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Community Research Associates Records

Identifier: SW 64

Scope and Content

The Community Research Associates' records consist of the studies, surveys, and diagnostic tools that CRA prepared. Internal memoranda are scarce. Material regarding the Associates' policies and internal administration is not included in this collection. While the collection is not a complete set of the studies CRA produced, it does span the years in which CRA was most active, 1947 to 1970.

The collection is most useful for researchers interested in examining Community Research Associates' diagnostic tools and system for treating multi problem families. The remainder of the collection, taken as a whole, can demonstrate trends in social work concerns between 1950 and 1970. Many of CRA's earlier studies are community studies and surveys while its later work focused primarily on problems in agency administration. Additionally, researchers may be interested in examining any of the individual studies on their own merits.

Principal figures in the collection are Bradley Buell, executive director between 1947 and 1963, and his successors, Frank Greving, and Donald Glabe. Prominent consultants are Paul T. Beisser, Madeline Berry, F. Stuart Chapin, Sy A. Dombroski, Ned S. Rand, Marion O. Robinson, and Alice L. Voiland.

The collection is divided into five series: Articles, Publications, and General Material; Surveys, Studies, and Consultations; Research and Demonstration Projects; Training Projects; and Reference Materials. To some extent, the arrangement is reflected in a document entitled "Program Planning and Budgeting for Health, Welfare and Recreation Services, 1945-1969," a list of CRA's consultations and studies (folder 1:1).


  • 1934-1973

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Use of Materials

Open for use in Social Welfare History Archives reading room.


Please contact the Archivist for copyright information.

Historical Note

Organized in 1944 and incorporated as a nonprofit corporation in 1947, Community Research Associates (CRA) was a consulting firm for local communities and institutions. CRA was primarily interested in health, welfare, and social services and developed a system for treating multi-problem families that grew from its initial work in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1948.

Bradley Buell, Community Research Associates' first executive director, left his post as executive editor of Survey Midmonthlyto organize CRA. Prior to joining the Survey, Buell had been field director for Community Chests and Councils and had been responsible for organizing its surveys and studies of various communities. According to CRA's accounts, the founders were a "professional group who had worked cooperatively on community surveys covering all health and welfare areas during the 1930s." CRA was originally known as Community Surveys, Inc.

Community Research Associates' first major contract was for a review of basic social problems and the services directed toward those problems. This inquiry, hailed by Survey Midmonthlyin October 1947 as a latter-day "Middletown" study, used St. Paul, Minnesota, as its focus. The resulting publication (Community Planning for Human Services) reported, among other things, that about six percent of St. Paul's families had such serious and multiple problems that they used more than half of the community's combined aid.

Using the St. Paul study as a base and with the continued financial support of foundations, CRA expanded its research in 1952. "Three experimental projects were planned and organized, designed to invent and test specific methods applicable to community-wide prevention and control," CRA reported later. A Winona County, Minnesota, project focused on the problems of dependency; indigent disability was studied in Washington County, Maryland; and disordered behavior was the focus of a study in San Mateo County, California. Reports of these experimental projects were published in 1958. A project designed to develop a system for comprehensive family diagnosis was published under the title Family Casework Diagnosisin 1962.

These research and demonstration projects established CRA's reputation and resulted in a family treatment system that CRA tested and refined in various communities. At the same time, CRA also conducted more general surveys and studies of communities and examined the administrative structure of public and private social service agencies.

Buell retired as executive director in 1963 and was succeeded by Frank Greving. By 1967, Donald Glabe was executive director, a post he held when CRA moved its offices from New York City to St. Paul in 1974. Community Research Associates had disbanded by 1980.


12.5 Linear Feet (30 manuscript boxes)


Founded by Bradley Buell in 1944 and incorporated in 1947, Community Research Associates provided consultation services for communities and health and welfare agencies. It conducted surveys of local conditions, analyzed agency effectiveness, and conducted projects designed to prevent and control social problems. It pioneered the development of diagnostic tools and systems to identify and treat multi-problem families more effectively, beginning with what became the St. Paul Family Centered Project and testing or applying the concept in other cities as well. The collection consists of study and survey reports and diagnostic tools that CRA prepared between 1947 and 1973.

Arrangement of the Records

Community Research Associates Records are organized into 5 series:
  1. Series 1. Articles, Publications, and General Material
  2. Series 2. Surveys, Studies, and Consultations
  3. Series 3. Research and Demonstration Projects
  4. Series 4. Training Projects
  5. Series 5. Reference

Other Finding Aid

Unpublished inventory available. Please contact Archives for more information.

Acquisition Information

The Community Research Associates collection was a gift of the Associates that the Social Welfare History Archive received in 1978. There are no restrictions on this collection's use.

Related Materials

Related collections include the St. Paul Family Centered Project records (SWD17), the Charles Birt papers (SW066), and the A.A. Heckman papers (SW0161). All three collections are concerned with the research Community Research Associates conducted in St. Paul and then later developed into a family treatment system. The Archives' Bradley Buell collection (SW24) is primarily concerned with Buell's work for Community Chests and Councils and does not cover his years at Community Research Associates.
Community Research Associates Records
Susan D. Steinwall
April 1983
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Script of description
Language of description note

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Social Welfare History Archives Collecting Area