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At a Glance
This collection is arranged into 6 series.
The records include annual reports, correspondence, memos, minutes, program files, news clippings, administrative records and photographs. They document the agency from its origins in a committee led by the Lenox Hill Neighborhood Association to its work during the 1990s providing social services to thousands of East Side residents. The founding and early history of the Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center are best documented by minutes in Series II, showing the collaboration between the New York City Housing Authority and the Lenox Hill Neighborhood Association to establish the agency. They also offer the most comprehensive view of administrative, fundraising and program decisions from the early years to the 1990s. This series is supplemented by architectural drawings and plans for the community center in Series VI. Program records in Series V focus on the period 1980-90, with a few items from the 1960s and '70s. The agency's fundraising efforts are documented in Series III, which includes correspondence with foundations and individuals, donor lists and committee files.
The Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center Records document the agency from its origins in a committee led by Lenox Hill Neighborhood Association, to its work during the 1990s providing social services to thousands of Yorkville and East Harlem residents. They document social conditions, demographic change, political activity, and philanthropy on Manhattan's upper east side over a thirty-five year period. The records span from 1960 to 1995, and include: Board of Directors minutes and correspondence; annual reports; Executive Director correspondence; program files; development records; and audio-visual materials.
The origins and early history of Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center are best documented in the "Board of Directors" series. Swope/Isaacs Committee minutes from as early as 1960 show collaboration between NYCHA, LHNA and various social service institutions to establish SMINC. Board of Directors minutes chronicle the construction of the center, its program development, and its incorporation as an independent agency. They also offer the most comprehensive view of administrative, fundraising and program decisions from these early years to the 1990s. The Board of Directors files are supplemented by architectural drawings and plans for the community center in the "Audio-Visual Materials" series.
Records in the "Programs and Services" series focus on the period 1980-90, with a few items from the 1960s and '70s. Of particular interest are case records of now deceased participants in the Meals on Wheels and Adult and Senior Citizen programs. These files include family background, service descriptions, and often detailed case notes over an extended period of time. They provide a fascinating glimpse into the lives of SMINC members, as well as the attitudes and approaches of center staff towards their clients. "Programs and Services" files also include proposals, budgets, correspondence and flyers. Some additional proposals and reports may also be found appended to correspondence in the "Development" and "Executive Director" series.
The very successful history of fundraising by SMINC is thoroughly documented in the "Development" series which includes correspondence with foundations and individuals, donor lists, committee files and records of the Stuyvesant Square Thrift Shop. The "Executive Director" series also contains correspondence thanking donors for contributions, as well as reports and proposals to foundations.
Unfortunately there is no Executive Director Correspondence prior to the 1980s, and very few administrative or program records prior to the 1970s. However, the records of Lenox Hill Neighborhood House (formerly Lenox Hill Neighborhood Association), located at Hunter College Archives, contain 2 linear feet of records from Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center and its antecedent committees dating from 1960-1970. These records are included in "Series IV - Related Organizations" of "The Lenox Hill Neighborhood House Collection." They include chronological correspondence, minutes, program records and New York City Housing Authority files. These records document the founding of SMINC, its early functioning as an Associate Committee of the LHNA Board of Directors, and its incorporation as an independent agency. Two files from the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House Collection - "Board Minutes, 1960-63", and "Board Minutes, 1964-68" - have been photocopied and added to the Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center Records. These files were selected for photocopying because of their importance to an understanding of the planning and founding of Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center. They have been integrated into "Series II - Board of Directors" and are located in Box 10 Folders 6-8. Researchers interested in a complete picture of the early years are encouraged to consult all of the material at Hunter College Archives.
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.
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. Oversized rolls are located on-site.
This collection has no restrictions.
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); Stanley M. Issacs Neighborhood Center Records; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Records: Source of acquisition--The agency. Method of acquisition--Gift; Date of acquisition--09/22/1994. Accession number--M-94-09-22.
Gift of the Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center, 1994.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Records added to RLIN HR 05/09/2002.
This finding aid was prepared by LaGuardia and Wagner Archives of LaGuardia Community College, The City University of New York for Columbia University Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and was made possible by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.
The Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center 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 guidance and inspiration to the project 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; Wanda Wooten, Executive Director, Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center; and Walter Higley, Assistant Executive Director, Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center.
The records of Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center were surveyed by archivists from the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives New York City Settlement House Records Survey Project during January-March 1994. The survey identified for preservation 30 linear feet of records and recommended that they be donated to the Rare Book and Manuscript Library of Columbia University. The Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center Board of Directors accepted this recommendation and donated the records to Columbia University on September 22, 1994.
At the time of the donation the bulk of the records were roughly arranged in six series, which were maintained in processing the collection. The collection now measures 21.25 linear feet, contained in 48 document cases and three oversize rolls. All records are open to research use without restrictions.
The records were processed during September 1995 by James Moske and Holly MacCammon of the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives New York City Settlement House Records Preservation Project, funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. Processing was supervised by Bernard Crystal, Curator of Manuscripts, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University.
