thiscangobacktothearchives

October 23, 2014

Cultural Arts at Federation

The files of the Cultural Arts Department in the Community Services Division (8 Bankers boxes) at Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York (FJP) were recently processed. From 1979 to 1986, the date range of files in the collection, the Cultural Arts Coordinator (CAC) position at Federation was held by three people: Terry E. Sutton (1979-1981), Jeanne B. Siegel (1981-1984), and Rabbi Daniel Landsman (1984-1986). The CAC position was established under the Community Centers and Y’s umbrella and it is unclear whether the position continued after the merger of Federation with UJA in 1986. No additional files have been found.

According to the documentation, prior to 1979 FJP and its agencies had limited involvement or interest in Jewish arts and culture programming. It was not until the 1970s that Federation began to encourage agency programming that emphasized a Jewish component. For example, in the field of Jewish Education, outreach to unaffiliated Jews and informal Jewish education was a low priority goal. In 1979 FJP began to expand its role into the area of Jewish arts and culture when they obtained a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts for $5,000. It was this grant that served as the leverage for obtaining an additional $22,500 from three outside foundations. In 1980, the Cultural Arts Committee of Federation created an incentive grant program to see if seed grants could influence new initiatives in agency programming in the Cultural Arts.

From 1980 to 1985, the CAC compiled the “Guide to the Arts and Culture: The New York Jewish Experience”, a listing of Jewish art events in New York. It was published in The Jewish Week, and cosponsored by the National Foundation for Jewish Culture (NFJC) and the Jewish Art Subsidy Fund (JASF). It started out as a quarterly four page supplement and became a weekly full page feature. Even if one could not attend the concerts, plays, lectures, or special events, it made one feel that there was something exciting going on. In 1983, the first of three Jewish Arts Festivals of Long Island was held, and the William Petschek Music Fund was established, both demonstrating Federation’s new commitment to the Jewish arts.

The Cultural Arts Coordinator was a leader and specialist in the cultural and arts worlds. The CAC acted on behalf of Federation to carry out a variety of functions in providing assistance to agencies and coordinating activities throughout the metropolitan area. The Coordinator provided technical assistance to arts workers at Federation’s community centers and other agencies, through individual consultation, workshops and seminars. Topics included the use of media, grantsmanship and public relations. In addition to coordinating activities and programs among the community centers, the CAC created a clearinghouse for the performing artists who joined Federation’s affiliate artists program, to encourage the development of programs by individual centers throughout the New York City area. In 1984, the clearinghouse turned into a directory of Jewish Artists, a published resource guide for agencies’ use. Finally, the Coordinator participated in fundraising to help agencies submit proposals to government sources.

The Cultural Arts files are interesting for their coverage of different facets of arts and culture and for giving a flavor of the Jewish arts scene in the 1970s and early 1980s. There are many files on the directory, which was called, “In The Jewish Tradition: Directory of Performing Artists.” Included are the files and photographs of artists who were included in the Directory as well as files of artists to be published in its Supplement. The artists were exclusively performing artists, including actors/actresses, singers, mimes, storytellers and poets. Below are several images from the Artists’ directory files.

Aida Weiss

Aida Weiss, international songstress

Donald Heller, The Hurdy-Gurdy Man (puppet theater)

Donald Heller, The Hurdy-Gurdy Man (puppet theater)

Joe Elias (folksinger)

Joe Elias, folksinger

The Kol Golan Duo, folksinging duo

The Kol Golan Duo, folksinging duo

The Western Wind, Vocal Ensemble

The Western Wind, Vocal Ensemble

October 13, 2014

Tubby Stayman

Filed under: audio-visual material, the process of archival processing, UJF people — Heather Halliday @ 9:47 am

During the course of processing a set of UJF portrait photographs recently, I discovered these two images of Mrs. Samuel M. Stayman, a.k.a Tubby Stayman.

