Interview with Janice Wood Wetzel, Author of Sorrows and Songs: One Lifetime-Many Lives

Topics of conversation:

  • The Profession of Social Work

  • Women and the United Nations

  • Women and Mental Health from a Global Perspective
  • Photography

  • Writing a Memoir

Janice Wood Wetzel is a graduate of the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, and a former Dean and Professor Emerita of Social Work at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York. She has served as a United Nations Representative in New York since 1988.  Dr. Wetzel is a well-published international educator and researcher who has specialized in the human rights, mental health and advancement of women from a global perspective for more than 40 years. A mother of three and grandmother of four, she is a member of Professional Women Photographers and lives on the Upper West Side of New York City.  


In words as clear and sharp as cut crystal glass, the memoir Sorrows & Songs: One Lifetime – Many Lives unflinchingly tells the story of a bright, beautiful, and promising young child who forged towards a fully realized life in spite of years of physical and mental abuse at the hands of her parents and pervasive society-wide gender discrimination. 

Through her account, Janice Wood Wetzel shares a range of experiences in the context of her life and times – a Depression-era childhood, World War II, a teen pregnancy and miscarriage, a 20-year marriage that produced three much loved children but ultimately ended in divorce in her late thirties, the numbing social conformity that informed the ‘50s and early ‘60s, a mental health crisis in the form of depression, a stint in a psychiatric hospital, the suicide of her father, and soon thereafter, the tragic death of her mother, and a bout with alcoholism. Finally, the mid-1960s brought hope in the form of second-wave feminism, which enlightened the world and consequently changed the author’s life. 

One by one, through quiet acts of bravery, Janice Wood Wetzel broke through sexist obstacles and emerged as a civil rights pioneer, a recognized feminist and human rights researcher, strategist, and advocate, as well as a United Nations nongovernmental representative, and a highly regarded professor and Dean of Social Work.

A successful life, yes. But at a price. From a painful crucible of dreams deferred and loves lost emerged both a life of many victories and a rewarding memoir.

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