thiscangobacktothearchives

July 16, 2014

Project timeline

Filed under: early history, found in the archives — thiscangobacktothearchives @ 12:33 pm

As part of our ongoing efforts to disseminate information about UJA-Federation using a variety of methods, we have been collecting significant dates in the history of United Jewish Appeal of Greater New York and the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York to create a timeline of events. We hope to organize all of the event-related information to create an online exhibit and/or a component of a website related to the processing project. We are working to capture a mix of information related to the affiliated agencies, the staff and leadership of the philanthropic organizations (before and after the merger), and relevant historical events.

It was fortunate, then, that in processing the folders of Rabbi David Cohen, Federation’s Director of Public and Community Affairs in 1986, I encountered a folder titled “Merger” with some of the most significant dates in the history of the two philanthropic organizations. The folder of material was likely used to educate the soon-to-be-merged lay leadership and staff about the two organizations, including their respective histories.

A list of events in the history of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York, circa 1986

Federation Milestones — A list of events in the history of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York, circa 1986

Front page, History of the United Jewish Appeal of Greater New York

History of the United Jewish Appeal of Greater New York, circa 1986

The dates and events cited in the two documents are being used to further enhance our own timeline. If you, kind and gentle blog reader, have any significant dates that you would like to contribute to our project timeline, please use the link “Leave a Comment” found below.

July 3, 2014

Strike!

Filed under: early history, found in the archives — susanwoodland @ 5:25 pm

We recently brought in 54 boxes that were labeled as files from Dr. Donald Feldstein’s office as Director of the Community Services department of FJP in the 1970s and 1980s.  Two boxes, however, were much older.  One box contained agency budget and subject files, 1927-1941, belonging to Executive Vice-President (EVP) Dr. Solomon Lowenstein, and the second box contained agency budget and subject files, 1938-1941, belonging to Dr. Maurice Hexter, then Assistant EVP to Dr. Lowenstein. Longtime readers of this blog may remember that many of Hexter’s files were processed in 2011-2012, and that he and Joseph Willen served as co-EVPs for 25 years (1942-1967).

Hexter’s subject files in this new box included two thick folders labeled, “Personnel Practices”, and covered more than a year, 1940-1941, when negotiating with the union that represented employees of Federation child care agencies, primarily the New York Association for Jewish Children.

From 1940 to 1941 Federation and some of its agencies were embroiled in negotiations with child care workers over salaries, number of hours in a work week, and other personnel issues.

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On strike outside Federation’s offices at 71 W. 47th Street, 1941

According to a March 7, 1941 letter to “Friends” from Evelyn Adler, President of the Social Service Employees’ Union (SSEU), Local 19, the situation involved the “welfare of 400 employees of the New York Association for Jewish Children (NYAJC). That situation has grown out of the merger which brought that organization into being in January 1940 — the combining of the Hebrew Orphan Asylum, the Hebrew Sheltering Guardian Society, the Jewish Children’s Clearing Bureau, and the Fellowship House, Inc.

“Social workers, we know, are generally concerned over mergers of this kind, because the professional aspects and the welfare of the employees involved are apt to be less carefully planned than the budgetary.”

The resolution of the issues and the end of the strike were reported in SSEU’s Local 19 newsletter of May 1941:

"Sweeping Victory at NYAJC"

“Sweeping Victory at NYAJC”

It sounds like one of the biggest improvements for the workers after the strike was the decrease in the number of hours in their workweek, which was an important detail in the negotiations.

June 27, 2014

Fire Victim

Filed under: found in the archives, interesting or noteworthy archival material — Tags: , — thiscangobacktothearchives @ 11:52 am

While processing the files of Murray Peters (Executive Director of Field Staff Operations at the Joint Campaign), I stumbled upon the letter pictured below. The letter, dated January 27, 1978, was in a folder that was part of Peters’ Joint Campaign (UJFC) 1978-1982 Subject Files.   Indeed as I read the note card attached to the letter, titled “Fire Victim”, I learned that the letter and the envelope attached to it, had been caught in a fire. Fortunately the fire had not occurred at the UJA-Federation Joint Campaign Headquarters. The letter was discovered in a Leadership folder of Irving Schneider who corresponded with Murray Peters. The letter itself is in fairly good condition aside from the blackened, frayed and fragile edge and since not much can be done with materials such as this, it was placed in a plastic sleeve.

