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Family Service Association of San Diego Records

Identifier: MS-0489

Scope and Contents

The Family Service Association of San Diego Records document the organization’s operations and activities as well as San Diego’s general welfare needs, spanning from the organization’s inception through the 1970s.  The collection includes correspondence, reports, budgets, agency program materials, news clippings, committee files, meeting minutes, fundraising materials, statistics, by laws, and more.  Although the material dates from 1889 to 1980, there is no documentation between 1890 and 1908.  The collection is divided into five series: Board of Directors Files, Committee Files, Office Files, Funding and Endorsement Agencies, and Affiliates.

The Board of Directors Files (1889-1975) document the decisions of the Board, as well as agency administration and operations.  The Board of Directors served as the legal responsibility for FSA, and therefore determined agency policy and oversaw all agency activities. Filed chronologically, the series includes a full run of meeting minutes, correspondence, and reports.  Of particular interest are the early Associated Charities minutes, which include statistics regarding the agency's cases.  These statistics not only indicated the volume of cases, but also the marital status and ethnicity of aide applicants.

The Committee Files document the activities and tasks of various FSA committees. This series is organized into seventeen sub-series:  Advisory Committee, Case Policy Committee, Educational Committee, Executive Committee, Executive Search Committee, Finance Committee, Homemaker Committee, Membership and Nominating Committee, Neighborhood Legal Advisory Committee, Personnel Committee, Program and Planning Committee, Public Relations Committee, Research and Joint Committee, Self-Study Committee, Southwest Advisory Committee, Special Funds Committee, and the Visiting Nurses Bureau Committee.  Each sub-series is arranged chronologically and documents the actions of a specific committee.  These files include meeting minutes, memorandums, correspondence, rosters, and reports.  Highlights include the Advisory Committee meeting minutes.  Since the Advisory Committee investigated charity cases, its meeting minutes are composed of case specifics, as well as the committee's recommendations for those cases.  Case topics include out-of-wedlock pregnancy, tuberculosis patients, unemployment due to disability, marital disputes, and more.  In one instance of pregnancy, the Committee suggested that they "try to get the boy to marry [Jennie] by scaring him with threat of arrest."

The Office Files document FSA's programs, general activities, and operations.  Arranged alphabetically, this series contains correspondence, program files, reports, contracts, and subject files.  The majority of materials date from the 1950s to the 1970s, but earlier files from Associated Charities are also included.  Of particular interest is a subject file on Tuberculosis, as well as material on child and family placement during the Second World War.

The Funding and Endorsement Files document the activities and operations of FSA's funding and endorsement agencies as well as FSA's yearly allocations.  Of particular interest are the Charities Endorsement files, which contain material on various charities around San Diego during and just after the First World War, including material on the Girl Scouts of America, the Helping Hand Home, and the Society for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis.  This series consists of reports, budgets, memorandums, rosters, and correspondence, and is divided into four sub-series: Charities Endorsement Files, Community Chest Files, United Community Service Files, and United Way Files. The Charities Endorsement Files date from 1917 to 1920 document applicants to Charities Endorsement, as well as inquiries about certain charities made by local residents.  Charities Endorsement was set up and run by Associated Charities to assess and verify the legitimacy of local charities.  Applying organizations were required to fill out an application stating its purpose and structure.  Once the applying organization was approved, Charities Endorsement supplied it with a card identifying it as an approved charity.  The sub-series includes correspondence, brochures, pamphlets, endorsement applications, and membership cards for various local social agencies and charitable organizations.  The Community Chest Files (1945-1966) document FSA funding allocations over a twenty-year period, as well as the actions of the Community Chest budget committee.  Filed chronologically, the sub-series consists of expense reports, correspondence, budget estimates, memorandums, committee rosters, and agreements.  The United Community Service Files (1962-1974) document UCS Agency Relations Committee and Budget Committee operations and allocations, and includes memorandums, reports, rosters, correspondence, meeting minutes, budget requests, and recommendations.  This sub-series is arranged chronologically.  Lastly, the United Way Files document FSA funding requests and United Way funding allocations between 1973 and 1976.  Filed chronologically, the files include correspondence, memorandums, reports, meeting minutes, and allocations.

