According to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics (2008), “The primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human well being and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty” (p. 1). The focus on marginalized groups has always been a central feature of the profession. More interestingly, perhaps, the social work profession has always been a profession principally comprised of women. Throughout the literature, the nineteenth-century female friendly visitor is generally recognized as the precursor to the modern social caseworker (Boylan, 2002; Comitini, 2005; Elliott, 2002; Katz, 1996; Kirk & Reid, 2002; Lubove, 1965; Margolin, 1997; Popple & Reid, 1999; Trattner, 1978). However, how friendly visiting came to be is less developed. This study fills a critical gap in the developmental history of social work by providing an exploration of the possible evolution of professional helping in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. First, eighteenth-century women’s roles, responsibilities, and duties are explored through the writings of four English writers: Mary Astell (1697), Lady Sarah Pennington (1761), Mary Wollstonecraft (1792), and Hannah More (1799). These gentlewomen, here defined as educated women of means, identify charity as an accepted feature of women’s social and religious responsibilities. Then, early benevolent organization societies and the roles available to women in Western Europe and America are explored. The overlap between religion and charity work, evident from Pennington, More, Astell, and Wollstonecraft, informs the creation of benevolent societies on both continents. However, by the close of the eighteenth century, philanthropy and religion are infused with the language of medicine and science. Finally, the work of the friendly visitor, formalized through the Charity Organization Societies and the scientific charity movement, is considered. The formalization of friendly visiting reveals the gendered nature of professional helping that persists to this day.