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Mary E. Meade Files, 1969-1972, Series 356 


The Mary E. Meade Files, 1969-1972, document portions of the work of a member of the Board of Education. They comprise series number 356 of the Board of Education Record Group, and are part of the subgroup of members of the Board of Education.

A portion of these files constituting the subject files subseries had been placed in the custody of the Teachers College Library at Columbia University by the Board of Education in 1981. These were transferred to the Municipal Archives in 2003 and assigned accession number 04-019. The remainder of the files, constituting the community school district files, were transferred directly from the former Board of Education headquarters at 110 Livingston Street to the Municipal Archives in 2004 and were assigned the accession number 04-072.

The series consists of 4 cubic feet of records. They were organized and inventoried by the Municipal Archives in 2005 in a project supported by the New York State Archives and under its Local Government Records Management Improvement Fund. The records were processed and the inventory prepared by Alison Schwartz.

Biographical Note

Mary E. Meade was a lifelong resident of Staten Island who spent the first twelve years of her teaching career, beginning in 1918, at Curtis High School in Staten Island, which she had attended. After gaining a masters degree in American history from Columbia University in 1926, she became chair of the history department at Thomas Jefferson High School in Brooklyn, in 1930. In 1937, two years after finishing her PhD in political history at Fordham University, Dr. Meade became principal of Tottenville High School in Staten Island, thus becoming the first woman principal of a co-educational high school in New York City. In 1956, she became the first woman assistant superintendent of the high school division. Dr. Meade served as president of the High School Principals Association, an organization she kept in contact with on while on the Board of Education.

In 1969, the Board of Education was reorganized, under state legislation, in anticipation of a planned major decentralization of the school system. To oversee this transition, an ‘Interim School Board’ was created. Mary Meade was chosen for the Interim School Board because of her position as an ‘outspoken conservative’ on the subject of school decentralization. During her time on the board, she was concerned with vocational programs and after-school workshops. She kept detailed records about budgets and federal aid.

Scope and Content

This series consists of a portion of the collected files of Dr. Mary E. Meade, created during her tenure on the Board of Education from 1969 to 1972. It is apparent that the collection is incomplete, reflecting the fact that files of Board members were not systematically retained by the Board of Education.

The major part of Mary Meade’s files are the subject files, which comprise the first subseries. Most of the files relate to budgeting and personnel issues including collective bargaining. The alphabetical sequence is incomplete, with a gap between the letters H and R.

The second subseries consists of files on each community school district. These include materials on matters of concern on the district and school levels, including budgets and school buildings. However, the primary content relates to debates among the Board of Education, the community school boards, and various parental and civic groups, over the implementation of decentralization.

Series Descriptions

Subseries I: Subject Files (1969-1972). 2.25 cubic ft.

The subseries includes correspondence, memoranda, legal documents, board meeting agendas, newspaper clippings and telegrams. It is arranged alphabetically and covers the years 1969-1971, although there are a few documents from earlier years that were most likely used for research. They focus on personnel, budgets (particularly Title 1 funding), and extracurricular or occupational/vocational programs. Also included are files on collective bargaining and the development of an official statement of the rights of students.

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Subseries II: District Files (1969-1972). 1.75 cubic ft.

This subseries includes correspondence, memoranda, legal documents, planning maps, newspaper clippings and telegrams. It begins with the three demonstration districts created in 1968, I.S. 201 (Manhattan), Ocean Hill-Brownsville (Brooklyn), and Two Bridges (Manhattan). The community school districts follow, arranged numerically. Although missing districts 1, 7, and 18, this series provides an interesting look at the debates and conflicts accompanying the community control experiments in the demonstration districts and the change to the community school district system.

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