Skip to main content

United Neighborhood Houses of New York Records

 Collection
Identifier: SW0005

Scope and Content

The United Neighborhood Houses of New York Records consist of minutes, correspondence, memoranda, reports, publications, financial records, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, personnel records, corporate documents, departmental and project records, and other material generated or accumulated by United Neighborhood Houses of New York, Inc. (UNH).

The records provide a picture of settlement work in New York City between 1898 and 1990. They document the activities and philosophy of settlement houses, the development of professional social work, and the formation of public policy. Among other topics, the records reflect issues and programs relating to housing standards and tenement law reform, immigration and Americanization, the Great Depression, preschool education, juvenile delinquency and youth services, recreation, public health, job training, neighborhood programs, the War on Poverty, community development and organization, social policy, and the day to day operation of UNH.

Among the individuals represented in the records are UNH staff members, Helen M. Harris (executive director), Thomas McKenna, Susan Jenkins Brown, Juliet Brudney, Goodwin Garfield, Cynthia Knowles, and Saul Goldzweig. Among the organization's officers represented are Stanley M. Isaacs and Dr. Arthur Logan, who both served as UNH president. Other settlement leaders in New York City are represented to a lesser extent, but Helen Hall of the Henry Street Settlement, Lillian Robbins of Lenox Hill Neighborhood Association, and H. Daniel Carpenter of Hudson Guild play prominent roles. The researcher will find information regarding such public officials as Mayor Robert F. Wagner (who became UNH president in the 1970s), Mayor John Lindsay, and governors Franklin D. Roosevelt, W. Averell Harriman, and Nelson Rockefeller. Congressional representatives, senators, federal officials, and city department heads also appear.

Besides UNH and its member houses, the researcher will also find material regarding a wide range of public and private agencies, committees and associations. These include, the Community Council of Greater New York and other New York civic associations, the Consumer-Farmer Milk Cooperative, the Day Care Council, Mobilization for Youth, the New York City chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Citizens Committee for Children, the National Federation of Settlements, and various city, state, and federal government offices. Many New York City settlement houses are also documented. However, information regarding specific member houses is very uneven in quality and scope.

In most cases, researchers will have to consult all five record series in order to fully explore UNH's work in a particular area. For example, a researcher interested in the settlements' work in New York City public housing projects will find such material with the UNH housing committees, Housing Department, and Settlement Housing Fund records in the Administration series (Series 1); materials in the Programs, Organizations and Subjects series (series 2 and 3); the neighborhood conservation and urban renewal project files in the Special Projects series (Series 4); as well as some records of the work of individual settlements and the League of Mothers' Clubs in the Member Houses and Associated Settlement Organizations series (Series 5).

Dates

  • 1898-1990

Language of Materials

English

Use of Materials

Open for use in the Social Welfare History Archives reading room.

Copyright

Please contact the Archives for copyright information.

Historical Note

The United Neighborhood Houses of New York, Inc. (UNH) was founded by Mary K. Simkhovitch and John L. Elliott in 1900 as the Association of Neighborhood Workers, a federation of York City settlement houses. The Association was reorganized during World War I and incorporated as United Neighborhood Houses in 1920. The organization worked to disseminate information, promote reform, unify settlement houses, and facilitate coordinated projects. During the 1960s, UNH responded to the federal government's Great Society programs with a new emphasis on seeking funding for member houses or for its own programs. More than one hundred years since its inception, UNH continues to advocate for social issues; and work for public policy, community resources, and social services.

Extent

137.5 Linear Feet (260 Boxes)

Abstract

Records of a federation of New York City settlement houses and its predecessor dating from 1898 to 1990. Includes: minutes, correspondence, memoranda, reports, publications, scrapbooks, corporate documents, departmental and project files, personnel records, and financial records. Subjects include the activities, administration, and philosophy of settlement houses and community centers as well as the development of professional social work. Includes documentation of issues and programs relating to: housing standards and tenement law reform, immigration and Americanization, the Great Depression, preschool education, juvenile delinquency and youth services, the War on Poverty, recreation, public health, job training, neighborhood improvement, community action, and social policy.

Arrangement of the Records

The records are arranged into five series, which are divided into multiple sub-series:
  1. Series 1. Administrative Records, 1898-1990
  2. Series 2. Programs, Organizations and Subjects, pre 1960
  3. Series 3. Programs, Organizations and Subjects, 1930-1980s
  4. Series 4. Special Projects, 1939-1970s
  5. Series 5. Member Houses and Associated Settlement Organizations, 1918-1980

Other Finding Aid

Unpublished inventory available. Please contact the Archives for more information.

Acquisition Information

The United Neighborhood Houses records were a gift of the UNH board of directors in 1964. The initial gift was followed by eight additional shipments between 1968 and 1975. The most recent shipment of records arrived in 1993.

Processing and Finding Aid Information

The UNH records were arranged and described in three distinct groupings as supplemental materials were acquired by the archives between 1964 and the early 1990s. The initial gift of records was arranged and described in 1967 to 1968. The records that were received between 1968 and 1975 were arranged and described in 1981 to 1982 with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The final gift of records has been minimally processed. Formerly, the three groupings of records were described in three separate finding aids, making it necessary for patrons to consult multiple documents in order to obtain complete information on the UNH records. As part of a project to mount finding aids online, the archives has merged the information about the UNH records into one comprehensive finding aid.

The numerous duplicates of correspondence and memoranda, routed among staff members for informational purposes, were discarded during initial processing by the archives.
Title
United Neighborhood Houses of New York Records
Author
John M. Herrick and Susan D. Steinwall; revised by Linnea M. Anderson
Date
2004
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
English

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Social Welfare History Archives Collecting Area

Contact:

612-624-6394