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Edward Corsi Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: RT
Date: Oct 1969

Biographical History

Edward Corsi[Photo at right: Edward Corsi]

Edward Corsi (1896-1965) was an Italian-American association executive and government official, particularly active in the areas of immigration, labor relations, and social welfare.

Born in Italy on December 29, 1896, the son of Philip Frederick and Julia (Pantano) Corsi, he entered America with his family in 1906. The Corsi family settled in New York City, and Edward attended Clason Point Military Academy and Saint Francis Xavier College. He became a naturalized citizen in 1921 and the following year received his LL.B. degree from Fordham University.

Before graduating from Fordham, Mr. Corsi had joined the staff of Haarlem House in East Harlem, which offered educational and recreational services for the local Italian-American community (it later became LaGuardia Memorial House). There he met Emma Gillies, a social worker, and they were married June 17, 1926. Their son, Philip Donald, was born in 1928.

During these years, Mr. Corsi became a well-known writer and speaker about the foreign-born. In 1923 he wrote several articles about Mexico for The Outlook and later a description of Mussolini's Italy for The World. He became the director of Haarlem House in 1926.

Mr. Corsi's government career began in 1930, when he was appointed supervisor of a census district in New York City. In 1931 Herbert Hoover appointed him Commissioner of Immigration at Ellis Island, where Mr. Corsi humanized the entry procedures, and in 1933 he was reappointed by President Roosevelt as Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization. In 1934 Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia asked Mr. Corsi to serve as director of the Home Relief Fund for New York City. An appointment as Deputy Commissioner for the New York City Department of Public Welfare followed.

As a delegate-at-large to the New York State Constitutional Convention in 1938, Mr. Corsi was chairman of the Social Welfare Committee and a member of the Labor Committee; in these capacities he successfully sponsored the amendments providing for unemployment insurance, sickness and old-age benefits, the care of the needy and the promotion of public health. In 1938 he ran unsuccessfully as Republican candidate for the United States Senate.

During the early years of World War II, Mr. Corsi was appointed chairman of the Alien Enemy Hearing Board, Southern District of New York State. Governor Thomas E. Dewey appointed him chairman of the New York State Industrial Board in March of 1943, and in November of that year he was appointed Industrial Commissioner of the New York State Department of Labor, serving until 1955. In 1950 he was Republican candidate for mayor of New York City but was defeated by Vincent Impelliteri.

In December 1954, Mr. Corsi was requested to serve as Special Assistant to the Secretary of State for Refugee and Migration Problems. Following his resignation from the Washington post in April 1955, he returned to New York to resume his work at LaGuardia Memorial House.

Mr. Corsi continued to participate actively in the many organizations with which he was associated. Throughout his life he was a member and sponsor of groups connected with immigration and the problems of the foreign-born, the poor, Italian-Americans, and labor unions. He was a trustee of Cornell University, a Knight Commander of the Republic of Italy, and the author of In the Shadow Liberty (1935) and Pathways to the New World (1940). Mr. Corsi died on December 13, 1965, as the result of an automobile accident.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Edward Corsi Papers, although largely correspondence, also contain biographical data, financial records, writings, published material and papers representing each of his specific activities.

Biographical data, 1904-1968, contains biographical sketches written about Mr. Corsi during his lifetime. Other material includes awards, ephemera, obituaries and memorials which contain tributes to Mr. Corsi and plans for the Corsi Labor-Management Relations Institute of Pace College. Printed material representing social functions and conferences Mr. Corsi attended are included in memorabilia. Photographs of Mr. Corsi, annotated by his secretary, are chronologically arranged, as are newspaper clippings about Mr. Corsi's activities.

Correspondence, 1922-1965, is both incoming and outgoing and is primarily business correspondence, although some personal letters are included. The letters contain personal requests from business associates, inter-office memoranda, letters of recommendation, correspondence among New York State government agencies and private organizations, and general business correspondence. A group of lists (Box 27), chronologically arranged, contains names and addresses of correspondents compiled by Mr. Corsi's staff.

The collection includes correspondence with the following persons of interest, with inclusive dates of the letters:

Correspondence of others, 1931-1967, includes a few of Mrs. Corsi's letters and the many condolences she received after Mr. Corsi's death.

Financial records, 1940-1965, include some tax returns, a few bills paid, correspondence about financial matters, and health insurance papers.

