Founded in 1873 by Anthony Comstock, the New York City Society for the Suppression of Vice monitored the compliance of New York State with state laws regarding morality with a special emphasis placed on what they perceived as obscenity. Chartered by the New York State Legislature, agents were given police powers including the power of search and seizure, and the power to make arrests. As part of their charter, the Society earned 50% of all fines levied on cases that they brought to light.
Among their most frequent demonstrations were book burnings.
Comstock was succeeded by John S. Sumner following his death in 1915. Sumner changed the name of the organization to The Society to Maintain Public Decency in 1947. It continued to function until 1950 when Sumner retired.
The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice’s noteworthy cases included:
The Barnum Museum
820 Main Street
Hours: 11-3 Thur & Fri
The People's United Bank Gallery, located at the back of the building is open and free to the public to view the restoration and conservation process. The Barnum Museum's historic building remains closed to the public following tornado damage suffered on June 24, 2010.
Visit www.barnum-museum.org for more information.