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It appears that the original, charred letter was kept as a copy of the clean, retyped version that was sent to the recipient. On first glance it appeared to be a marketing tactic, but on closer reading it appears that routine outgoing mail had been affected.

Additionally, in the same series of files but in a different folder I found the keys to the Palm Beach office (pictured below). One can only hope that the locks have been changed in the years since 1978.

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June 20, 2014

Board minutes available online!

Filed under: audio-visual material, interesting or noteworthy archival material — thiscangobacktothearchives @ 12:05 pm

Earlier this year, we employed Hudson Microimaging to create digitized copies of Board minutes from the microfilm that UJA-Federation created in the mid-1990s. The digitized minutes are now available online through the Center’s Digital Collections and hyperlinks to the digital objects will be created in the finding aid for the collection for these Board minutes (in addition to hyperlinks for all of the other wonderful archival material that we have digitized for the project). The range of the minutes include:

  • Board of Trustees Minutes, 1916-1986
  • Board of Directors Minutes, 1986-1992
  • Executive Committee Minutes 1973-1986

This coverage will provide researchers a nearly complete picture of the Board of the Federation, from its organization to its merger with United Jewish Appeal of Greater New York, 8 years of minutes on the activities of the merged Board, and 14 years of information on the Executive Committee, from the beginning of the Joint Campaign to the merger. All that was microfilmed by UJA-Federation and, then, deeded to the American Jewish Historical Society has been digitized. Because very few files from Officers and Board members were retained or deposited into storage, the Board minutes provide an important resource on Board activities, resolutions and discussion on various issues. If a researcher is aware of the date of an event or issue, the minutes can offer a way to find a starting point for locating information about that event or issue. Since the files were scanned using optical character recognition software and stored as portable document format (PDF) files, each set of minutes is keyword searchable. For assistance with a global keyword search through the entire set of Board minutes (1916-1986), please contact us at reference@ajhs.org.

The Board minutes have also been collected online and are available here. A nice substitute until the finding aid for the collection is available online!

June 12, 2014

Retouching Update

Earlier this month I discussed the evidence of some rather heavy-handed old-fashioned photograph retouching work I have been encountering in the course of processing the UJA, UFJC, and FJP photographs subseries. Almost immediately after publishing this post, I found the most subtle example of retouching I have seen so far. It was particularly noticeable because there are two similar prints: one retouched, the other not. The unretouched photo appears immediately below and a very similar shot with slight retouching in the woman’s hair, blouse and hand can be seen below the first, if you study it for a moment.

FJP Miscellaneous

Here is a little closer view. The photographer or designer must have used a very fine paint brush.

Retouch Detail

So, some of the retouching work in this collection was quite subtle, at least occasionally. There is definitely less of this subtle variety overall, however.

Also since my previous post, I learned from a designer friend who is experienced with both digital and analog techniques that the opaque background paint that features prominently in a few of the photographs included in that post is Pro White Retouching Ink and it is apparently still available for sale. She likened the 20th Century use of Pro White to the contemporary use of the “silo” (short for “silhouette”) or “clipping path” Photoshop tools.

June 9, 2014

UJA Builds Their Own Office Building

Filed under: found in the archives — susanwoodland @ 10:59 am

In 1948 UJA began planning an office building to house their growing staff, and to escape the increasing rents of midtown Manhattan.  The threat of their rent going up to $4.50 a square foot was the impetus for board members to put together a plan to finance a new building at 220 W. 58th Street.

The architect was Hyman Isaac Feldman, a Jewish immigrant from Austria (an area now in Poland) who had a prolific career building primarily apartment buildings throughout many different neighborhoods in New York City.

Columbia University has an architectural database of real estate brochures for residential buildings in New York, which includes real estate brochures of 118  designs by Feldman or others in his firm.  His obituary in the New York Times mentions that Feldman was also responsible for the Federation building at 130 E. 59th Street, although it is unclear whether he worked on the original building or one of the renovations to combine buildings into the one we know today.  He won an award for best apartment house design in 1932 by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.

