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Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives logo

Guide to the Greenwich House Records TAM.139

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012
(212) 998-2596

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Alan Ginsberg, Stephanie Muntone and Peter Filardo (2009); Finding aid revised by to reflect portions of collection not microfilmed (2009)

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on November 04, 2020
Description is in English. using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Record updated by Weatherly Stephan to reflect scrapbooks rehoused by conservators  , October 2020

Scope and Content Note

Series one through seven document Greenwich House from its origins to the 1946 retirement of Mary Simkhovitch. Series eight covers thepost-Simkhovitch era. Series I through VI-A have been microfilmed, and researchers must use the microfilm copy (R-7088)

Series I: Administrative Records

The Administrative records series includes charters and other founding documents, reports, minutes, financial, property and personnel records. The minutes, and the monthly and annual reports of the director and the various committees are a rich source of information on the activities and administration of Greenwich House, especially for period before 1920. The director's reports summarize the work of the many departments, based on department reports maintained in the individual department files (see Program - Departments and Activities subseries). Examples of activities documented in the Administrative minutes and reports include: the 1904 installation of a bath for neighborhood use, plans for an evening clinic and visiting nurse services (1908), and Saturday evening cooking classes for boys (1903).

Among the financial records are reports and lists of contributors. The property records document the ownership, maintenance, renovation and furnishing of the several buildings to meet changing needs. The personnel records cover paid workers, residents and volunteers, and include evaluations and resumes which document their work, background, and reasons for coming to Greenwich House. Kirk Douglas and Elia Kazan were two future celebrities who applied for work at Greenwich House.

An Addendum consisting of two boxes of subsequently discovered records was not microfilmed. The container list for these boxes (17A & 17B) appear at the end of the container list for series one.


The only annual report included in the microfilm edition of the Greenwich House Records is the 1945-1946 report. Earlier annual reports are available on microfilm (Tamiment Institute Library Reel 7089).

Series II: Directors' and Executives' records

The bulk of this series consists of the extensive correspondence of Mary Simkhovitch. Although her correspondence spans her career, the bulk of the material is from the 1930s and 1940s. Simkhovitch's correspondence is arranged in four parts: Individuals, Organizations, Recommendations and Requests for Employment, Chronological.

Prominent and/or frequent correspondents include Emily Balch, MKS' close friend and socially prominent fellow reformer, Henrietta Epstein, Elizabeth Gannon, Margaret Gage, Robert Moses, David Rockefeller, Eleanor Roosevelt, Alfred E. Smith, Henry L. Stimson, Senator Robert F. Wagner, and Gerard Swope. Simkhovitch maintained voluminous correspondence with women reformers, and with socially prominent women who responded to her frequent appeals for financial support of Greenwich House.

There is extensive correspondence on housing issues. Simkhovitch also received letters from people who had used Greenwich House facilities or worked for Greenwich House. Among these are letters from soldiers during World War II, discussing the war and their memories of Greenwich House.

Simkhovitch's Speeches and Writings contain many articles written for religious publications on a variety of reform issues, world peace, and the like. There are numerous radio addresses, numerous speeches (or notes for speeches) about Greenwich House, and political campaign speeches endorsing others, as well as for her unsuccessful 1937 candidacy for New York City Council. Many speeches and articles document Simkhovitchs' housing activism.

Much of Simkhovitch's involvement in other organizations in the housing and social reform fields can be found in the Outside Organizations segment of the Program series.

Series III: Programs

Subseries A: Departments and Activities; this subseries contains files (arranged alphabetically) from some 70 Greenwich House departments and activities documenting the broad scope of Greenwich House work. The files contain a variety of forms of material, including reports, announcements and ephemera, and some correspondence. The various reports were summarized by Simkhovitch in her reports (see Administrative - Corporate Records subseries). Several files, including Board of Delegates, House Committee, and House Council are concerned with the administration of Greenwich House, and reflect attempts to involve community and clients in this work. Workshops given included European-style apprenticeships for boys in woodcarving and stonecutting (occupations in which Italian-Americans were heavily represented). Studies and Reports include an important survey of the living conditions of longshoremen. The range of Greenwich House activities and functions represented in the files include: domestic (Mending and Darning Bureau, Women's Home Service); education (Ella Sachs Plotz Memorial Library, Kindergarten, Nursery School, Trade Union course); health (Health Department, Milk Distribution); recreation (Camps, Girls' Athletics, Jones Street Boys' Club); vocational (Greenwich House Industrial Bureau, Junior Employment Service)

This subseries contains very special and unusual ephemera, including programs, tickets, flyers, posters, as well as some correspondence, for benefits, anniversaries, holidays and other special events. Among these were the several Metropolitan Opera performances for the benefit of Greenwich House, and variety shows starring such actors as Marie Dressler and John Barrymore. Simkhovitch's close relationship with Eleanor Roosevelt, who settled in the Washington Square area after she left the White House is reflected in this subseries. Other people close to Simkhovitch were Fiorello LaGuardia and Herbert Lehmann. Each lent name as patron to benefits and special events, and participated when possible.

This subseries dates from the early days of Greenwich House and contains reports, minutes, correspondence (principally Simkhovitch), and various other materials. These are all organizations of which either Simkhovitch or Greenwich House was a member. Greenwich House was a member of Association of Neighborhood Workers, United Neighborhood Houses, Greenwich Village Improvement Society, etc. Simkhovitch was member and often officer of groups such as the Public Recreation Commission, Parks and Playgrounds Association of NYC, National Public Housing Conference (NPHC). The main theme of this material is Simkhovitch's personal struggle to make the Village a better place for her working-class and poor neighbors and to unite the Village as a real community rather than submit to the normal anonymity of city life. Her concern extended beyond her own neighborhood, as membership in such organizations as the NPHC shows. Highlights of this materials include Greenwich House involvement in setting aside land in Greenwich Village for public parks, clearing out of then red-light Minetta district, and decisions made over the south extension of 7th avenue.

