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Charity Organization Society of New York City

Charity Organization of New York City: A Brief History


Editor’s NoteThis entry is composed of transcribed pages from two documents, both produced by the Charity Organization Society of New York City.  The primary source is the “History,” written by Lilian Brandt for the organization’s 25th Anniversary in 1907.  The second source is from “A Reference Book of Social Service In or Available for Greater New York” by Lina D. Miller in 1922.




1882 -1907

Twenty-Fifth Annual Report for the

Year Ending September Thirtieth,

Nineteen Hundred and Seven


Lilian Brandt

A History of COS of NYC by Lilian Brandt
A History of COS of NYC by Lilian Brandt

The Charity Organization Society of New York has completed twenty-five years of service: service to the families whom it has helped, and enabled others to help; service to all the poor of New York, for whom it has worked to secure more favorable conditions of living and more adequate provision for their needs; and service to the entire country, through the part it has taken in improving all kinds of charitable work and in forwarding movements designed to control causes of poverty and to raise the general standard of living.

From the beginning its ultimate purpose has been the diminution of poverty. Belief in the possibility of eliminating poverty had not been formulated in so many words as a working motive in the early years, but methods and projects were constantly tested by their probable power “to rescue, and not merely to soothe, those who are in danger of lapsing into professional pauperism”; “to protect the community against pauperism not so much by confining it to low and neglected localities as by concerting means to get rid of it.” In recent years the growing conviction that not only professional pauperism, but unwholesome poverty as well, in the sense of “the absence of the essential conditions of normal living”, may be obliterated, has almost come to be a fundamental article of faith; and with the development of this ideal organized charity has naturally drawn to itself constantly augmenting circles of friends and adherents.

As there has been through the twenty-five years this persistent underlying motive, so there has also been a persistent principle of action. Starting with a constitution which by its elasticity does honor to the prescience of its framers, the Society found itself, in planning its work, limited only by considerations of expediency; and the principle was embodied in practice which has been formulated by the president of the Society and accepted as a proper statement of the scope for charity organization societies—that “whatever needs to be done in the community and is not already being satisfactorily done by some other agency may legitimately be undertaken by a charity organization society and carried on as long as the need for it continues.”

To act successfully, or even safely, on this principle requires clear vision on the part of those who direct the work of the Society. There must be knowledge of conditions and of remedial agencies; there must be ability to recognize a need and equal ability to know when it has ceased to exist. These requirements seem elementary, but to meet them demands more than elementary vigilance. The effort to meet them–by the Charity Organization Society has resulted in what may be called its characteristic method of work. The report made by Mrs. Lowell to the State Board of Charities in October, 1881, on the basis of which the resolutions were adopted leading to the organization of the Society, contained a digest of all the information that could be collected about the non-institutional relief work in the city, and quotations to show the attitude of the leaders in charitable work toward the existing situation. A sense of the importance of knowing conditions and tendencies of thought, expressed in this first document in the annals of the Society, has been characteristic of its entire history….

A society with a fixed underlying motive, a persistent principle of action, and a characteristic method of work is bound to display continuity in its development, though in this case the nature of the persistent principle and of the method averts the possibility of monotony. The history of the New York Charity Organization Society is of an unusual continuity. It is the record of a steady growth in the direction in which it started. There has never been a reversal of policy. The charter has been amended only once, to provide for the maintenance of an educational institution. The constitution has been changed only to provide for expansion. When undertakings have been discontinued it has been because they have served their end. There are no periods of contrasting aspect in the twenty-five years. The latter half of this history has shown faster growth, as indicated by the number of persons affected and the money spent, and there has been some change in the emphasis placed on the objects stated in the constitution. But the rapid development of educational and reconstructive work for the improvement of social conditions was made possible by the intensive work of the earlier years, and in those earlier years may be found foreshadowings of many of the new undertakings. The reason why investigation, registration, co-operation, and adequate relief are not now prominent in every discussion is not because these “foundation pillars” have been allowed to crumble away, but because the twenty-five years have strengthened them until their names are commonplaces, and attention is naturally centered on the superstructure they support. The objects might be stated differently, or in a different order, if the constitution were being written for the first time today, but they would be the same objects; and each new way of working toward them has been developed out of experience gained through previous work and increasing knowledge.

The growth has not only been harmonious; it has also been continuous and uninterrupted. There have been no periods of recession. Some of the years have been much more active than others, but there is scarcely one that does not show some new undertaking and not one that is without advance of some sort. The Society owes this unusual history to the wisdom of its founders, to the steadfast interest of its officers and members, to the devotion of its employees, and to its adherence to the principles that have been pointed out….

Thus the twenty-sixth year finds the Society at the highest point of vigor and usefulness it has yet attained.


The consideration uppermost in the minds of those who brought about the organization of the Society was the need for establishing “a center of inter-communication between the various churches and charitable agencies in the city,” in order “to foster harmonious co-operation between them, and to check the evils of the over-lapping of relief.” The constitution states this as the first of the six objects of the Society. Its part in constructive work for individual families is defined in the next three: to investigate all cases referred to it and share its knowledge with any inquirer having a legitimate interest; to obtain “suitable and adequate relief for deserving cases”; and to procure work. The repression of mendicancy is announced as a distinct object. And there is added a sixth paragraph, which has proved to be the most farsighted and most beneficent clause in the document: “to promote the general welfare of the poor by social and sanitary reforms, and by the inculcation of habits of providence and self-dependence.” The history of the quarter century is a record of consistent pursuit of these objects by measures growing steadily in diversity and efficiency.

Crayon Portrait of Josephine Shaw Lowell, 1869.
Crayon Portrait of Josephine Shaw Lowell, 1869.

On October 12, 1881, a special report “in relation to outdoor relief societies in New York City “was presented by Josephine Shaw Lowell, for the New York City members of the Board, to the State Board of Charities.

In preparing this report an attempt had been made to find out how many families were cared for, how much money was spent, and what methods were used, by the principal relief agencies of the city. Only partial returns could be secured, but even the fragmentary figures served to show how “important a business” the administration of charity had become, and the information obtained about methods disclosed a state of affairs so like that which had existed in 1843 that it was most easily and aptly described by a quotation from the first annual report of the Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor. The interval had brought an increase in the number of “societies acting independently of each other”, but no system for controlling the evils which had been so clearly seen and defined by Robert M. Hartley forty years before. The review of the situation “led to the irresistible conclusion” that there was at that time “inevitably great waste of energy, effort and money, owing to the want of co-operation among the societies which administer the charities of New York City”, while the same cause operated “to encourage among the poor pauperism and degradation”. Next, to show that the moment was auspicious for action, passages showing that the need of organization was felt were quoted from recent annual reports of such prominent societies as the Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor, the American Female Guardian Society, St. John’s Guild, and the Woman’s Branch of the New York City Mission.