Two portraits of Tubby Stayman from 1970 and 1983, found in UJF / Marketing and Communications/ Photographs / Portraits

Two portraits of Tubby Stayman from 1970 and 1983, found in UJF / Marketing and Communications/ Photographs / Portraits

Regular readers of this blog will recall mention of Mrs. Stayman as the principal organizer of the annual UJA-Federation Bridge Tournament event, which has been a highly successful Women’s Division fundraising tool for UJA and UJF over the years. Coming across pictures of Tubby was one of those gratifying moments of collection connection that happen relatively rarely during the course of routine archival processing. Few things are more satisfying to an archivist than finding additional material on a previously noted person or event in a completely different part of the collection months later.

It is likely that this group of nine boxes of portrait photographs will present many opportunities for future researchers to make such connections in their own work since the UJF – Marketing and Communications – Photographs – Portraits subsubseries holds the images of over 6600 people, who will all be individually identified and searchable within the collection finding aid when our project is complete.

 

October 1, 2014

New American Jewish Historical Society Website and a New Project Webpage

Filed under: resources — Tags: , , — thiscangobacktothearchives @ 10:55 am

Last week, the American Jewish Historical Society’s brand new, bells-and-whistles website went live and it looks wonderful.

New American Jewish Historical Society website, screen shot, accessed on October 1, 2014

New American Jewish Historical Society website, screen shot, accessed on October 1, 2014

When you visit the new website, please also visit our new webpage by clicking on the icon, “UJA-Federation of NY Collection”

Icon to the new UJA-Federation of New York Archives Project webpage, screen shot, accessed October 1, 2014

Icon to the new UJA-Federation of New York Archives Project webpage, screen shot, accessed October 1, 2014

There are many resources related to our ongoing project available on our new webpage, including links to our Flickr album, the blog that you are currently reading, and links to a collection of digitized oral histories of Federation and UJA-Federation staff, leaderships, and volunteers. The webpage features hyperlinks to the partial finding aids for Subgroup I: Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York, 1916-1986 and, post-merger,  Subgroup IV: United Jewish Appeal-Federation of Jewish Philanthropies, 1986-2000. And that’s not all, there are links to the digitized minutes of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies, Board of Trustees (1916-1986) and Executive Committee (1973-1986), as well as minutes and other materials from the Brooklyn Federation of Jewish Charities (1916-1944) and minutes from the UJA-Federation’s Board of Directors meetings (1986-1992).

New UJA-Federation of New York Archives Project webpage, screen shot, accessed October 1, 2014

New UJA-Federation of New York Archives Project webpage, screen shot, accessed October 1, 2014

Congratulations to the American Jewish Historical Society for its new website and we hope that you will visit our new webpage on that website soon!

September 18, 2014

Updated FJP preliminary finding aid now available

Filed under: early history, the process of archival processing — thiscangobacktothearchives @ 2:28 pm

We are excited to announce that an updated but still-partial finding aid to the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York (FJP) subgroup I, covering the years 1909 to 1986, is now available here: http://digifindingaids.cjh.org/?pID=1944047.

FJP_blog_post_cropped

This preliminary finding aid describes material of over 500 Bankers boxes (over a football field in length).  The following sections of the collection are now available to researchers:

  • Minutes of the Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee – including links to the digitized files of all of these minutes
  • Files of the Executive Vice-Presidents
  • Finance Department Annual Agency files
  • Fundraising Department Campaign files – don’t miss the digitization of a wire recording of a 1957 campaign workshop
  • The Brooklyn Federation of Jewish Charities files – many of these files have been digitized and are linked to the finding aid

We anticipate that these areas will be of immediate interest to researchers.  Please note the following:

  • If you would like to go directly to the folder lists and the digital files, use this link to the downloadable container list.
  • If requesting boxes to see in the Reading Room, researchers are advised to use this form, with the reminder that boxes are off-site and must be requested at least 2 business days in advance of their visit
  • A link to the partial finding aid for the UJA-Federation (UJF) subgroup IV (1986-2000) can be found here: http://digifindingaids.cjh.org/?pID=2188444
  • And a link to the completed finding aid for the Oral History collection subgroup V can be found here: http://digifindingaids.cjh.org/?pID=365697

The completed finding aid to the entire FJP collection as well as the other subgroups will be available in the middle of 2015. Please stay tuned.

