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Federated Dorchester Neighborhood Houses : Records and photographs, 1965-1994


3 cartons, 1 slide box, 1 oversize folder


These records and photographs of the Federated Dorchester Neighborhood Houses were donated to the Archives and Special Collections Department of the Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts at Boston by FDNH in May 1995. Additional items were transfered from records donated by former board memeber Lillian DiPaolo in 1993 and from the Little House records.


Federated Dorchester Neighborhood Houses (FDNH) was incorporated in 1965 after settlement houses Little House, Denison House, and Dorchester House, along with the Columbia Point Youth Center agreed to act on a proposal by the United Way and the United Community Settlements that the Dorchester area agencies loosely unite. The Articles of Organization stated that the purpose of FDNH was "to promote improved social conditions in urban areas through the establishment and maintenance of neighborhood centers and other appropriate facilities and programs; and to cooperate with other organizations having similar objectives."

Each organization retained its independence and gained a central administrative office that appears at first to have been responsible primarily for finances and personnel. Rather than boards of directors, the houses had "House Councils" and the center had an "Advisory Council." In 1967, the President of FDNH's Board of Directors indicated that the FDNH board appointed members to these councils, and the chair of each then became a voting member of the FDNH board (First Annual Report). Particularly in the beginning, each house and the youth center appear to have retained a fair amount of autonomy, although as FDNH's central office grew, so probably did its responsibilities. FDNH's staff is headed by an executive director; each house or program has its own director and some staff.

By 1987, FDNH grew to include the Kit Clark Senior House, the Log School Family Education Center, (later Bartholomew) Family Day Care, and Camp Denison (Calendar). House representation on the board of directors grew to three members, with the Senior House and Log School having their own House Councils (Calendar, 1987).

For a history of Dorchester House, see "Dorchester House Multi-Service Center: One Hundred Years of Community Service, 1887-1987," by Elizabeth Mock. For additional information, see the Dorchester House Multi-Service Center records, 1909-1983 (Collection 32) and the Little House records, 1913-1985 (Collection 78) in the archives. The records of Denison House are at the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe College.

Scope and Content

This incomplete collection of records and photographs provides a sketchy overview of the history of Federated Dorchester Neighborhood Houses and of some of its houses and programs. With the exception of the photographs (between 1979 and 1986), this collection is fragmentary. It is not comprised of a complete set of office files.

This collection has not yet been processed. After a preliminary sort, the records fell into two major categories: Board of Directors (#4-16), Administrative (#17-54), and Photographs. Most of the Board of Directors and Administrative records were loose; they include minutes, annual and other reports, correspondence, proposals, publicity (newsletters, printed calendars, brochures, and flyers), and collected news clippings and reports about FDNH. There are also articles of organization, by-laws, and an organizational chart. Headings in quotation marks indicate that the material is in the original folder.

The photographs, which include negatives, contact sheets, prints, and slides, mostly range from 1970 through 1993. The photos are of people of all ages (including children and seniors), several races (particularly African American and white), political officials, annual and other meetings, camps, staff and board members, and events sponsored by FDNH or one of the houses or programs. Most of the photographs are in manila envelopes that include the event, date, and sometimes the photographer or pictured people's names. The photographs are of activities in all of the houses involving many of the programs associated with FDNH. The photographs are not in any order and many are loose. Several photos pre- date 1970. Some have color coded stickers on them; green means Little House and Blue means Dorchester House. For additional photographs, see the calendars FDNH published (#34-40).

Records collected by FDNH but created by a member of the Dorchester House Council or Determined People of Dorchester were added to the Dorchester House Multi-Service Center collection.