A resolution was therefore recommended, and adopted at the same meeting, authorizing the New York City Commissioners of the State Board of Charities “to take such steps as they may deem wise to inaugurate a system of mutual help and co-operation” among the societies engaged in teaching and relieving the poor of the city in their own homes.”

At this time the organizing of charity was one of the things in the air. In several important cities a few years before, almost simultaneously, societies more or less like the London proto-type had been formed, the first one in Buffalo in 1877; and by the close of 1881 there were twenty in existence. An earlier attempt had been made in New York City, in 1874, to establish a Bureau of Charities for the purpose of registering persons receiving out-door relief from all sources, but it had failed. The State Charities Aid Association had been discussing the need for co-operation among the charities engaged in distributing out-door relief in New York City, and its Committee on Out-Door Relief, which later became the Committee on the Elevation of the Poor in their Homes, was “watching with very deep interest the progress made by the Charity Organization Society of Buffalo, hoping to find sufficient encouragement to recommend the same plan for adoption in New York City,” though as late as December, 1880, it was “not prepared” to make the recommendation. The movement of 1881 does not seem to have been a revival of the earlier attempts, or to have been directly suggested by any of the successful experiments in other cities. It was rather the logical solution which presented itself to the persons concerned about the evils they saw in the existing situation, and was thus one of the independent beginnings of charity organization in this country.

The three New York City members of the State Board appointed a Committee on the Organization of Charities of the City of New York, consisting of the following members: Dr. S. O. Vanderpoel, chairman, Alfred Roosevelt, Charles S. Fairchild, Arthur M. Dodge, J. Kennedy Tod, Dr. Stephen Smith, Josephine Shaw Lowell, R. Duncan Harris, and J. R. Roosevelt, secretary.

This committee organized on January 5, 1882, and held several meetings during the month, at one of which the Rev. S. Humphreys Gurteen of Buffalo was present, on special invitation, and “gave an extended and interesting account of charity organization societies of Buffalo and other cities, and of his views in regard to the establishment of a similar organization in the city of New York.” A constitution was drawn and reported back to the New York City members of the State Board, who requested the committee to become members of the Central Council and called a meeting for organization. This meeting was held on February 8, 1882, at 67 Madison Avenue. Cordial expressions of approval and offers of help were received within a few days from the State Charities Aid Association and the Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor. Standing committees on Membership, Finance, District Work, and Co-operation, were immediately appointed, and a special committee to secure a central’ office. Charles D. Kellogg, secretary of the Philadelphia Society for Organizing Charity, was engaged as organizing secretary, and on April 15 he opened the Central Office at 67 Madison Avenue, in the rooms of a club which offered the Society desk-space….


The first year was a busy one. A system of registration and exchange of reports was inaugurated and a “bureau of fraudulent cases” was opened; the co-operation of 138 charitable agencies was secured, including the Department of Public Charities and Correction; six district committees were organized and offices opened in their districts. Eight “tracts”, all of them valuable essays, and the preparation of a Handbook for Visitors and a Directory of the charitable resources of the city, mark the beginnings of the substantial body of literature which the Society has produced. A nucleus was collected for the reference library which is now perhaps the best of its kind. Delegates were sent to the meetings of the National Conference of Charities and Correction, as has been done in each succeeding year, and also to the meeting of the American Social Science Association. The Society began its promotion of “social and sanitary reforms” by taking part in a conference “to consider the condition of the tenement houses of the city”, and by appointing special committees which at the end of the year had under consideration the advisability of establishing a loan society and a bureau for legal aid. The effort to “procure work for poor persons who are capable of being wholly or partially self-supporting” had brought up the question of opening a wood-yard and had started a study of the labor markets of the country and the feasibility of using them. The repression of mendicancy was the only one of the six objects for whose attaining specific measures had not been set on foot before twelve months had passed, and it had not to wait much longer, for on July 1, 1883, a special out-door agent was appointed, commissioned as deputy sheriff, to deal with street beggars. During this second year the Society also opened a wood-yard on East Twenty-Fourth Street; began the publication of the Monthly Bulletin as a medium of communication with its members, to replace The Register of the Philadelphia Society which had been serving as its organ; and issued the first edition of the Charities Directory, an invaluable book of reference regarding the social work of the city, which has been revised and re-published in sixteen succeeding editions.

By the end of the fifth year the district organization had been extended to One Hundred and Tenth Street on the east side and Fifty-Ninth on the west and the district work strengthened; registration had been extended and improved; the “necessary if distasteful work” of repressing mendicancy had been pushed until the special officer could report that “the most notorious professional beggars and tramps are now (September, 1886) working for the city”; the investigation of questionable and fraudulent charitable enterprises, and reporting on them to members of the Society, had become a feature of the work; an active participation in efforts to secure desirable legislation and to change undesirable conditions had been begun by joining with others in urging the legislature to enact a law establishing municipal lodging-houses, by expressing disapproval of the free distribution of coal by the city, and by securing the introduction and passage of bills for the suppression of stale beer dives and for increasing the sentences of vagrants. Two gifts of ten thousand dollars each had been received for a permanent fund, and a definite standing had been gained in the city.

The first instance of initiative by the Society in supplying lacks in the charitable resources of the city was the opening of the Wood Yard. This was carried on directly by the Society for two years and then transferred to a newly-formed’ organization, from which the Society again took over its management in the fall of 1888. Another instance of the same sort of initiative, but with a different plan of action, falls within the first five years. Contact with poor families brought a sense of the need for a place to which women could take their babies for a day’s outing, just as it had at the very outset shown the necessity for providing temporary employment for men out of work, and early in the summer of 1886 a conference was called by the general secretary to consider how this need could be met. The result was the formation of an independent committee, of representatives from the Charity Organization Society, the Children’s Aid Society, and the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, which opened a day nursery under the shadow of the Statue of Liberty on Bedloe’s Island. Bartholdi Creche, as it was called, was carried on for several summers as the guest of the War Department on Bedloe’s Island, later of the state and city on Ward’s and Randall’s Islands, and in 1897 bought a permanent home at Edgewater, New Jersey. Changed in name to indicate its new location, Edgewater Creche is now one of the well known fresh-air institutions of the city. Charles D. Kellogg, its founder, is still its treasurer and leading spirit.

