Biographical/historical: The Committee of Fourteen was founded in 1905 as a citizens' association dedicated to the abolition of "Raines Law hotels" which the final report of the Committee of Fifteen (1902) had pinpointed as responsible for the rapid spread of prostitution in New York City (see Committee of Fifteen Records finding aid) . The Raines Law of 1896 gave hotels the right to sell liquor on Sundays while saloons could not. This led saloonkeepers to annex rooms and apply for hotel liquor licenses. The extra rooms were then used for prostitution. The Committee attacked the situation by attempting to have the law amended and by making on-site investigations of the "hotels". It presented evidence of violations to the New York State Department of Excise, to the brewers who supplied the saloons, to the surety companies who bonded the saloons, to the real estate owners, the New York City Tenement House Department, and the police.
By 1911 most of the Raines Law hotels had closed up and the Committee's focus turned to the suppression of commercialized vice in New York City, with an emphasis on prostitution. Its investigators visited restaurants, dance halls, massage parlors, tenement houses, and other types of establishments where immoral conditions might prevail. The Committee worked closely with the police and the courts to see that all laws were enforced and that the criminal justice system operated in a manner that would discourage lawbreakers. It conducted research, collected statistics on prostitution, venereal disease, rehabilitation of female offenders, and related public health issues. By its last years, it had entered the area of crime prevention as well.
The Committee was dissolved in 1932 when it could no longer raise sufficient funds to support its activities. Members of the Committee and its staff included William H. Baldwin, Walter G. Hooke, Mrs. Mortimer Menken, James Pedersen, John P. Peters, Mary K. Simkhovitch, George Haven Putnam, Francis Louis Slade, Percy S. Straus, Lawrence Veiller, Frederick H. Whitin, and George E. Worthington.
Acquisition: Gift of James Stewart Cushman, George Edmond Worthington, William H. Baldwin (for the Committee), 1933