September 11, 2014

Welcome back, Marvin!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — thiscangobacktothearchives @ 1:30 pm

One of the archivists working on the UJA-Federation of New York Archives Project broke his foot in July and was, unfortunately, unable to get into work. After several weeks of recovery, we are happy to have Marvin back to work, processing, smiling for the camera, and recording the order of folders in boxes ready to go to off-site storage.

Welcome back, Marvin!

Welcome back, Marvin!

The American Jewish Historical Society was kind enough to throw Marvin a welcome back lunch party with falafel, baba ghanoush, and hummus.

A plate in lieu of a smile at Marvin's welcome back lunch--falafel and baba ghanoush

Welcome back lunch–falafel and baba ghanoush

Welcome back, Marvin, hope that you fully recover and thank you for all of the work that you do for the project!

 

September 4, 2014

Missing Boxes and Zip Codes

Filed under: found in the archives, interesting or noteworthy archival material — susanwoodland @ 6:19 pm

This week we received an unexpected delivery of 7 boxes from off-site storage.  Longtime residents of our “missing boxes” list, these 7 had originally been requested for delivery in 2012 and 2013.  Although boxes with content related to all of the 7 were processed some time ago and are already off-site again, having the boxes in front of us will allow us to now include files that would otherwise have been permanently missing.

The boxes range over numerous series, and bulk dates ranged from 1970 through the 1980s: 3 boxes from the Marketing and Communications Department; 1 box from the Medical/Aged functional group; 1 box of Martha Selig’s files, 1 Project Renewal box, and a box from the Executive office.

One document that surfaced in the first box is this memo, from someone’s administrative file from 1963, a memo :

Changes to Federation mailing records

Changes to Federation mailing procedures, 1963

 

I find it interesting that the addition of Zip Codes to addresses would involve actually meeting with representatives of the Post Office, but it no doubt helped them plan what changes would have to be made to their mailing operations.  After all, Federation conducted a large part of their fundraising through the mail, including mailings to very large lists of contributors throughout the year.  As enumerated in the memo, any change to the format of an address would mean changes to thousands of addresses in their master file, to the plates on their Addressograph machine, and, even in 1963, to addresses in their data processing systems.

Also of interest is the fact that Queens had more zip codes than Manhattan in 1963.  Is that still the case?

September 2, 2014

UJA-Federation of New York Collection – Archivist

Filed under: Uncategorized — thiscangobacktothearchives @ 12:13 pm

AMERICAN JEWISH HISTORICAL SOCIETY
JOB DESCRIPTION

Date:                              September 2014
Department:                   Library & Archives
Title:                               UJA-Federation of New York Collection – Archivist
Schedule:                       F/T through end of project, September 30, 2015
FLSA Status:                  Non-exempt
Supervisor’s Title:          Senior Project Archivist
Salary:                           TBD depending on experience, with benefits
Application Deadline:     September 22


SUMMARY: Performs arrangement and description, rehousing and basic preservation of the United Jewish Appeal – Federation of New York Records. This is a temporary (one-year) position funded by a grant from UJA-Federation of New York, at the American Jewish Historical Society.

ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS (approx. 80%): Processing of institutional papers in a team with 4 other project archivists

  • All work performed according to MPLP processing standards, including processing rate for this project at an average of 6 boxes per week. (required)
  • Arrange records according to series and subseries lists developed by the Project Archivist in consultation with members of the project team. Establish order of and within folders as directed. (required)
  • Write complete, well-edited historical notes, scope notes and other documentation for finding aid series as they are processed. (required)
  • Create folder-level contents lists for inclusion in the finding aid. (as needed)
  • Prepare records for archival storage by performing preservation procedures as appropriate, such as refoldering and reboxing of the materials into acid-free folders and boxes, and selective fastener removal; mark boxes for later preservation photocopying as needed. (required)
  • Identify and separate oversize items, photographs, audio, film and video materials within the collections to ensure preservation and proper archival storage. (required)
  • Must be able to lift full bankers boxes (up to 40 pounds), and pull them on and off the shelves (required)
  • Perform other duties as required.

ADDITIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES (approx. 20%):

  • Work with other members of the project team to coordinate the arrival of unprocessed boxes from off-site storage and the transfer of processed boxes to off-site storage. (required)
  • Contribute to refinement of project workflow. (as needed)
  • Contribute to project blog (www.thiscangobacktothearchives.wordpress.com) on a regular basis. (desired)
  • Assist with selecting visual materials from the collection for scanning, for AJHS publications, exhibits and special events. (required)

MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS

Skills and Abilities:

  • Familiarity with archival theory and techniques, specifically in using MPLP – More Product/Less Process – (minimal processing) to work with very large collections.
  • Proven ability to understand hierarchical relationships between series and subseries within a collection and to survey numerous boxes to discover the original order, if one exists.
  • Previous experience working with large collections and/or organizational records.
  • Proficiency in MS Word and Excel
  • Ability to work both independently and collaboratively.
  • Reliability and accuracy in maintaining records.
  • Excellent communication skills and good rapport with colleagues.
  • Ability to complete tasks in a reasonable amount of time and able to multitask.
  • Capable of learning new skills.

Education and Training: MLS from an accredited school.

Work Experience: Experience in processing archival collections required.

ADDITIONAL DESIRED QUALIFICATIONS

  • Expertise with Extensible Markup Language (XML), specifically creating electronic finding aid using Encoded Archival Description (EAD).
  • Ability to read Yiddish and/or Hebrew.

WORKING CONDITIONS:

Physical Demands: Ability to lift 40 pounds.

Special Environmental Factors: Periodic exposure to dusty and moldy materials.

Please send resume, cover letter and sample finding (link or attachment) to:

jobs@ajhs.org / Subject: UJA-Federation position

The American Jewish Historical Society is an equal opportunity employer.

August 29, 2014

Office Life in the 1980s, with Joseph Harris

Filed under: Federation people, found in the archives — susanwoodland @ 11:41 am

We are continuing to process the Community Services Division files from Federation, which are still turning up in storage under various descriptions.  One subseries in work right now are the remaining files of Joseph Harris, from the 2nd half of his 12-year tenure with Federation.  Harris was hired in 1975, probably as the Consultant for Jewish Education and Community Centers.  Titles and responsibilities evolved through the early and mid-1980s, when all of the Community Service [staff] “Consultants” were renamed “Social Planning Consultants”.  By 1984 he had become the Associate Executive Director of Community Services (“with prime responsibility for Jewish Education and Culture, Community Centers and Camps”), and assumed the position of Executive Director of Group Services and Jewish Education in September 1985.  Many of the files now in work date from his roughly two years in this last position.  Harris remained at Federation through the transitions of the 1986 merger with UJA, and his files end in 1987.

Two brief memoranda surfaced this week in Harris’s files, insignificant in content of his actual “work”, but telling about the time period and the people involved.  For us, these clues and traces in the files serve to humanize the people whose correspondence and reports and memos we gain such familiarity with, in the absence of ever having actually met the person.  Both memoranda are from Harris’ “William Kahn” file; long-time readers of this blog may remember Kahn as one of the Federation Executive Vice-Presidents Harris would have worked under, 1981-1986.

1. Dated July 25, 1983, from Joseph Harris to Elaine Morris in the Executive Office: “I called Dr. Sonabend at the 665-6363 number on July 21, 1983.  He was not in and I left a message on his tape recorder asking him to return my call.”

tape recorder memo, 1983

Tape recorder memo, 1983

For those of us in charge of our own phone calls by 1983, you may remember that time as the early days of home answering machines, and answering machines in offices.  And how it took a long time to even adopt a consistent name for what this machine really was.  The fact that Harris referred to it as a tape recorder nicely dates the memo.  Please note the discoloration from a rubber band diagonally across the blank part of the page.

