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Series I: Predecessor Organizations
Series IV: Executive Director Files, 1960-1994
At a Glance
Arranged in seven series.
The records include annual reports, board minutes, budgets, by-laws, correspondence, memos, publications, reports, scrapbooks, photographs and printed material. They document the settlement and its antecedent institutions from 1854 to 1994, offering a unique view of the first wave of the settlement house movement in America, as well as related philanthropy and social welfare activities in New York City over a 140 year period. The origins of Goddard-Riverside Community Center are documented in Series I, which includes eight institutional subseries. These records provide a wealth of information on philanthropic, social welfare and settlement work from the mid-19th century through the 1950s. Series II - IV document the activities of the settlement from 1959 to the 1990s, with a particular emphasis on the urban renewal period of the 1960s. Items in Series VII include photographs of staff, activities, facilities of Goddard-Riverside Community Center, as well as several of its predecessor institutions.
The Goddard-Riverside Community Center Collection documents the settlement and its antecedent institutions from 1854 to 1994. The records offer a unique view of the first wave of the settlement house movement in America, as well as related philanthropic and social welfare activities from the mid-19th century to the present. The records document social conditions, demographic change, political activity, and philanthropy in New York City over a 140 year period.
The origins of Goddard-Riverside Community Center (GRCC) are documented in the "Predecessor Institutions" series, which includes eight subseries. These records provide a wealth of information on philanthropic, social welfare and settlement work from the mid- 19th century through the 1950s. Highlights include minutes of the Wilson Industrial School for Girls dating from the 1850s; scrapbooks, publications and conference materials from the most active years of the Child Study Association of America; and annual reports of the Friendly Aid Society which document the career of Mary Kingsbury Simkhovitch prior to the establishment of Greenwich House. Also documented in this series are the several mergers of predecessor institutions which led to the formation of GRCC. Some records in the "Predecessor Organizations" series have been water damaged and are fragile.
The beginning stages of the West Side Urban Renewal Project (WSURP) and its impact on the upper west side are documented by records in the "Administration" and "Executive Director Files" series. These include files on the Goddard Towers housing co-operative sponsored by GRCC as part of WSURP, and minutes of neighborhood committees with which the settlement was affiliated. The "Board of Directors" series contains minutes and reports which provide insight on the development of settlement policies and programs in response to changes in the neighborhood.
The "Bernie Wohl" subseries of the "Executive Director Files" provides an excellent overview of all areas of GRCC functioning from 1972 through the early 1990s, a period of tremendous expansion in programs and services. GRCC programs for this period are further documented in the "Programs and Activities" and "Stephen Russo Files" series.
The "Audio-Visual" series includes photographs of GRCC staff, board members, programs and activities, as well as those of several of its predecessor institutions. Also included are audio-tapes of a 1976 Child Study/Wel-Met conference.
There are gaps in several areas of the collection. None of the subseries in the "Predecessor Organizations" series provides complete documentation of all areas of institutional activity. In each subseries there are occasional breaks in the chronology of either reports, minutes or correspondence.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.
Boxes 106-109 contain program records with client information of a confidential nature and are closed to researchers, with the exception of Goddard-Riverside Community Center staff, board members, or their approved agents, until 2060. All other records are open to research use without restrictions.
This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Goddard-Riverside Community Center records; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
See: Settlement House Records Registers.
Records held by other repositories that are related to this collection include: the Child Study Association of America Records at the Social Welfare History Archives, University of Minnesota; the Greenwich House Records at the Tamiment Library, New York University; and the Mary Kingsbury Simkhovitch Papers at Schlesinger Library, Harvard University.
Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact email@example.com for more information.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Records: Source of acquisition--GRCC. Method of acquisition--Gift; Date of acquisition--01/23/1995. Accession number--M-95-01-23.
Gift of the Goddard-Riverside Community Center, 1995.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Processed by James Moske and Holly MacCammon, 1996. Records Added to RLIN HR 05/10/2002.
2010-01-28 Legacy finding aid created from Pro Cite.
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
Social settlement founded in 1959 through the merger of Riverside Community House and Goddard Neighborhood Center. Located on the upper West Side of Manhattan, the settlement provides such community services as day care, Head Start, athletics, college readiness programs, and a senior citizen center.
