Russell Sage Foundation records
Date: 1870-2002, Bulk: 1907-2000
Extent: 186 cu. ft.
Access: Open for scholarly research, with select materials restricted, as noted in the collection guide.
Language of Materials: English.
Biographical/Historical Sketch: The Russell Sage Foundation was established in 1907 by Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage for the "improvement of social and living conditions in the United States." As a pioneer in the developing field of social work, the Foundation set standards for the development of both theory and practice.
Arrangement: The collection is divided into two Subgroups.
Subgroup 1, 64.5 cubic feet, is comprised of 11 series:
Subgroup 2, 120 cubic feet, is comprised of 14 series:
Photographs (Series 1059), 1911-1959, 1.3 cu. ft.
Subgroup 1, Date: 1885-1983, Bulk Date: 1907-1948, 64.5 cubic feet
Biographical/Historical Sketch: Between 1907 and 1948 the Foundation consisted of a series of autonomous departments. They included Charity Organization, Child Helping, Industrial Studies, Recreation, Remedial Loans, Social Work Interpretation, Studies in the Professions, Surveys and Exhibits, and others. The publications department was very active, serving as the Foundation's voice for advocating reform. The Foundation also supported new social agencies and organizations. With an internal reorganization in 1948, the Foundation dismantled its departmental structure and shifted its focus to research in the behavioral sciences and policy-oriented social welfare methodology.
Scope: Although many of the Russell Sage Foundation office files from the early years of the Foundation were systematically destroyed in 1949, All of the Foundation's early departments are documented with varying degrees of depth to the records. Also included is material on the Foundation's creation and administration and its later departments.Especially well documented are the Charity Organizations/Social Work Administration, the Department of Industrial Studies, and the Southern Highland Division. Particular projects also have extensive records. These include the development of Forest Hills Gardens in Queens; the Foundation's efforts toward the passage of a uniform small loan law; and regional planning, both in the New York City region and in general. The administration of the Russell Sage Foundation during the early period is covered by financial records, agenda and minutes from Board of Trustees meetings, and files on the Russell Sage Foundation Building. Nearly all the material dating from the Foundation's inception to the 1948 reorganization can be found in Series 2 - Corporate History and Series 3 - Early Office Files.
Post-1948 research programs with significant documentation in Subgroup 1 include Government, Law and the Social Sciences; Social Sciences and Human Biology; and Studies in Philanthropy. Subgroup 1 records of the administration of the Russell Sage Foundation after 1948 can be found mostly in Series 4 - General Administration.
Much of Subgroup 1 is correspondence concerning routine administrative matters, but it also includes personal opinions of the writers, progress reports, and the descriptions of daily activities. Also included in the collection are meeting agenda and minutes, progress and annual reports, financial statements, clippings, pamphlets and brochures.
There is little documentation of field notes or working papers for the Foundation's projects or studies. Aside from Series 10, which consists of letters of appeal to Mrs. Sage from both individuals and institutions, there is scant material on Mr. or Mrs. Sage.
Subjects of interest include education, juvenile delinquency, labor and industrial relations, penology, public health, recreation, social work, social work education, and urban and regional planning.
Series 1: Mrs. Russell Sage, 1888-1982, 0.88 ft.
Arrangement: Primarily alphabetical by subject.
Scope: This series from the Foundation’s office records contains material concerning Mrs. Sage and her personal affairs. It is primarily correspondence relating to several of her personal charities. There is also biographical material and a family genealogy. There is very little correspondence from Mrs. Sage herself. Material on Mr. Russell Sage consists mostly of newspaper and magazine articles about his life and career.
Series 2: Corporate History, 1906-1979, 0.88 cu. ft.
Arrangement: Arranged in four subseries:
Subseries 1 contains correspondence concerning the earliest function, goals, and direction of the Foundation, as well as the documents of its establishment.
Subseries 2 contains biographical information on members of the staff. It is in the form of vitae, memorials, clippings on career achievements, and a few pieces of correspondence.
Subseries 3 contains biographical information on members of the Board of Trustees. It is in the form of vitae, memorials, clippings on career achievements, and a few pieces of correspondence.
Subseries 4 contains three drafts and one reprint of histories of the Russell Sage Foundation.
Series 3: Early Office Files, 1907-1980, Bulk: 1907-1949, 17.6 cu. ft.
Arrangement: Original order, which represents a numbering system established by the Foundation.
A card index to the Russell Sage Foundation records, Subgroup 1, Series 3: Early Office Files is available for researcher use. RSF Early Office Files are indicated by a file number in the upper right corner of the index cards, ranging from file "1A" to "2212". These file numbers are referenced in the File Plan Notes, displayed in "Additional Description" in the collection guide. For further details see the "Instructions for the use of the Russell Sage Foundation Index Cards" below.
