior to Reynold's death in 1980, but continued work on the third edition of Social Casework, co-authored by Mary E. Woods. Hollis entrusted Woods with the rights to the book, which enjoyed a fourth edition, three year's after Hollis's death. Florence Hollis died at Crosslands on July 2, 1987.


30.001 linear feet (63 containers)


Social worker and professor. The bulk of the papers were created by Hollis, but include the papers of her longtime companion, Rosemary Reynolds. The papers provide information about broad changes in the social work profession and document some of the new trends in the field, particularly from the 1970s onward. Material includes correspondence, student papers, case records, writings and speeches, published articles, audio tapes, recordings, video tapes, agency records and photographs. Correspondents include Charlotte Towle, Lucille Austin, Florence Day, Eileen Younghusband, Anni Hofer, Ruth Zobrist, Inga Gottfarb, Frank March, and Gordon Hamilton. Oral histories of both Hollis and Reynolds are included.


This collection is organized into ten series:

  1. I. Biographical
  2. II. Correspondence
  3. III. Employment and Professional Work
  4. IV. Teaching
  5. V. Case Records
  6. VI. Writing and Speeches
  7. VII. Typology Research
  8. VIII. Notes on Selected Documents
  9. IX. Photographs
  10. X. Rosemary Reynolds Papers
  11. Oversize Materials


This collection has been added to over time in multiple "accessions." An accession is a group of materials received from the same source at approximately the same time.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Florence Hollis and Rosemary Reynolds collection was donated by Florence Hollis between 1983 and 1987. Stacia Super donated research materials related to her doctoral dissertation on Hollis in 1988.

Processing Information

Processed by Rachel Weiner, 1993.

Processing Information

Between September 2022 and February 2023, Smith College Special Collections renumbered many boxes to eliminate duplicate numbers within collections in order to improve researcher experience. The following changes were made in this collection: Accession 2009-S-0001, Box 1 renumbered as Box 64

Florence Hollis and Rosemary Ross Reynolds papers
Finding Aid
Rachel Weiner
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2005-09-23: mnsss33 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02-5c.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:16-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.

Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063