Correction's Katharine Bement Davis:
New York City's Suffragist Commissioner
-- Appreciations & Acknowledgments --
Copies of this head-and-shoulders Katharine Bement Davis photo formed part of the printed programs at her testimonial dinner. (Photo courtesy of the Rockefeller Archives Center.)
Be On Notice: Other Issues to Explore
To Comment, Quiry by Email
The following sections are mostly complete:
Other published resources used
By THOMAS C. McCARTHY©
This extended essay is intended to serve only as an introduction to one of the most extraordinary New Yorkers of either gender and of any generation: Katharine Bement Davis.
In no way is this essay offered as the comprehensive or definitive statement on that individual who spent a half century blazing new trails in so many fields -- higher education, urban sociology, penology, municipal government, sexual practices research, women's rights. Studying her life is like wandering through the gardens, groves and glades of a great old estate, the kind where each turn in the path opens a different vista, some new setting worth exploring.
The nature of this introductory essay, and its context, precludes investigating many interesting issues involving Progressive era attitudes about female criminality in general and prostitution in particular, feeblemindedness and human heredity, public health policy and social hygiene, government interventions and individual rights.
These and related questions of that era are being revisited by scholars doing critical analysis in the light of contemporary values. This is mentioned here to put on notice any aspiring Davis scholars. If they are not already aware of it, then they should be alerted that these sensitive subjects offer opportunity for fresh research and hopefully even fresher thinking, whether to validate or refute, whether to follow or to challenge this or that school of historical analysis. In brief, KBD history is not dead and buried but alive and kicking.
The essay was not written as a vehicle for the expression of viewpoints, but to the extent that viewpoints are reflected (history is hard to write without a starting viewpoint or two), they are perforce my own, as are any errors of fact or interpretation of fact. My admiration for Davis must be obvious to anyone who has read these pages. But that admiration, this biography and its display here should not be interpreted as blanket endorsements of every Davis position on every issue of her times during her career of more than a half century.
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Most of the research in libraries and among archives was done off-hours. Virtually all the actual writing was done at home evenings and weekends as was most of the HTML coding. Even some GIF graphics were created using my trusty handscanner at home. The author undertook this work, on his own initiative, with multiple purposes in mind: for an independent graduate study project, for a possible future book, for Department use in its newsletter, Web pages, and such other ways as it deems fit. The Department's support -- especially the encouragement of Deputy Commissioner for Public Information Thomas Antenen and my other colleagues in the Public Information Office -- was important throughout and at critical junctures, a fact I gratefully acknowledge.
Readers of this Katharine Bement Davis biography can comment and/or inquire about it by E-mail to NYCHS.
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The author has relied on the few but excellent works of others who have researched her life. He has been privileged to discuss, by phone and/or email, specific points of historical interest with some of them. They and others who provided help are listed below in appreciation. In lieu of formal footnotes and bibliography, these lists provide useful information for those also studying the subject.
In particular, with respect to the Special Consolidation Centennial Preface, I wish to acknowledge the helpful conservations had with Bronx Borough Historian Dr.William A. Tieck, various articles in the ever-useful The Encyclopedia of New York City (also mentioned below) and parts of an excellent historical dissertation by one Martin Donnelly (date unknown).
The following three sections are mostly complete but can be added to if any names that should be here are not:
Below are listed those who aided my research in various ways (by phone, fax, email or snail mail) deserving public acknowledgment; they already have my personal appreciation:
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- Katharine Bement Davis' niece, Eleanor Johnson of Columbia, S.C., and grandnieces, Frances Pepper of Cincinnati and Helen Garber of Medford, Oregon, for sharing their family memories with me by phone and e-mail, providing leads, clarifying certain points and encouraging my efforts.
- Dr. Ellen F. Fitzpatrick, Harvard professor of History, for her trail-blazing Davis studies. All subsequent KBD researchers owe her a debt of gratitude, especially me. I made much use of the information in her book Endless Crusade,Oxford University Press, 1990, about Davis and three other women social scientists active in Progressive reform. In Dr. Fitzpatrick's gathering together in one volume, Katharine Bement Davis, Early 20th Century American Women, and the Study of Sex Behavior,Garland Publishing, 1987, various out-of-print Davis writings she rendered great service to all KBD students. I am particularly grateful for her kind words of encouragement in email communications with me.
- Dr. Kenneth Rose of the Rockefeller Archives Center for making that excellent research resource available to me, for his guidance to me in using it, and for his sending me, unsolicited, materials he came across he thought might be of relevant interest.
- Nancy S. MacKechnie, Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts, Vassar College Libraries, and staffer Elaine Pike for making the college's excellent collection of Davis-related materials available to me for research, guiding me in their use, and general helpfulness by phone, email, fax and special mailings.
- Prof. Nicole Hahn Rafter of Northeastern University for authoring Partial Justice: Women in State Prisons 1800 -- 1935, published by that university's press in 1985, source of much information I used on Bedford reformatory, and for her taking time from a busy schedule at Northeastern's Criminal Justice Institute to clarify by phone certain points about which I inquired.
- Prof. Spencer L. BeMent of the University of Michigan for maintaining his Bement genealogical "chronicles" on the Web, for his help by phone and email, and for his mailing relevant materials.
- Ruth H. McCuaig for drawing upon her vast Georgian Bay knowledge during our phone conversations and for writing her delightful and informative history, Our Pointe au Baril.
- Elizabeth Norris, National Board YWCA archivist, for her helpfulness by phone and by document mailing.
- Richard Andress of the New York State Archives for his help by phone and email on my Davis statewide candidacy questions.
- Bedford Town Historian Katharine Barrett Kelly and her assistant Rosemary Mahoney for their help by phone and documents mailing.