2. Dated February 7, 1984, from William Kahn to Jack Ukeles and Joseph Harris: “It is important that you see me posthaste with reference to Harold Resnik and something that he wants to do in relation to Abba Eban.”

Posthaste Memo from William Kahn, 1984

Posthaste Memo from William Kahn, 1984

When is the last time you received a note with the word “posthaste” in it?  Handwritten below the memo, no doubt from the resulting meeting with Kahn, is “20 videotapes and large screens for Abba Eban Jewish Ed Teaching tools for centers”; one can only assume that the hurried meeting led to the results Kahn was hoping to achieve.  For Merriam-Webster’s definition, see: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/posthaste.

Elsewhere in the Harris files an “aide memoire” was glimpsed, something that we saw more of in the financial files from the 1950s and 1960s earlier in the project (and posted about on this blog), but Harris’ appears to be the most recent citing within Federation’s files.

Prior to his arrival at Federation in 1975 Harris had been the Executive Director of the Staten Island JCC; after Federation his career continued at the Jewish Community Center Association and other Jewish communal organizations.  Please let us know if you have additional information about Joseph Harris’s career as it relates to the Jewish Education and Community Center work he did at Federation.

According to this 2011 article:

http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2011/06/jcc_honors_two_during_black-ti.html,

Harris received the Allan Weissglass award from the Jewish Community Center in Seaview (Staten Island); other biographical information and a photograph are included in the article.

 

August 25, 2014

The Role of the Consultant

While working on this collection over the past three years one thing we initially found confusing was the label “consultant” applied to the professional staff who headed Federation’s Community Services Department, particularly in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.  Various staff members, experienced professionals all and at the top of the their respective subject fields in New York’s social services realm, included Martha Selig, Donald Feldstein, Graenum Berger, Joseph Harris and Al Schwarz.  The work and papers of a number of these consultants have been discussed in previous blog posts.

The Role of the Consultant, by Al Schwarz, circa 1982 [duplicate copy with archivists notes included]

“The Role of the Consultant”, by Al Schwarz, circa 1982 [duplicate copy with archivists notes included]

Eric recently located a thought piece by Al Schwarz from circa 1982; Schwarz was then the Director of Community Services for Medicine in that subseries of Federation’s Community Services material. In this informal report, entitled “The Role of the Consultant,” presumably written for discussion in a department meeting, Schwarz teases out the role of the consultant and ponders a change in title.  He describes the report as “tongue in cheek,” announces that he wanted by writing it to “provoke some serious discussion” and that “some of what is said is absolutely true.”  The manner is very breezy and irreverent, no doubt reflecting Schwarz’s familiarity and exasperation with the subject and, perhaps, with Federation’s existing organizational structure.

The consultants ran departments, supervised Federation support staff and served as links between Federation and the agency executives in the consultant’s specific functional field (medical, childcare, education, etc.)  In his paper, Schwarz notes that they are not in fact consultants to the agencies, because “our agencies don’t think so terribly well of us” and because they are not on the agencies’ payrolls.  He thinks they are not consultants to “management” at Federation either – “they know how to take care of themselves.”  Schwarz continues, “then the only thing that’s left is that we’re Consultant to Lay Leadership at Federation.  Although that can’t be true, because as we all know, the Lay Leaders are all experts. The crux of the problem, appears to me, to be the term itself.  I don’t think we’re Consultants all.”

After a brief discussion of what Schwarz actually sees as their role, he comes to the conclusion that “the role of the Consultant, then, is one of a facilitator; one who brings people together to facilitate problem solving”, and he speculates that Federation would be better served if consultants were more generalists than field specialists: “the role of the specialist is downplayed and … the relative success of our work is very often dependent upon the personality of the Consultant and his or her ability to interact in a meaningful way with fellow professionals and lay people.”

