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Guide to the Emergency Shelter Records
1928-1988 (Bulk 1929-1975)
  MS 199

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


@ 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Processed by Maurita Baldock

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on October 21, 2011
Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

 
Creator: Emergency Shelter, Inc.
Title: Emergency Shelter Records
Dates: 1928-1988 (Bulk 1929-1975)
Abstract: The collection documents the history of a men's homeless shelter that existed in Manhattan from 1929-1990. It includes photographs, slides, brochures, flyers, scrapbooks, letters, articles, and reports.
Quantity: 6.5 Linear feet (13 archival boxes and one oversize box)
Location note: Manuscript cage
Call Phrase: MS 199

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Historical Note

Aug. 1929 The Greater New York Gospel Mission is started by businessmen, including Walter Britt, to help homeless and unemployed men regardless of their religious beliefs. The Mission is located on 36 E. 8th Street, near Fifth Avenue.
Oct. 1929 The stock market crashes. The Mission provides food and shelter to the unemployed.
1931 The Mission moves to 257-261 Greene Street, rented from Sailors' Snug Harbor.
1932 The Greater New York Gospel Mission becomes Emergency Shelter, Inc. Walter Britt is named Director, Charles L. Lawrance Treasurer, and James J. Moore, Secretary.
1933 The Shelter purchases property near Middle Island on Long Island, called Spring Brook. The property provides an opportunity for men to get out of the city and has as a farm, a store, and a gas station for work opportunities. The Shelter also has a program in which underpriviledged children from New York City reside at Spring Brook.
1936 Emergency Shelter moves to 69 St. Mark's Place, where it remains until it closes 54 years later.
1940-1950 The Shelter's services are mostly used by single men who are aging or suffering from emotional problems.
1950 The property on Middle Island is sold and nine acres of land and a small house are purchased in Yorktown Heights, New York. The new property, called Shelter Rock, has accommodations for forty men and is used to train men for rural employment.
1956 Founder Walter Britt retires from the Emergency Shelter and is succeeded by Major Leon B. deGarmo.
1960 Maj. Leon B. deGarmo leaves the Emergency Shelter and the Executive Director position is filled by J. Boyce Mooney.
1962 The property known as Shelter Rock is reclaimed by New York State under eminent domain to reroute the Taconic State Parkway.
1963 Realizing that no organization provides for homeless teenagers, the Emergency Shelter begins a program for boys ages of 16 and 20 years of age. The Shelter provides counseling, tutoring, vocational training, and recreational activities for the young men. The Rev. Leonard A. Schneider becomes the Executive Director.
1967 As the number of older men seeking assistance continues to drop, the Shelter begins focusing primarily on young men between 16-20 years of age.
1985 The Shelter opens a small facility for young women between the ages of 16 and 20 in Elmhurst, Queens.
1987 Emergency Shelter, Inc. leases apartments and rents them out to graduates of the Shelter. Both young men and women participate in this transitional and independent living program.
1990 The Emergency Shelter is absorbed into Leake and Watts, a New York City child care agency.

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Scope and Content Note

The Emergency Shelter collection documents 60 years of efforts to help homeless men and boys (and eventually girls) in New York City. It is arranged according to subject matter or type of material and is housed in 12 archival boxes and 1 oversize box. The collection contains photographs, brochures, flyers, scrapbooks, letters, articles, reports, slides, and films.

The collection includes information on the changing needs of the homeless male population from 1929-1990. It consists of fund-rasing materials, photographs, slides, financial statements, and articles. The materials document a shift in Shelter residents from middle-aged, unemployed men to teenage boys that also reflects the changing nature of the homeless population in New York City.

The collection contains a large amount of brochures and appeal letters mailed for fund-raising purposes. Besides asking for contributions, the materials sent out for fund-raising describe the needs of the homeless men and the programs that the Shelter offers. Likewise, the large number of photographs in the collection depict the men who used the Shelter's services and their differing needs. For instance, the photographs show homeless men during the Depression receiving suits and job assistance while the boys who resided at the Shelter during the 1970's are depicted partaking in counseling and tutoring sessions. Personal information and religious writings by Walter Britt, the Shelter's founder and director for 25 years, are also included in the collection.

There is little correspondence or administrative information on the day-to-day running of the Shelter in the collection. Although a small number of case histories of homeless men are included, they only exist for 1931 and the 1950's. Only a small amount of promotional material exists on the Emergency Shelter's women's shelter in Queens.

Arrangement

Most of the collection is arranged by type of material. The majority of the material is then arranged chronologically.

