Research

Investigation correspondence, transcripts, and printed materials

Held by the New York State Archives


Overview of the Records

Repository:

New York State Archives

New York State Education Department

Cultural Education Center

Albany, NY 12230

Summary:
This series contains Charles H. Strong's records of his investigation of the State Board of Charities and children's institutions. Strong was to investigate charges made by John A. Kingsbury, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Public Charities, in his annual report to Mayor John Purroy Mitchel, that poor conditions were allowed to persist in many private child care institutions because of the negligent supervision and inspection practices of the State Board of Charities.
Creator:
Title:
Quantity:
0.7 cu. ft.
Inclusive Dates:
1915-1928
Bulk Dates:
(bulk 1915-1918)
Series Number:
A0017

Arrangement

Arranged by record type or topic.

Administrative History

Governor Charles S. Whitman appointed Charles H. Strong a commissioner under the Moreland Act on November 18, 1915. Strong was to investigate charges made by John A. Kingsbury, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Public Charities, in his annual report to Mayor John Purroy Mitchel, that poor conditions were allowed to persist in many private child care institutions because of the negligent supervision and inspection practices of the State Board of Charities.

In 1916, during the course of the investigation, Edward A. Moree, an employee of the State Charities Aid Association, anonymously issued a pamphlet of reprints of news articles highly critical of conditions in children's institutions. Some Catholic clergy saw the investigation as anti-Catholic because some Catholic institutions were involved. They responded to the investigation and to the anonymous pamphlet by issuing a series of pamphlets defending the church and its children's institutions and attacking the investigation and the individuals conducting it.

At Kingsbury's request, the police tapped the phones of Reverend William B. Farrell, under whose name the pamphlets were issued, and Daniel C. Potter, believed to be the actual author. These men and Robert W. Hebberd, secretary of the State Board of Charities, were suspected of illegally obstructing the investigation. Hebberd later resigned from his post while the investigation was still ongoing.

Strong held hearings concerning the State Board of Charities, children's institutions, and the "Farrell pamphlets." His final report upheld Kingsbury's charges and recommended reorganizing and strengthening the State Board of Charities and having paid, full time, qualified members on the Board. Mayor Mitchel had supported the investigation and, due in part to criticism by the Catholic church, was defeated in his bid for re-election.

Scope and Content Note

This series contains Charles H. Strong's records of his investigation of the State Board of Charities and children's institutions.

The series includes: Governor Whitman's signed certificate of appointment of Strong as Commissioner; lists of issues to consider and questions to answer in the investigation; reports on conditions in several children's institutions; anonymous Moree pamphlet of reprinted newspaper headlines and articles criticizing conditions in children's institutions; "Farrell pamphlets" criticizing the investigation and attacking the investigators as anti-Catholic; transcripts of wire-tapped telephone conversations involving persons under investigation; correspondence and memoranda concerning the wire-tapping and use of evidence obtained through wire-tapping in the investigation; letters to Strong commending him on his investigation and report; address by Strong to the State Conference of Mayors in June, 1917 concerning the investigation and the need to reorganize the State Board of Charities; draft article about Catholic criticism of the investigation, dated 1928; brief history of the English Commissioners in Lunacy; and scrapbook of newspaper clippings and articles concerning the investigation.

Use of Records

Access Restrictions

All investigative materials in Moreland Act commission records are indefinitely restricted pursuant to Executive Law sect. 6 and 63.8 and Civil Rights Law sect. 73.8. Requests for access to such materials are referred to the Governor's Office.

Transcripts of wiretap surveillance: Restricted; confidential; Criminal Procedure Law, Section 700.65.

Related Information

Related Materials

Series A3156, Hearing Transcripts of the Strong Investigation of Charges Against the State Board of Charities, contains related records from the State Board of Charities.

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