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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.

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.


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