The Affiliate Files (1958-1980) document the administration and actions of other Family Service Association agencies in San Diego County.  The Family Service Association of San Diego maintained affiliates in Carlsbad and Oceanside, Foothills, Imperial Beach, Palomar, and San Dieguito.  Arranged alphabetically by affiliate name, the series includes reports, meeting minutes, correspondence, rosters, master plans, fact-sheets, and volunteer guides.  Highlights include five-year master plans that document the changes in services to meet changing community needs.


  • Creation: 1889-1980
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1910-1976


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in some or all of these materials have not been transferred to San Diego State University. Copyright resides with the creator(s) of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. The nature of archival collections is such that multiple creators are often applicable and copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine. In any case, the user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, obtaining publication rights and copyright infringement. When requesting images from Special Collections & University Archives for publication, we require a signed agreement waiving San Diego State University of any liability in the event of a copyright violation.

Historical Note

The Family Service Association, originally named Associated Charities, formed in 1889 as a family welfare organization but was unable to sustain itself. In 1910, after community discussion, the Associated Charities was formally incorporated and given non-profit status. The organization served as a clearing house for social welfare agencies. The Associated Charities registrar investigated charity cases to ensure their legitimacy, and then sent deserving cases to the appropriate local social agency or charity for aid. During the First World War, Associated Charities provided refugee relief and child placement services as well.

The organization consisted of a board of directors; a central council with delegates from various local charities, churches, and agencies; as well as an advisory board that helped to investigate charity cases. Member subscriptions and local government subsidies initially funded the agency. Later, Associated Charities received funding through the San Diego Community Chest, a fundraising body for local social agencies. In addition, the Associated Charities also oversaw the Charities Endorsement, which verified the legitimacy of local charities during and after the First World War.

In 1938, the charity changed its name to the Family Service Association (FSA) of San Diego to better reflect its changing activities and mission. It remained a private, non-sectarian agency, and mediated domestic difficulties (such as alcoholism and marital disputes), taught families how to budget incomes, developed work skills, and provided material aid. FSA remained a Community Chest agency. Later, United Community Services and United Way became the organization’s main source of funding. In addition, as the association grew, it increased its staff and utilized various committees to help coordinate operations. FSA of San Diego also maintained membership with the national Family Service Association of America (FSAA). Starting in the late 1950s, affiliate agencies were formed in the greater San Diego area. These agencies were started by community members who saw a need for a social agency in their neighborhoods. As such, these satellite branches offered services and programs specific to their community's needs. By the 1970s, Carlsbad and Oceanside, Palomar, San Dieguito, the Foothills area, and Imperial Beach maintained affiliate agencies.


11.26 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

I.   Board of Directors Files, 1889-1975

II.  Committee Files, 1909-1976

    1.   Advisory Committee, 1909-1961

    2.   Case Policy Committee, 1915, 1958-1967

    3.   Educational Committee, 1946-1964

    4.   Executive Committee, 1945-1976

    5.   Executive Search Committee, 1975

    6.   Finance Committee, 1958-1976

    7.   Homemaker Committee, 1951-1967

    8.   Membership and Nominating Committee, 1947-1976

    9.   Neighborhood Legal Advisory Committee, 1973-1974

   10.  Personnel Committee, 1948, 1950-1975

   11.  Program and Planning Committee, 1966-1973

   12.  Public Relations Committee, 1949-1976

   13.  Research and Joint Committee, 1958-1966

   14.  Self-Study Committee, 1966

   15.  Southwest Advisory Committee, 1970

   16.  Special Funds Committee, 1969-1976

   17.  Visiting Nurses Bureau Committee, 1931-1934

III. Office Files, 1908-1977

IV. Endorsement and Funding Agenices, 1917-1976

     1.  Charities Endorsement Files, 1917-1920

     2.  Community Chest Files, 1945-1966

     3.  United Community Services Files, 1962-1974

     4.  United Way Files, 1973-1976

V.  Affiliates, 1958-1980

Source of Acquisition

Family Service Association

Accruals and Additions

1979-011, 1980-003

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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections & University Archives Repository

5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
San Diego CA 92182-8050 US