Home > Collections > Board of Education, 1842-2002
BOARD OF EDUCATION, 1842-2002
The records of the New York City Board of Education, from its creation in
1842 to its replacement by a mayoral Department of Education in 2002. Also
included are records of the Board of Education of the City of Brooklyn from
1853 to 1897. These records document aspects of educational policy-making
and school-system administration. The Municipal Archives does not hold student
The Board of Education Records combine materials previously in the custody
of Teachers College Library with a major body of material transferred directly
from the Board of Education headquarters. The Municipal Archives is engaged
in an ongoing program to process these records and to prepare inventories
to facilitate research access to this extensive collection. Archives staff
assist researchers in providing information about the records and arranging
the maximum possible practical access to them. Support from the Local Government
Records Management Improvement Fund of the New York State Archives has made
possible the processing of and preparation of inventories for several recently-acquired
series. Inventories of several series are now available on this web site
and additional inventories will be added periodically.
Nineteenth-century records consist primarily of the printed records of
the New York City and City of Brooklyn boards of education. Major series
the minutes of the meetings of the boards of education (also referred to
as the Journal or the Proceedings), the annual reports of the boards and
of the superintendents of schools. The manuals and directories of the schools
provide details on school locations, teaching and administrative staff, and
school-system regulations. A manuscript series of trustees’ minutes
and visitor books provides insight into the local aspects of school governance.
During the first years of the consolidated City of New York (1898-1901)
the school system had a central board plus borough boards. The records include
the minutes of the borough boards for Manhattan and Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens,
Twentieth-century records include the continuations of the several series
of annual reports, minutes, manuals, and directories, together with a wide
range of manuscript series. These include files from board members, superintendents
of schools, chancellors, and administrative bureaus.
A large group of records are the manuscript minutes and reports of committees
of the board, responsible for such aspects of the schools as finance, buildings,
curriculum, and textbooks. Also included are records of special commissions
created to develop policies and programs in such areas as vocational education,
racial integration, educational needs of Puerto Rican students, curriculum
experiments, juvenile delinquency, and administrative management.
The files of individual board members contain documentation of the ways
that controversial issues and routine problems were addressed. Their correspondence
with parents, civic groups, and other officials gives a sense of the interplay
among educational constituencies. The earliest significant such collection
are the papers of James Marshall, who served from 1935 to 1952. The files
of board members who served in the 1950s through 1990s are included, among
them Charles Silver, Max Rubin, Rose Shapiro, Isaiah Robinson, Seymour Lachman,
Joseph Barkan, Amelia Ashe, Robert Wagner, Jr., Stephen Aiello, Luis Reyes,
and Irene Impellizzeri.
Correspondence and subject files of mid-twentieth century superintendents
of schools William Jansen and Bernard Donovan provide insight into central
administration. While earlier superintendents’ files have not been
found, the files of several assistants and associate superintendents help
to fill out the picture of administration, as do the subject files maintained
by the Office of the Secretary, the Office of Education Information and Public
Relations, and the Bureau of Reference, Research, and Statistics.
For the era of decentralization, after 1970, the records of the Chancellor
provide extensive documentation of such major policy issues as school governance,
desegregation, bilingual education, special education, health education,
multicultural curriculum, school buildings, and financial equity. Each of
the Chancellors who served under the Board of Education is represented: Harvey
Scribner, Irving Anker, Frank Macciarola, Alfredo Alvarado, Nathan Quinones,
Richard Green, Joseph Fernandez, Ramon Cortines, Rudolph Crew, and Harold
Important documentation of the instructional program is contained in courses
of study and other curriculum materials. A large collection of these materials,
including standard and experimental curricula, covers the period 1900-1990.
Related information for the nineteenth century is found in the annual reports
of the Board of Education.
A major component of the records is the photograph collection. Combining
images of school buildings, of classroom scenes, and of special school events,
the photograph collection consists of over 50,000 images, most from the period
1918-1970. Among the earlier images are photos of adult evening lectures
and evening school classes from the period 1900-1920.