The Emergency Shelter Collection has been organized into the following eleven series:

  1. Series 1: Histories of the Emergency Shelter, 1932-1987
  2. Series 2: Information on Residents of the Shelter (RESTRICTED FOR 75 YEARS FROM DATE OF CREATION), 1931-1960
  3. Series 3: Fund-raising Material, 1930-1989
  4. Series 4: Financial Records, 1929-1947
  5. Series 5: Photographs, 1930-1989
  6. Series 6: Slides 1930-1975, undated
  7. Series 7: Films, 1930-1939, undated
  8. Series 8: Materials Relating to Walter D. Britt, 1927-1950, undated
  9. Series 9: Newspaper Articles, 1928-1985
  10. Series 10: Conferences and Studies on Homelessness and Homelessness Issues, 1929-1934
  11. Series 11: Real Estate Documentation, 1969

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Britt, Walter, D.

Document Type

  • Articles
  • Bank statements
  • Checks
  • Clippings
  • Correspondence
  • Financial Statements
  • Fliers (printed matter)
  • Motion pictures
  • Pamphlets
  • Photographs
  • Receipts
  • Reports
  • Scrapbooks
  • Slides

Subject Organizations

  • Greater New York Gospel Mission

Subject Topics

  • Church work with the homeless–New York (State)–New York
  • Fundraising
  • Homeless persons–New York (State)--New York
  • Homeless youth–New York (State)–New York
  • Homelessness–New York (State)–New York
  • Runaway teenagers–New York (State)–New York
  • Shelters for the homeless–New York (State)–New York
  • Unemployment–New York (State)–New York

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Administrative Information

Provenance

Donation by Daniel Spiwack of the Emergency Shelter, 1990.

Access Restrictions

Two folders of resident case histories are restricted for 75 years from the date of creation. The scrapbooks in box 13 are restricted due to the poor condition of the materials. The rest of the collection is open to qualified researchers.

Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to twenty exposures of stable, unbound material per day. (Researchers may not accrue unused copy amounts from previous days.) See guidelines in Reading Room for details.

Use Restrictions

Permission to quote from this collection in a publication must be requested and granted in writing. Send permission requests, citing the name of the collection from which you wish to quote to

Library Director
The New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as the Emergency Shelter Records, The New-York Historical Society.

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Container List

Series 1: Histories of the Emergency Shelter, 1932-1987

Scope and Contents note

This series includes short histories of the Emergency Shelter and its programs. Most of the histories appear to be written for internal use and are unpublished.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Histories of the Emergency Shelter and its Program Development
1932-1987

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Series 2: Information on Residents of the Shelter 1931-1960, (RESTRICTED FOR 75 YEARS FROM DATE OF CREATION)

Scope and Contents note

This series contains personal information and circumstances of the men in the Shelter. The first folder contains a Daybook from 1931 that lists men who were staying at the Shelter and details their name, age, religion, profession, closest relation, and activities or illnesses they had on a particular day. The second folder of material consists of correspondence and short reports detailing the whereabouts or condition of particular men.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Daybook of Residents-RESTRICTED FOR 75 YEARS FROM DATE OF CREATION
1931
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Case Histories-RESTRICTED FOR 75 YEARS FROM DATE OF CREATION
1952-1960

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Series 3: Fund-raising Material, 1930-1989

Scope and Contents note

This series includes scrapbooks of material as well as loose letters and brochures created for the purpose of raising money for the Shelter. The scrapbooks contain letters and brochures mailed for specific fund-raising campaigns, which were generally held around holidays such as Christmas, Easter, or the 4th of July. The scrapbooks also detail the number of letters mailed, the cost for their printing and mailing, and the number of contributions received. The brochures and flyers, in the scrapbooks and loose, explain the problems of homelessness and the programs of the shelter and generally ask for a donation. Similarly, the letters, loose and inside the scrapbooks, evoke the sentiments of a particular holiday and ask for contributions to the Shelter. Some programs from dances and other fund-raising events of the 1980's are also included.

