La Guardia Memorial House Records

Finding Aid Prepared by James Moske
October 2001

Date Range: 1899-1993
Size of Collection: 4 linear ft. (9 boxes)
Date of Acquisition: Gift, 1994
Material on Microfilm: No material on microfilm
Terms of Access: Available for faculty, students, or researchers engaged in scholarly or publication projects.
Restrictions on Use or Access: Permission to quote or publish must be obtained in writing from the Director of The Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
Location in Stacks: 14 - 48E
Processing Information: The LaGuardia Memorial House Records were identified for preservation by the New York City Settlement House Records Survey of LaGuardia and Wagner Archives, LaGuardia Community College, The City University of New York. The survey was funded by a 1993-94 grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. The survey was conducted by: Richard K. Lieberman, Director, LaGuardia and Wagner Archives; Sarah Lederman, Project Coordinator; and James Moske and Holly MacCammon, Project Archivists. Emily Marks and Suzy Edelstein of United Neighborhood Houses lent invaluable assistance to the project. Julius C. C. Edelstein has provided inspiration and guidance from its inception.

Donation of the records was coordinated by: Jean Ashton, Director, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University; Bernard Crystal, Curator of Manuscripts, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University; and Jim Soler, Executive Director, LaGuardia Memorial House.

The records were processed and this finding aid prepared by James Moske and Holly MacCammon of LaGuardia and Wagner Archives, with funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

This Finding Aid is dedicated to Peter Pascale, LaGuardia Memorial House board member and former Executive Director, whose affiliation with the settlement spans seven decades.



       During the late 1800s Manhattan's East Harlem experienced a dramatic increase in population and economic activity as transportation lines were extended into the area and new housing was constructed. Successive waves of Irish, German Jewish and Italian immigrants moved into tenement buildings and formed a vital community establishing small businesses benevolent societies and fraternal organizations. But the dense concentration of population also gave rise to a host of urban problems poor housing inadequate health care lack of educational opportunities and crime.

Such an increase in the social problems attending urban growth had led reformers and philanthropists in England to establish Toynbee Hall the first settlement house in 1884. Originally distinguished by the commitment of educated upper and middle-class volunteers to settle in working class communities in order to understand their problems first-hand the settlement model was imported to the United States in 1886 when Neighborhood Guild was established on New York's lower east side. American settlement houses were in the vanguard of efforts to provide social services in their neighborhoods through such programs as kindergartens day care hot lunches health clinics visiting nurses camps playgrounds and arts education. In addition the settlements joined Progressive-era reform movements for improved housing public health and sanitation.

In 1898 Anna C. Ruddy a Canadian who had done missionary work in East Harlem for the previous eight years decided to establish a settlement house in the neighborhood. Ruddy opened The Home Garden in a tenement on East 115th Street but soon moved to 322 Pleasant Avenue where the settlement was legally incorporated in 1901. Its early focus was on programs for children including clubs a day nursery and classes in sewing cooking and carpentry. There was also a strong religious emphasis through Bible classes and a Sunday school. During the 1910s under the leadership of Headworker Bertha Muriel Gage the settlement broadened its focus to the adults of East Harlem through mother's clubs debating groups and citizenship classes. Children's activities were expanded to include Fresh Air Camp a Boy Scout troop and health care by hosting a district nurse sponsored by Henry Street Settlement. To facilitate these activities the settlement moved to larger quarters at 405 East 116th Street and eventually to 311-316 East 116th. In 1916 the settlement's name was changed to Haarlem House.

During the 1920s and 30s East Harlem's demography began to shift as Puerto Ricans and African-Americans moved into the neighborhood. Many other ethnic groups remained as well reflected by a 1926 news clipping which reports that people of 27 different national origins participated in Haarlem House activities. Italian-Americans were well represented among these and Director of Men's Work Edward Corsi coordinated many citizenship programs oriented to them. Corsi also served briefly as Executive Director of the settlement before going on to a political career that included positions as U. S. Commissioner of Immigration and New York State Industrial Commissioner. In 1955 he returned to the settlement as Executive Director then joined its Board of Directors.

In 1956 Haarlem House was re-named LaGuardia Memorial House in honor of former East Harlem congressman and New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. During this period the settlement operated a music school and worked to improve relations between Puerto Rican and Italian-American youth in the area. In 1967 LaGuardia Memorial House transferred title of its East 116th Street property to the New York City Housing Authority which built new housing for senior citizens on the site as well as a new community center facility which has since been operated by the settlement. In 1973 Peter Pascale became Executive Director of LaGuardia Memorial House. Pascale had grown up in East Harlem using the settlement and first joined its staff as Athletic Director in 1931. Both he and his successor Jim Soler maintained the agency's historic commitment to the youth of East Harlem through such programs as day care after school recreation summer day camp and athletics.


       The LaGuardia Memorial House Records document the settlement's activities from its earliest years as "The Home Garden" to its current social service programs for the youth of East Harlem. They offer a unique view of the first wave of the settlement movement in America, and document social conditions, demographic change, political activity, philanthropy and social work in East Harlem over a 90 year period. The records include: annual reports, board minutes and correspondence, headworker correspondence, financial records, fundraising information, and photographs.