Goddard-Riverside Community Center was established in 1959 by the merger of two settlement houses, Riverside Community House and Goddard Neighborhood Center. Each of these institutions traced its origins to the earliest years of the settlement movement. 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 this movement was initiated in London in 1884 with the founding of Toynbee Hall. The model was imported to the United States in 1886 when Neighborhood Guild was established on New York's lower east side in response to such urban conditions as poor housing inadequate health care lack of educational opportunity and crime. 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.,
Riverside Community House was established in 1887 by the Reverend Edward Houghton of the Chapel of the Transfiguration. Originally called Riverside Day Nursery, it provided child care for working mothers in the neighborhood of West 63rd Street. During the 1930s programs were expanded to serve residents of all ages and included social clubs Fresh Air Camp and medical examinations. To reflect this wider range of activities the institution's name was unofficially changed to the West 63rd Street Community House and in 1939 it was legally re-incorporated as Riverside Community House. In 1954 Riverside Community House merged with the Wilson Industrial School for Girls an institution founded one hundred years earlier to provide young women on Manhattan's lower east side with domestic and industrial training. Wilson School programs later included clubs for boys a medical dispensary a day nursery and religious instruction through the Wilson Mission. In 1908 the Wilson School moved to a new building on West 69th Street where it operated through the 1930s. By 1941 all programs were discontinued however and the board invited Riverside Community House to occupy its building rent-free. This arrangement lasted until the 1954 merger when Riverside Community House took title to the Wilson School building.,
Goddard Neighborhood Center was organized in 1892 by the Unitarian Church as "The Friendly Aid Society." The settlement ran a kindergarten, health clinic and recreation programs from two brownstones on East 34th Street. Among the settlement's early headworkers was Mary Kingsbury Simkhovitch who later came to prominence as founder and director of Greenwich House. During the early 1930s the Friendly Aid Society was renamed Goddard Neighborhood Center in honor of Warren Goddard its first board president.,
By the late 1950s both Riverside Community House and Goddard Neighborhood Center were interested in re-locating to other parts of the city. Major construction projects were changing the character of their neighborhoods by displacing the low-income residents who were their traditional constituents. In the same period the City Planning Commission announced plans for low and middle income housing projects in the area bounded by 87th and 97th Streets between Amsterdam Avenue and Central Park West. The "West Side Urban Renewal Project" (WSURP), launched in 1958 entailed the demolition of hundreds of apartment buildings subsidies for the rehabilitation of others the construction of public housing projects and the reconfiguration of streets,
During the ensuing decades WSURP provided thousands of people with new homes, it also brought residents, community institutions and politicians into conflict. The displacement of tenants the proposed locations of public housing projects and the activities of social service agencies in the community were some of the sources of social tension engendered by the plan.,
Anticipating the needs of a community about to undergo a major transformation, Riverside Community House and Goddard Neighborhood Center merged in 1959 to form Goddard-Riverside Community Center GRCC and consolidated their work in the heart of the WSURP district. Administrative offices were opened in a brownstone on West 87th street and programs were organized at several locations. These included teen centers at local schools a senior citizen 60 Plus Club and a day nursery. In addition a 135 acre camp facility in Rifton NY was acquired by GRCC through a 1960 merger with Pioneer Youth of America. Using these facilities GRCC worked for the integration of an increasingly diverse community through its recreational cultural housing and social service programs.,
Under the leadership of Executive Director Tom Wolfe, GRCC during the 1960s participated in WSURP through the Phoenix Project which provided low-income families with moving assistance and domestic education classes supervised by middle-income volunteers. The settlement also sponsored Goddard Towers a low-middle income housing cooperative, participated in planning medical services for the community through the Neighborhood Health Council, and sought improved police-community relations with its "Operation Friend". Through its membership in Strykers Bay Neighborhood Council GRCC worked with other community institutions to influence the course of WSURP. ,
After Tom Wolfe's untimely death in 1971, Bernie Wohl was hired as GRCC Executive Director. Wohl grew up in the Goddard-Riverside Neighborhood and had broad settlement house experience. Under his dynamic leadership GRCC expanded its youth creative arts and senior citizen programs. A special emphasis was placed on tenant advocacy and housing issues through establishment of the SRO Law Project and by sponsorship and management of renovated buildings. GRCC was a pioneer in social services for the homeless through its Project Reach Out. The West Side AIDS Project providing counselling and referrals for people with AIDS and the OPTIONS educational and career counselling service are other GRCC innovations. Established programs such as Head Start day care and the senior center have continued to flourish.,
In 1985 Goddard-Riverside acquired new campgrounds through a merger with Child Study Association of America/Wel-Met, Inc. The Child Study Association of America was founded in 1888 as the Society for the Study of Child Nature. What began as a small discussion group for mothers grew under the leadership of Sidonie Gruenberg into an influential national organization that promoted its views on child-rearing through the news media conferences and publications. The name of the organization was changed in 1912 to Federation for Child Study and in 1924 to Child Study Association of America CSAA In 1973 CSAA merged with Wel-Met Inc. a non-profit organization established in 1935 by the Metropolitan League of Jewish Community Associations to operate country camps for urban residents. Camping programs for all ages were an important component of GRCC's work until the early 1990s when budget cuts forced their discontinuation., and
In 1983 GRCC consolidated several of its programs and administrative functions at 593 Columbus Avenue, while continuing to operate other programs elsewhere in the neighborhood. During the 1990s GRCC remains among New York's most active settlement houses providing services to over 12 000 people annually.