Big Sisters of America Incorporated
Ernest Kent Coulter was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1871. In 1902 Coulter was a court clerk and helped organize the first New York Children’s Court under Judge Julius Mayer. The Ladies of Charity (later Catholic Big Sisters of New York) start to help girls who come before the New York Children’s Court. In 1904 Coulter now a clerk in New York Children’s Court spoke to a local men’s club on behalf of the children appearing before the court. He recognized that caring adults could help many of these boys stay out of trouble, and he set out to find volunteers. Coulter’s audience was a New York City men’s club of business and community leaders.
“There is only one possible way to save that youngster, and that is to have some earnest, true man volunteer to be his big brother. To look after him, to help him do right, to make the little chap feel that there is at least one human being in this great city who takes a personal interest in him, who cares whether he lives or dies. I call for a volunteer.”
When the first gentleman stood to volunteer, Big Brothers of New York City began. 39 men had volunteered that night and 39 young boy’s lives were changed forever. In 1908, Mrs. William K Vanderbilt learned of the Big Brothers movement and organized the first “Big Sisters” program in New York City. In 1912 there are over 90 Big Brothers and Big Sisters organizations in the US.
On June 12, 1912 the Big Sisters organization was fully incorporated in New York.