The first three decades of the settlement are documented by annual reports, board minutes, correspondence, newsletters and program files. Of particular interest is administrative correspondence from 1919-20, which provides insight on the vigorous "Americanization" work the settlement undertook in this period; and Fresh Air Camp records which evidence the ethnicity of program participants. Records from subsequent years are much less complete. They include brochures and newsclippings describing settlement activities, biographical information on board members including Edward Corsi, and photographs of settlement staff, programs and participants.

A related collection of records, the Edward Corsi Papers, is held by the Syracuse University Library. A finding aid to these materials is contained in Box 1, Folder 9 of this collection.

The records are arranged in two series:

Series I - Administration, 1899-1993, 2 linear feet

Annual reports, Board of Directors minutes and biographical information, brochures and promotional materials, correspondence, financial records, headworker files, and program information. Folders arranged alphabetically. Documents arranged chronologically, except in correspondence files where existing alphabetical document arrangement has been maintained.

Series II - Audio-Visual Material, 1900-1980s, 2 linear feet

Black and white and color photographs of settlement staff, board members, programs and participants. Folders arranged alphabetically by subject. Photographs arranged chronologically when possible.

Series I - Administration

1 1 Annual Reports
       1899-1900, 1909

1 2 Benefits

1 3 Benefits

1 4 Benefits

1 5 Benefit Programs

1 6 Benefit Programs

1 7 Board of Directors: Correspondence

1 8 Board of Directors: Members-Alfange

1 9 Board of Directors: Members-Corsi

1 10 Board of Directors: Members-Pascale

1 12 Board of Directors: Membership Lists
       1916-19, 1988

1 12 Board of Directors: Minutes (Bound Volumes)

1 13 Board of Directors: Minutes

2 1 Board of Directors: Minutes (Bound Volumes)

2 2 Board of Directors: Minutes
       1916-19, 1925

2 3 Brochures and Promotional Material,

2 4 Brochures and Promotional Material

2 5 By-laws

2 6 Contributions
       ca. 1930's

2 7 Corporate Certificates

2 8 Correspondence (A)

2 9 Correspondence (B)

2 10 Correspondence (C)

2 11 Correspondence(D)

2 12 Correspondence(E-F)

2 13 Correspondence(G-H)

3 1 Correspondence(J-L)

3 2 Correspondence (M)

3 3 Correspondence (N-P)

3 4 Correspondence (Plunkett)

3 5 Correspondence (R)

3 6 Correspondence (S)

3 7 Correspondence (T-U)

3 8 Correspondence (V-W)

3 9 Correspondence-Fundraising

3 10 Correspondence

3 11 Correspondence-Fundraising

4 1 Correspondence

4 2 Financial Reports

4 3 Financial Reports
       1935, [nd]

4 4 Fresh Air Camp: Camper Lists

4 5 Fresh Air Camp: Camper Lists

4 6 Fresh Air Camp: Camper Lists

4 7 Fresh Air Camp: Camper Lists

4 8 Fresh Air Camp: Camper Lists

4 9 Fresh Air Camp: Correspondence

4 10 Fresh Air Camp: Gardens of Friendship

5 1 Fresh Air Camp: Miscellaneous

5 2 Fresh Air Camp: Sites

5 3 Fundraising

5 4 Headworker Correspondence

5 5 Headworker Correspondence

5 6 History

5 7 Museum of the City of New York

5 8 Music School

5 9 News Clippings
       1926-1980s, [nd]

5 10 Newsletter-"Home Garden Settlement"

5 11 Newsletters

5 12 Playground

5 13 Programs

5 14 Spring Festival

5 15 Summons and Complaint

Series II: Audio-Visual Materials


6 1 Activities
     Note: See also Oversize Photographs, Box 9

6 2 Board Members-Dean Alfange
       [ nd]

6 3 Board Members-Edward Corsi
     Note: See also Oversize Photographs, Box 9

6 4 Board Members-Irene Impellizzeri

6 5 Board Members-Peter Pascale

6 6 Buildings

6 7 Children
     Note: See also Oversize Photographs, Box 9

6 8 Day Camp

6 9 Day camp

6 10 Exhibits and Displays

6 11 Fresh Air Camp

7 1 Fresh Air Camp
       1969, 1978

7 2 Group Photos
     Note: See also Oversize Photographs, Box 9

7 3 Head Start

7 4 Holidays
       ca. 1930, 1955,ca. 1970s

7 5 LaGuardia, Fiorello
       ca. 1880s, 1930s

7 6 Medical Care

7 7 Miscellaneous

7 8 Neighborhood Scenes, ca.
       1900, 1950s

7 9 Performances
     Note: See also Oversize Photographs, Box 9

7 10 Performances

8 1 Roof Garden

8 2 Seniors
     Note: See also Oversize Photographs, Box 9

8 3 Sports
     Note: See also Oversize Photographs, Box 9

8 4 Staff

8 5 Teens

8 6 Wagner, Robert

8 7 Contact Sheets


8 8 Activities

8 9 Boy Scouts

8 10 Buildings

8 11 Children
       1940s, 1984

8 12 Day Camp

8 13 Exhibits and Displays

8 14 Fresh Air Camp

8 15 Holidays

8 16 Miscellaneous
       1963, [nd]

8 17 Performances

8 18 Roof Garden

8 19 Sports
       1950, 1980s

8 20 Staff


8 21 Harlem Historical Scenes

   --Oversize Photographs

9  Oversize Photographs