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Finding aid for the Community Chest and Welfare Federation of Los Angeles Area records

Finding aid prepared by Sue Luftschein, 2011 May

Summary Information

USC Libraries Special Collections
Community Chest of Los Angeles Area.
Los Angeles Community Chest.
Los Angeles Community Welfare Federation.
Welfare Federation of Los Angeles Area.
Community Chest and Welfare Federation of Los Angeles Area records
Collection no.
Date [inclusive]
0.84 Linear feet, 2 boxes
The Community Chest and Welfare Federation of Los Angeles Area records contains reports (both annual and research), minutes, by-laws, and other administrative materials that document the higher level functions of these non-profit organizations during formative phases of their history, the late 1920s through the early 1960s.

Preferred Citation

[Box/folder# or item name], Community Chest and Welfare Federation of Los Angeles Area records, Collection no. 0461, California Social Welfare Archives, Special Collections, USC Libraries, University of Southern California

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Historical note

The Welfare Federation of Los Angeles Area, sometimes referred to as the Los Angeles Community Federation, was incorporated on March 12, 1924, to serve "as a central bureau through which all funds for charity, relief, and welfare work may be solicited, collected, held and disbursed." Shortly thereafter, on May 29th, 1924, the Los Angeles Community Chest was incorporated, with the backing of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, after two years of conflict among leaders of private social service agencies, many of whom feared that the future of welfare services in the region was likely to be controlled, through the Chest, by Los Angeles' business community. The first 27 volunteer directors of the board of the Welfare Federation were philanthropic leading citizens, with some experience in the administration of charitable institutions, who stepped forward at a critical moment when other leadership had failed. On January 2nd, 1925, with an encouraging fund of $2.5 million raised in the Chest's first campaign, the Welfare Federation began operations.

Membership in the Federation was open to all agencies licensed by the Social Services Commission to solicit funds for charitable purposes in Los Angeles. The Federation was anxious to have representation from as many agencies as possible so as to achieve some consensus of opinion on topics of general concern to the social work community. In the first year after its incorporation the Federation's research department discovered over one hundred privately supported charities in Los Angeles whose existence had previously been unknown to any official body. These small agencies were, in effect, answerable to no one so long as they refrained from public fund-raising. Only those agencies who agreed to forego their own individual fund-raising efforts, and to open their operations to Federation inspection and direction, were eligible to share in the money raised in Community Chest campaigns. Many large agencies, and particularly those with national and international connections, such as the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and the Y.M.C.A. were unwilling to become Chest agencies on such terms and continued with their own year-round charitable appeals. The Federation attempted to reach agreement with fund-raising agencies so that their activities did not coincide with the Chest's annual campaigns. Although it was highly influential, the Federation had no legal authority to prevent individual fund-raisers from operating in a manner likely to detract from the effectiveness of the Community Chest.

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Scope and Content

The Community Chest and Welfare Federation of Los Angeles Area records contains reports (both annual and research), minutes, by-laws, and other administrative materials that document the higher level functions of these non-profit organizations during formative phases of their history, the late 1920s through the early 1960s. The records provide a wide overview of the activities of the board of governors, some of the executive committees (including the Cooperative Committee and the Public Relations committee), and administrative staff.

Included in the collection are early statistical analyses and annual reports reflecting the development of the Federation's budgeting and allocation procedures, documentation of chest campaigns, and interpretive materials produced during the Depression, when Angelenos frequently expected the Federation to provide more emergency relief than was afforded by the often meager proceeds from Chest campaigns in those years. The collection also contains much material on personnel practices, job and service classifications, and pay plans for the Federation's member agencies. Among problems that troubled the Federation from its beginnings was the fact that many working Angelenos contributed to Chest campaigns in metropolitan areas of the city but lived in outlying suburbs where no Chest agencies provided services. The Federation therefore gave early consideration to questions of expansion or decentralization, and the collection records the beginning of joint budgeting with neighboring community chests. Minutes of some of the Federation's committees are to be found in the collection, including those of the Chest-Agency Co-Operation Committee which worked to reorganize the Federation during the population influx of the 1950's.

