Located at Fiorello H. LaGuardia Community College/CUNY in Long Island City, Queens, this growing repository contains several major collections.
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Fiorello H. La Guardia Collection: As mayor during the turbulent period from 1934–45, La Guardia initiated major reforms during the Depression and World War II. In 1982, the mayor’s widow, Marie La Guardia, donated her husband’s personal papers to La Guardia Community College. These documents, photographs, and personal artifacts chronicle Mayor La Guardia’s life and times.
The collection contains transcripts of La Guardia’s speeches, the texts of his 1942-45 Sunday Radio Broadcasts, personal correspondence, and more than 3,000 photographs. The Archives holds a microfilm copy of selected series of La Guardia’s mayoral papers housed at the New York City Municipal Archive, and a microfilm copy of La Guardia’s Congressional papers housed at the New York Public Library. The collection contains more than 100 hours of audio and videotapes.
Robert F. Wagner Collection: Mayor Wagner was the second generation of the Wagner family to devote himself to public service. His father was U.S. Senator Robert F. Wagner, a major figure on the national scene in the New Deal era who sponsored landmark labor, civil rights, health, social security, and social welfare legislation. The mayor’s son, Robert F. Wagner Jr., served as a member of the New York City Council, Chair of the New York City Planning Commission, deputy mayor for policy, and president of the New York City Board of Education.
Mayor Wagner served as chief executive of New York City for three terms. From 1954–65, he oversaw the construction of housing, parks, roadways, and schools. He championed the growth and empowerment of municipal labor unions, sponsored the creation of the City University of New York, and mobilized resources for the War on Poverty. The Collection consists of correspondence, transcripts of 3,000 speeches, over 7,000 photographs, personal artifacts, and a 100-interview oral history collection. Also available are the papers of Wagner’s executive assistant Julius Edelstein, a major figure in the redevelopment of the Upper West Side and a driving force in urban housing throughout the city. Portions of Sen. Wagner’s papers, held by Georgetown University, are available on microfilm. In 1994, the archives received the personal papers of Robert F. Wagner Jr., documenting the third and final generation of the Wagner family to serve in a public role.
Abraham D. Beame Collection: Beame enjoyed a long and distinguished career in public service, including a term as mayor, 1974–77. The Beame Collection consists of 1,800 photographs, more than 100 artifacts, and an assortment of papers. These include the fiscal crisis of the 1970s and the bicentennial celebration. The Beame oral history project has gathered unique recollections of more than 30 associates and contemporaries of the mayor.
Edward I. Koch Collection: New York’s dynamic 105th mayor served three terms, 1978–89. This collection of post-mayoral materials includes more than 3,700 photographs, videos, and a variety of documents. Included in the collection are materials donated by contemporaries and associates of the mayor, on such issues as charter revision and economic development. A portion of Mayor Koch’s mayoral speeches, which deal with some of the defining issues of the 1980s, is now available online. Dozens of oral history transcripts offer insights into the Koch years. In addition, the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives has digitized selected photographs from the Koch Mayoral Photograph Collection. The Archives also collaborated with the New York City Department of Records and Information Services to digitize and preserve U-matic tapes from their Koch Video Collection.
The Council of the City of New York Collection: This collection represents an unparalleled snapshot of the legislative history of America’s biggest city from the 1930s into the 21st century. It includes copies of the thousands of enacted laws and official publications, and also the records of public hearings and committee files on legislation under consideration and ad hoc investigations, numerous photographs and negatives, maps, artifacts, scrapbooks, audio and videotapes, as well as the papers of dozens of individual council members. Legislative documents from 1955–2007 are searchable on the website. More than 1.5 million of these are now available in full-text online, along with more than 67,000 searchable photographs.
New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Collection: Founded in 1934, NYCHA was the first U.S. housing authority. The collection covers the period from the 1920s to the 1990s. It documents the construction of New York’s public housing projects and provides information about the lives of the residents. The collection contains correspondence, reports, news-clippings, testimony, and surveys of neighborhoods and tenant populations. It also has more than 100,000 images, including photos of city neighborhoods before the projects were built. About 5,000 can be viewed online.
Steinway & Sons Collection: Henry Z. Steinway donated the papers of the Steinway & Sons piano company to the archives in 1985. Steinway figures prominently in American immigration, business, cultural, urban, and labor history. The family founded a piano company in Manhattan in 1853, and in 1870 built a factory in Queens and constructed street railways and housing. The collection consists of family, business, and workers’ records from 1853–2019. The collection also contains more than 4,800 photographs, and more than 50 hours of audio and videotapes.
