John Milner

An interview with John Milner, MSW, as he discusses social work's early development, his career in the field, and lessons for future social workers.

Professor of Social Work

John Milner Interviews. Interviewed by Elizabeth McBroom
Dates of interview: 2-15-88; also an unspecified day in February 1988. 4 cassette tapes. Length of interview: 5 hours and 42 minutes. Transcripts of interviews: #1, 29 pp.; #2, 30 pp.; #3, 32 pp.; #4, 19 pp. CD containing interview and transcript.

Interview #1
Ryther Child Care Center and Children's Protective Society. 

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» Transcript 1

Interview #2
General state of social work in World War II San Francisco; work with Children's Protective Agency of San Francisco; social work in U.S. Army during World War II; experiences as inductee and soldier; psychiatric social work in Pacific Theater; psychiatric social work in India; establishment of social work in Army; opinion on work of Red Cross in India and Pacific Theater; contact with Arlien Johnson and entrance into USC; outstanding students; philosophy of teacher-student relationships; changes in student-teacher relationship at USC; use of audiovisual aids in teaching and social work; professional influences; philosophy of teaching; evaluation of student performances; student evaluations of professor's teaching; handling of student controversies in early 70s; relationship between art and practice of social work; other university teaching experiences; confrontation with racism while teaching at Tulane. 

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» Transcript 2

Interview #3
Experiences in foster care; early experiences in foster care in Idaho; changes in foster care; Head Start; adoption training program for social workers; practices of California Children's Home Society; article on American Indian adoptions and Phoenix meeting re same; juvenile delinquency; training of correctional officials through Delinquency Control program; training of judges in Idaho; use of audiovisual devices in teaching and demonstrations; Native American concept of adoption, as seen at Phoenix meeting; early resistance to taping of social work interviews; film production; reiterates earlier points re foster care and foster care in Idaho, and adoptions; more on Delinquency Control Institute; more on training of judges, Head Start, and use of audiovisual equipment; training films and videos; consultant on commercial films; study of Jewish Big Brothers; consulting work. (Note: Pp. 20-21 repeats material on pp. 8-9). 

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» Transcript 3

Interview #4
More on consulting work in Phoenix, House of Good Shepherd; studies for Family Service; volunteer work; pedagogy; consultation work; recruitment programs for adoption; state and national meetings for volunteers; foster parents; Junior League volunteers; Roundtable for Children; Welfare Council; Volunteer Bureau; volunteer work at MacLaren Hall.

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» Transcript 4

Interview with John Milner at Annual Spring Forum of California Social Work Archives.
Interviewed by Elizabeth McBroom. Date of interview: 4-13-87. 1 cassette tape. Length of interview: undetermined. Transcript of interview: 11 pp.

Interview Topics
Description of Los Angeles and USC at time of Milner's arrival in 1946; description of adoption and foster care practices; foster care institutions; California Youth Authority; adoption programs throughout state; Delinquency Control Institute; training programs and studies in Hawaii and Phoenix; Head Start; use of audiovisual material; training films; teaching at Tulane

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» Transcript 5

    John Milner Video Oral History Interview
    Interviewed by June Brown. Date of interview: 8-12-09. Length of interview: 1 hour and 2 minutes. DVD containing interview.

    Interview Topics
    (00:50)- Introduction. (03:20)- Attraction to and progression in the young field of Social Work. (12:50)- Initial experiences and their influence on staying in the field of Social Work. (13:50)- Positions held which influenced career. (17:00)- The Great Depression, WWII, and their influence on experience in social work education and child welfare. (24:25)- Past experience in social work and the Army. (30:35)- Experience in Washington and Education. (32:15)- Social work career and USC. (35:28)- USC School of Social Work, Dean Johnson, and agencies in Los Angeles. (41:20)- Professional growth in child welfare from beginning in the field to its best point. (46:40)- Lessons from the past to preserve, use now and in the future. (53:30)- Are there things we haven't covered that you would like to cover?. (55:50)- Messages to future social workers, educators, and students. (59:35)- Closing

    Additional Materials

    • California Social Work Hall of Distinction Biography
    • 1 diskette of transcript of interview.
    • Manuscript, offprint, correspondence, typewritten introduction to Elizabeth McBroom, "John Milner: A Teacher for All Seasons," Journal of Teaching in Social Work 3 (1989): 139-49.
    • Program for installation of William Meezan as the "John Milner Professor of Child Welfare," 11-5-97.
    • Offprint of biographical statement from installation program (see no. 3).
    • 1 reel-to-reel tape: "Xmas Tape: The Social and Psychological Meaning of Holidays." Recorded for Vista del Mar, Nov. 1975, by John G. Milner, professor, U.S.C.
    • Curriculum Vitae.