GUIDE TO THE RECORDS OF THE BOARD - (Adobe
This guide provides series-level descriptions of over 300 records series in the Board of Education collection.
FINDING AIDS AVAILABLE ONLINE
Selected finding aids including series descriptions and folder listings.
Records of Members of the Board
Stephen R. Aiello Files, 1974-1980, Series
Stephen R. Aiello served on the Board of Education from 1974 to 1980 as
a representative of the borough of Brooklyn and served as board president
from 1978 to 1980. His files reflect his work on such administrative issues
as school finance and union contracts as well as his particular concern for
programs in special education, drug abuse prevention, and health education.
Amelia H. Ashe Files, 1974-1985, Series
Amelia H. Ashe served on the Board of Education from 1974 to 1985 , as a
mayoral appointee. This position capped a long career as an educator in the
field of guidance and counseling at the high school and university levels.
Her extensive files document issues faced by the board such as bilingual
education, fairness in selection of supervisors, and special education. Issues
arising under decentralization are reflected in files of correspondence with
community school districts, and litigation files on cases involving the rights
and responsibilities of students, teachers, and community school boards.
Joseph G. Barkan Files, 1974-1986, Series
Joseph G., Barkan served on the Board of Education from 1963 to 1969, as
a mayoral appointee, and again from 1974 to 1986, as a representative of
the borough of Queens. He served as board president from1980 to 1982. These
files are from the second period of service and cover such issues as mandated
bilingual education, desegregation, and state aid formulas. Also included
are files documenting consultations with community school districts and parents
James B. Donovan Subject Files, 1961-1963,
James B. Donovan served on the Board of Education from 1961 to 1965, as
a mayoral appointee. He served as board president from 1963 to 1965. These
files are a portion of Donovans records from the period 1961 to 1963 and
cover such issues as collective bargaining, racial integration, and local
Irene Impellizzeri Files, 1980-1993,
Irene Impellizzeri served on the Board of Education from 1980 to 1994, as
a representative of the borough of Brooklyn, and then from 1994 to 2002 as
a mayoral appointee. While on the board, she held the positions of Dean of
the School of Education at Brooklyn College and then Dean of Teacher Education
at the City University. These records document the first portion of her service
and include significant files on consultations with community school boards
and on the controversies regarding proposed HIV/AIDS education programs.
James Marshall Papers, 1930-1986, Series
James Marshall was appointed to the Board of Education by Mayor Fiorello
LaGuardia in 1935 and served until 1952. He served as board president from
1938 to 1942. The papers reflect Marshall’s role as a “reformer,” including
materials on efforts to eliminate political influence and corruption in school
administration. Extensive files of speeches, radio addresses, and writings
(including those written after he left the board), reflect Marshall’s
commitment to a “progressive education” philosophy.
Mary E. Meade Files, 1969-1972, Series
Mary E. Meade served on the Board of Education from 1969 to 1972, as a representative
of Staten Island, after a long career in the New York City public schools
as a high school teacher, principal, and assistant superintendent. These
files, a portion of her records, document the board’s work on budgets,
personnel, and collective bargaining. They also reflect Meade’s particular
interest in occupational and vocational education. Files on community school
districts record the earliest phases of implementation of decentralization.
Isaiah Robinson Files, 1968-1972, Series
Isaiah Robinson served on the Board of Education from 1969 to 1978, as a
representative of the borough of Manhattan. He served as board president
for the school years 1971-72 and 1975-76. Robinson had played an active role
in community control efforts in Harlem in the 1960s. His files, which cover
his board service only up to 1972, reflect his interest in democratization
of the schools; they focus on the demonstration districts, the implementation
of decentralization, and the roles of parents, community organizations, teachers,
and other constituencies in the operation of the schools.
Max J. Rubin Files, 1961-1964, Series 379
Max J. Rubin served as a member of the Board of Education from 1961 to 1963
and as board president throughout that period. His appointment by Mayor Robert
Wagner was part of an overhaul of the Board membership mandated by the Legislature.