After the work of registration had been in progress about a year the Committee on Co-operation made an examination of the facts reported about the 3,420 families or individuals who had been helped by various societies, and found that in about three-fifths of the cases there was an apparently able bodied man concerned. The committee therefore called a conference of the co-operating societies to consider these facts and “to form some plan by which the harm inadvertently done by undiscriminating relief may in the future be avoided.” The conference resulted in the adoption of a resolution that it was the sense of those present “that all aid given to able-bodied men should be for the purpose of enabling them to find permanent employment, in or out of the city.” At an adjourned meeting of this conference (for the interest in the subject was not perfunctory) the suggestion of a labor bureau for placing men in the country was rejected for this reason: “It is an undeniable fact that a wretched life in the worst district of the city has more attraction to the greatest number of the poor applying for relief, than a life in the country, where healthy work and the chance of permanent improvement might be obtained. It must be recognized that the charity associations of our cities have to deal largely with such poor, who will not leave the city, and it is urgent to make them understand that they are required to depend upon work for their support, if not in the country, then certainly in the city.” The truth of this observation on the attractions of city life has only been confirmed by all later experiences. A free employment bureau which was later inaugurated under other auspices was discontinued after a carefully considered experience.

This incident is mentioned because it indicates the elementary character of the relief problems which had to be met in the early days and the uncompromising manner in which they were faced. So rapid has been the advance of recent years both in methods of doing relief work and in popular appreciation of the importance of the best methods that it is difficult to reconstruct adequately the difficulties of those pioneer days. It was necessary not only to try to persuade all kinds of relief-givers to send reports but also to bring it about that those reports should be worth recording, and to work out, through pains and experiment, a satisfactory system of recording and making accessible the information received; not only to gain acceptance for the idea of investigation but also to build up an ideal of what an investigation should be; not only to conquer the popular prejudice against paying salaries–for the performance of charitable work but also to find the people who would be worth the salary; not only to establish the principle of “adequate relief” but also to determine a standard of adequacy. None of these tasks has yet been fully accomplished. We are still improving the mechanical side of our registration system and extending its usefulness; each year we set a higher standard for what an investigation should be; salaries may increase or decrease with changes in economic conditions; and “adequacy” is a relative term, constantly expanding with increase in knowledge and resources.

The difficulty of getting money for the expenses of an undertaking that had not yet had time to prove its usefulness, from a public which believed that money should not be spent in salaries for expert advice and service, but that all charitable contributions should be given to the poor in coal and groceries and shoes, was one of the serious handicaps of the earlier years. The strictest economy was maintained in expenditure for office equipment. All the clerical work for the first five years was done by hand; the first typewriter was bought in February, 1887, under a special authorization of the executive committee. An item of expenditure for a Brussels carpet submitted by one lavish district committee’s account was “disallowed, no one dissenting.” The salaries of district agents and clerks were small, and the entire force seems to have been over-worked most of the time. This was not due any more, however, to lack of funds than to a lack of suitable persons to do the work as it should be done. The minutes of the meetings of the Committee on District Work and of the Executive Committee are full of discussions as to how this agent can be relieved, where a substitute can be found for another who is ill, the necessity for paying higher salaries, and for having persons in training who would be ready to fill vacancies.

Demonstrations of the evils of indiscriminate relief and the detection of imposture on the part of individuals and organizations were a prominent feature of the Society’s work, as it presented itself to the public, in these early years—perhaps naturally, for the exposure of such results of lack of knowledge as would rouse the indignation was the most effective way to gain adherence for a method whose real aim was helpful assistance to those who were not impostors. This other side of the work was by no means lost sight of in the internal councils of the Society. The Committee on District Work was more active at this period than the Committee on Mendicancy, and was studying records, reviewing the work of the agents, securing and training friendly visitors, and formulating principles on which the care of families should proceed. Although the building up of a body of volunteer visitors was not one of the specific objects of the Society as stated in its constitution, the value of competent friendly visitors has been recognized and efforts have been made to secure them. These efforts were most persistent in the early years and most successful in the Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Districts, but there have always been smaller groups connected with the other districts as well. It is significant in this connection that in May, 1883, the Central Council called the attention of district committees to “the favorable opportunities presented by the next six months for the peculiar work of the Society, the permanent improvement of the resident poor.” This was at a time when the reduction, in applications as spring came on was attributed to “the habit” acquired by the poor, as a result of the general suspension of work during the summer by most of the relief agencies of the city, “of not expecting gratuitous help except during the colder winter months.”


The year 1887 seems to close the formative period. It is not a sharp line; but by this time the fundamental work of registration, investigation, co-operation, and district care of dependent families was well under way, and precedents had been established for most of the characteristic work of later years. It was in 1887 that the designation of the executive officer of the Society was changed from “organizing secretary” to “general secretary.”

In 1888 Robert W. de Forest was elected president. Mr. de Forest had been connected with the Society from the outset, having taken part in the organization of one of its original district committees, and brought to its highest office several years’ experience in the Central Council and in district committee work. His twenty years of administration have been characterized by broad and progressive statesmanship. His service has been active and constant. There are few questions of policy in the decision of which he has not taken part, and each step in advance has been taken with his approval and in many instances on his initiative. The growth and development of the Society owes much to his wisdom, devotion, ability, and foresight.

From this time until the removal to the United Charities Building in 1893 much of the Society’s strength was given to improving the details of administration, increasing efficiency in the work already initiated. The opening of a district office in Harlem, the centralization of the care of homeless cases, the appointment of a superintendent of agents, the opening of a night office, the financial success of the Wood Yard in 1890, others in the same line of activity”; and also “to awaken a deeper public interest in the subjects which it discusses and to give a wider knowledge of the principles and methods which have been established and adopted as sound and wise.”

In the ten years of its existence the Review published many articles of permanent value and served as a “medium for the discussion of social questions.”….

A local conference of charities, which had a perceptible influence in increasing co-operation during the next few years, was organized in the fall of 1894. One of its first acts reflected the urgent problem presented at the time by the inflation of the homeless population. A leaflet on “How to Help Homeless People” was issued as the consensus of seventeen leading societies. Its distribution by many thousands of copies was believed to have been of service in “checking the sturdy beggar.”

The year 1895 was marked by the opening of a district in the Bronx, thus providing for the district care of the poor in their homes throughout the entire city as it was then constituted, and by an extension of co-operation with the Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor. A single joint application bureau was established, on the same principle as the joint night office which had been maintained for eighteen months; and at the same time the registration bureau of the Charity Organization Society was opened to the Association, thus securing to both societies the advantages of consolidated case records.

Edward T. Devine, Pioneer Social Welfare Leader
Edward T. Devine, Pioneer Social Welfare Leader

The only change in the office, of general secretary took place in 1896. On January 1 Mr. Kellogg retired, continuing, however, in active connection with the Society until 1900, in the office of second vice-president. Edward T. Devine, his successor, began work on September 1. During the interval of nine months George L. Cheney of the Central Council performed the necessary duties of the office, much of the responsibility for routine administration falling as for several years previously upon the Superintendent, Robert W. Hebberd, who resigned from this position in the autumn of 1896 to accept the secretaryship of the State Board of Charities.

