Skip to main content

Marie Louise Hoffmann Papers

Identifier: M287

Scope and Contents

This collection provides insight into social workers' activities and responsibilities within the ERA and FERA from 1933-1942. More specifically, there are interesting examples of case files of impoverished women and families applying for emergency relief. For those interested in social work, functions of New Deal agencies, or the Great Depression, this collection will be useful.


  • Creation: 1933-1942


Conditions Governing Access

Noncirculating; available for research.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical / Historical

Marie Louise Hoffmann, daughter of Andrew Jackson and Angelica Staffler Hoffmann, was born October 2, 1910, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Shortly after Marie's birth, Angelica became ill and sent Marie to live with her maternal grandparents, Anthony and Margaret Staffler, in Brookhaven, Mississippi. A year later, Marie's father died of kidney failure. Consequently, Marie's mother and two older sisters, Charlotte and Jeannie, also moved to Brookhaven.

Marie graduated from high school in Brookhaven in 1927, and then went to Whitworth College, part of the Millsaps system, where she received an Associate of Arts degree in 1929. She then entered the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) and received a Bachelor of Arts in sociology in 1931. While at Ole Miss, Dr. N. B. Bond, head of the Sociology Department, asked Marie if she had thought about a career in social work. According to Miss Hoffmann, nobody knew what social work was in the 1930s. She thought only agencies such as the Red Cross assisted people in times of need or disaster. However, on Dr. Bond's advice, Marie entered Tulane University in 1931 to pursue a graduate degree in social work. She completed her master's degree in 1933, becoming the first social worker in the state of Mississippi certified through a university.

Upon finishing her degree, Marie began working for the Mississippi chapter of the Emergency Relief Agency (ERA), as district supervisor for the coastal region of the state. The ERA was part of the Federal Emergency Relief Agency (FERA), one of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal programs. The purpose of the program was to provide useful public work for needy unemployed persons. In 1939, the ERA was placed under the Federal Works Progress Administration.

Shortly after she began her position as a district supervisor, Hoffmann was offered the position of assistant state director of the ERA in Jackson, Mississippi. She accepted the position, remaining there until the program was liquidated by the Federal Government in June 1943. Miss Hoffmann then worked for two years with the State Board of Health in Venereal Disease Control and Maternal and Child Health Programs. Then she moved to New Orleans to work with the Red Cross until 1955, when she accepted the position of Director of the Social Work Department in the Medical Center located in Jackson, Mississippi. She worked at the Medical Center for twenty years, until her retirement in 1975.

Marie Hoffmann died March 27, 2005, and is interred in the Catholic Cemetery in Brookhaven, Mississippi.


.45 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials



Case files, correspondence, reports, other relating to her work with the Emergency Relief Administration, Works Progress Administration in Mississippi.


This collection consists of nineteen folders of materials relating to Marie L. Hoffmann's career as a social worker within the Emergency Relief Agency (ERA) of the Federal Emergency Relief Agency (FERA) during the Great Depression. The collection has been divided into five series:

1. Instructional Materials

2. Employment Materials

3. Administrative Materials

4. Legislative Materials

5. Miscellaneous Materials

Series One, Instructional Materials, is comprised of three folders of materials concerning instruction of individuals in the field of social work. Folder one contains documents detailing the history of social work, and includes a series of lectures by Dr. N. B. Bond, a professor of social work at the University of Mississippi, entitled "History of Social Welfare Work" (1934).

Folder two consists of materials dated 1933-1935 on professional training of social workers. Included are lecture notes; a description of social workers' professional ethics; handwritten notes addressed to Miss Risher (an instructor in social work); an article entitled "Recent Changes in Record Writing" by Margaret Wead; class notes on writing case summaries; a document entitled "Plan for Reexamination of Case Load in Mississippi;" two lists of library books; eleven case files; and a social work test. Of particular note is a map of Mississippi illustrating the concentration of individuals on relief.

Folder three contains four case files used for training social workers. It should be noted that there is no indication whether these files are real or fictitious, however, all are datelined New York City, between 1930-1932.

Series Two, Employment Materials, relates to job policies and procedures within the ERA and WPA between 1941-1942. The series includes folders four through six. Folder four contains the Work Progress Administration (WPA) employment manual, volume III, 1941. Also included in the folder are support documents listing subjects covered in the manual and explaining procedures followed by the agency.

Documents in folder five discuss ERA policies concerning WPA employment, including a memorandum from Marie Hoffmann addressing the eligibility of former railroad employees.

