December 18, 2012

Joseph Rappaport and the Committee on Research

Filed under: found in the archives, interesting or noteworthy archival material — thiscangobacktothearchives @ 2:17 pm

Seven boxes of archival material from Joseph Rappaport, Director of the Federation’s Research Department, and the Committee on Research will be heading to off-site storage later this week. The material documents an interesting development at the Federation and the creation of a new committee.

After a recommendation from the Communal Planning Committee and an endorsement from the Executive Committee, the Committee on Research was created in 1966 by the Federation’s Board of Trustees. Like many areas of governance within the Federation, the creation of the committee was divided between lay leaders, which would have composed the Committee on Research, and professional staff, which would have been employed as part of the Research Department. The committee and its corresponding research department were “designed to supply Federation with research information on which to formulate policy in the areas of fund-raising, communal planning, agency coordination, headquarter operations, government support, and planning for the future” (quoted from Committee on Research, Statement of Aims, June 1967). The committee did not (and likely could not) create policy, but, instead, provided the leadership of the Federation with the information necessary for making intelligent decisions.

While there had been commissioned studies and reports done for the Federation in the past, the creation of the committee acknowledged that “ad hoc studies do not provide flexible guidelines to meet new fund-raising needs in a rapidly shifting metropolitan community and changing economic scene” (quoted from a draft statement on the Committee’s duties, functions, and responsibilities, January 1967). Not just in research related to fund-raising efforts, the Federation’s Committee on Research gave the governance of the philanthropic organization the flexibility to identify areas in need of further study and to have that research performed by the Federation itself. Again, according to the 1967 draft statement, the research department “would be prepared, in conjunction with the several committees of Federation, to undertake studies in the areas of budget, distribution, investment, joint purchasing, personnel costs, office maintenance and catering services.” Imagine, it would now have been possible, in theory, to charge the Committee on Research with looking into devising a series of recommendations on cost-effective, yet wonderfully tasting canapes.

The tenure of Dr. Joseph Rappaport (1967-1970), as the Director of the Federation’s Research Department, seems to have fairly closely coincided with the Executive Vice President David G. Salten’s own tenure (1967-1969). In correspondence found in the Rappaport folders, Salten offered his own ideas on the importance of the committee and seemed to stress the importance of the studying the internal workings and processes of the Federation.

Note to Joseph Rappaport from David G. Salten

A brief note on the priorities for the newly established Committee on Research, January 30, 1967.

Right around this time, the outgoing Executive Vice Presidents Joseph Willen and Maurice B. Hexter had retired to become consultants and, not too surprisingly, the new Executive Vice President may have seen this time as an opportunity to analyze what was working for the organization and what might need to be changed for the sustainability of the Federation.

In addition to studying the Federation itself, the Rappaport folders contain his correspondence between the Committee on Research and the Research Department as well as Federation studies that he helped to coordinate and other relevant research that he wanted to pass on to Federation leadership.  From the archival material we have processed so far, the Committee on Research and its corresponding research department may not have continued after Dr. Rappaport completed his tenure as Director. It is unclear whether we will encounter any additional material on what might have been a short-lived Committee on Research.

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