2010-03-11 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
In 1959 the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) drew up plans for a public housing project on 1st Avenue between 93rd and 95th Streets. The design for "Swope Houses" called for 45% of apartments to be reserved for tenants over the age of 62. Like many other NYCHA projects built in this period, Swope Houses would include a community center to provide recreational and social services to its residents. A history of successful collaboration with settlement houses encouraged NYCHA to invite Lenox Hill Neighborhood Association (LHNA), a settlement located on East 70th Street, to sponsor the community center at Swope Houses. Before accepting, LHNA promoted public discussion of the new center by convening the "Swope Housing Project Committee for a Community Center" that included representatives of such institutions as Lenox Hill Hospital, Yorkville Civic Council, East Side House, James Weldon Johnson Community Centers Inc., Children's Aid Society, and the Junior League. Sub-committees were formed to consider sponsorship, finances, physical lay-out, and services of the community center. In 1961 the committee and NYCHA agreed that LHNA would sponsor the Swope community center, and that an emphasis would be placed on developing programs and services for the aging. With an initial grant from the Junior League, LHNA hired Mrs. Davida Rabb to coordinate program development.
During 1962, two unforseen events modified LHNA plans for the community center. First was NYCHA's announcement of construction of an additional housing project (first called "Swope South" but later renamed "John Haynes Holmes Towers") on First Avenue between 92nd and 93rd Streets. Over 60% of Swope South apartments were reserved for elderly tenants. The LHNA-sponsored community center would now serve a much larger population, and would need to devote even more attention to the needs of the aged.
The second event was the death of politician Stanley M. Isaacs. Isaacs was Manhattan Borough President from 1938 until 1941, and member of the New York City Council from 1941-1962, where he was Republican minority leader from 1950-62. Isaacs was a strong advocate of public housing, civil rights, and urban development. He served as President of United Neighborhood Houses, President and board member of Educational Alliance, and was active on the boards of such organizations as Citizens Housing Council, the Baron de Hirsch Fund, and the Wiltwyck School. In addition to his many public activities, Isaacs maintained private practice in real estate law. At LHNA's request, NYCHA agreed to rename Swope Houses Stanley M. Isaacs Houses, and also to dedicate the community center to his memory.
In 1964 Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center (SMINC) was formally established as an "Associate Committee" of the LHNA Board of Directors, with its decisions subject to LHNA approval. At the same time, SMINC obtained independent incorporation and formed its own board of directors, with Isaacs' widow Edith as Honorary Chair. This dual structure enabled funds to be raised for SMINC directly, rather than through LHNA. It also anticipated an eventual separation from LHNA once the new agency was on its feet (the legal division was effected in 1968.)
The first apartments at Isaacs Houses were occupied in March 1965. Under the leadership of a new Director, Marvin Sicherman, SMINC opened its doors in January 1966. As planned, services for the elderly were at the heart of the new center's work. These included a low-cost cafeteria where lunch was served daily, referrals and counselling, a health clinic and an innovative "Senior Resident Advisor" who lived in the housing project and helped tenants adjust to the challenges of life in a new community. The advisor acted as a liaison with building management, and guided seniors to appropriate social services. A Meals on Wheels program was started at SMINC in November 1967, with funding from the New York State Office for the Aging. This successful demonstration project, modeled on similar programs elsewhere in the U.S., was soon emulated across New York City.
SMINC's work was not limited to the elderly, however. Sponsorship of a youth center at John Haynes Holmes Towers was granted by NYCHA in March 1966. Within the next few years this facility housed programs such as a nursery school, teen recreational and social groups, and vocational guidance. SMINC also organized classes and clubs for younger adult residents of the projects during this period.
In 1969 SMINC joined United Neighborhood Houses, the umbrella organization of New York settlement houses which Stanley Isaacs had served as board president. That same year Charles I. Katze was appointed as the new Executive Director. During his tenure SMINC broadened its commitment beyond the Isaacs/Holmes projects to encompass the entire Yorkville and East Harlem area. The Board of Directors took an interest in local housing issues, sought to attract young people from the surrounding community to the center, and agreed to sponsor a new facility at the Knickerbocker Plaza apartment complex on 90th Street between Second and Third Avenues. During the 1970s programs were expanded to include English and citizenship classes for adults, tutoring for students, day camp, a community thrift shop, and telephone reassurance for seniors.
Charles Katze was succeeded in 1978 by Carol Tweedy. Tweedy oversaw the development of programs to encourage greater independence among the homebound elderly, such as the Independent Living Program, and Social Activities for the Frail Elderly. A Family Center was begun, offering counselling and GED assistance to parents, and after school activities for young people were organized at P.S. 198. By the end of the 1980s SMINC had outgrown its original quarters, and a $2.1 million capital campaign was launched to enlarge the center's buildings. Renovations were completed in 1991. That same year, former Development Director Wanda Wooten was appointed Executive Director.