Also present are materials reflecting the work of the Federation's research department as it produced maps, bibliographies, and reading lists for inquiring citizens, began a research library, and made studies of unmet service needs in the region. Of particular interest is a 1925 report on "Social Work With Families in Los Angeles", made by Carl de Schweinitz and Ruth Hill for the Welfare Federation under the direction of the American Association for Family Social Work. Also noteworthy is the candid 1951 report from a Citizens' Study Committee on recommended changes in the management and functions of the Federation. Of curiosity interest are some long lists of harmless-sounding groups and associations supplied to Los Angeles social welfare agencies in 1955 by the House Un-American Activities Committee, with a stern warning that these groups be scrupulously avoided as "subversive".

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

USC Libraries Special Collections
2011 May
Doheny Memorial Library 206
3550 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles, California, 90089-0189

Conditions Governing Access

Advance notice required for access.

Conditions Governing Use

The use of archival materials for on-site research does not constitute permission from the California Social Welfare Archives to publish them. Copyright has not been assigned to the California Social Welfare Archives, and the researcher is instructed to obtain permission from the copyright holder to quote from or publish manuscripts in the CSWA's collections.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Community Chest of Los Angeles Area. -- Archives
  • Los Angeles Community Welfare Federation. -- Archives
  • Welfare Federation of Los Angeles Area. -- Archives


  • Annual reports
  • Bylaws (administrative records)
  • Correspondence
  • Minutes
  • Reports

Geographic Name(s)

  • Los Angeles (Calif.)--Social conditions--Archival resources


  • Nonprofit organizations--California--Los Angeles--History--Archival resources
  • Social service--California--Los Angeles--History--Archival resources

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Collection Inventory

Box Folder

 Social Work with Families in Los Angeles, California, by Karl deSchewinitz and Ruth Hill 1925 

1 1

 Statistical Analysis, Community Welfare Federation, Los Angeles, California, Research Division 1926-1927 

1 2

 Los Angeles Community Welfare Federation resources for minorities 1926-1927 

1 3

 Community Welfare Federation annual report 1927 

1 4

 Annual Report of the Community Welfare Federation operating the Los Angeles Community Chest 1928 

1 5

 Speech of Executive Director of New York Association of Community Chests to Los Angeles Welfare Federation 1929 

1 6

 Community Chest brochures 1932, 1938 

1 7

 Community Chest public relations 1935-1936 

1 8

 "Social Service as Administered by Public and Private Agencies" 1935 

1 9

 Administrative policy questions, budget matters 1941-1942 

1 10

 Job classification and pay plan 1946 

1 11

 Pay plans--Administration 1949-1963 

1 12

 Summary of major program findings and conclusions, Welfare Federation 1951 

1 13

 Budgetting process 1951-1952 

1 14

 Citizen's Study Committee, budget procedures, executive classification 1951-1957 

1 15

 Welfare Federation minutes, reports, correspondence, by-laws, budget 1952-1960 

2 1

 "Code of the Chest and Council Movement" 1953 

2 2

 Instructions to member agencies, policies and procedures--budget admission (n.b. subversive groups) 1954-1962 

2 3

 Chest-Agency Cooperation Committee, Advisory Committee of Agency Executives 1954-1955 

2 4

 Chest-Agency Cooperation Committee, Advisory Committee of Agency Executives 1955 

2 5

 Community Chest campaigns, Agency Participation meetings, other agency committee meetings 1956-1959 

2 6

 "Better Management Better Service" 1959 

2 7

 Community Chest of LA classification of services 1962 

2 8

 Board of Governors, Agency executives 1962 

2 9

 "Budget Manual for Member Agencies" 1962-1963 

2 10

 "Appendix C for Attitudes and Opinions of Selected Groups Toward Giving to Organized Charities" undated 

2 11

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