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Records of the Office of the Vice President and Secretary (Harold O. Voorhis)

Call Number



1925-1965, inclusive


Voorhis, Harold O.
New York University. Office of the Vice President and Secretary


19 Linear Feet

Language of Materials

Materials primarily in English.


The primary function of the Office of the Secretary was to assist the Chancellor in the discharge of his duties. The Secretary sent and received correspondence relating to the University and prepared and maintained the University Council's minutes, documentary materials, records, and correspondence. In addition, the Secretary oversaw faculty personnel records and supervised the publication of annual reports. The records in this collection were reflect the work of the the Vice President and Secretary's Office during the tenure of Harold Voorhis (1925-1945).

Biography of Harold Oliver Voorhis

Harold Oliver Voorhis (1896-1985) served as the first Secretary of New York University (NYU). Born on July 29, 1896, in Kokomo, Indiana, Voorhis received his B.S. from Colgate University in 1919. In 1920 he studied at Columbia University Law School and in 1922 earned an M.A. in Economics from New York University. In 1945 he was awarded an honorary LL.D. from Colgate University.

From 1914 to 1915 Voorhis worked as a surveyor's assistant in Saskatchewan, Canada. From 1916 to 1919 he served as the secretary to the President of Colgate University, and he also served as secretary to the Chautauqua Institution in 1919. In 1920 Voorhis moved to New York City and took a position as secretary to the Vice President of the National Bank of Commerce. Voorhis began his administrative career at New York University as executive secretary to Chancellor Elmer Ellsworth Brown. Voorhis also taught economics at NYU during this time period.

During Voorhis' tenure the Secretary served as the Chancellor's principal assistant. Voorhis served in six administrations: Elmer Ellsworth Brown (1911-1933), Harry Woodburn Chase (1933-51), James Loomis Madden (acting Chancellor from 1951-1952), Henry Townley Heald (1952-1956), Carroll Vincent Newsom (1956-1962), and James McNaughton Hester (1962-1975).

The University grew tremendously during this time period, and the scope of responsibilities of the office of the Secretary reflected this growth. In 1945 Voorhis became the Vice Chancellor and Secretary under Chancellor Harry Woodburn Chase. In 1955 he was named Vice President and Secretary during Henry T. Heald's presidency. Over time the office supervised a wide array of functions, including serving as Clerk of the Council/Trustees and Secretary of the Senate. The office also handled the planning of public ceremonies, including commencement, and oversaw various other offices, including the Bureau of Public Information, the Student Activities Office, the New York University Press, ROTC, and the New York University Art Collection.

Voorhis retired in 1962 after 42 years of service to New York University.


"Voorhis Retires," Washington Square Journal, December 1961, Vol. 7, No. 35.Still, Bayrd, "Evolution of Organization of General Administrative Offices, 1880-1978," (1978). New York University Archives.New York University, "Self-Study-Final Report." New York : New York University Press, 1956.Annual Reports of the Vice President and Secretary, 1951-1967. New York University Archives.Charters and By-Laws of Mew York University, 1925, 1928, 1937, 1951, 1956, 1958, 1960, 1968. New York University Archives.Newsom, Carroll, "Speech in Honor of H. O. Voorhis," December 12, 1961. Bureau of Public Occasions Records (RG 4.2). New York University Archives.Office of the President. Records, 1951-1965 (RG 3.0.6). New York University Archives.Reports of the Chancellor, 1944-1948. New York University Archives.

History of the Office of Vice President and Secretary at New York University

The Office of Vice President and Secretary at New York University (NYU) was first created as the Office of the Secretary of the University in 1925. The Secretary was appointed by the Council, upon recommendation of the Chancellor, and served as the general executive assistant to the Chancellor. The Office of Secretary became central to the administration of the University.

The primary function of the Secretary was to assist the Chancellor in the discharge of his duties. The responsibilities delineated in 1925 included: conducting correspondence with individuals and institutions relating to the University at large; coordinating the work of secretaries of the several schools and divisions; preparing and maintaining minutes, documentary materials, records, and conducting correspondence of the Council and its committees. The Secretary affixed the University seal and maintained records of diplomas and certificates issued by the University. He maintained personnel records of the faculty, published the University bibliography, supervised the publication of annual reports, and performed other administrative duties assigned by the Chancellor.

The responsibilities of the Secretary increased in volume as the University grew. In recognition of the importance of the Secretary, the administrative title of the office was changed on July 1, 1945, to Vice Chancellor and Secretary in accordance with the duties assigned to the office by Chancellor Harry Woodburn Chase and the University Council. The title was changed again in 1955 to Vice President and Secretary as a result of a general administrative reorganization under President Henry T. Heald. Several assistants to the Secretary were hired in 1956.


Folders are arranged chronologically.

The files are grouped into 5 series:


  1. Administrative Correspondence and Subject Files
  2. Questionnaires and Faculty Statistics
  3. Law Center Campaign
  4. Medical Center Campaign
  5. Korean War Materials

Scope and Contents

This collection reflects Harold Voorhis' tenure as Secretary (1925-1945), Vice Chancellor and Secretary (1945-1956), and Vice President and Secretary (1956-1962) of New York University (NYU). The materials consist of correspondence, memoranda, committee minutes, reports, printed material, charts, blueprints, petitions, press releases, speeches and photographs. The records reflect the growth, diversity, and complexity of NYU, the development of higher education as a whole, and the reactions and adjustments of a major, private urban university to the changing social concerns during these several decades. They provide information concerning the University's response to the Depression, World War II and the post-war years, the McCarthy Era, student activism, and many other social, political, economic, and academic issues. Correspondents include: Philip Badger, James Gordon Bennett, Elmer Ellsworth Brown, Marshall Stewart Brown, Harry Woodburn Chase, Walter Wheeler Cook, Frank L. Howley, Theodore Francis Jones, LeRoy Elwood Kimball, Otto Nathan, William Francklyn Paris, Rufus Daniel Smith, and Leslie Jay Tompkins.