Scope: Containing the office files for the Russell Sage Foundation's early period (1907-1949), this series covers the internal administration of the Foundation, the development and functions of its early departments, and the administration of its grants. The material in this series includes correspondence and memoranda; formal and informal activities reports from departments and individuals; financial statements; some minutes of meetings; newspaper clippings, reprints, and brochures. Some of the files are quite extensive while others hold only a piece or two of routine correspondence.
Series 4: General Administration, 1916-1982, 4.4 cu. ft.
Arrangement: Arranged in 8 subseries as follows:
Subseries 1: Agenda, 1935-1968, consists of agendas from the Russell Sage Foundation's Board of Trustees and Finance Committee meetings.
Subseries 2: Corporate Matters, 1951-1982, concerns Marsh Island, Louisiana; Mashashimuet Park in Sag Harbor, New York; and the Russell Sage Institute of Pathology in New York City. All were established by Mrs. Sage and held in trust by the Russell Sage Foundation. This subseries consists mostly of correspondence, financial material and minutes. The Sag Harbor correspondence concerns control and management of the park. The Institute of Pathology correspondence is mostly about routine financial matters and the transfer of the Russell Sage Institute of Pathology Fund to Cornell University.
Subseries 3: Financial Affairs, 1949-1981, consists of correspondence, statements and reports concerning the Foundation's finances. Much of it concerns the Russell Sage Foundation's tax-exempt status.
Subseries 4: Future Planning, 1964-1973, documents memos and reports on future plans and policies and the direction to be taken.
Subseries 5: Legal Affairs, 1948-1963, contains legal documents and some correspondence about various Russell Sage Foundation legal matters, including the 1952 Congressional investigation into tax-exempt foundations.
Subseries 6: Minutes, 1931-1969, contains minutes from the Russell Sage Foundation's Board of Trustees and Finance Committee meetings.
Subseries 7: Salary Lists, 1916-1923, provides reports and memoranda about determining salary schedules for Russell Sage Foundation secretaries and stenographers.
Subseries 8: Trustee Correspondence, 1945-1971, contains correspondence to and from four Russell Sage Foundation trustees concerning the Foundation's programs and policies. The bulk of this subseries is Eli Whitney Debevoise correspondence.
Series 5: Programs, 1949-1980, 5.5 cu. ft.
Arrangement: Arranged in 14 subseries as follows:
Series 6: Marsh Island, 1911-1936, 0.44 cu. ft.
Scope: Concerns the Russell Sage Foundation's donation of Marsh Island to Louisiana as a bird refuge and the Foundation's later attempts to have the island returned. The bulk of this series consists of lawsuit documents. The evidence material includes an affidavit by E. I. Broussard, fur sales statements, and publication notices and memoranda reviewing the situation.
Series 7: Miscellaneous Reports and Proposals, 1967, 1972, 0.2 cu. ft.
Scope: Contains five reports or proposals on various topics. Four of them were written by either Orville Brim or Wilbert Moore.
Series 8: Nova Institute, 1976-1980, 0.3 cu. ft.
Scope: Contains agenda and minutes, two annual reports, clippings, proposals, and reports.
Series 9: Russell Sage Foundation Bulletin, 1932-1948, 0.5 cu. ft.
Scope: The Bulletin was an internal newsletter of staff and department activities.
Series 10: Personal Giving, 1885-(1906-1918), 18 cu. ft.
Scope: This correspondence sheds light on both the topical and geographic diversity of Mrs. Sage's charitable interests. She was particularly supportive of health care, the welfare of men in the armed forces and merchant marines, religious missions, environmental issues, animal welfare, women's education, and suffrage. Although Mrs. Sage's philanthropic support was international in scope, much of her giving was concentrated in the state of New York. Causes and organizations in Syracuse (her birthplace) and New York City received heavy support. Mrs. Sage was also actively concerned with the needs of Sag Harbor and Lawrence, both Long Island summer residences for her and her husband.
Arrangement: Arranged in two subseries as follows:
Subseries 1: Institutions
Subseries 2: Individual Legatees
Each subseries is arranged alphabetically by name, and thereunder arranged chronologically.
Subseries 1 Institutions, 1879-1919.
Scope: Contains correspondence from institutions. Although the bulk of the series is letters, there are also reports on the activities of many of the organizations, clippings, publicity pamphlets and brochures, and photographs.
Subseries 2: Individual Legatees, 1885-1919.
Scope: Contains correspondence from individual legatees.
Series 11: Accession 90:076, 1912-1983, Bulk: 1964-1979, 15.8 cu. ft.
Arrangement: Arranged in 5 subseries:
Scope: This series was added to the collection in 1990 (accession 90:076). It comprises administrative, personnel, and program records similar to those found in Series 2 through 7.
Subgroup 2, Bulk Date: 1974-2002, 120 cubic feet
Arrangement: Comprised of 14 series:
Series 1: Administrative, 1907-2001, 23.3 cu. ft.
Series 2: Marsh Island, 1916-1986, 2.4 cu. ft.
Scope: The RSF long-standing interest in Marsh Islands is documented here, in addition to related materials found in Subgroup 1, Series 6 and Series 11.