 

Architect's rendering of new UJA building at 220 W. 58th Street, NYC

Architect’s rendering of new UJA building at 220 W. 58th Street, NYC

Above is the architect’s rendering of the UJA building, complete with UJA on the front and late model sedans parked out front.  According to the UJA files on the building, from the office of Melville L. Rappaport, Assistant Secretary of UJA, the design included a map of Israel embedded in the terrazzo floor of the lobby, a nice touch for an organization that supported projects in Israel in the year following statehood.

The building until recently housed a New York City public school, but appears to have recently been demolished.  The link will take you to a Google image of the building with scaffolding in 2007, but a later image shows, sadly, an empty site.

 

 

 

May 28, 2014

BPs (Before Photoshop)

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I realize there are adults alive today who do not remember life before Photoshop. Though it seems like just yesterday to some of us, Photoshop version 1.0 was first introduced over 24 years ago! Before its existence, photographers and graphic designers who wished to remove imperfections or make improvements to their photographs were forced to either practice the skill known as “retouching” or “airbrushing” themselves or hire a professional to handle the task. Here is a brief discussion of the art of retouching based on a book titled Shortcuts to Photo Retouching for Commercial Use, published in 1946. And here is a fuller review of this handbook.  The line, “DON’T DO TOO MUCH!” from the book resonates well with my own minimal experience with photo retouching.

As a photography major in art school in the early 1990s, I was taught the basics of retouching. I remember clearly Professor Dennis Buck laying out all the materials we would need: fine brushes, a magnifying loop, water, and Spot Tone, a special type of transparent dye that photographic emulsion can absorb. He also advised us not to attempt to touch up our prints first thing in the morning, suggesting instead, “Be relaxed when you do it. Put on some music. Pour a glass of wine.” Subtlety was the name of the game. The rule for fine art photographers seemed to be: the less noticeable it was, the more successful your retouching work had been.

This rule did not seem to apply at all for graphic artists and for photographs being published in newspapers. Retouching has been on my mind lately as I process my way through many boxes of UJA and UFJC photographs. There are so many examples of highly unsubtle retouching in these files: backgrounds completely obscured by heavy opaque paint; body parts added or removed; individual people taken away from crowded group shots; and (my favorite) eyes uncannily repainted over blinking eyelids. A few examples follow below…

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eyes glasses 2

eyes004

UFJC - portraits - Albert Da Costa

 

The bolder approach suited images being mechanically reproduced in print. Holding these touched-up original prints, viewing them close up with the naked eye reveals heavy-handed alterations. But these alterations would not be noticeable when the image is greatly reduced in size and printed using the halftone process in ink on newsprint.

background006

background007

 

It seems that the graphic artists at work in the Public Relations department of the Joint Campaign frequently employed a variety of artists’ materials, including non-archival, opaque paints, as seen in the examples above. In the unretouched print above, a silhouette-shaped stain has been left on the back of this print (seen on the left, above). The stain was created when the unmarked print was stored in the file on top of this retouched print for decades. Acids from the paint on the retouched print have transferred into the back of the non-retouched print. Busy backgrounds were not always painted directly away. Sometimes the work was done on a clear plastic mask, as in the example below, laid over top the original print, so that the image could be used with or without the addition. This resembles slightly the Photoshop concept of layers.

mask

The majority of prints in these files were never retouched, but those that were reveal a lot about retouching and printing techniques, and how the staff of the Joint Campaign used and changed the photographs in their files.

May 23, 2014

Jewish Education’s Tape Dispenser

Filed under: Uncategorized — susanwoodland @ 2:31 pm

I recently processed 4 boxes of files from the office of Rabbi Hyman Chanover, who worked in the Jewish Education Department of FJP.  The files extend from about 1957 to 1970, although we haven’t yet pinpointed exactly which years he worked there; he may have inherited the older files from a predecessor.

Originally, as was the case with most Federation departments, Jewish Education began as a Committee.  As the professional who worked with the lay leaders on this committee, Rabbi Chanover became involved with FJP’s Distribution Committee and  how funds were distributed to agencies with Jewish Education programs; with the Functional Committee, to which the committee proposed forming a central educational agency to do planning and curriculum work on behalf of the Federation agencies with Jewish Education components.