This series also contains plans for the making of a brochure, ideas for promotions on television and radio, and Shelter newsletters.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Scrapbook of Fund-raising Materials
1941 Mar.-1942 Feb.
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Scrapbook of Fund-raising Materials
1942 Mar.-1943 Mar.
Box: 2 Folder : 1 Scrapbook of Fund-raising Materials
1943 Apr.-1944 Mar.
Box: 2 Folder : 2 Scrapbook of Fund-raising Materials
1944 Apr.-1945 Feb.
Box: 2 Folder : 3 Scrapbook of Fund-raising Materials
1945 Mar.-1946 Mar.
Box: 2 Folder : 4 Scrapbook of Fund-raising Materials
1946 Apr.-1947 Mar.
Box: 3 Folder : 1 Scrapbook of Fund-raising Materials
1947 Mar.-1948 Apr.
Box: 3 Folder : 2 Scrapbook of Fund-raising Materials
1948 Mar.-1949 Mar.
Box: 3 Folder : 3 Scrapbook of Fund-raising Materials
1951 Mar.-1952 Mar.
Box: 3 Folder : 4 Scrapbook of Fund-raising Materials
1952 Apr.-1953 Mar.
Box: 4 Folder : 1 Scrapbook of Fund-raising Materials
1953 Mar.-1954 Mar.
Box: 4 Folder : 2 Scrapbook of Fund-raising Materials
1954 Apr.-1965 June
Box: 4 Folder : 3 Letters of Appeal
[1930-1939]
Box: 4 Folder : 4 Letters of Appeal
1964-1968
Box: 4 Folder : 5 Brochures and Flyers
[1930-1939]
Box: 4 Folder : 6 Brochures and Flyers
[1940-1949]
Box: 4 Folder : 7 Brochures and Flyers
[1950-1959]
Box: 4 Folder : 8 Brochures and Flyers
[1960-1969]
Box: 5 Folder : 1 Brochures and Flyers
[1960-1969]
Box: 5 Folder : 2 Brochures and Flyers
[1970-1979]
Box: 5 Folder : 3 Brochures and Flyers
[1980-1989]
Box: 5 Folder : 4 Brochures and Flyers
[1980-1989]
Box: 5 Folder : 5 Radio Broadcast Campaign Plans
[1930-1949]
Box: 5 Folder : 6 Notes for the making of the 1969 brochure
[1969]
Box: 5 Folder : 7 Shelter Newsletters
[1970-1989]
Box: 5 Folder : 8 Television Commercial Still
[1980-1989]
Box: 13 Folder : 1 Scrapbook of Fund-raising Materials, RESTRICTED DUE TO POOR CONDITION OF MATERIALS
1949 Apr.-1950 Mar.
Box: 13 Folder : 2 Scrapbook of Fund-raising Materials, RESTRICTED DUE TO POOR CONDITION OF MATERIALS
1950 Apr.-1951 Mar.
Box: 14 Folder : 1 Letters of Appeal
1938 Dec.-1941 Mar.

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Series 4: Financial Records, 1929-1947

Scope and Contents note

This series contains financial information regarding the cost of operation for the Emergency Shelter. Most of the material is Statements of Receipt and Expenditures for a particular month or year. The series also includes comparative statements for various months and years, bank statements, and cancelled checks.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 5 Folder : 9 Financial Statements
1929
Box: 5 Folder : 10 Financial Statements
1930-1939
Box: 5 Folder : 11 Financial Statements
1940-1943
Box: 5 Folder : 12 Scrapbook of Receipts and Expenditures
1933-1946
Box: 5 Folder : 13 Bank Statements and Cancelled Checks
1946-1947

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Series 5: Photographs, 1930-1989

Scope and Contents note

The photographs in the collection document the history of residents and programs of the Emergency Shelter. Many of these photographs were most likely taken with the intention to use them for promotional purposes. Although the Shelter's entire 70 year history is represented, the bulk of the photographs depict the 1930's-1940's and the late 1960's-early 1970's. Many of the dates assigned to the photographs are approximate.

Subseries I: Photographs of Shelter Buildings, Interiors and Exteriors

Scope and Contents note

Many of these photographs also depict residents of the Shelter.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 6 Folder : 1 Shelter Facade on 36 E. 8th Street
[1930]
Box: 6 Folder : 2 Shelter Facade on 69 St. Mark's Place
[1940-1959]
Box: 6 Folder : 3 Shelter Interior, Beds and Bedrooms
[1930-1949]
Box: 6 Folder : 4 Shelter Interior, Dormitories
[1960-1979]
Box: 6 Folder : 5 Shelter Interior, Dining Rooms
[1930-1949]
Box: 6 Folder : 6 Shelter Interior, Dining Rooms
[1960-1979]
Box: 6 Folder : 7 Chapel
[1930-1949]
Box: 6 Folder : 8 Lounge
[1960-1969]
Box: 6 Folder : 9 Offices
[1960-1969]
Box: 6 Folder : 10 Exterior of 345/347 East 9th Street and 147 First Avenue
[1969]
Box: 14 Folder : 2 Chapel, Dining Rooms, Dormitories
[1930-1949]
Subseries II: Photographs of Men in Shelter Programs

