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   Phoenix House Foundation Oral History Collecton, 2014-2015

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Preferred Citation

Oral history interview with ____________ (year), Phoenix House Foundation Oral History Collection, on pages ___ in the Columbia Center for Oral History Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University in the City of New York.

COinS Metadata available (e.g., for Zotero).

Summary Information

Abstract

Phoenix House was founded in 1967 as a therapeutic community to treat addiction in an 85th Street apartment in New York City. In the following decades, Phoenix House expanded to locations throughout New York City and ten states. At the time of the interviews, Phoenix House was serving over 5,000 individuals and remained committed to supporting individuals and families by providing a wide range of services including prevention, early intervention, treatment, continuing care, and recovery support. The Phoenix House Oral History Collection documents three periods of Phoenix House's work: origins, growth, and established leadership. In the first period, spanning from 1967 to the 1970s, narrators detail the founding of a therapeutic community, the dynamics of this community, and the influences of other self-help drug treatment organizations such as Synanon on the program. In the growth period, narrators speak of opening up new facilities, and designing and launching new programs. Topics covered include the political and funding challenges of expanding Phoenix House's reach, increases in medical and mental health staff, and partnering with state departments of corrections to provide the Phoenix House program as an alternative to incarceration. In the final period, narrators describe changes in the therapeutic community model, further expansion of programs across the United States, acquisitions of competitors, new funding challenges, and transitions in leadership.

At a Glance

Bib ID:12335999 View CLIO record
Title:Phoenix House Foundation Oral History Collecton, 2014-2015
Physical description:Born-digital transcripts and audio: 183 Gigabytes, 433 digital files; Transcripts: 1.5 linear feet in 3 boxes.
Language(s):In English
Access: Access: Open.  More information »

Arrangement

Arrangement

Interviews are arranged alphabetically by narrator's last name.

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Description

Scope and Content

The Phoenix House Oral History Collection documents three periods of Phoenix House's work: origins, growth, and established leadership. In the first period, spanning from 1967 to the 1970s, narrators detail the founding of a therapeutic community in a detoxification ward in Morris Bernstein Institute, the dynamics of this community, and the influences of other self-help drug treatment organizations such as Synanon on the structure and mission of the program. In the growth period, narrators speak of opening up new facilities, and designing and launching new programs. Topics covered include the political and funding challenges of expanding Phoenix House's reach, increases in medical and mental health staff, and partnering with state departments of corrections to provide the Phoenix House program as an alternative to incarceration. In the final period, narrators describe changes in the therapeutic community model, further expansion of programs across the United States, acquisitions of competitors, new funding challenges, and transitions in leadership.

Narrators include Phoenix House founders, former residents, employees (resident directors, regional directors, clinical directors, public relations professionals, directors of human services, and more), and collaborators such as journalists, politicians, philanthropists, legal counsel, and public servants. Many of these categories overlap, as Phoenix House has adhered to a self-help model, hiring its former residents to "seed" the therapeutic community model at new facilities. Interviews address locations include New York, southern California, and Texas. Within New York, recollections cover Hart Island, Phelan Place in the Bronx, various locations on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Coney Island, and East Harlem. Interviews address the period between 1928-2015.

The collection is comprised of interviews with the following narrators: Frank Barron, John Bell, Leslie Bennetts, Ronald Coster, George De Leon, Norwig Debye-Saxinger, David Deitch, Tony Endre, Sara Ann Fagin, James Ferguson, Howard Friend, William Fusco, Nancy Hoving, Howard Josepher, Peter Kerr, Herbert Kleber, Kandy Latson, Lawrence Lederman, Conrad Levenson, Barry McCaffrey, Kevin McEneaney, Ira Mothner, Carlos Pagan, Peter G. Peterson and Joan Ganz Cooney, Chris Policano, Mitchell Rosenthal, Jean Scott, Amy Singer, Morty Sklar, Jerry Taylor, and Ronald Williams.

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Using the Collection

Access Restrictions

Access: Open.

Restrictions on Use

Copyright by The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, 2014-2015.

Preferred Citation

Oral history interview with ____________ (year), Phoenix House Foundation Oral History Collection, on pages ___ in the Columbia Center for Oral History Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University in the City of New York.

Related Material

Digital transcripts and audio can be accessed via the project website created and maintained by the Columbia Center for Oral History Research.

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About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries. Columbia Center for Oral History Archives, Rare Book and Manuscript Library; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division

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Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

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Genre/Form

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
InterviewsPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Oral historiesPortalCLIOArchiveGRID

Subjects

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
Addicts--Rehabilitation.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Drug abuse--Treatment--United States.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Drug addiction--Treatment.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Drug courts--United StatesPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Fund raisingPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Phoenix House (Organization)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Rosenthal, Mitchell S., 1935-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Substance abuse--Treatment.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Teenagers--Drug use--United States.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Therapeutic communitiesPortalCLIOArchiveGRID

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History / Biographical Note

History

Phoenix House was founded in 1967 in New York City when six heroin addicts decided to move into an apartment on 85th Street and support each other after leaving a detoxification ward. They reached out to psychiatrist Mitchell Rosenthal, who had worked on addiction in the U.S. Navy. Rosenthal was working for New York City's Addiction Services Agency, which Mayor John Lindsay had founded earlier that year. Phoenix House soon became a part of the ASA and began expanding rapidly. With the help of philanthropist Jack Aaron, a non-profit foundation was set up to provide additional support for Phoenix House. By 1972, Phoenix House separated from the ASA and became a non-profit. Treatment at Phoenix House followed the therapeutic community model, with addicts further along in recovery supporting those beginning treatment. In time, Phoenix House expanded to locations throughout New York City and ten states. In 1983, Phoenix House founded the first Phoenix House Academy, an accredited residential high school where students could continue with their studies while being treated for addiction. At the time of the interviews, Phoenix House was serving over 5,000 individuals and remained committed to supporting individuals and families by providing a wide range of services including prevention, early intervention, treatment, continuing care, and recovery support.

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