Lewis Street Center Papers
The Lewis Street Center was founded in the fall of 1907, by a group of middle class women and men concerned about the quality of life among Rochester's Italian immigrant population. Modeled after the Practical Housekeeping Centers of New York City, the Practical Housekeeping Center of Rochester, as it was then called, started in a two-story house on Davis Street in the Italian 16th Ward. Soon finding its quarters much too crowded, the Housekeeping Center moved to Lewis Street in 1911, and in that same year was incorporated under New York State law. In 1926, the Housekeeping Center changed its name to the Lewis Street Center, signaling, after the fact, a change of emphasis from teaching Italian immigrants housekeeping and child care techniques to providing a much broader range of service to all members of the Italian immigrant community in the 16th Ward. Expansion of services during the Center's history was accompanied by an increase in physical plant as the Center purchased property and built special facilities for its programs. The second and third quarters of the century saw increasing contact between the Center and other city and national social organizations as the Center attempted to adapt to changing trends both in the community it served and in the development of social services in America. The Lewis Street Center is still vitally active among Rochesterians today, especially among Black and Spanish-speaking Americans who have moved to the surrounding neighborhood since 1950.
The collection consists of minutes, reports, records, surveys, and correspondence of the Lewis Street Center of Rochester, New York.
The collection consists of five general groups of materials. The first is composed of the minutes and reports recording the day-to-day and year-to-year running of the Center. These records include annual reports of the secretary of the Board (1913-1927), minutes of the monthly and annual meetings of the Board of Managers (1914-1971), annual and monthly reports of the Center's dispensary (1916-1931), monthly program reports of the various departments (1914-1971), and annual program reports of the entire center (1914-1966). The second group of materials consists of the records of the summer programs that: were run by the Center. These records include descriptive program reports, files of personal profiles of participating children, staff lists and profiles, financial and insurance records, and day-to-day program records.
The third main group of materials is composed of associated records such as legal, financial, and other business records. Also included in this area are. overall statistical attendance records (1940-1954), construction plans and records, property purchase records, special events and project records, photographs, newspaper clippings, and copies of various issues of the Center's public newsletter, The Lewistonian, from the 1950's and 1960's.
The fourth major group of materials consists of records of neighborhood surveys conducted by the Center's staff. These records include interview profiles of neighborhood residents, handwritten first drafts and typed copies of final survey reports, records of special and city-wide surveys which the Center participated in, and associated correspondence.
The fifth area of materials includes all records, reports, pamphlets, and other printed matter received by the Center from other neighborhood centers, social settlements, or social service agencies both private and governmental of Rochester and other areas. The bulk of this material dates from 1940 through 1971.
Most of the significant correspondence associated with the day-to-day running of the Center apparently has not survived. The correspondence that is present is almost invariably found directly placed with the specific records it pertains to. Other general correspondence has been left filed chronologically in the records of the monthly departmental program reports where it was placed by the Center's staff. Many of the early records, particularly minutes and program reports, are handwritten. In some cases both a longhand and typed copy exists.
Lewis Street Center Papers (D.55):