It appears that when his files were sent to off-site storage, the person packing them overzealously included some of the items from Rabbi Chanover’s desk, including a 12″ wooden ruler (made by Westcott in the U.S.A.), a package of KO-REC-TYPE (no more erasing! Corrects originals* in half the time [*use KO-REC-COPY to correct carbon copies] copyright 1966 by Eaton Allen Corp. on Kent Avenue in Brooklyn), an envelope filled with rubber bands (which seem to still have some stretch left in them after more than 40 years) and a lovely salmon-colored tape dispenser, vintage 1960s, with the tape still intact but dried up and hardened into the dispenser.

Rabbi Chanover's tape dispenser, circa 1970s

Rabbi Chanover’s tape dispenser, circa 1970s

Here is a close-up of the hardened tape:

Hardened tape

Hardened tape

When I compared it with the tape dispenser on my own desk, I found it was a lot heavier (1 pound 14 ounces), vs 1 pound 2 ounces.  It conjures up the era during which Rabbi Chanover worked at Federation.

Before we send these boxes off to storage, we will have learned enough to write a brief historical note about Rabbi Chanover’s contribution to Federation’s Jewish Education work, which in the 1970s was poised to receive a greater percentage of Federation funds as Jewish Education programs grew in importance among Federation’s leadership.

May 16, 2014

Bob Balaban’s Uncle Barney

Filed under: Uncategorized — susanwoodland @ 6:01 pm

While processing the UJA of Greater NY, Inc. files this spring, I noticed on the UJA campaign letterhead that one of the trustees in 1968 was a man named Barney Balaban.

Barney Balaban, Trustee of UJA of Greater New York, Inc., 1968

Barney Balaban, Trustee of UJA of Greater New York, Inc., 1968

Whoever Barney Balaban was, he was in good company.  Other trustees that year included William Rosenwald (son of Julius), Louis Lefkowitz, Charles Revson, and Edward M. M. Warburg, among others.

A quick look at Barney Balaban’s wikipedia entry indicated what I had suspected, that he was related to actor Bob Balaban – in fact, Barney was Bob’s uncle.

The online archive of the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) produced a number of articles further linking Barney Balaban with UJA, and revealing how long his connection with UJA had lasted.  Following are links to just 2 of the articles:

As president of Paramount Pictures for nearly thirty years, Barney Balaban was successful in soliciting large donations for UJA campaigns from other film industry executives, as well as getting entertainment stars like Eddie Cantor to make personal appearances and accept awards.

In 1956 as co-chair of UJA’s summer campaign, Barney Balaban was instrumental in raising $5,000,000.

And in a book entitled, “An Uneasy Relationship: American-Jewish Leadership and Israel, 1948-1957″ by Zvi Ganin, there is a surprising mention of Barney Balaban in connection with President Eisenhower.

 

May 8, 2014

Brooklyn Federation of Jewish Charities material digitized

Front cover

Front cover of Annual Report, 1910

We have recently digitized and made available a significant selection of archival material from the Brooklyn Federation of Jewish Charities, including their Board of Directors meetings minutes from 1909-1944, annual reports from 1910-1920, and an interesting 1938 study entitled “Study of the Jewish Community Centers Affiliated with the Brooklyn Federation of Jewish Charities.”

The Brooklyn Federation of Jewish Charities (BFJC) was formed in 1909 and in 1944 merged into the Federation for the Support of Jewish Philanthropic Societies of New York City to form the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York. Brooklyn Federation of Jewish Charities supported local Jewish social service agencies with funding, administrative and other professional aid. Agencies in the Brooklyn Federation included Beth Moses Hospital, Brooklyn Free Loan Association, Brooklyn Hebrew Orphan Asylum, First Hebrew Day Nursery, Hebrew Educational Society, Jewish Community House of Bensonhurst, and numerous neighborhood YM-YWHAs.

The minutes, annual reports, and study are available online through the Center for Jewish History’s Digital Collections. The Brooklyn Federation material has also been aggregated into a collection which can be searched and re-organized by title and date.

Also, at no additional fee, it bears mentioning that the UJA-Federation of New York Oral History Project interviews and transcripts have been collected and are available all in one place, right here. These interviews can be searched by subject, date, interviewee and/or interviewer, as well as many other elements of the metadata for each digitized oral history interview.

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