This transition in the internal administration of the Society coincided with a period of re-organization in the administration of the charitable affairs of the city. In the years 1896 and 1897 the system of state care for the insane was completed, the poor laws of the state were revised and made more nearly uniform, the separation of public charities from correction was achieved in New York City, the influence of the State Board of Charities was much extended, a municipal lodging house was finally established; and Mayor Strong’s reform administration brought in public officials who, “unlike many of their predecessors …. left their private business and devoted their time to the institutions under their charge”, with the results that the streets were kept clean, the health and building departments exercised greater vigilance, the laying out of small parks was pushed, plans were made for public baths, and every effort was made to help, rather than to obstruct, private philanthropic activities, which were correspondingly stimulated. Many of these and other reforms were primarily due to persistent efforts of voluntary associations.

At the same time there developed a formidable movement for extending out-door relief by the city: first in an attempt to secure an increase in the appropriation for free coal; then in efforts to have certain undesirable provisions included in the new charter in process of construction; and then in an objectionable measure, introduced in three successive legislatures, whose object was to substitute payment to parents for payment to institutions in the case of children whose parents were unable to provide for them. Public out-door relief was prohibited by the Greater New York charter, except for the anomalous pension to the poor adult blind; and it may be mentioned here that subsequent efforts, after the charter went into effect, to restore the city distribution of coal and to create a local Board of Charities in Queens Borough with the power to give out-door relief, were, at some pains, defeated, largely by the joint efforts of the Charity Organization Society and other charitable agencies. The “Destitute Mothers’ bill,” or “Shiftless Fathers’ bill,” as it was more appropriately called by its opponents, was a lusty foe. Only the mayor’s veto kept it from becoming a law in 1896, but in each of its re-appearances it was defeated in the legislature.

As if to emphasize the wave of advance, in 1898 the National Conference of Charities and Correction was held in New York City.

EXPANSION: 1898-1907

Following this transition period the social work of the city entered on a new era, unprecedented for richness and vigor, in which the Charity Organization Society has shared and to which it has constantly contributed. The last decade of the Society’s history have been years of remarkable and steady growth in strength and influence.

The first indications of expansion are found in well-established features of the work. The Charities Directory was enlarged to’ include information about all the territory within the bounds of the greater city; The Charities Review was “reorganized, enlarged, and improved”; Charities was begun, as a monthly news sheet for members; the Library was enlarged and catalogued; a special agent was employed to take charge of the confidential reports on charitable enterprises; and the district work was strengthened by the addition of several assistants, the almost exclusive attention of the assistant secretary to this part of the work, and such improvement in equipment as the installation of telephone service in all of the offices and a lengthening of the period in which offices are daily open to the public.

An incident with more than one instructive feature opened the year 1898. The city, over-looking the fact that the new charter authorized no out-door relief except the pension to the blind, set in motion its usual machinery for the distribution of city coal. One thousand families were supplied with their half-ton each and twenty-four hundred others had been given orders before the illegality was discovered. The distribution in progress was promptly discontinued, but bills were also introduced into the legislature to restore the power, and they were quickly advanced to the third reading. Prompt and vigorous action by the Charity Organization Society, the Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor, and the State Charities Aid Association won the sympathy of the state senate, whose committee expressed its accord with organized charity by reporting the bills adversely. To avert the hardships which were popularly expected to result from the sudden discontinuance of the city’s bounty the Charity Organization Society offered to investigate all of the twenty four hundred applications which had received the favorable consideration of the Department and to see that coal was.supplied to those who needed it. The Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor supplemented this by agreeing to supply coal to families recommended by the Charity Organization Society. A statement of the methods followed and the facts disclosed by the investigations was a unique demonstration that the need for coal could be easily met, and that more promptly and more kindly, from the ordinary resources of private charity.

Opposition to the other prominent legislative measure of the season led to the establishment by the Society of a new department which developed into great importance in the next few years. The popular appeal of the “Ahearn bill”, for making payments to parents who would keep their children at home instead of sending them to an institution, rested on the sound principle that families should be kept together when the only reason for not doing so is a deficiency in the income, and on the fact that private charity was not at the time acting on this principle to the extent that it should. There were hardships in the existing system. The situation having been called to notice by the proposal of legislation involving even more serious evils, it was immediately apparent that this was a problem to be solved by the Charity Organization Society. It was a problem in co-operation: at first with the City Magistrates, for at that time application for the commitment of children to institutions had to be made in the police courts, where the children were arraigned in company with all sorts of criminals and by the same methods as criminals; later with the Department of Public Charities and relief agencies.

The Department of Public Charities readily gave permission to the Society to examine the applications pending for the commitment of children, and to select for treatment in its own way cases in which it seemed probable that private assistance in the home would make its dismemberment unnecessary. By the usual methods of organized charity the required private assistance was obtained from friends, relatives, neighbors, employers, or, failing these, from strangers or relief societies. A brief experimental period proved the value of this undertaking and a standing committee was appointed, on which the St. Vincent de Paul Society, the United Hebrew Charities, and the State Charities Aid Association were represented. In its first year of work the Committee by these methods saved 496 children from institutions, representing about one-third of all the applications examined.

Out of this specialized attention to families unable to support their children grew a realization, gradually, that the parents, especially fathers, who are simply desirous of escaping from their natural responsibilities, are numerous enough to constitute a distinct problem in both charity and correction. The interest in the problem of desertion, thus aroused, grew steadily. In the spring of 1903 a conference on the subject was held at which workers from Buffalo, Philadelphia, Brooklyn, New York, and near-by New Jersey towns exchanged opinions as to the causes and remedies. As a result of this conference interest was stimulated in many parts of the country. In New York a more stringent law was secured, and a study was undertaken by the Charity Organization Society of the facts in a large number of desertion cases. This study, together with a review of the legislation in the different states relating to family desertion and non-support, has been published by the Society in a volume which constitutes the chief authority on the subject.

After five years of activity the Committee on Dependent Children found that the situation had changed to such a degree that its services were no longer needed. A separate Bureau of Dependent Children had been established to take the place of the police courts and the office of the Superintendent of Out-door Poor in the matters relating to destitute children, and even for delinquent children a special court had been created. A corps of examiners was employed by the new Bureau, whose ideals of investigation and discrimination in decisions approached those of the Society’s agents. The Catholic Home Bureau had been established to assist the city in finding homes for children of Roman Catholic parentage; and the United Hebrew Charities and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul were receiving directly from the Bureau of Dependent Children cases suitable for their care, which had formerly reached them through the intermediation of the Society’s Committee. In short, families in which commitment was probably undesirable were referred by the city to the proper agency, and these proper agencies did what was necessary. The special committee therefore was left with nothing to do except to provide assistance for the families which would naturally come under the care of the Charity Organization Society. By the successful demonstration of what might be done the adoption of an approved method had been secured from all concerned, so that the specialized work for dependent children did not prove to be the permanent department it was looked upon at first. The purpose for which it had been undertaken had been accomplished and the Committee was accordingly dissolved, the families under its charge being distributed among the districts, where their care was continued on the same principles.