Series IV: Music School

The Greenwich House Music School records (3 linear feet, 1920s-1980s) contain concert and recital programs, correspondence, student records, reports, financial and personnel records (The Music School scrapbooks, 40 volumes, have been moved to the Scrapbooks series). The correspondence provides the best glimpse of the day to day activities outside the scrapbooks. A principal correspondent is Music School director Maxwell Powers, later director of Greenwich House. Concert and recital programs, tickets and other memorabilia document student recitals and benefit performances (including Marian Anderson at Carnegie Hall).

Series V: Pottery School

Most of the Pottery School records (4.5 of 5 linear feet) are from the post-Simkhovitch era. In addition, about.5 linear feet of photographs, some dating to the earliest pottery activities (c. 1912) were transferred to the Greenwich House photograph collection. The Pottery School records are arranged in nine series. The largest and most significant series is the Greenwich House Potters and Sculptors (containing membership lists and applications, minutes, newsletters, questionnaires, workshops) dating to 1947 for this internal community of artists. The other series are: Annual reports; Minutes (Executive, Show committees); Correspondence; Annual shows, sales and exhibits; Publicity; Class lists and syllabi; Legal; Ephemera.

Series VI: Scrapbooks

The Greenwich House scrapbooks (35 volumes, 1905-1968), contain clippings, flyers, brochures, press releases and other announcements of Greenwich House activities, anniversaries, and positions. Intermingled with these, and comprising at least half the contents of the scrapbooks, are clippings about Greenwich House and about neighborhood issues which elicited Greenwich House involvement or concern. The majority of the clippings are from local papers, some of which are no longer available. The scrapbooks also contain a detailed record of the far-ranging activities of Mary Simkhovitch (see especially the NYC Housing Authority scrapbooks, 1937-38). The scrapbooks offer a rich chronological record of the public face of Greenwich House and its community presence, complementing and filling some gaps in the Administrative and Program series.

The Music School scrapbooks (40 volumes, 1915-1979) primarily contain clippings, many from local newspapers, as well as flyers, concert programs, tickets, announcements, etc. which document the School's classes, concerts, community outreach, benefits, and other activities.

One scrapbook added to the collection in 2015 contains documents related to pianist and Greenwich House Music School director Marion Rous. It contains flyers, programs, and correspondence related to Rous's work with the music school between 1937 and 1940 as well as clippings, flyers, bulletins, and photographs more generally related to Greenwich House Music School programs and participants from 1925 to 1964.

The Music School Scrapbooks are NOT microfilmed.

Series VII: Greenwich House Index Card Files

The bulk of the 36,000 index cards (85%) document interactions with neighborhood people, clients, volunteers and others associated with Greenwich House. These dated entries, maintained from around 1918 through the 1950s, record the reason people contacted Greenwich House, services provided, ethnicity, biographical information, etc., and are a valuable quotidian window on the activity of Greenwich House and the social problems faced by the working class residents if Greenwich Village.

There are also four smaller sets of cards, namely: Greenwich House Library Card Catalog; Greenwich House Children's Theatre cards, c. 1926-1967; Henry Street Visiting Nurses' reports, 1910-1916 (provided health services for/at Greenwich House); Hudson Park Social Center cards, 1915. Some index cards contained information on both sides. In those cases, the text from the back of a card appears in the frame immediately following the frame showing the front of that card. Both sides of each two-sided card will appear in the same position within their frames. There are also four smaller sets of cards: Club, Individual and Family Record Cards; Greenwich House Library Catalog; Greenwich House Children's Theatre & Music School; Henry Street Settlement Visiting Nurses.

The Greenwich House Index Card Files were NOT microfilmed.

Series VIII: Greenwich House post-Simkhovitch records

Series VIII contains Greenwich House records from the period following the retirement of Mary Simkhovitch up to 1990. It includes records of the Music House and Pottery School, the New York House & School of Industry, and United Neighborhood Houses.

Music School materials added to this series in 2015 include administrative and programming records created between the late 1940s and 1990s. These documents consist of class rosters from the 1960s, monthly statistics 1956-59, financial statements 1974-1978, events calendars, programs flyers, brochures, issues of the Newsletter "Quarter Notes" 1989-1994, Annual Programs 1949-1980, GHMS Renee Weiler Music Center annual programs 1982-1993, and assorted staff files. Greenwich House Music School materials also contain records related to German Diez, who worked for many years as the chairman of the music school's piano department. These documents consists of Diez's student roll books,assorted Greenwich House Music School booklets and budgetary data from the 1940s, Greenwich House Music School programs and class materials, personal correspondence from the 1950s and early 2000s, documents related to Diez's emigration from Cuba, and SUNY Purchase teaching materials 1984-1999. Also contained in these materials are a number of audio/visual recordings of Greenwich House Music School events between 1973 and 1994.

The Greenwich House post-Simkhovitch records were NOT microfilmed.


Folders are generally arranged alphabetically.

The Greenwich House Records are organized into 9 series:

Missing Title

  1. I. Administrative
  2. II. Directors
  3. III. Program
  4. IV. Music School
  5. V. Pottery School
  6. VI. Scrapbooks
  7. VII. Index Cards
  8. VIII. Greenwich House Post-Simkhovitch Records
  9. IX. Archived Website