Scope and Contents note

This subseries depicts men utilizing Shelter programs such as counseling, tutoring, employment training.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 6 Folder : 11 Individual Counseling
[1970-1979]
Box: 6 Folder : 12 Group Counseling
[1965-1979]
Box: 6 Folder : 13 Family Counseling
[1970-1979]
Box: 6 Folder : 14 Education
[1970-1979]
Box: 6 Folder : 15 Men Receiving New Clothes
[1940-1949]
Box: 6 Folder : 16 Men Handing Over Tickets to Shelter
[1940-1959]
Box: 7 Folder : 1 Employment
[1930-1949]
Box: 7 Folder : 2 Employment/Vocational Training
[1970-1979]
Box: 7 Folder : 3 Children's Outing at Spring Brook
[1930-1949]
Subseries III: Photographs of Residents of Shelter

Scope and Contents note

These photographs include individual and group shots as well as photos that were candid or posed.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 7 Folder : 4 Individual Men
[1940-1959]
Box: 7 Folder : 5 Individual Men
[1970]
Box: 7 Folder : 6 Individual Men
[1970]
Box: 7 Folder : 7 Groups of Men
[1930-1949]
Box: 7 Folder : 8 Groups of Men
[1960-1979]
Box: 7 Folder : 9 Individual Men and Groups of Men to be Used in Brochure
1968-1972
Subseries IV: Photographs of Recreation and Holiday Celebrations

Scope and Contents note

This subseries depicts field trips and the holiday celebrations that took place inside the shelter.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 7 Folder : 10 Recreation
[1940-1959]
Box: 7 Folder : 11 Recreation
[1970-1979]
Box: 7 Folder : 12 Spring Brook
[1930-1949]
Box: 7 Folder : 13 Spring Brook
[1930-1949]
Box: 7 Folder : 14 Spring Brook
[1930-1949]
Box: 8 Folder : 1 Spring Brook
[1930-1949]
Box: 8 Folder : 2 Lake George Weekend Excursions
[1960-1979]
Box: 8 Folder : 3 Christmas Celebration
[1940-1959]
Box: 8 Folder : 4 Christmas
[1980-1989]
Box: 8 Folder : 5 Easter
1953
Box: 8 Folder : 6 Victory Celebration at End of World War II
1945
Box: 14 Folder : 3 Shelter Summer Outings/Ceremony Honoring Amelia Earhart
1937, [1970]
Subseries V: Photographs of the Shelter Administration

Scope and Contents note

The photographs in this subseries depict the men in the administration and several meetings. The residents are generally not represented in this subseries.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 8 Folder : 7 Walter Britt
[1930-1949]
Box: 8 Folder : 8 Leonard Schneider
[1960-1969]
Box: 8 Folder : 9 Administrative Meetings
[1930-1939]
Box: 8 Folder : 10 Tour of Shelter for Greater New York Fund
[1970]
Box: 14 Folder : 4 Meetings, Walter Britt, Leonard Schneider
[1930-1969]
Subseries VI: Photographs of New York City

Scope and Contents note

This subseries consists of photographs in New York City that appear to be unrelated to the Shelter.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 8 Folder : 11 New York City Street Scenes
[1930-1949]
Box: 8 Folder : 12 New York City Street Scenes
[1960-1979]

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Series 6: Slides, 1930-1975, undated