Folder six contains notes for weekly conferences with district supervisors and case readers, and agenda for district meetings circa 1942. Conference topics include how social workers respond to individuals failing to report for interviews, or individuals quitting private employment for jobs in the WPA. The district staff meetings discuss changes in reviewing transfer of cases, and eligibility requirements in working for the WPA as described in the employment manual.

Series Three, Administrative Materials, pertains to governmental and institutional documents on Mississippi's Public Welfare Program. The series consists of folders seven through eleven. Folder seven is comprised of two outlines, one definitive and the other skeletal, on the "Present Status of State Public Welfare Administrations in 1935."

Folder eight contains two addresses presented in Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1936, by Josephine C. Brown, administrative assistant of the WPA. Titles are "Social Work in the Works Progress Administration" and "Present Relief Situation in the United States."

Folder nine consists of items supporting the reorganization of the State Department of Public Welfare in Mississippi, circa 1937. Documents included are a memorandum suggesting legislation to reform public welfare in Mississippi, an act designed to create a state board of public welfare, and three outlines detailing areas for reform of the state welfare board and of the state and county units. Also included are two documents concerning the operaion of the state's charitable institutions (e. g. state insane hospital, charity hospitals, and the Ellisville Feebleminded Institute).

Folder ten consists of information on the administrative budget for the WPA and ERA in Mississippi for 1940. Information therein is confined almost exclusively to salaries and travel expenses. Interestingly, it lists names and salaries of personnel in Hattiesburg, Tupelo, Brookhaven, and Greenwood.

Items in folder eleven highlight child welfare in Mississippi, circa 1935. Included are an address by Dr. N. B. Bond on "The Need of a Child Welfare Program in Mississippi," a memorandum from Mr. Ivan Asay "Suggesting Steps Leading Toward a State Child Welfare Program in Mississippi," a speech by Governor Martin Sennett Conner on the subject of funding for public schools, and an undated article from editor William Bigelow of Good Housekeeping, regarding child labor in the United States.

Series Four, Legislative Materials, relates to proposed and passed legislation concerning employment and welfare agents in the state of Mississippi. The series includes folders twelve and thirteen. Folder twelve contains a document on Public Resolution Number 47 of the 75th Congress of the United States. The resolution concerns funding and empolyment restrictions of the WPA.

Folder thirteen contains a two-page document entitled "Reasons Why the Provisions of House Bill 381 Should be Combined with Provisions of House Bill 240." The document addresses the establishment of 82 County Welfare Agents administering aid to charity institutions and elderly citizens throughout each county in Mississippi. It should be noted that this document is missing the last page.

Series Five, Miscellaneous materials, pertains to various subjects unsuitable for inclusion in the previous categories. The series includes folders fourteen through nineteen. Folder fourteen contains a six-page document entitled "Food for Freedom to Non-Standard Type Borrowers," circa 1941-1944. The subject of the document is providing aid to farm laborers, sharecroppers, tenants, and very low income owner-operators.

Folder fifteen consists of a chart of activities of the women's division of the ERA in Mississippi and a county map of Mississippi. The chart highlights women's involvement in community planning, health, and education. Both items are undated.

Folder sixteen contains items pertaining to the Mississippi Transient Bureau of the ERA. Included are five book reports prepared by case workers in the Meridian Division (Feb. 1935), and an analysis of the June 1935 case load from the Vicksburg Division. Among the books reported on are "Federal Transient Program, an Evaluative Study," "Individualized Service for Transients," and "Group Treatment for Transients."

Folder seventeen contains a survey of ERA and FERA forms used in applying for assistance, creating case files, and recording expenses. Other forms include applications for case worker or welfare worker.

Folder eighteen addresses the issue of interracial problems. Items included are an announcement, program, and flyers pertaining to the annual meeting of the Mississippi Council on Interracial Cooperation (March 16, 1942). In addition, there are two documents generated by the Southern Conference for Human Welfare in Nashville, Tennessee. One summarizes various racial incidents in the South; the other pledges support to President Roosevelt and the war effort.

Concluding the collection is folder nineteen, entitled "Format for County Histories." This document is an outline possibly used by compilers of the WPA county histories and a bibliography for additional sources on county studies.


Donated by Marie L. Hoffmann via Dr. Chuck Bolton, August 1991.

Related Materials

M2 Bilbo (Theodore G.) Papers

M24 Colmer (William M.) papers


Hoffmann Marie L. Interviewed by author. September 21, 1994.

Bureau of the Census. Population. 1920.

U. S. Congress. United States Statutes at Large". 78th Congress, vol. 48, 49, 53, 57, pt. 1. 1933, 1935-1936, 1939, 1943.

Marie Louise Hoffmann Papers
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Historical Manuscripts and Photographs Repository

118 College Drive - 5148
Hattiesburg MS 39406-0001