- Frank R. Greene, Executive Director of the College Settlement of Philadelphia, for his help by phone, email and documents mailing.
- Michael W. Huse, Pacific Grove City Manager for his helpful phone calls and document mailing.
- Patty Dormedy, treasurer of Pacific Grove PRIDE, for her helpful faxes.
- Dr. Joseph W. Barnes, formerly Rochester Historian, for his phone and email help, and for his writing the excellent monograph on Davis' Chicago world fair's house: Rochester History. Vol.XLIII January 1981 No. 1 -- Katharine B. Davis & the Workingman's Model Home.
- Pamela O'Sullivan, of the Rochester Public Library for her email and document mailing help.
- Prof. Helen Horowitz of Smith College for her insights, by phone and email, on the College Settlement movement and related matters involving late 19th Century women who pursued post graduate studies.
- Esther Trosow of the Heritage Society of Pacific Grove, Calif., for her email information and document mailing and for her wonderful WWW walking tour, John Steinbeck's Pacific Grove.
- Gayle Brandow Samuels for mailing her informative 1994 booklet Women in the City of Brotherly Love . . .And Beyond: Tours and Detours in Delaware Valley Women's History, funded by PNC Bank and the Samuel S. Fels Fund, after my inquiry about Davis in Philadelphia was forwarded to her by the Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site people (whom I also thank).
- Anne Diestal, archivist, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Office of Communications & Archives, and Marjorie Moody, archives officer at Alderson, W.Va., for phone help and document mailings.
- Joseph Smith, formerly Deputy Superintendent at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, for phone help and document faxing.
- Bibi Overmiller of the Library of Congress for phone, email and fax help.
- Clara M. Lamers, head librarian of Brooklyn Historical Society, for her guidance in my researching the Brooklyn Heights Seminary for Girls that had stood in another era a few steps from the society's own historic building on Pierrepont Street.
- Carol A. Leadenham, assistant archivist at Stanford University's Hoover Institute, for her email help and for mailing copies of materials on Jean Henry Large.
- Leslie Hall of the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, London, UK, for her email help and document mailing.
- Dr. Larry Sullivan, Chief Librarian, and Marvie Booksof the John Jay College of Criminal Justice Library for her document faxing help.
- Devra L. Zetlan, Chief, Public Services, and other staffers at the Municipal Reference and Research Center affiliated with the Municipal Archives, for their research help.
- Stephanie Soler of the Progressive Policy Institute for her document faxing help.
- The Riverside staff in Rochester for help by phone and fax.
- George Dunbar of Columbia, S.C.
Below are listed those who aided my research with email information. I have already thanked them and wish to publicly acknowledge their help on key points of research:
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- Professor James C. Anthony, School of Hygiene & Public Health, Johns Hopkins University.
- Steven J. Bell of Wharton School Lippincott Library, University of Pennsylvania.
- Claire Booth of Carleton, Ca.
- Prof. George Allan Cate, University of Maryland, College Park.
- Trevor Dawes of Columbia Library.
- Hamlet Dwyer of Indiana University.
- Washington University Pro. Emeritus David L. Elliott of the University of Maryland.
- Anne Gometz of Florida State Universities Libraries.
- Prof. J. Patrick Gunning, Institute of Public Finance, Taipei, Taiwan, ROC.
- Mary M. Huth, assistant head of the Dept. of Rare Books and Special Collections, University of Rochester.
- Asilomar Park Ranger Roxanne Jacobis.
- Diane Jenner of the Graduate Program in History, York University, Ca.
- Linda Kay, Development Bureau, New Jersey State Library, Trenton.
- Bill McAllister of the University of Virginia.
- Philinda Masters, Resources for Feminist Research, University of Toronto
- Ellen Manchee, Parks Canada historian.
- David Minor, Eagles Byte Historical Research, Rochester, N.Y.
- Doris Muckenheim of West Parry Sound Museum.
- Melanie Mulvill of Rainbow County Travel Association, Ca.
- Natalie Naylor of Hosftra University.
- Betsy Nies, University of Florida.
- Martin Pernick of the University of Michigan.
- Prof. Lee S. Polansky of Emory College.
- Priscilla Roberts, Hong Kong University.
- Nancy Marie Robertson, New York University.
- Linda L. Seidman, Head, Special Collections and Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, U. of Mass. Amherst.
- Wade R. Slinde, Hoover Library archivist.
- Eve P. Smith of University of Windsor, Ca.
- Prof. Jon Christian Suggs of CUNY's John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
- Sanford Bates, Director, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Federal Industrial Institution for Women, Alderson, West Virginia, undated booklet with photos.
- Vern L. Bullough, Katharine Bement Davis, Sex research and the Rocekfeller Foundation,from a paper presented at the 59th annual meeting of the American Association for the History of Medicine, Rochester, N.Y., April 30, 1986.
- Todd R. Clear and George F. Cole, American Corrections, Second Edition, Brooks/Cole Publishing, Pacific Grove, California, 1990.
- Lynn D. Gordon, KBD entry, Biographical Dictionary of Social Welfare in America, Pages 207 through 210, Greenwood Press, New York.
- Fred E. Haynes, The American Prison System, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1939.
- Kenneth T. Jackson, Editor, The Encyclopedia of New York City, Yale University Press and the New York Historical Society, 1995.
- W. David Lewis, KBD entry in Dictionary of Notable American Women,Harvard University Press, Vol. I, Pages 439 to 441.
- Marilyn D. McShane and Frank P. Williams, Encyclopedia of American Prisons, Garland, 1996.
- Gustavus Myers, The History of Tammany Hall, originally published in 1917 and republished by Dover Publications, New York, 1971.
*Copyright © 1997 by Thomas C. McCarthy and the New York City Department of Correction. All rights reserved.