Series I: Administrative Correspondence and Subject Files

The administrative correspondence and subject files of the Office of Vice President and Secretary are arranged in one alphabetical subject series filed according to name or primary subject heading. The bulk of the records consist of letters written by Voorhis or a member of his staff on behalf of the Chancellor or President. The administrative functions and offices documented in these files include: Alumni Relations, Councils and Committees, Faculty, Schools/Colleges and Divisions, Student Affairs and Activities, Physical Facilities, World War II and Post-War Activities, and Individuals and Non-University Organizations.

Of particular interest are files relating to Otto Nathan, an instructor of Economics. Nathan was a Jewish refugee scholar who fled Germany with the rise of Nazism. Friend and confidant of Albert Einstein, Nathan was suspected of being a Communist. Materials in this series also document racial and religious statistics from 1941-1953, containing statistical data relevant to the ethnic and religious composition of the student body at the Washington Square campus. The series also contains materials related to the New York City Slum Clearance Project, chaired by Robert Moses. This project provoked considerable opposition from members of the Greenwich Village community.

Series II: Questionnaires and Faculty Statistics

This series contains questionnaires, University and faculty Statistics and associated correspondence. The questionnaires range from 1939-1965, and faculty statistics range from 1934-1945 and 1949-1957. Questionnaires were submitted to Secretary Voorhis' office by the federal and state governments' Offices of Education and by private firms and other universities for publication. Statistics recorded include: positions of faculty and administration, volumes in the library, average salaries by department and rank and detailed data on physical plant space usage and facilities.

Series III: Law Center Campaign

This series contains minutes, reports, financial statements, correspondence, petitions, press releases, speeches, photographs, printed material and memorabilia concerning the Law Center Foundation and Campaign (1944-1951).

Series IV: Medical Center Campaign

This series consists of 2.25 feet of material pertaining to the New York University Bellevue Medical Center Campaign. The bulk of the collection was created during the years 1947-1948.

Series V: Korean War Materials

This series focuses on federal policies on higher education as they related to war readiness, and national defense preparations and documenting federal policies that affected institutions of higher education.



New York University. Faculty of Arts and Science; New York University. College of Engineering; New York University. College of Medicine; Bellevue Hospital Medical College; American Pioneer Trails Association; New York University. Graduate School of Arts and Science; Alumni Federation of New York University, Inc; New York University. Committee on Labor Relations; New York University. Commission on Graduate Work; New York University. College of Fine Arts; New York University. Faculty Club; New York University. Division of General Education; New York University. Hall of Fame for Great Americans; New York University. Division of Athletics and Physical Training; New York University. Bureau of Public Information; New York University. Board of Athletic Control; NYU Press; New York University. College of Dentistry; New York University. Office of the President; New York University. College of Arts and Science; New York University. Center for Human Relations; Loeb Student Center; New York University -- Funds and scholarships; New York University. School of Commerce, Accounts, and Finance; New York University -- History -- 20th century; New York University. School of Education; College Entrance Examination Board; Gallery of Living Art; University of the State of New York; Young Men's Christian Association of the City of New York; Washington Square College; Sailors' Snug Harbor (Institution); Town Hall, Inc.; United States. Army. Reserve Officers' Training Corps; New York University. Graduate School of Public Administration; New York University. Institute of Comparative Law; New York University. Institute of Fine Arts; New York University. Office of the Vice President and Secretary

Access Restrictions

Institutional records of New York University are closed for a period of 20 years from the date of their creation (the date on which each document was written). Board of Trustees records are similarly closed for 35 years from the date of creation. The opening date for files spanning several years will be 20 years from the most recent date. Access will be given to material already 20 years old contained within a collection that is not yet open when such material can be isolated from the rest of the collection.

Materials related to personnel, faculty grievances, job searches and all files with information that falls under the University's Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) policy are permanently restricted.

Please contact the University Archivists with specific questions regarding restrictions.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish materials must be obtained in writing from New York University Archives, Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, 70 Washington Square South, New York, NY 10012; Phone: (212) 998-2646; E-mail:

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form: Identification of item, date (if known); Records of the Office of the Vice President and Secretary; RG 4.0.1; box number; folder number; New York University Archives, New York University Libraries.


The records of the Office of Vice President and Secretary during the Voorhis administration were transferred from the Secretary's Office to the New York University Archives in March 1975 by Dr. E. Frederic Knauth. They were previously stored in Vanderbilt Hall, 40 Washington Square South, where the offices of central administration were located before moving to the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library in 1973.

Related Material at the New York University Archives

Office of the Chancellor/President (RG 3.0)

Elmer Ellsworth Brown Administrative Records (RG 3.0.4)

Harry Woodburn Chase Administrative Reocrds (RG 3.0.5)

Collection processed by

Joe Glancey, Jr., and Courtney A. Smith. Additional processing completed by Marissa De Simone.

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-20 17:54:08 -0400.
Language: Description is in English.

Edition of this Guide

This version was derived from five finding aids which described each series of this collection.


New York University Archives
New York University Archives
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012