Queens/Local History Collection: The Archives houses a collection on the social history of Queens from the 19th to the 20th century. This includes a 3,000-image plus photo collection. It contains views of transportation, leisure, work, and family life in New York’s largest borough, especially Astoria, Long Island City, and Woodside. The images show the transformation from a rural county in the late 19th century to an urban borough by 1950. The collection also has more than 90 oral histories. An additional aspect is the papers of two settlement houses, Forest Hills Community House and Sunnyside Community Services. The Archives also contains a small collection of documents, framed photographs and artifacts from NYS Senator, Serphin R. Maltese, State Assemblyman Mark Weprin, and State Senator Thomas Duane.
Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) Collection: The Papers of REBNY, donated to the Archives by the Board in 2017, document the history of private real estate in New York City from the Board’s founding, in 1896, to 2018. The largest portion of the Collection consists of the “Property Cards” (~200,000), produced by REBNY, which chronicle the real estate history of Manhattan properties. The other documents (~ 24 cf) are divided between those published by REBNY (i.e., Manual and Diaries, REBNY Minutes, Annual Journals and Reports, and an Annual Banquet publication), and Non-REBNY publications (i.e., Newsclippings, and Brooklyn Street Maps). There is also a Subject Files Series, which includes office occupancy surveys, and there are several folders of REBNY President Steven Spinola’s correspondence. The Collection also contains 38 Videos, 24 audiocassettes, about 3 cf of photos, 25 artifacts, and 20 real estate handbooks/guides.
The LGBTQ Collection: The bulk of this collection comes from the Papers of Daniel Dromm and Senator Thomas Duane. The Daniel Dromm Papers, are now available to researchers, and consists of 24 cubic ft of documents and artifacts, illuminating Queens LGBT history and activism from the 1990s to the early 2010s. The documents are made up of the following Series: Pride; Subject Files, Scrapbooks, Magazines/Publications, Articles and Clippings, Political Campaigns, and Personal/Business Contacts/Appointment Books. Dromm, a Queens public school teacher from 1984 to 2009, was a founder of the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee and an organizer of the Queens Pride Parade and Festival, inaugurated in Jackson Heights in 1993. The Senator Thomas Duane LGBTQ Papers consist of two Series: the Gay Literature Series (the Christopher Magazine from 1976 to 1993) and the Personal Gay Files Series (documents collected by Senator Duane, before, during and after his time in political office). Additional Senator Duane Document Series will be added to the online database for researchers, as they become available.
In addition, the Archives has acquired microfilm copies of the papers of all the NYC mayors since La Guardia ( O'Dwyer, Impellitteri, Wagner, Lindsay, Beame, Koch, Dinkins). The Archives has begun to develop its collection of Lindsay Photographs, having received a donation from the Mayor's son John Lindsay Jr. and daughter, Kathleen Lake. The documents in the Giuliani Collection are available, in their original print form, only at the NYC Municipal Archives. You should provide the Municipal Archives with the same box number and folder number, when seeking access to the Collection there. The Archives has also received Journalist Edith Evans Asbury's Collection, whose papers are presently being processed. It consists of 26 cf. of documents, and more than 200 photographs.
Research at the Archives:
Our user friendly Webdatabase facilitates rewarding research. Hours for researchers are generally Monday to Friday, 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. We are closed most major holidays. Those interested in using the collections should e-mail or call the Archivist to make an appointment. We look forward to your use of our materials.
The LaGuardia and Wagner Archives produces a variety of public programs, including history calendars; k-12 curricula; tours; and exhibits. New York State mandates that 4th and 5th graders study local history, but does not provide instructors with materials to teach this subject. Helping to fill this void, the Archives has published curriculum for students in New York City’s public schools.
The Archives maintains multiple exhibits throughout the hallways of the college and at other cultural institutions. Tours of the Archives facility are offered to the college community, which include an introduction to archival procedures, a visit to the storage room, and group sessions during which Archives' staff assist students in interpreting a historical document.
Each year the Archives works with LAGCC faculty members to work with a cohort of students on a year-long research and fieldwork project utilizing different collections. The students are trained in different historical methodologies, and do a variety of fieldwork assignments that bring their work into the public eye through photography, interviewing, podcasting, conference panels and writing. Besides the yearly curricula, Archives has published an annual history calendar since 1979.