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Travelers Aid Society of New York records

Call Number

MS 635


1917-1979, inclusive


Travelers Aid Society of New York


4.5 Linear feet (10 archival boxes and 1 oversize box)

Language of Materials

The documents in the collection are in English.


The collection documents the history of the Travelers Aid Society of New York, an organization founded in 1905 to assist women travelers, and eventually expanded to aid all travelers. It consists of board minutes, annual reports, a few press articles and speeches, and a number of photographs of clients, TAS workers, board members, and organizational and fundraising events.

Historical Note

Missing Title

1905 March Social welfare worker and philanthropist Grace Hoadley Dodge founds the New York Travelers Aid Society ("TAS"), a non-sectarian welfare organization headed by a committee of Jewish, Roman Catholic and Protestant women. Initially aimed solely at protecting women travelers, TAS sets forth the following three objectives at its first meeting: "(1) Protection for traveling women as complete as possible in a world of incompleteness; (2) A building dedicated to her comfort especially if she be poor and in distress; (3) An employment clearing house through which a steady circulation between city and country may take place benefiting both."
1905 July TAS begins active work at Grand Central and Pennsylvania Station, carried out by two agents. Headquarters are in a one-room office at 361 W. 34th Street.
1905 November Advisory Board of Men formed chiefly to provide advice on legal and business matters.
1907 January TAS is formally incorporated; office is now at 238 48th Street.
1909 September One room in TAS headquarters is reserved to provide emergency accomodations for women and girl travelers arriving too late to find other shelter.
1910 Grace Hoadley Dodge resigns as President.
1911 TAS constitution is revised to allow men to serve on the Board of Directors; annual report notes that although organization's most important work is performed for women, men are also being helped "solely on ground of necessity." A "Department of National Cooperation" is established to further goal of cooperation with other social work agencies, both within and between cities.
1914 Grace Hoadley Dodge dies. TAS takes over work of the White Rose Home (a home for African-American girls in Harlem) for "colored travelers coming from the south by boat."
1917 U.S. enters WWI. TAS annual report indicates that 30,422 persons were assisted "notwithstanding the great decrease in steamer travel;" also reports "increased work for colored people" due to "labor conditions caused by the withdrawal of many men for the army" and "the shortage of food on the Islands [which] have caused a large migration to and through New York." National Travelers Aid Society is formed to coordinate efforts of the various local Travelers Aid organizations, with headquarters in New York City.
1918 End of WWI; TAS assists thousands of war brides and fiances in following years.
1919 TAS annual report notes that a large portion of work is devoted to caring for people who have left home due to war conditions, including many American girls and women traveling to fill new openings in industry. TAS becomes a member of the National Conference of Social Work.
1921 Service is provided to increasing numbers of old people and homeless men.
1923 According to annual report, work at Pennsylvania Station has greatly increased "due to the migration of large groups of colored people from the South, which necessitated our adding a colored worker to our staff to assist in caring for them." TAS begins sending some of its workers to the New York School of Social Work for formal training.
1924 May Edwin Gould Foundation donates use of building at 144 E. 44th Street for TAS headquarters; also donates use of connecting property at 139 E. 43rd Street to open TAS-run Guest House.
1925 TAS becomes one of the first social work organization to provide psychiatric services to its clients.
1930s Great Depression; TAS takes on added responsibility of providing assistance to thousands of "transient homeless men and transient families."
1931 TAS services begin to shift away from Port Office to bus stations and the TAS Central Office, where transient unemployed are referred.
1935 Annual report reflects new emphasis on "preventive" nature of TAS in discouraging "undesirable people from settling here and becoming public charges."
1939 New Yorker magazine publishes article on work of TAS; reports that increasing numbers of the foreigners served are returning American citizens.
1940 TAS workers meet 546 children refugees from the British Isles. National Travelers Aid Society organization joins with five other national welfare organizations to form the United Services Organization for National Defense, Inc. ("USO").
1941 U.S. enters WWII; Mrs. Edna Moses, sister of Robert Moses, is named Supervisor of joint USO-Travelers Aid Society Services. Additional information desks are opened in Grand Central and Pennsylvania Stations for exclusive use of service men and their families.
1942 March In conjunction with the USO, TAS opens Service Men's Lounge in Pennsylvania Station for traveling servicemen and women.
1942 October "Red, White and Blue Lounge" opens in Grand Central Station; it is the largest Service Men's lounge in the country.
1945 March TAS changes name from "Travelers Aid Society" to "Travelers Aid Society of New York" to avoid confusion with national organization.
1945 April TAS purchases properties at E. 43rd and E. 44th Street from the Edwin Gould Foundation.
1946 June Service Men's Lounges are closed.
1950 Outbreak of Korean War; U.S. State Department requests TAS to meet all individually sponsored Displaced Persons.
1951 USO lounge opened in Pennsylvania Station on temporary basis; USO Information Center opened in Diplomat Hotel (TAS Board later reports concern over rumors that this is a meeting place for many union and communist front organizations). TAS also opens booth in the new Port Authority bus terminal.
1953 With funding provided by Puerto Rican government, TAS begins providing services at Idlewood (now Kennedy) Airport.
1955 TAS celebrates its "Golden Jubilee" year; also purchases property at 204 E. 39th Street.
1958 Board minutes document increase in cases involving teenagers and seniors (persons over 65).
1960 TAS offices at Grand Central are demolished to make room for 54-story Pan Am Building.
1962 TAS office space at Pennsylvania Station absorbed by Madison Square Garden.
1965 TAS takes over travelers aid services in Newark, N.J., and surrounding area; board minutes reflect increasing concern over budget deficits.
1968 TAS opens Evelyn A. Jaffee Travelers Aid Center in Grand Central Station; launches experimental group counseling project for runaway children.
1982 TAS merges with Victim Services Agency to form the Metropolitan Assistance Corporation.


