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Engage Library

Voices from the Past

The Voices from the Past section rediscovers valuable writings from decades ago, and shares these articles or excerpts to illustrate the history of a particular volunteer-led organization, an individual maverick or pioneer in the field, or an overview of the evolution of certain types of volunteer accomplishments.   Also see Voices.

 

Founded in 1901, the Junior League rapidly became the most influential women’s organization in the United States. Today there are also chapters in Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. Its mission statement puts volunteering and women front and center: The Association of…
July 2014
The National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (later known as the March of Dimes) was founded by Franklin Roosevelt in 1938 and immediately engaged thousands of volunteers in a two-decade struggle against the dreaded disease of polio. And it was successful, ultimately having…
October 2002
In 1978, when Katie Noyes Campbell and I wrote the first edition of By the People: A History of Americans as Volunteers, we included a chapter on the emergence of the profession of volunteer management.
April 2001
Volunteer centers exist around the world, although they rarely connect with each other across national borders. In Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, the concept of a “volunteer bureau” – the most common original name – first gained traction to mobilize home front…
July 2010
The Volunteer Probation Officer Law of 1950 formalized Japan’s unique and long-standing reliance on volunteers to assist professional probation officers and aid offenders of all ages with rehabilitation and to work on crime prevention. Today, just under 50,000 people from nearly…
April 2010
Most people know about credit unions but consider them simply as alternate banking systems. In fact, credit unions are volunteer-run cooperative credit agencies that combine idealism and practicality. In this Voices from the Past, we learn about this rarely discussed corner of…
January 2010
In 1990, the Bethlehem Area School District in Bethlehem, PA., decided that every public high school student would perform 60 hours of unpaid community service during high school. The District gave students an open-ended list of approved organizations where they could perform…
July 2009
It’s official.  YouTube isn’t just for silliness anymore.  The richness and variety of the videos that people now post online are quite amazing, and so it should come as no surprise that volunteering is among the subjects represented.  In this Voices from the Past, we’ll link…
April 2009
During the 1980s, Ivan Scheier started a small publishing operation in Boulder, Colorado called Yellowfire Press. At Yellowfire, he produced a range of monographs and small booklets on subjects that interested him. In 1984, he wrote Meanwhile…Back at the Neighborhood, in which…
January 2009
The Association of Volunteer Bureaus (AVB) celebrated its 25th anniversary in Kansas City, MO., in 1976, coinciding with the American Bicentennial.  A gala celebration on the theme, “Volunteers:  Our Finest Natural Resource,” brought together the leaders of what are now called “…
October 2008
International youth exchange programs have been around for as long as most of us can remember, arranging for teenagers to spend time in a foreign country living with volunteer “host families.”  Over 50 countries are engaged in this sort of exchange, through dozens of…
July 2008
In 1983, Jane Mallory Park wrote one of the early books on volunteerism: Meaning Well Is Not Enough: Perspectives on Volunteering.  In this book, Park discusses the legacy of volunteering that shaped what volunteers were doing in 1983, provided some solid, practical management…
April 2008
For all sorts of legitimate and prejudicial reasons, a lot of organizations debate whether or not they want to welcome volunteers younger than age 14 (or even 16 or 18).  But history provides many examples of how even the youngest of citizens have had an impact by taking up a…
January 2008
In 1904, a young New York City court clerk named Ernest Coulter was seeing more and more boys come through his courtroom. He recognized that caring adults could help many of these kids stay out of trouble, and he set out to find volunteers. From this beginning (as described on…
October 2007
In 1971, behavioral scientists and innovative trainers Eva Schindler-Rainman and Ronald Lippett published The Volunteer Community: Creative Use of Human Resources. Though the book is now out of print, many of its concepts continue to resonate.  In this Voices from the Past, e-…
July 2007
In June 1979, Pennsylvania’s “First Annual Symposium on Volunteerism and Education” was convened in Harrisburg.  The keynote address was delivered by Gordon Manser, co-author of the 1976 book, Voluntarism at the Crossroads.  We dust off and republish his speech here, allowing us…
April 2007
A few years ago, we reprinted an excerpt from a long out-of-print book written by Ivan H. Scheier in 1980 called Exploring Volunteer Space.  We noted then that this volume contained ideas far ahead of its time – which is exactly what we’d come to expect from Ivan, one of the…
January 2007
A “linear community” stretching over two thousand miles up and down the eastern United States, the Appalachian Trail was first conceived in the 1920s and completed in 1951.  From first to last, it was a project of volunteer initiative and ingenuity – and continues today to be a…
October 2006
Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, the first woman high school principal in the state of California, knew that retired teachers were living on incredibly small pensions, often without any health insurance. In 1947, she founded the National Retired Teachers Association (NRTA).   But it wasn…
July 2006
There’s a phrase circulating that crops up periodically in speeches or books:  “volunteers are not a program.”  This concept can be traced back to an early article by Patty Bouse, Resource Development Specialist in the Nebraska Division of Social Services, in the Winter 1978…
April 2006