Riessman, Frank 1924-2004

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RIESSMAN, Frank 1924-2004


See index for CA sketch: Born April 9, 1924, in Manhattan, NY; died March 1, 2004, in New York, NY. Psychologist, educator, and author. Riessman was a social psychologist who championed self-help social programs for the poor and who was a founder of the journal Social Policy. Completing his undergraduate work in 1944 at what is now the City College of the City University of New York, Riessman attended graduate school at Columbia University, where he received his Ph.D. in 1955. He then joined the faculty at Bard College as associate professor of psychology and chair of the department. In the 1960s, he taught at Yeshiva University and then New York University. Always concerned with the problem of the poor, Riessman concluded that the best way to help them was through social programs that would help teach the poor how to help themselves. The journal he helped found in 1970, Social Policy, reflected this belief, and he encouraged governments to create jobs in the human services and environmental conservation fields that would be geared to hiring the unemployed; this approach, he averred, would be cheaper than paying for welfare programs. In 1971, he became a professor of education at Queens College of the City University of New York. It was during the 1970s, too, that Riessman founded the Self-Help Clearinghouse, which developed self-help programs for the poor to fight disease, crime, addiction, and unemployment. Riessman, who later also worked at the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York, succumbed to Parkinson's disease and diabetes in recent years and was at a nursing home at the time of his death. He was the author of such books as Helping the Disadvantaged Pupil to Learn More Easily (1966), Strategies against Poverty (1968), The Inner City Child (1976), and HELP—A Working Guide to Self-Help Groups (1979); he also coauthored Self-Help in the Human Services (1977) with Alan Gartner, and Redefining Self-Help: Policies and Practice (1995).



Los Angeles Times, March 15, 2004, p. B9.

New York Times, March 14, 2004, p. A25.