Mr. Corsi's Writings from 1922-1956 represent his varied interests. Articles include his early material about Mexico and Italy published in Outlook. Other articles are "Salute to a Lady," several dealing with immigration, and a series on Yugoslavia. Books contains material relating to those written by Mr. Corsi; supporting material for In the Shadow of Liberty includes correspondence and book reviews while Pathways to a New World is represented by a paperback edition published in 1953 under the title Paths to a New World. Radio broadcasts in Italian, most of them typescripts, date from 1941 to 1947 A number of Mr. Corsi's speeches, 1938-1956, are included in the collection; their content illustrates Mr. Corsi's interests in immigration, the foreign-born, labor and employment and his state public administrative work in New York State. Some indication of the content of untitled speeches is supplied in the shelf list. Speeches preceded by an asterisk (*) in the shelf list were broadcast by radio. A small group of the writings of others includes an untitled book on crime-fighting by Michael Fiaschetti, an article by Louis Adamic, and an article on the sculptor, Massari.

Activities, 1918-1965, form a special section devoted to materials from various committees, campaigns, agencies and charities for which Mr. Corsi worked. Material filed with each activity group includes correspondence, agenda, minutes of meetings, reports, proposals, published material and legal cases. Of particular interest are the files on Thomas E. Dewey, immigration and naturalization, and LaGuardia Memorial House, Inc.

Published material, 1931-1966, includes the periodical La Settimana, "rivista italiana fondata da Edward Corsi," as well as material on the Executive Branch Liaison office under the Eisenhower administration, farming and gardening, foreign aid, the Frank Erickson gambling inquiry, Italy, labor and unemployment, and the Day Care Division of the New York Bureau of Child Welfare.

Arrangement of the Collection

Biographical material is arranged alphabetically by type; within that, photographs and newspaper clippings are further arranged chronologically. Correspondence (both Corsi's and that of others) is arranged chronologically. Financial records are arranged chronologically. Wrirings are arranged alphabetically by type; within that, they are arranged either alphabetically by title (articles, books) or chronologically (radio addresses, speeches). Activities material is arranged alphabetically by organization name. Published material is arranged alphabetically by title.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

The interview with John Foster Dulles is restricted as follows: Princeton University Library supplied Syracuse University Library Manuscript Division a copy of the interview with Mrs. Corsi's knowledge and consent, and accepted the following restrictions on the use of the transcript: "That it may be read in the Princeton [Syracuse] University Library, quoted from, and cited only by serious research scholars accredited by Princeton [Syracuse] University. The Princeton [Syracuse] University Library is authorized to supply a single photocopy to any scholar thus accredited. This transcript may not be otherwise reproduced, either in whole or in part, by microphoto, typewriter, photostat, or any other device, except by the heirs, legal representatives, or assigns of Commissioner Edward Corsi."

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Celebrezze, Anthony J. (Anthony Joseph), 1910-1998.
Corsi, Edward, 1896-1965.
Dulles, Allen, 1893-1969.
Dulles, John Foster, 1888-1959.
Harriman, W. Averell (William Averell), 1891-1986.
Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964.
Ives, Irving McNeil, 1896-1962.
Javits, Jacob K. (Jacob Koppel), 1904-1986.
La Guardia, Fiorello H. (Fiorello Henry), 1882-1947.
Lescaze, William, 1896-1969.
Perkins, Frances, 1880-1965.
Rockefeller, Nelson A. (Nelson Aldrich), 1908-1979.
Smith, H. Alexander (Howard Alexander), 1880-1966.
Sockman, Ralph W. (Ralph Washington), 1889-1970.

Corporate Bodies

America-Italy Society, Inc.
American Council for Nationalities Service.
American Federation of International Institutes.
American Museum of Immigration.
Common Council for American Unity.
Italian Historical Society of America.
LaGuardia Memorial House, Inc.
National Committee on Immigration Policy (U.S.)
National Council on Naturalization and Citizenship (U.S.)
Order Sons of Italy in America.
Republican Party (U.S.)
United Neighborhood Houses of New York, Inc.
United States. -- Immigration and Naturalization Service.


Arbitration, Industrial.
Authors, American.
Italian Americans.
Political campaigns -- New York (State)


United States -- Emigration and immigration.
United States -- Officials and employees.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Speeches (documents)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Edward Corsi Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Mrs. Edward Corsi, 1966-1969.

Table of Contents

Biographical data


Correspondence of others

Financial records



Published material