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Archival Research

The George Sim Johnston Archives serve as one of the nation’s most valuable repositories of original and compiled material on the origins, history and development of the child protection movement.

Archival holdings, in digital and hard copy, include the following:

  • The NYSPCC’s Annual Reports: 1875-Present
  • Children of the Stage (Newspaper) Clipping Books: 18 volumes, 1880-1911
  • Children’s Court Clipping Book: 1901-1904
  • Convention Minutes of SPCCs in New York State: 4 volumes, 14 annual conventions, 1890-1904
  • Court Decision Clipping Books: 3 volumes, 1890-1919
  • Historical Records: approximately 15 linear feet of documents in file folders dating from 1875
  • Manuals for NYSPCC Officers: 10 manuals spanning the years from 1875-2004
  • Selected Cases: 11 volumes concerning eight NYSPCC interventions, 1881-1912
  • The Mary Ellen Case, 1874 and Etta Wheeler correspondence, 1875-1936: 2 volumes
  • Visitor’s Books: Two volumes registries of visitors to NYSPCC headquarters, 1877-1898; 1917-1937
  • Minutes Books of the NYSPCC: 19 volumes, 1874-Present


Additionally, there is a collection of photographs (some in print, some on glass slides), including several NYSPCC buildings, and persons of historical importance to The NYSPCC such as Etta Wheeler, Elbridge T. Gerry, Henry Bergh, as well as Mary Ellen, before and after her rescue, and later, with her children.

Archival ephemera include the dress worn by Mary Ellen at the time of her rescue, professionally mounted in a museum display case, the badges or shields worn by the NYSPCC president, directors and special officers, and the original cast iron seal of the Society.

The George Sim Johnston Archives have served as an invaluable resource for published works concerning the origins and history of child protection, the biographies of stage and sports personalities, the movement to regulate child performers, and for various local museum exhibitions.

To inquire about accessing the George Sim Johnston Archives as part of your search, please contact Chelsea Frank.

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