Rubin’s extensive subject files focus on administrative and policy
matters, such as budgets, state aid, personnel, civil rights, collective
bargaining, integration, and community boards.
Charles H. Silver Files, 1952-1961, Series
Charles H. Silver was a member of the Board of Education from 1952 to 1961
and its president from 1955 to 1961. His files include his correspondence,
especially regarding efforts to upgrade the high schools, many of his speeches
as public occasions, and the records of his management of the selection of
the superintendent of schools.
Robert F. Wagner, Jr. Files, 1985-1990,
Robert F. Wagner, Jr., served on the Board of Education from 1985 to 1990
as a mayoral appointee. He served as board president from 1986 to 1990. Son
of a former mayor and grandson of a former senator, Wagner’s work on
the board was a phase of a career in public service. His files include extensive
materials on policy making regarding such issues as decentralization, AIDS,
sex education, special education, drugs, homelessness, and dropout rates.
Included also are files on community school district affairs that reveal
the continued tensions over shared responsibilities during decentralization.
Records of Chancellors of the Board
Harvey Scribner Files, 1970-1973, Series 1101
Harvey Scribner was the first Chancellor of the New York City schools,
a position created by the 1970 decentralization law. His period of service
saw the start of a process of working out the relative powers and responsibilities
of the central board and the community districts, and the roles of parents,
teachers, and students. The files are incomplete, but reflect not only
decentralization but also many of the major concerns of education in the
period, such as desegregation, poverty, disadvantaged and handicapped children,
and high school dropouts, and the various programs being developed to deal
with such problems.
Chancellor Frank J. Macchiarola
Memos to the Board, 1978-1983, Series 1110
Frank J. Macchiarola served as Chancellor from 1978 to 1983. The extensive
records of the Chancellor’s office document the work of the central
school system administration in that period. The specific series of memos
to the Board consists of memoranda transmitting informational materials
to the Board members, covering a wide range of policy and administrative
issues, such as governance, teacher selection, desegregation, pupil suspension,
curriculum development, financial oversight, and administrative reform.
Chancellor Anthony J. Alvarado Central Files, 1983-1984, Series 1120
Anthony J. Alvarado served as Chancellor from May 1983 to March 1984.
His term as Chancellor emphasized of such programs as alternative
student choice of school, which he had previously introduced as superintendent
of District 4. Efforts to reform school administration and inaugurate
the all-day kindergarten program are reflected in the “Memos to the Board” and
other correspondence files.
Chancellor Nathan Quinones Central Files, 1984-1988, Series 1125
Nathan Quinones served as Chancellor from June 1984 to January 1988.
The records reflect the work of the office of the Chancellor in this
on a wide range administrative and educational concerns, including high
school dropout prevention, special education, teacher and supervisory
appointments, and class size. Also included is extensive correspondence
parents, community activists, and the general public, that reveals much
of the reality of public education.
Chancellor Nathan Quinones Subject Files, 1984-1988, Series 1126
A series of files on subjects in which Chancellor Quinones took a special
personal interest, including many containing his handwritten drafts or
comments. Included are files on advisory councils and study groups he
set up to try to define priorities and strategies that would lead to
improvement of the school system.
Chancellor Nathan Quinones Confidential Files, 1984-1988, Series 1127
A series of files maintained as confidential by the office of Chancellor
Nathan Quinones, generally because they contained matter of a legal,
investigative, or personal nature. Included are correspondence with
the Board of Education’s
Office of Inspector General or other investigators and files relating to
union negotiations and arbitrations.
Chancellor Richard R. Green Central Files, 1988-1989, Series 1130
Richard R. Green served as Chancellor from March 1988 until his untimely death in May 1989. The records reflect the work of the office of the Chancellor in this period and document his efforts to involve board members, administrators, teachers, public officials, citizensí groups, and the general public in a program of school improvement and educational reform.