Human Service Information Technology Applications

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History of Human Services Technology

    The history of human services electronic technology can be summarized by a series of events.  The events below are a first attempt by HUSITA to record this history.  This list should be continually evolving so if anyone has items to add, please email them to me.  Please provide the event, date, and significance if not obvious. We are especially interested in non-HUSITA events and in events occurring in countries not currently listed.  Also, you can email longer explanatory documents that be linked to any item in the list of events.

  • 1978, a survey of US schools of social work by Gunther Geiss identified over 80 faculty using computers in their work.

  • 1979 Computers at a social work conference agitates the crowd.  Details.

  • 1981.  A small group of US human service technology specialists met at a Council of Social Work Education conference in Louisville KY and formed the Computer Use In Social Services Network (CUSSN).  By the end of 1981, the CUSSN Newsletter, published between 1981-92, reported over 350 members.  Similar efforts in other human service professions were recorded in the newsletters Computers in Psychiatry/Psychology and the MicroPsych Network.

  • 1983.  Walter LaMendola and Brian Klepinger created the name HUSITA (Human Service Information Technology Applications) at the University of Denver.

  • 1984, Jun.  Wye Plantation Conference on Human Services Technology Sponsored by the Silberman Fund was held. Conference members developed pre-conference position papers via EYES, a centralized email system. For the conference position papers, see, Geiss G. R. & Viswanathan, N. (Eds.) (1995), The Human Edge: Information Technology and Helping People,  NY: Haworth Press.

  • 1984.  CASW (Computer Applications in Social Work) was formed in the U.K. to setup and run national conferences and to publish the CASW journal.  CASW was renamed New Technology in the Human Services (link not working--correction welcomed) but ceased publication in 2003. 

  • 1985, Spring.  The Haworth Press Journal, Computers in Human Services was founded.  The journal was later renamed the Journal of Technology in Human Services.

  • 1985, Summer.  Based on the success of the first U.K. technology conferences, Stuart Toole, Walter LaMendola, and Brian Klepinger agreed to pursue a 1987 International HUSITA conference. 

  • 1985? University of Southampton began publishing New Technology in the Human Services under the editorship of Bryan Glastonbury.

  • 1985, Nov.  Human Service Microcomputer Conference was held in Seattle WA.

  • 1986.  Second UK conference held on social welfare computing.

  • 1986, Spring. CUSSN members developed CUSSNet, a PC and FidoNet based networking system that automatically exchanged emails each night during off-peak telephone hours. FidoNet was a PC distributed email, bulletin board, and file sharing system that preceded the Internet. CUSSNet quickly developed nodes in major cities in the US, the UK, and the Netherlands. 

  • 1986.  The Netherlands, coordinated by Hein de Graaf, held a 3 day series of gatherings called WELCOM that were designed to increase the knowledge and understanding of information technology in the Dutch human services. WELCOM 1 was in 1986, in Bussum.  WELCOM 2 was in 1987, in Bussum.  WELCOM 3 was in 1993, jointly with HUSITA 3 in Maastricht.  Walter LaMendola was the main speaker on those conferences.

  • 1987, Sep 7-11, HUSITA1 International Conference, Birmingham England.  Approximately 100 HUSITA1 participants attended an international meeting. They requested that a small Working Group comprised of Hein de Graaf (Netherlands), Walter LaMendola (USA), Dick Schoech (USA), and Stuart Toole (UK) determine the feasibility of establishing an international body concerned with technology and human services.  “The purpose of the international association could be to highlight the importance of human service computing, to guide developments, and to foster international cooperation.”  Initial projects identified were the development of research agendas, position papers, repositories of information, and promoting a second HUSITA conference in 1989.  Bryan Glastonbury was later added to the group as secretary.  For the HUSITA1 proceedings, see Glastonbury, B. LaMendoal, W, & Toole, S. (Eds.), (1988). Information Technology and the Human Services.  Chichester: John Wiley & Sons. JTHS HUSITA1 abstracts.

  • 1988, May. The working group established at HUSITA1 met in Denver for 3 days and published their report on the issues that a HUSITA international organization needed to address.  See Report of the HUSITA working group, Computer Use in Social Services Network Newsletter, Fall, 1998, Vol 8/3, pp. 6-9.

  • 1991, Jun 26-30.  HUSITA2 on “Computer Technology and Human Services in the 90’s:  Advancing Theory and Practice” was held in New Brunswick, NJ, USA.  For the proceedings, see Leiderman, M. Guzetta, C., Struminger, L., Monnickendam, M. (Eds.). Technology in people services. New York: Haworth.  Abstracts.

  • 1992, May. ENITH (European Network for Information Technology and Human Services) was started at an Maastricht Netherlands meeting under sponsorship of the Dutch Ministry of Social Services and Health, with Bryan Glastonbury as Chair and Hein de Graaf as secretary.  Report and participants.

  • 1992.  ENITH3 Expert Meeting on “IT Applications and the Quality of Life and Services” was held in The Netherlands.

  • 1993.  Jun 15-18, HUSITA3 on “Information Technology and the Quality of Life and Services” was held in Maastricht, The Netherlands.  Abstracts.

  • 1993.  A HUSITA Foundation was formed in the Netherlands and abolished in 2003.

  • 1994, Sep 21-23.  ENITH4 conference on “held in Berlin Germany.

  • 1995, Sep.  CAUSA5/ENITH5 conference on “The Impact of Information Technology on Social Policy,” was held in Eindhoven, The Netherlands.

  • 1995, Nov, IMISS conference was held in Bath, UK.

  • 1996, Jun 11-14, HUSITA4, on “Information Technology in the Human Services:  Dreams and Realities” was held in Lapland, Finland.

  • 1997, Social Services and learning technology (SSALT) conference on “Implementing Learning Technologies within Courses” was held in Bournemouth, UK.  ENITH’s representation in SSALT linked it to HUSITA.

  • 1999, Aug 29- Sep 1, HUSITA5 on “Social Services in the Information Society: Closing the GAP” was held in Budapest, Hungary. 

  • 2000, Feb 17-18.  Denver meeting to discuss the formal organizing of a HUSITA organization.  The founding members were: Hein de Graaf, Walter LaMendola, Rob MacFadden, Jo Ann Regan, Jackie Rafferty, Jan Steyaert, Dick Schoech, Stuart Toole, and Victor Savtschenko. For the report of this meeting, see

  • 2001, Sep 12-16:  HUSITA6 conference on “Technology and Human Services in a Multicultural Society” was held in Charleston SC, USA.  Due to the terrorist attacks on 11Sep01, a truncated conference was held.  Also, a brief HUSITA board meeting was held, the bylaws were approved, and officers were elected. HUSITA6 original web site   Photos

  • 2003, New Technology in Human Services ceases publication

  • 2004, HUSITA7 (link not working--correction welcomed), Hong Kong, China.  HUSITA7 was delayed from Aug 2003 to 24-27 Aug 2004 due to SARS.  View the closing synopsis (PowerPoint).

  • 2007, HUSITA8, Toronto Canada.  August 26-29, 2007.

  • HUSITA9 (link not working-correction welcomed), Hong Kong, China, June 10-14, 2010. (In conjunction with the 2010 Joint World Conference on Social Work and Social Development)  Conference videos are at


HUSITA is a virtual association of human service professionals interested in promoting the ethical and effective use of IT to better serve humanity