Series 3: Grants, 1974-2002, 52.5 cu. ft.
Arrangement: Alphabetical by name of grantee.
Scope: RSF grants fund the work of individual scholars as well as support the research of other social science institutions. These grant administration files are the largest series of Subseries 2.
Series 4: Visiting Scholars, 1987-1990, 1999-2000, 0.3 cu. ft.
Biographical/Historical Sketch: The Visiting Scholars program began in 1967. It was redesigned and refocused in 1986 to encourage collaboration. RSF invites scholars in the social and behavioral sciences to their NYC headquarters in order to pursue their writing, their research, and to actively collaborate with other scholars/institutions. RSF also supports scholars at other institutions to pursue projects that advance RSF research programs.
Series 5: Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, 1976-1987, 0.5 cu. ft.
Scope: Records include documentation of applicants, and selection committee files.
Series 6: 1980 and 1990 Census, 1980-1995, 4.4 cu. ft.
Biographical/Historical Sketch: In collaboration with the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), the RSF published a series of 17 monographs analyzing social and demographic data from the 1950 census. "The Census Series" has become a tradition at RSF, analyzing the condition of the American population for every census since 1950 (except 1970)).
Series 7: Behavioral Economics, 1975-1993, 8.5 cu. ft.
Biographical/Historical Sketch: Behavioral Economics began in 1987 as a joint program of the RSF and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. In 1993 the RSF established the Behavioral Economics Roundtable (which is not documented in this series).
Series 8: Poverty, 1983-1994, 2 cu. ft.
Biographical/Historical Sketch: The Poverty Program spanned the years 1987-1993. In 1994, the program was refocused and renamed "The Future of Work" Program, and undertaken jointly by the RSF and Rockefeller Foundation. The refocused program, which is not documented in this series, is an examination of the causes and consequences of the long-term decline in the availability and quality of jobs for workers with limited education.
Series 9: Quantitative Research Synthesis, 1959-1994, 3.5 cu. ft.
Biographical/Historical Sketch: Continuing the RSF’s long-standing interest in strengthening the methodological equipment for the social sciences, this program began in 1988.
Series 10: Economic Sociology, 1990-1992, 1.75 cu. ft.
Scope: Primarily includes seminar and working group files.
Series 11: Multi-City Survey of Urban Inequality (MCSUI), 1991-1999, 2.7 cu. ft.
Biographical/Historical Sketch: From 1992-2000 the RSF and the Ford Foundation jointly conducted this program to examine the economic problems of minorities and the poor in four U.S. cities. Echoing the early RSF Pittsburgh survey conducted in 1907, the MCSUI attempts to determine the cause of high urban unemployment (residential segregation, labor market discrimination, flight of the population to the suburbs, poor education opportunities for the urban population, etc. This is the largest RSF initiative of the 1990’s.
Series 12: Publications, 1921-2000, 14.4 cu. ft.
Scope: RSF maintains its own book publishing program. Also documented are departmental reports, as well as a variety of grant products.
Series 13: Special Formats, 1870-2001, Bulk; 1980-2001, 1.5 cu. ft.
Scope: Contains still images, audio, digital media and oversized materials.
Access: Brittle or damaged items, or materials otherwise in need of preservation care, may be closed to researchers at the discretion of the RAC. RAC is unable to provide access to obsolete media and original digital media
Series 14: Book Sales, 1911-1975, 0.8 cu. ft. (CLOSED due to Preservation Concerns)
The Archive Center holds a copy of "The Russell Sage Foundation: Social Research and Social Action in America, 1907-1947," a set of microfiche produced by UPA Academic Editions. This microfiche collection includes the Foundation's departmental pamphlet series, important in disseminating the Foundation's work and influence; minutes of the Board of Trustees and Executive Committee (1907-1949); and selected materials from the Archive Center's document collection. Subjects covered by the microfiche collection include charity organizations, child hygiene, education, remedial loans, and regional planning. Other copies of this microfiche edition are available at several research libraries in the United States.
Those interested in purchasing a copy of the microfiche may contact University Publications of America (UPA), 4520 East-West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814-3389. Tel.: 1-800-692-6300 Fax: 301-657-3203). An online guide to the microfiche is available through LexisNexis.
Instructions for the use of the Russell Sage Foundation Index Cards.
Relationship to Collection
The RSF cards directly relate to Subgroup 1, Series 3: Early Office Files, Date: 1907-1980, Bulk: 1907-1949, Boxes 3-41.
The Early Office Files contain documentation of the internal administration of the Foundation, the development and functions of its early departments, and the administration of its grants.
Many of the office files from the Foundation’s early years were systematically destroyed by the RSF in 1949.
The RSF cards consist of personal and institutional names and related subjects. Addresses of individuals and some institutions are also provided (when applicable).
The cards often provide cross references or "See Also" notes.
The card for the American Federation of Arts provides:
The card for Macfarland, Rev. Chas. S. Secy (retired) provides two notations:
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