In the summer of 1898, to go back to the time when the special work for children originated, another beginning was made to meet a need which could not be satisfied by a demonstration of method but has required ever increasing provision. The first “training class in applied philanthropy” was opened on June 20 and continued for six weeks under the immediate direction of the assistant secretary, Philip W. Ayres. Growing out of the difficulty experienced by the Charity Organization Society, in common with all organizations with a high standard, to find properly qualified persons to do social work, it has grown into a professional school which has the same place for the social worker as the school of medicine or law or theology has for the physician or lawyer or clergyman. It is interesting that the first standing committee on Philanthropic Education included the present directors of both the New York School of Philanthropy and the Boston School for Social Workers. The report of the Central Council thus describes the future expected from this experiment: “It is hoped that from this beginning a plan of professional training in applied philanthropy may be developed which will raise the standard of qualification and of usefulness throughout the entire field of charitable work. The Society cherishes the conviction that important results to the philanthropic work not only of New York and vicinity, but also of the country at large, would follow the endowment of a school to which the best minds would be attracted, and from which specialists in the various forms of Charitable and correctional work could be entered successfully upon their respective careers.”

For six years the summer class was held, each year adding testimony to its value and its inadequacy. Then in the winter of 1903-04 an afternoon course was given, attended chiefly by employes of New York organizations. The next year a sufficient sum was raised to provide for a full course of instruction requiring the entire time of its students, and soon after the beginning of the academic year John S. Kennedy’s endowment of $250,000 established the School on a permanent basis and made easy the expansion which was inevitable. This action by Mr. Kennedy takes rank with his erection of the United Charities Building. No other two gifts have up to the present time accomplished so much to increase the effectiveness of philanthropic efforts in New York and to raise the standard of efficiency in social work all over the country.

A third new undertaking in the year 1898 was destined to a remarkable development. At a meeting of the Executive Committee in April, Lawrence Veiller presented a plan

Apartment Life: From Charities and the Commons: The Pittsburgh Survey, by various. New York: The Charity Organization Society of the City of New York. 1909.
Apartment Life: From Charities and the Commons: The Pittsburgh Survey, by various. New York: The Charity Organization Society of the City of New York. 1909.

for the formation of a tenement house society which should seek to improve housing conditions in this city by “securing the enforcement of the existing laws relating to tenement houses; by presenting united opposition to bad legislation arising either at Albany or locally; by obtaining such new and remedial legislation as might be necessary; and by making a general study of the tenement house question.” The plan as originally presented by him contemplated the formation of a new and Separate society, to devote itself permanently to the cause of housing reform, although, as he then pointed out, “this would not be starting a new society so much as it would be centralizing the work of existing societies upon a part of their legitimate work which in the past they have been compelled to neglect.” After careful consideration the Executive Committee concluded .that it was desirable to undertake this work and that it could be profitably done by the Society rather than by the formation of a new organization. In December accordingly the Tenement House Committee was appointed.

How this Committee organized a campaign of investigation of conditions and education of the public in regard to them which has become a classic model; the exhibition it held which has influenced the character of effective educational effort since, and secured the appointment, by Theodore Roosevelt, then governor of New York, of a commission which drafted and put through the new law ensuring an irreducible minimum of light, air, cleanliness, and decency; how a wave of housing reform was put in motion all over the country; and the part played in all this by Robert W. de Forest, chairman of the Society’s committee and of the state commission and first commissioner of the unique city department created by the new law, and by Lawrence Veiller, secretary of both committee and commission and first deputy commissioner of the Tenement House Department—all this story has been told so well and so frequently that it needs only to be mentioned here. It is one of the dramatic chapters in the annals of social advance, and one of the signal successes of the Charity Organization Society.

Probably as great a contribution as any that has been made to the cause of social advance and housing reform, has been the permanency of the Society’s work: the holding together of its Committee as a permanent organization, continuously moving for better housing conditions, stimulating public officials to progressive and efficient administration, correcting abuses in the administration of the laws, weighing from time to time the adequacy of the statutes to deal with changing conditions and taking the lead in urging new legislation where necessary, preventing the weakening of the law in warding off the constant attacks made on it by selfish interests, and continually carrying on, not only in New York alone, but throughout the entire country, a campaign of education as to the importance and necessity of housing reform as the fundamental basis of the improvement of social and living conditions.

Clearly the Central Council was not speaking with undue confidence in the outcome of the new work set on foot when it characterized the year 1898-9 as “one of the most active and fruitful years” in the Society’s history. It is significant, too, that a similar phrase is necessarily used in regard* to nearly all of the succeeding years.

National Organizations

The summer of 1904 was a notable one in the organization of social work, for it saw the beginning of both the National Child Labor Committee and the National Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis. In the launching of both of these important organizations the Society participated, and its general secretary acted as secretary of the former for six months and took a prominent part in the Sociological Section of the first meeting of the latter. This was the year, also, of the endowment of the School of Philanthropy.

A flurry of excitement over children who go breakfastless to school brought up again during this winter the question of public out-door relief, in the form of a discussion on the furnishing of free meals by the Department of Education. The Society expressed itself as opposed to any such plan, at a hearing before the special committee of the Board of Education. Two years later, in last April, a discussion of the same principles was renewed, on the proposal to furnish skilled oculists to treat all pupils with defective vision in the public schools and to give eye-glasses to all for whom they were prescribed. After opposing before the Board of Education “this radical, as it appears to us, revolutionary, and certainly unnecessary” proposition, “in view of the admitted ability of parents in the very great majority of all cases to take care of their own children, and in view of the demonstrated ability and willingness of dispensaries and charitable societies to provide for all whose parents have not this financial ability,” the Charity Organization Society made the specific announcement that it was ready, as always, to supply the needs of any child whose parents could not meet them.

