Established in 1982 at LaGuardia Community College/ CUNY with a mission to collect, preserve, and make available primary materials documenting the social and political history of New York City. We hold nearly 5,000 cubic feet of archival records and 3,200 reels of microfilm with almost 100,000 photographs and 2,000,000 documents available on our website.

Friday, June 15, 2012

June 16 - National Industrial Recovery Act signed by President Roosevelt

Stephen Weinstein
Assistant to the Director

June 16th marks the anniversary of the most important legislation of the New Deal, the signing of the National Industrial Recovery Act by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933. Come see the pen President Roosevelt used to sign the Act in the La Guardia and Wagner Archives, Rm. E-238, as the president later gave the pen as a gift to Senator Robert F. Wagner Sr. of New York, the leading proponent of New Deal legislation.
Title 1 of the Act brought industry, labor and government together to establish fair competition in industry and to establish trade union rights. Title 2 established the Public Works Administration (PWA), father of enormous public works projects throughout the country. No city reaped greater benefits from this legislation than did New York, thanks to the concerted effort of the newly-elected mayor, Fiorello H. La Guardia. In prior administrations, New York had a deserved reputation for mismanagement and lackluster interest in federally-funded projects. La Guardia, however, overcame President Roosevelt’s intense hatred of New York City Parks Commissioner and Triborough Bridge Authority leader Robert Moses to garner federal funding for new bridges, highways, parks, playgrounds, public housing, and schools throughout New York City, including the Triborough Bridge, Riverside Park, the Henry Hudson Parkway, Orchard Beach, the Sixth Avenue subway and the Holland Tunnel. The Archives’ La Guardia Collection contains correspondence between Mayor La Guardia and Harold Ickes, Secretary of the Interior and chief administrator of the PWA that reveal the Mayor’s micro-management of the city’s affairs. To see a telegram from La Guardia to Ickes urging federal action regarding the purchase of slum property in Brooklyn to construct public housing, click here to see PDF:
After Title 1 was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in the famous Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States in May, 1937, President Roosevelt worked with his chief ally in the Senate, New York Senator Robert F. Wagner Sr. to craft the National Labor Relations Act (known as the Wagner Act) in July 1937. This act strengthened many of the labor provisions from Title 1. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Title IX Passed 40 Years Ago

Steven A. Levine
Coordinator for Educational Programs

Feminism was on the rise as a political, economic and social movement in 1972 and Title IX was just one example of its increasing influence. The importance of women’s rights as a political issue could also be seen in the presidential campaign of New York City Mayor John V. Lindsay. In a campaign speech in Miami in March 1972, (click here) he declared his support for women’s equality, listing the accomplishments of his administration in support of that goal. “What this means, for women, is that their work must be counted at full value - - whether they work in the home or on the job. Women who want a job or need a job, to earn a second income, or support themselves, or their children, must have equal opportunities, and full pay, and the same chance for promotion that men enjoy. And the rights to proper child care and to abortion are just as legitimate and necessary to equality as an end to job discrimination and the exploitation of women workers.”
      Forty years ago today, Congress passed Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, declaring that "No person in the U.S. shall, on the basis of sex be excluded from participation in, or denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal aid." This single sentence gave legal standing to women demanding equal access to all aspects of federally funded education, opening doors to women and girls in elementary, secondary and higher education. Title IX was a response to pervasive sex discrimination in education raised in congressional hearings in 1970 by Rep. Edith Green (D-Ohio), chair of the subcommittee that dealt with higher education and championed by Title IX's co-author Rep. 
Pasty Mink, the first Japanese American from Hawaii.*   While it did not end sex discrimination, Title IX greatly increased opportunities for girls and women in education.
To learn more about Title IX and women’s rights, go to the Archives’ Women’s Leadership website and curriculum.  What are your thoughts about the effects of Title IX and how much progress has been made toward sexual equality 40 years later?  Leave your comments below.
*Title IX was later renamed the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Dr. Jean Pakter Remembered: Women's and Children's Health Advocate

Steven A. Levine
Coordinator for Educational Programs

Last week the New York Times reported the death of Dr. Jean Pakter at age 101, director of New York City’s Bureau of Maternity and Child Services from 1960-1982. As her obituary noted, Dr. Pakter was not an ordinary functionary, but a pioneering researcher and clinician “who made New York City a national model for providing safe, legal abortions and led an innovative effort to educate women about the benefits of birth control, prenatal nutrition and breast-feeding.”
Dr. Pakter was also one of the first researchers to note the rise of unwed mothers and her article “Out of Wedlock Births in New York City, 1961”was cited by Daniel Patrick Moynihan in his controversial and influential report, “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action.” She also published some of the initial research on abortion in articles such as “Two Years Experience in New York City With the Liberalized Abortion Law-Progress and Problems” in the American Journal of Public Health, June 1973.
She came to prominence in Mayor Robert F. Wagner’s Department of Health compiling reports about the commerce in abortion when it was illegal, including statistics on the number of women injured or killed by illegal practitioners. After New York State made abortion legal in 1970, Dr. Pakter, who had advocated for the law, set up the guidelines for clinics performing abortions and mandated that all abortions performed after 12 weeks be done in hospitals, which became national models. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun cited her research in the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.
To learn more about Dr. Jean Pakter or public health in New York City please feel free to contact to contact the Archives or go to our Health in America website and “You and Your Health: Public Health in New York City” curriculum.