|Size:||0.5 linear feet|
|Repository||Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center, Special Collections, 400 S. State St., Chicago, IL 60605|
|Provenance:||Donated by Barbara Donahue, daughter of John J. Finlay, in 2000.|
|Citation:||When quoting material from this collection the preferred citation is: John J. Finlay Papers, [Box #, Folder #], Special Collections, Chicago Public Library|
|Processed by:||Emma Lipkin; supervised by Johanna Russ, July 2018|
John J. Finlay was an active board member of several social service organizations in Chicago in the 1930s and 1940s. He was deeply involved in a variety of groups all over the city, but much of his work was done on the North Side with civic committees and the North Side Boys Club. He also sat on the board of groups like Big Brothers, the Off the Street Club, and the Serra Club of Chicago. However, it is perhaps most important to note his involvement with the umbrella organization of many of these groups, The Chicago Area Project.
The Chicago Area Project (CAP) was founded in the 1930s by Clifford Robe Shaw, a sociologist from the University of Chicago. He worked with several other University of Chicago sociologists and the Illinois Institute for Juvenile Delinquency to set up the foundation for CAP. It was Shaw’s belief that there were no psychological reasons for delinquency in youths, rather that it stemmed from the environment and the community in which they were raised.
In creating CAP, Shaw hoped he could lower rates of delinquency by cleaning up neighborhoods, increasing community engagement, and working directly with youths labeled “delinquents.” This process began by plotting the home addresses of kids labeled delinquents, and targeting areas with the highest number. Once there, he recruited residents of the community to run the committees in their areas. These leaders organized workshops and programs, and CAP’s three community committees rose in number steadily throughout the decades. By the 1960s CAP was able to expand beyond the city, and moved into the surrounding suburbs, again recruiting leaders native to the areas.
Besides helping the kids stay out of juvenile detention centers, CAP and its affiliated organizations set out to disprove the common idea that children born and raised in low-income areas were not as smart or capable as their high-income counterparts. CAP wanted to show that when presented with the same opportunities as other kids, these children were equally successful.
CAP still exists in 2018 and continues to be an umbrella organization that oversees and aids community-run committees in and around the city. Although it has been updated in ways that account for modern knowledge of child psychology, it still follows Shaw’s original idea that community engagement can keep children out of detention centers.
Scope and Content
This collection chronicles the early work of several social service organizations through the experience and leadership of board member John J. Finlay. It contains documents and letters that catalog the Chicago Area Project’s (CAP) work as well as the work done by other social service organizations in the 1930s and early 1940s. This includes correspondence between Clifford R. Shaw, John J. Finlay and others who contributed to CAP around the city, such as committee and religious leaders. Also appearing in the collection are publications, budget reports, by-laws, annual reports, meeting minutes, pamphlets and research materials used to create the earliest committees of CAP. Also included is information on committees around the North Side, the North Side Boys Club and involved religious groups. The information in these documents chronicles the progress and challenges faced in the early years of these organizations and committees.
Files have been organized alphabetically by name of organization.
- Chicago City-Wide Collection: Box 100, Folder 19, World War II: Ration Books (2 copies), Book Three, issued to John Finlay and Stella Finlay, Evanston, also Mileage Ration Coupons, circa 1943
- Juvenile Welfare Association Records
- Marion C. Young Hull House Collection
- Neighborhood History Research Collection
- Northside Neighborhood History Collection
- Chicago Area Project
- Community organization
- Juvenile delinquency
|Box 1||Folder 1||Big Brother Association - John J. Finlay Correspondence, 1933|
|Box 1||Folder 2||Chicago Area Project - John J. Finlay Correspondence, 1935-1944|
|Box 1||Folder 3||Chicago Area Project - Publications, Budget Reports, By-Laws, Annual Reports, Minutes, Plans, 1938-1945|
|Box 1||Folder 4||Chicago Area Project - Research Materials, 1937-1943|
|Box 1||Folder 5||The Chicago Catholic Charities - Pamphlets, 1942|
|Box 1||Folder 6||Chicago Federation of Community Committees - Chicago Community fund Allocations to Group Work Agencies, 1944|
|Box 1||Folder 7||Lower North Community Council, 1936|
|Box 1||Folder 8||Near West Side Civic Committee - Committee Report, 1944|
|Box 1||Folder 9||North Side Boys Club - John J. Finlay Correspondence, 1937-1945|
|Box 1||Folder 10||North Side Boys Club - By-Laws, Research Materials, 1938-1944|
|Box 1||Folder 11||North Side Civic Committee - Letters and Publications, 1936-1937|
|Box 1||Folder 12||Off the Street Club, 1938-1945|
|Box 1||Folder 13||Russell Square Community Comm. - John J. Finlay Correspondence, 1943|
|Box 1||Folder 14||Serra Club of Chicago - John J. Finlay Correspondence, Newsletter, 1942-1943|
|Box 1||Folder 15||West Side Community Committee – Pamphlets, 1941|