The history of the Eastside Dudes, a black social club in central Harlem, New York City, 1933--1985: An exploration of background factors related to adult criminality

Roy David Phelps, Fordham University

Abstract

I did this study to better understand the nature of delinquency, criminality and the adolescent life. The history of the young men in this study is presented first in the story of the gang as a group. This is followed by a series of personal histories of the boys, members and nonmembers, who played active roles in the history of the gang. During the course of the research I found that there were three categories of boys in the club and its neighborhood. There were (1) Nondelinquents, (2) Teenage delinquents who abandoned delinquent behavior on reaching manhood and (3) Teenage delinquents who became adult criminals.^ The research problem that emerged was to try and determine why some of the young men became adult criminals or, more modestly, at least to explore in depth some of the social sources of adult criminality. Inasmuch as all of the young men in this study came from the same neighborhood and shared roughly similar experiences, I decided that an examination of their backgrounds might reveal different behavioral patterns among these young men that could illuminate their widely different adult careers. I selected nine variables, in order to compare the three categories. (1) Family; (2) School; (3) Peer Group; (4) Standing in Group; (5) Sports Participation; (6) Social Activities; (7) Affiliation with Organizations; (8) Transition to Manhood; (9) Making a Home.^ The results of the measurements on these variables indicated that the career criminals possessed a set of behavioral traits that clearly set them apart from the other young men. Of the nine variables, only School was found to be a possible contributing factor to adult criminality. However, the findings were inconclusive because of the sparse data upon which they were based. Perhaps my major finding was that teenage violence was associated with adult criminality. The data showed that in eight on nine cases adult criminality was preceded by a record of teenage violence. Examination of the literature revealed that these findings replicated those of Marvin E. Wolfgang and Paul Strasberg. My study of the Eastside Dudes corroborates their work in the broader discussion about adult criminality and its complex roots. ^

Subject Area

Criminology

Recommended Citation

Phelps, Roy David, "The history of the Eastside Dudes, a black social club in central Harlem, New York City, 1933--1985: An exploration of background factors related to adult criminality" (1988). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8809479.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8809479

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