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Guide to the Claire Yaffa New York Foundling Hospital Photograph Collection
1979-2012 (bulk 1979-1999)
 PR 299

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


© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Twila Rios

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on August 01, 2013
Description is in English

Scope and Contents note

The Claire Yaffa New York Foundling Hospital Photograph Collection contains approximately 1000 photographic prints, 600 contact sheets and 100 mounted prints of clients and staff at the New York Foundling Hospital, as well as some related documents. It spans the years 1979 - 2012, with the majority of the photographs taken in the 1980’s and 1990’s. All photos were taken by Claire Yaffa. Most mounted or matted prints are signed. The majority of the photographs are gelatin silver prints. However, there is one folder of 8 x 10 and smaller color prints and one folder of color contact sheets.

The bulk of the photographs are portraits of young children, mothers with their children, or staff and volunteers with children. Sub-series I.1 "Identified Programs" contains only photographs where the program portrayed has been clearly identified. These include centralized programs such as the Skilled Nursing Facility in Manhattan (also called the The Medical Center for Pediatrics and Rehabilitative care), the St. Agatha Home, Mother’s Social Services, the Crisis Nursery, and the Temporary Shelter, as well as community based programs such as Project Basement, Pathway, and the Bronx Community Center. In addition there are photos of the Head Start programs in Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rico photographs are unique in including shots of exteriors and interiors of client’s homes and shots of neighborhoods in Puerto Rico in addition to portraits and photos of program activities.

Series I.2 "Unidentified Programs" includes photographs that were not labeled as to program. However it appears that the majority of the portraits of children and of mothers with their children were taken at the Temporary Shelter program or the Crisis Nursery. It appears that the majority of photographs of older children and adolescents were taken in group homes or activities under the administration of St. Agatha Home.

Some of the photographs in this collection were displayed in an exhibit at the International Center of Photography (ICP) in 1987 entitled “Reaching Out.” Copies of the monograph of the same name are included in the collection. Also included are signed posters, color prints and contact sheets, mounted black and white prints, correspondence and notes related to this exhibit.

Contact sheets are included of Puerto Rico and of other, unidentified programs. As the contact sheets contain numerous photos for which there is no print, these provide a more comprehensive documentation of the New York Foundling.

Two boxes of documents contain correspondence to Claire Yaffa, notes, biographical information on Claire Yaffa and Vincent J. Fontana, writing drafts of both Yaffa and Fontana, photocopied articles relating to child abuse or the Foundling, publications of the Foundling, photograph and interview releases, and type-written transcripts of interviews with mothers at the Temporary Shelter.

One copy of the book The Foundling: The Story of The New York Foundling Hospital is also included.

Arrangement note

This collection has been organized by format into two series:

Series I: Photographs

Series II: Documents

Photographs have been further arranged by subject matter and by size. Small photographic prints and contact sheets (8 x 10 and smaller) are housed in boxes 1 through 4. Medium size prints and contact sheets (up to 11 x 14) are housed in box 5 and 6. Documents are in boxes 7 and 8. Large format (16 x 20) and mounted or matted prints, mounted contact sheets, and posters are housed in boxes 9 through 11. Oversized unmounted prints and matted prints(20 x 24) are housed in flat files. See the container list for specific box and folder locations.