The year 1905 was conspicuous for the extension of the educational work of the Society. The general secretary was appointed to the new chair of Social Economy in Columbia University endowed by Jacob H. Schiff as a means of supplementing the School of Philanthropy and emphasizing more closely through this personal connection the affiliation already established between the Society and the University. The position attained by Charities, which had absorbed The Charities Review, and the future planned for it, led to the organization of the National Publication Committee, representative of various movements in social work and of various sections of the country. On November i, 1905, with Charities was consolidated The Commons of Chicago, and four months later Jewish Charity of New York was also merged. A Bureau of Statistics was established in the Central Office, for the study and interpretation of the case-work of the Society and for furthering in any possible way the study of existing social needs. A special investigation of habits of tenement families in regard to the purchase and management of food was made, in addition to a study of the families under care of the Society during the year, and the Family Desertion volume already referred to was published. A national Directory of Institutions and Societies dealing with Tuberculosis, planned and compiled by the Committee on the Prevention of Tuberculosis and issued by it at the close of 1904 in conjunction with the National Association, has proved itself a well-appreciated contribution to the tuberculosis movement of the country. During this, its third year, the Committee, in addition to its lectures and popular literature, made an investigation of lodging-houses in Manhattan, carried on an experiment in placing convalescent consumptives in the country, co-operated with the National Association in holding a tuberculosis exhibition, and established a local travelling exhibition as a permanent part of its educational work.

The death of Mrs. Lowell, on October 12, 1905, bereaved the entire city. To the Charity Organization Society it meant an irreparable loss. Mrs. Lowell was its founder, and

Josephine Shaw Lowell (1843-1905)
Josephine Shaw Lowell (1843-1905)

through its twenty-three years of existence had been its most faithful, untiring, and efficient member. For twenty-three years she served on the Executive Committee; for fifteen as chairman of the Committee on District Work. At different times she was a member of the Committee on Co-operation, the Committee on Provident Habits, and the Committee on Philanthropic Education. She was chairman of the Committee on Dependent Children during its four active years; and she was a member of the Central District Committee for three years, and then, from 1893, of the committee in the district on the lower east side now known as Corlears. It was no perfunctory service that she gave. Alert, suggestive, sincere, wise, and unwearied, she, more than any other one person, directed the course of the Society. That there were occasions on which her judgment was overruled is the strongest evidence on record that the Society has not been the product of any one mind or under any personal control. She left a legacy of suggestions—for a children’s department, a farm colony for vagrants, a public department for the reduction of crime, of which police, courts, and prisons should be bureaus—which may for years to come engage the attention of those with whom she worked and their successors.

The important new undertaking in 1906 was the establishment of the Special Employment Bureau for the Handicapped. Some reader of the Society’s records in the distant future may find the germ of this venture in the permission [riven an armless man, at the request of one of the district committees, to set up a fruit stand in front of the Central Office at 21 University Place. There is no historical connection between the two enterprises, but the early incident is typical of the efforts that have always been made by district agents to find suitable employment for members of the families under their care who in one respect or another do not come up to the market requirements of capability. The project of organizing an employment bureau for placing the physically, mentally, and socially handicapped in positions where their particular handicap will not interfere with the work to be done, grew out of a physician’s isolated experiments with his dispensary patients, and the problems constantly faced by the Committee on the Joint Application Bureau in its care of homeless cases. In a memorandum presented to the Central Council in January, 1906, Dr. Theodore C. Janeway, a member of the Council, and C. C. Carstens, then assistant secretary of the Society, both representatives of the Charity Organization Society on the Joint Application Bureau Committee, convincingly stated the need for a philanthropic agency which should undertake the difficult task of creating a place in the industrial organization of the city for persons generally considered unemployable. The standing committee appointed to establish such a bureau began work in April.

In this year also the custom which the Society had followed from its beginning of making confidential reports to its members on the standing and management of any enterprises appealing for charitable support was organized into a Bureau of Advice and Information. A special fund of $20,000 was contributed in January by eight men as a relief fund for the benefit of poor consumptives; and in the fall the Tuberculosis Committee submitted to the Mayor’s Hospital Commission recommendations for increased public hospital and dispensary provision, based on an elaborate study of the existing demands and facilities….

There has come about also during the twenty-five years a change in the conception of social work. It has become a profession, with a literature, defined standards, training schools, and powers of attracting an increasing number of men and women in their choice of a life work, and of retaining the most competent. In the general characteristics of social work the most notable development has been the popularization of the method which has always been prerequisite to efficiency, the method which bases action on a knowledge of facts. This method may be said to have become the standard in the treatment of dependent families and in thetreatment of social conditions. “Investigation” of families has lost its terror and is generally accepted as an essential preliminary to real assistance. The necessity for research into working and living conditions has made itself felt by everyone who tries to bring about any social improvement. The Russell Sage Foundation, established this year, is not only “the most nobly conceived benefaction of an age in which many benefactions have been generously conceived and executed”; it is also a response to the insistent demand for knowledge which many charitable organizations, settlements, universities, governmental departments, and private citizens have been trying in fragmentary but earnest ways to meet….

These are advances which have been brought about by conscious social effort, as distinguished from the action of economic forces, and as distinguished from the action of the awakening social spirit on the organization of industry and the conduct of government.

The specific help which the Charity Organization Society has given in bringing about this advance has been outlined in the foregoing pages. In indirect or intangible ways it has been of perhaps greater service. Through the successful accomplishment of certain tasks; through the collection and presentation of facts about social conditions; through vigilant interest in the action of the legislature and other branches of government as it bears on the welfare of the poor; through the participation of its officers and members of its staff in national, state, and special conferences, and in the emergency relief work occasioned by great disasters; through its own employes who have gone to social work in other cities; through its cordial relations with public officials and with other charitable agencies; through its pioneer work in developing a course of instruction for the training of social workers; and above all through its publications, notably Charities, it has exerted an influence on the social work of the city and the entire country.

It has not been an easy path through these twenty-five years, though the apparently obvious course of this history may give that impression. The next step has not always been clear to all. Long, earnest, even heated discussions have occurred in the councils of the Society, and years of untryed effort have sometimes been necessary to convince an opponent on the outside of the wisdom of the Society’s position and the disinterestedness of its motives. Prejudice, false sentiment, the clash of selfish interests, and the inherent difficulties of many of the problems encountered, have taxed the judgment and the patience of directors and workers.

In spite of the evils of increased congestion, the physical strain of overwork, and the numerous forms of exploitation from which the poor suffer, there has come about, through increased efficiency of educational and philanthropic agencies, through the adoption of better administrative methods, and above all through the deepening sense of social responsibility, a more just and more adequate discharge of the obligations of charity. And yet these obligations have not been fully met. Of the work to be done not very much has as yet been accomplished. An advance has been made, but there is now the vision of far greater things, and there is justified a confidence that it is not an unattainable vision, which comes from the success of past efforts and from the sense of strength given by sympathy and unity of purpose among the forces working for the common welfare….

