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Albert J. Kennedy papers

Identifier: sw0144

Scope and Content

The Albert J Kennedy papers are a rich source for studying the history of the U. S. settlement movement, as well as settlement programs and theory. Kennedy's correspondence and research materials document a wide range of topics related to settlement work and social reform including, community organization, arts programs in the settlements, the development of settlements in the U.S., the National Federation of Settlements, and settlement administration and structure.

In particular, the papers reflect Kennedy's analysis of the settlement movement through a number of studies that he conducted, including two large studies: a 1940s "interracial study" by the National Federation of Settlements Interracial and Intercultural Commission (folders 47-121) and a statistical study of settlements and cities that was conducted during the 1950s. (folders 125-139). Neither of these two studies was completed to the point of preparing a final report, but the working papers and rough draft offer analysis of important aspects of the U.S. settlement movement. Other studies documented in the files are: a New York settlements study (1920s), a study of relief during the Great Depression (1930-1934), a study of the Little Italy neighborhood in New York City (circa 1936), a California settlements study (1947), and a study of the J. C. Neighborhood in Evansville, Indiana (1950s).

Kennedy's papers also contain his research and writing, including his 500-page typescript of "The Settlement Method, as revealed by an examination of the activities, influence, and accomplishments in New York City," as well as published and unpublished articles on arts in the settlements, early settlement leaders, and settlement contributions to race relations. In addition to formal writings, there are research files on subjects and individuals (particularly early settlement leaders) containing notes and drafts of articles by Albert Kennedy. Finally, the papers include files (circa 1900-1945) reflecting Kennedy's involvement with the National Federation of Settlements, the Association of Neighborhood Workers (forerunner to the United Neighborhood Houses of New York City), and University Settlement.

Red pencilled comments by Margaret Berry or her staff are found throughout the Kennedy papers. These briefly describe the contents of selected folders.


  • 1900-1969

Language of Materials


Use of Materials

Open for use in Social Welfare History Archives reading room.


Please contact the Archivist for copyright information.

Biographical Note

Albert J. Kennedy was an early leader in the U. S. settlement movement. He was associated with settlement work and the National Federation of Settlements for nearly sixty years. Kennedy's numerous studies of local communities and reports on many aspects of settlement work provide insights into the nature of the settlements' work as well as a conceptual framework for the larger concerns of settlement workers. The brief biography which follows is based on information found in the collection itself and an outline compiled by Mrs. Shirley Kennedy.

Born January 20, 1879 in Rosenhayn, New Jersey, Albert Kennedy received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1901 from the University of Rochester and graduated from Rochester Theological Seminary in 1904. After serving as a clergyman for a year in Granite Falls, Minnesota, he attended Harvard University as a Williams Fellow, 1905-1906, and as a South End House Fellow, 1906-1908. He was granted the degree of Doctor of Sacred Theology from Harvard Divinity School in 1907.

Kennedy was affiliated with South End House, Boston, as director of investigations (1908-1914), associate head worker (1914-1926), and head worker (1926-1928). During this time he also served as assistant secretary of the National Federation of Settlements (1911-1922), lectured at eastern colleges, conducted investigations in several areas of settlement work, and published numerous books and papers.

In 1922, while associate head worker at South End House, Kennedy became secretary of the National Federation of Settlements, a position he held until 1934. Throughout his tenure, he continued to conduct agency and community surveys. Of special interest to Kennedy at this time were music and visual arts in the settlements. Kennedy left South End House in 1928 to become head worker at the University Settlement in New York City. He remained there until 1944.

Kennedy also conducted a nationwide study on race relations, conducted under the auspices of the National Federation of Settlements. In the study, which was begun ca. 1945, Kennedy attempted to "gauge the progress of social, educational, and recreational opportunities available to African Americans in homogeneous and in interracial areas and neighborhoods." Correspondence, interviews, printed material, and questionnaires regarding local interracial programs make this part of the collection especially valuable.

In the late 1940's and early 1950's, community organization and research continued to be of interest to Kennedy. Several studies and papers from this period, including an extensive statistical analysis of cities and settlements, are contained in the collection.


6.3 Linear Feet


The Albert J Kennedy papers contain Kennedy's research and writing, including his typed manuscript for Social Settlements in New York City, as well as published and unpublished articles on arts in the settlements, on early settlement leaders, and on settlement contributions to race relations.

Arrangement of the Records

  1. Series 1. Correspondence and Papers
  2. Series 2. Studies
  3. Series 3. Research Files
  4. Series 4. "The Settlement Method" [manuscript]
  5. Series 5. Articles and Speeches
  6. Series 6. Settlement Organizations

Other Finding Aid

Unpublished inventory available. Please contact Archives for more information.

Acquisition Information

Through the agency of Margaret Berry, executive director of the National Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers, selected papers of Albert Joseph Kennedy were placed in the Social Welfare History Archives in October, 1965. Upon Kennedy's death in 1968, additional papers, pamphlets, and books were deposited in the Archives by his wife, Mrs. Shirley Kennedy. An additional three linear feet were give to the Archives by Mrs Shirley Kennedy in 1982. The materials were transferred from the New York University Library, where archivists had separated them from the records of University Settlement (a settlement once headed by Kennedy.)

Related Records

Researchers who are interested in additional material on the U. S. Settlement movement and Kennedy's involvement in the settlements should consult the National Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers recordsin the Social Welfare History Archives. Additional information on Albert J. Kennedy is also available in the following collections: Paul U. Kellogg papers, Helen Hall papers, United South End Settlements records, and United Neighborhood Houses of New York records.

Processing Information

The Albert J. Kennedy papers were partially processed in 1966. Additional papers, pamphlets, and books received in 1968 were processed and integrated with the original collection in July, 1971. The 1982 accession, long treated as a separate supplementary collection with its own finding aid, was integrated into a unified Kennedy Papers collection in 2008 and a single finding aid was prepared for the entire collection.

Albert J. Kennedy papers
Linda Schwartau and Linnea Anderson
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Collecting Area Details

Contact The Social Welfare History Archives Collecting Area