Scope and Contents note

This series contains slides, mostly from the late 1960's and early 1970's, of recreation and programsof the Emergency Shelter. The slides document weekend trips and depict various everyday activities such as studying and cleaning. The slides are organized chronologically according to the date imprinted on them and are housed in three slide boxes within Box 9.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 9 Folder : 1 Outside the Shelter
1968 July
Box: 9 Folder : 1 Recreation
1969 Mar.
Box: 9 Folder : 1 Lake George
1969 July 4
Box: 9 Folder : 1 Street Scenes
1969 Aug.
Box: 9 Folder : 1 Weekend at Mystic Seaport
1969 Sept.
Box: 9 Folder : 1 Recreation/Cleaning
1969 Dec.
Box: 9 Folder : 1 Recreation/Christmas
1970 Jan.
Box: 9 Folder : 2 Recreation/Christmas (continued)
1970 Jan.
Box: 9 Folder : 2 Winter Camping, indoor and outdoor shots
1970 Feb.
Box: 9 Folder : 2 Summer Excursion at Lake George
1970 July
Box: 9 Folder : 2 Recreation/Studying
1971 Mar.
Box: 9 Folder : 2 Leonard Counseling
1971 May
Box: 9 Folder : 2 Studying
1971 May
Box: 9 Folder : 2 Slides- Turkey Carving
1971 July
Box: 9 Folder : 2 Turkey Carving (continued)
1971 July
Box: 9 Folder : 3 Weekend Excursions to Mystic Seaport, Smiths Clove Restoration, Mohansic Park
1971 Aug.
Box: 9 Folder : 3 Dormitory Scenes
1972 Mar.
Box: 9 Folder : 3 Tim Huffman Interviewing Boy
1972 Mar.
Box: 9 Folder : 3 Lake George
1975 July
Box: 9 Folder : 3 New York City
[1930]
Box: 9 Folder : 3 New York City
[1970]
Box: 9 Folder : 3 Shelter Facade
undated
Box: 9 Folder : 3 Interiors of Shelter
undated
Box: 9 Folder : 3 Group Shots
undated
Box: 9 Folder : 3 Office of Shelter
undated

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Series 7: Films, 1930-1939, undated

Scope and Contents note

This series contains one film entitled "The Story of the Greater New York Gospel Mission" and one other film that is untitled.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 10 Folder : Film- "The Story of the Greater New York Gospel Mission"
[1930-1939]
Box: 10 Folder : Film-Untitled
undated

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Series 8: Materials Relating to Walter D. Britt, 1927-1950, undated

Scope and Contents note

This series contains biographical information, correspondence, and writings of the first Director of the Emergency Shelter. Britt's writings are mainly religious poetry and include Cinders and Ashes, his book of poems published in 1940. His incoming and outgoing correspondence does not directly relate to the operations of the Emergency Shelter. Some letters address Britt's resignation from a different mission and one outgoing letter to President Roosevelt suggests that the Roosevelt administration create a civilian military force for the aged or disabled. The notes in the series appear to be drafts for speeches or sermons.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 11 Folder : 1 Biographical Time Line of Walter D. Britt
[1941]
Box: 11 Folder : 2 Untitled Draft of Biography of Walter D. Britt
undated
Box: 11 Folder : 3 Scrapbook Pages Documenting Life and Work of Walter D. Britt
undated
Box: 11 Folder : 4 Writings
undated
Box: 11 Folder : 5 Incoming correspondence
1927-1941
Box: 11 Folder : 6 Outgoing correspondence
1931-1943
Box: 11 Folder : 7 Notes
undated
Box: 14 Folder : 5 Scrapbook of Writings
[1930-1950]

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Series 9: Newspaper Articles, 1928-1985

Scope and Contents note

The articles in this series generally relate to Walter Britt, the story of the Emergency Shelter, or the accomplishments of former residents of the Shelter. The articles from the scrapbook of the 1930's detail the beginnings of the Shelter and the role of Walter Britt in its success. The clippings from the 1960's-1970's report on the growing problem of homeless youths and the Emergency Shelter's change in policy to meet their needs. The articles from the 1980's report on the programs at the Shelter and praise the accomplishments of Elie Tahari, a successful fashion designer who resided at the Emergency Shelter when he first arrived in New York.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 11 Folder : 8 Newspaper Clippings on Scrapbook Pages
1928-1931
Box: 11 Folder : 9 Newspaper Clippings on Scrapbook Pages
1969-1983
Box: 12 Folder : 1 Newspaper articles
1983-1985

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Series 10: Conferences and Studies on Homelessness and Homelessness Issues, 1929-1934

Scope and Contents note

This series includes reports and notes taken from meetings on the social problems of unemployment, crime, and homelessness. The Employment Agencies Survey is a 30 page report detailing how spurious employment agencies in New York City take money from unemployed men with the promise of a job. Both the minutes from the 1932 Welfare Council Meeting and the Program from a 1934 Conference on Crime include handwritten notes on the issues discussed.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 12 Folder : 2 Employment Agencies Survey
1929-1930
Box: 12 Folder : 3 Minutes from Meeting by Welfare Council on Care of the Homeless
1932
Box: 12 Folder : 4 Program from Attorney General's Conference on Crime
1934

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Series 11: Real Estate Documentation, 1969

Scope and Contents note

This series consists of reports by a company hired by the Emergency Shelter to inspect and appraise the properties of 345/7 East 9th Street and 147 First Avenue. The reports detail the condition of the buildings and estimate the amount of money required to make particular repairs.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 12 Folder : 5 Record of Building Appraisal and Inspection
1969

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