Schwarz believes that the consultants are “teachers and facilitators, moderators and arbitrators”, and that a healthy ego is “perhaps the most important single trait by which a Consultant is measured,” because there is very little ego gratification to the job.  By page 5, he concludes with the thought that “Consultant is a misnomer, and leads to misunderstandings both internally and externally to Federation.”

Eventually the term “consultant” was retired, having evolved into the more usual titles of Director and Executive Director. By the time of the merger with UJA in 1986 most departments and divisions had also changed names.  As our project moves more completely into the post-merger portion of the collection, we find ourselves attempting to correlate the functions of the professionals and their departments that have become familiar to us, with what those same people and functions eventually became.

August 14, 2014

Neighborhood Preservation Program

Filed under: Uncategorized — thiscangobacktothearchives @ 4:21 pm

NPP Letterhead, 1985

Letterhead for the Neighborhood Preservation Program (NPP), 1985

In the early 1980s, Federation adopted a new strategy for assisting the Jews of metropolitan New York. In a survey of the program, Joseph Langer, director of the program, explains that the

“Neighborhood Preservation Program reflects a significant departure from the traditional approaches to serving Jewish communal needs. Rather than allocating our dollars … by type of service, [Federation has] made a decision to allocate a substantial portion of resources on an explicitly geographical basis…and for non-traditional purposes.”

With the assumption that neighborhoods are the basic building block of vibrant Jewish communal life in the metropolitan area, the Federation provided aid, both technical and financial, to specific neighborhoods and Jewish Community Councils within those neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx. The Federation worked proactively with “neighborhoods that are at risk of decline, yet are still basically healthy” to ensure that the Jewish population in that respective neighborhood would continue to thrive, commercially and communally.

Target neighborhoods, at the time, included: Co-op City (Bronx), Kingsbridge-Moshulu (Bronx), Pelham Parkway (Bronx), Bensonhurst (Brooklyn), Boro Park (Brooklyn), Canarsie-Starrett City (Brooklyn), Crown Heights (Brooklyn), Flatbush (Brooklyn), Kensington (Brooklyn), Williamsburg (Brooklyn), Lower East Side (Manhattan), Washington Heights-Inwood (Manhattan), Forest Hills-Kew Gardens-Rego Park (Queens), Flushing (Queens), Jackson Heights (Queens), and Far Rockaways (Queens).

The program was funded, in part, through the Project Renewal program that was part of the UJA-Federation Joint Campaign. The program’s funds were limited, but Langer’s survey contends that the Federation’s “contribution supplies seed money, enabling local communities to attract private investment and government funding that would not other have been forthcoming.”

One such relationship that developed between Federation and the local community happened in the Bronx with the Jewish Community Council of Pelham Parkway. In 1984, Federation and the Jewish Community Council of Pelham Parkway coordinated the “Bronx is Blooming” tours to showcase some of the program’s achievements in Pelham Parkway. Achievements that included new housing for the elderly at Beth Abraham Hospital, coordinating renovations and co-op conversions, assisting with the revitalization of the shopping district near Lydig Avenue and White Plains Road.

Front exterior of "Bronx is Blooming" invitation, 1984

Front exterior of “Bronx is Blooming” invitation, 1984

We are processing the files of Joseph Langer, Director of the Neighborhood Preservation Program and Project Renewal, and expect to receive another large shipment of materials related to Langer and the program later next week. Neighborhood Preservation Programs and their associated activities, including Federation’s own program, are not without controversy, but we aim to provide description and access to the archival material that document Federation’s efforts to re-invigorate specific neighborhoods in Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx.

There was no mention of Staten Island neighborhoods in the folder titled “Neighborhood Preservation — Target Neighborhoods, 1982-1983″. If there is an inference to made based on the exclusion of Staten Island from the list of target neighborhoods, it is unclear what that inference might be.  

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