SourceThe Charity Organization Society of New York City  1882 -1907″  Twenty-Fifth Annual Report for the Year Ending September Thirtieth, Nineteen Hundred and Seven By Lilian Brandt

Part II: The Charity Organization Society of New York City in 1922 as Cited in: “A Reference Book of Soclal Servlce in or Available For Greater New York Thirty-First Edition 1922” By Lina D. Miller

The Charity Organization Society of the City of New York was founded by a Committee appointed by a resolution of the State Board of Charities. This action was based on a report, dealing with the non-institutional or out-door relief work conducted in the City, presented by Mrs. Josephine Shaw Lowell on behalf of the New York members of the Board.

The objects of the Society, as stated in its charter, are:

1. To be a center of intercommunication between the various churches and charitable agencies in the city. To foster harmonious co-operation between them, and to check the evils of the overlapping of relief,

2. To investigate thoroughly, and without charge, the cases of all applicants for relief which are referred to the Society for inquiry, and to send the persons having a legitimate interest in such cases full report of the results of investigation. To provide visitors who shall personally attend cases needing counsel and advice.

3. To obtain from the proper charities and charitable individuals adequate relief for suitable cases.

4. To procure work for poor persons who are capable of being wholly or partially self-supporting

5. To repress mendicancy by the above means and by the prosecution of impostors.

6. To promote the general welfare of the poor by social and sanitary reforms, by the inculcation of habits of providence and self-dependence, and by the establishment and maintenance of any activities to these ends.

7. To provide philanthropic education and to promote the training of practical workers in charity.

The work of the Society is carried on in three general divisions: the Department of General Work and affiliated committees, the Department for the Improvement of Social Conditions and the New York School of Social Work.

Department Of General Work: Lawson Purdy, general director; Miss J. C. Colcord, supt.; Miss V. O. Wilder, asst. supt.; Miss E. I. Scott, registrar; Miss Catherine Sanders, secy., Investigation Bureau; Miss Sarah F. Burrows, secy.. Reception Bureau; Miss A. B. Strickland, cashier; Miss Lina D. Miller, editor, Directory of Social Agencies; Walter Archer Frost, secy.. Finance Committee; Miss Leila P. Johnson, secy.. Bureau of Advifce and Information and Social Service Exchange; Mrs. L. F. Copley, business manager; Miss Clare M. Tousley, secy.. Committee on Co-operation and District Work; Roy P. Gates, secy., Joint Application Bureau; John J. Murphy, secy., Tenement House Committee; Mrs. C. R. Lamond, secy.. Home Economics; Charles M. Keefer, supt. Woodyard and Laundry.

District Offices…The district offices are neighborhood centers where committees of residents of the vicinity and representatives of the local social agencies consult, in order to bring to the help of families needing assistance the maximum resources of the neighborhood. These committees also are frequently able to obviate abuses and improve living conditions in their territory. In each of the districts, salaried and volunteer visitors carry out the plans of the Committee for the welfare of the families under their care.

The Society aims to develop self reliance and self-dependence in the families for which it cares, to help them out of their poverty, by removing obstacles from their paths and by offering them new opportunities for self-support and self-development.

The purpose of the Society is achieved by bringing to the aid of families their natural resources, such as relatives, friends, neighbors, employers, churches, and also by stimulating and encouraging them through personal relationships established with them by members of the staff and by volunteer workers. The Society co-operates with the welfare agencies of the city—dispensaries, settlements, church societies, and the like—so that each organization is able to do its share in carrying out plans adopted by all the agencies which are helping the same family.

Central Office, 105 East 22d St. (tel. Gramercy 4066): The work of the Society with families brings great numbers of requests for advice about and from persons in trouble of various kinds and concerning institutions and organizations engaged in welfare work. The Central Office offers this kind of help.

The Reception Bureau, Miss Sarah F. Burrows, secy., receives inquirers needing personal help or seeking assistance for relatives, friends, or others. It gives advice about opportunities for the care of the aged, the sick, the mentally deficient. It supplies information concerning suitable homes for working girl, and homes for children. It is the consulting room of the Society.

Joint Application Bureau, 105 East 22d St. (tel. Gramercy 2081), Roy P. Gates, supt. This Bureau is conducted by the Society and the New York Association for Improving the Condition of the. Poor. It is open from 9 A. M. to 12 midnight and is designed to care for homeless men and women. Able-bodied men are given temporary work. Permanent work is secured for many applicants. The sick are placed in hospitals or convalescent homes. Relief is given when necessary, and transportation is secured when possible for applicants having homes in other places.

The Registration Bureau, Miss E. I. Scott, registrar, has charge of the records of families that have been under the care of the Society. These now number many thousands. Here persons having a legitimate interest in the families represented by these records may obtain information which will be helpful in the solution of their problems.

Social Service Exchange, Miss Leila P. Johnson, secy., 105 East 22d St. (tel. Gramercy 6276). Receives inquiries from social agencies seeking to know what other agencies are in touch with the families or individuals they are trying to serve. Inquiries are recorded in a card index, each card bearing the names of the members of the family, the address, and the names of the organizations which have inquired about them. The Exchange carries no information whatever about the family.

By assisting social agencies to coordinate their services, duplication of work is minimized and a maximum of co-operation is secured. There are more than 450,000 family cards in the index. During the year ending October 1, 1921, the Exchange was used by 401 agencies. Inquiries received numbered 80,730.

The Investigation Bureau, Miss Catherine Sanders, secy., supplies individuals and charity organization societies in other cities with information concerning families or individuals in New York City in whom they are interested.

Committee On Co-operation And District Work, Miss Clare M. Tousley, secy. The chief function of the Committee is the stimulation of volunteer service for the Organization, and the raising of standards in this field.

The Secretary has charge of general publicity, through which channels many volunteers are secured, and the work of the Organization more generally understood.

A series of three months’ courses are given by her to combine the practical work with theoretical and she also supervises the volunteers’ training and progress in the Districts.

The Committee also has the broader function of strengthening friendly relations between the Society and other charitable agencies and securing their co-operation in the work and objects of the Society. Within the Organization it is chiefly interested in district problems and the activities of the district committees.

The Bureau Of Advice And Information, Miss Leila P. Johnson, secy., offers general information to all inquirers, also to members of the Society and of certain affiliated organizations special reports on work done by social agencies soliciting funds in New York.

Tenement House Committee, John J. Murphy, secy., exists to improve the housing conditions of the people of New York who live in multi-family buildings known legally as tenement houses; to mitigate the evils growing out of a long period of unregulated tenement house construction; to prevent the enactment of amendments which would weaken the present Tenement House Law; to secure from time to time such new housing legislation as public necessity requires or advancing standards demand; to study and co-operate in the enforcement of existing laws by local authorities and, where necessary, to stimulate them to more efficient administration. Recognizing that in the housing field, work to be effective must be largely preventive, the Committee studies local tendencies, especially in outlying districts, with a view to forestalling the creation of new slum areas. In general it seeks to formulate remedies for existing evils and to encourage all practicable improvements in tenement house conditions.

