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Addict in the Street

The Addict in the Street audio recordings are a series of interviews with drug addicts conducted during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s by Ralph Tefferteller, associate director of the Henry Street Settlement on New York City’s Lower East Side. The recordings form part of the Ralph and Ruth Tefferteller papers in the Social Welfare History Archives.

Nearly one hundred hours of interviews with drug addicts culminated in the publishing of The Addict in the Street by Tefferteller and Jeremy Larner in 1965. Whereas the book leaves out Ralph Tefferteller’s questions and commentary, relying only on portions of the subjects’ answers to convey their individual stories, the audio tapes reveal a reciprocal dialogue between the social worker and the addicts, many of whom Ralph Tefferteller had known since their youth. The candid nature of these uninterrupted interviews provides a glimpse of the human factor of drug addiction. The slang, turn of phrase, and varied accents reflect New York City’s Lower East Side in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

The names used are pseudonyms created by Ralph Tefferteller. Identifying information was removed from the recording by the Social Welfare History Archives.