The Travlers Aid Society of New York collection has been organized by type of material into the following seven series:

Missing Title

  1. Series I: Minutes, 1917-1979 (excluding 1930 and 1970-1972)
  2. Series II: Annual Reports, 1917-1979
  3. Series III: Organizational Records, 1938-1978
  4. Series IV: Public Relations, [1950's-1979]
  5. Series V: Real Estate documents, 1945-1981
  6. Series VI: Photographs [1920's-1970's]

Scope and Content Note

This collection documents more than 60 years of efforts by the Travelers Aid Society of New York ("TAS") to help meet the needs of women, children, and, eventually, men, traveling to or through New York City. The collection is arranged by subject matter and/or type of material and is housed in 10 archival boxes and one oversize box. Documentary materials include board minutes, annual reports, some press articles and speeches, and a few memoranda which provide a general overview of the organization's history, purpose, and operations. There are also a number of photographs of clients, TAS workers, board members, and organizational and fundraising events; though these appear to date primarily from the 1940's to 1960's, there are also a few shots from earier decades. The collection does not include station reports or casework materials documenting the day-to-day activities of the workers.

These materials provide an overview of the changing face of travel and travelers as the 20th century progressed; the organization's efforts to adapt to these changes also reflect the tumultuous social upheaval of this time period. Though its original mission was to protect women travelers, TAS soon broadend its scope to encompass the floods of male immigrants arriving in equal need of help; with the advent of WWI, TAS began serving increasing numbers of African-Americans mobilized by newly available jobs; during the Great Depression, TAS changed its focus from the piers to train and bus stations, where transient men and boys were arriving by the thousands in search of work; when the U.S. entered WWII, TAS, under the auspices of the United Service Organization ("USO"), began operating Troops-in-Transit lounges for traveling servicement and women; and in the post-War era, TAS increasingly focused on "problem cases" involving seniors or runaway teenagers.

Despite the lack of detailed case reports, the collection illustrates the development of social welfare organizations and social work in the United State. It was one of the first organizations to employ the services of a psychiatrist, and by the 1920's was sending its caseworkers for formal training at the School of Social Work in New York City.

Access Restrictions

Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit

Use Restrictions

Taking images of documents from the library collections for reference purposes by using hand-held cameras and in accordance with the library's photography guidelines is encouraged. As an alternative, patrons may request up to 20 images per day from staff.

Application to use images from this collection for publication should be made in writing to: Department of Rights and Reproductions, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5194, Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 282.

Copyrights and other proprietary rights may subsist in individuals and entities other than the New-York Historical Society, in which case the patron is responsible for securing permission from those parties. For fuller information about rights and reproductions from N-YHS visit:

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as Records of the Travelers Aid Society of New York, The New-York Historical Society.

Location of Materials

Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donation of the Metropolitan Assistance Corporation, 1985

Related Material at The New-York Historical Society

A full set of annual reports, and a collection of other printed materials pertaining to the Travelers Aid Society of New York (informational pamphlets, fund raising literature, and programs to accompany benefit events), are cataloged separately in the New-York Historical Society library's general collections.

Collection processed by

Susan Kriete

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-21 15:49:58 -0400.
Language: Description is in English.

Edition of this Guide

This version was derivedfrom travelersaid.xml


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