Through the efforts of this Committee, the appointment of the Tenement House Commission of 1900 was secured, the passage of the present Tenement House Law attained, and the Tenement House Department established. It conducts educational work wherever the opportunity offers; maintains a clearing-house for information on housing matters in the city; prepares and distributes pamphlets and organizes lectures and conferences.

The Directory Of Social Agencies, Miss Lina D. Miller, editor, is an encyclopaedia of the social agencies in the City of New York, including a subject index in which the agencies are classified, a list of the churches of all denominations and a name index of all persons mentioned in the book in connection with the agencies listed.

The usefulness of the Directory grows with the added interest in social work made manifest in many ways since the war. A very significant evidence of a regenerating world is the fact that calls for the Directory during the year have come from India, China, Japan, England, Germany, and Switzerland, as well as from Canada, and many distant states of the Union where its value can be that of suggestion only.

The Directory ought to be self-sustaining. It is not so because the cost of production has increased beyond the mark at which we could reasonably set a price for the book. It is sold for two dollars.

Department For The Improvement Of Social Conditions, Lawrence Veiller, director. Rooms 615-622, 105 East 22d St. (tel. Gramercy 2860). Under this Department the various activities of the Society for the improvement of social conditions and the removal of the underlying causes of poverty in the community are included. The Department seeks to secure the solution of the city’s social problems upon a constructive and permanent basis, having as its chief purpose the accomplishment of definite results rather than the discussion or exploitation of theoretical views of social reform….

Committee On Criminal Courts, Lawrence Veiller, secy.; Mrs. Mary E. Paddon, exec. secy. This Committee was organized with the definite purpose of aiding the administration of justice in the lower criminal courts.

The keynote of the Committee’s work is sympathetic co-operation with the judges, with the public, with social workers, with court clerks and city officials, and with the Legislature. It watches all legislation affecting the work of the interior courts in New York City; it opposes undesirable amendments, and drafts and supports desirable legislative amendments; it serves to bring to the aid of the judges the force of public sentiment in behalf of needed changes; it makes careful surveys of specific problems connected with the work of the courts; it aids in securing necessary appropriations for reforms needed to make the work of these courts effective.

The Committee has been of great assistance in the establishment of a proper probation system with paid Civil Service officers for delinquent children in the Children’s Courts and for the less hardened offenders in the Magistrates’ Courts. It has secured legislation which does away with double trials and unnecessary imprisonment for minor misdemeanants; it has separated the Children’s Courts from Adult Criminal Courts; and has established a Municipal Term court for cases in which city and state departments are the complainants. It has helped to get proper buildings for the Children’s Courts and other courts. It has standardized records and reports. It supports the judges, officials, and heads of institutions in requests for appropriations of money to better handle the unfortunate and the delinquent brought into the courts. It is active in bringing about a better solution of the desertion and abandonment problem through the Family Court. It makes independent investigations on which to base its suggestion. It is constantly interested in every function of these courts which handle nearly a quarter of a million of people yearly and affect indirectly a million lives. There are ten sub-committees, as follows: General administration, family courts, women’s court, probation, law, and legislation, buildings, children’s courts, Court of Special Sessions, record system and court records, and institutions.


The New York School Of Social Work (est. 1898, Summer Session; 1903-1904, Winter Session; 1914 Institutes), United Charities Bldg., 105 East 22d St., N.Y.C. Porter R. Lee, Director

Social Work Educator
Social Work Educator

The School is conducted by the Charity Organization Society and affiliated with Columbia University, and is primarily a professional training school for civic and social work. It aims to give fundamental courses of instruction and of field work which will prepare for usefulness in any of the rapidly multiplying kinds of organized social movements and for efficiency in those governmental positions, national, state, and municipal, which have to do directly with the promotion and protection of social welfare.

Curriculum: The course extends throughout the academic year from October to May inclusive, for a period of two years. (The work of the two years is sharply differentiated.) The instruction of the first year includes courses which are believed to be valuable to all who are expecting to engage in any kind of social work on either a professional or a volunteer basis [with opportunity for specialization in field work]. In the second year the work is strictly vocational and specialized.

The Summer School is planned for the following groups of people: Teachers, ministers, nurses, and other professional workers; students in theological schools; volunteers; social workers who may wish to concentrate on technical problems in their own particular field of work, or to ascertain what is being done in other fields of work; college seniors and others who may wish to obtain advanced credit on entering the School as regular students.

The curriculum represents most of the subjects taught in the winter school concentrated into a brief period of time with emphasis on practical work.

Special courses, adapted to the needs of particular groups of social workers in New York City and vicinity, are arranged as opportunities arise. Institutes are conducted for employed social workers in various fields

Staff (1921-22): Porter R. Lee, director; Walter W. Pettit. asst. director; Catharine Maltby, secy.; Kate Holladay Claghorn, Henry W. Thurston, John A. Fitch, Ordway Tead, George W. Kirchwey, Margaret Leal, Georgia G. Ralph, Louise Alden, Bernard Glueck, M.D., June J. Joslyn, Marion E. Kenworthy, M.D., Harlow S. Person, Shelby M. Harrison, Michael M. Davis, Jr., Mary Antoinette Cannon, Leroy A. Ramsdell.

For announcement address The New York School of Social Work, 105 East 22d St., New York City….

Source: “A Reference Book Of Social Service In Or Available For Greater New York” Thirty-First Edition 1922. By Lina D. Miller

Published By The Charity Organization Society In The City Of New York  105 East 22d St. Price $2.00. pp.9-79

How to Cite this Article (APA Format): The Charity Organization Society in the City of New York. Charity Organization of New York City: A brief history. Retrieved [date accessed] from /?p=8530.


5 Replies to “Charity Organization Society of New York City”

  1. My cousin worked with the YWCA in New York City as the secretary and then under the National War Work Council in Atlanta, and Charleston SC. This would be between 1910 and 1919. Where can i find records of her and /or pictures. Her name is Beatrice D. Walker.

  2. I have an old very comprehensive scrap book kept by my great aunt, Anna Kempshall, apparently the assistant general director of the Charitoy Organization Society in the 1930’s possibly the 40’s. Do you have any interest in having it? She was a very active social worker in those years and was part of the Halifax relief effort. Lisa Adamson

    • Hi Lisa,

      We would love to have the scrapbook–it sounds like there is a great deal of fascinating information. If I may, I will provide you with Dr. Hansan’s home address via the email address you provided to comment so that you may send the scrapbook along at your convenience. Thank you so much!

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