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This collection of well over 100,000 items contains the printed records of social welfare agencies (public and private) up to 1970; the major strength of the collection is for the period 1880-1940. Only a few field notes are found in the Jacob Riis Collection. The collection has no papers of the agencies themselves.
The Russell Sage Collection came to City College in 1949-1950 when the Russell Sage Foundation decided to retain only a working library and closed its public reading room. Part of the material went to the New York (now the Columbia University) School of Social Work. The City College library maintained the collection by continuing to add serial material to which the collection was already committed. The librarian of the Russell Sage Collection joined the City College library staff and directed the collection until her retirement in 1963. After that the collection was moved under the supervision of the then Social Sciences Reading Room. The collection uses the Dewey Decimal classification and has its own catalog with many analytics.
In 1976 most of the monographs were removed and integrated into the general collection; those remaining are grouped together at the end of the Russell Sage Collection. Periodical serials were integrated in to the general collection in the 1950s.
By 1978 no staff were available to maintain the collection and it was closed and assigned to the Division of Archives and Special Collections. An ongoing preservation project to retie the unbound material with flat cotton tape and place it in composition Princeton-style files began a few years ago. Russell Sage material may generally be photocopied.