thiscangobacktothearchives

May 26, 2015

Straw Hats – a summer story

Filed under: found in the archives, interesting or noteworthy archival material — susanwoodland @ 4:30 pm

After a sunny and warm Memorial Day, our thoughts are turning to summer hats.

In 1940, one or more of Federation’s affiliated homes for the aged purchased 75 straw hats, presumably for their male residents, through Federation’s Joint Purchasing Agency.  The letter below was sent to a Mr. Bernstein, probably in the Joint Purchasing department, encouraging swift payment to the hat company.  Hopefully the check was in the mail and crossed with this letter.

1940 Lowenstein correspondence

1940 Lowenstein correspondence

The letter survived because it ended up in the files of the Executive Vice-President (EVP) Solomon Lowenstein.  Lowenstein’s surviving files are fragmentary, taking up fewer than 4 boxes – just a small portion of his correspondence and subject files considering he was EVP at Federation from 1920 until his death in 1942. (His title was Executive Director from 1920-1935, but under both titles he was the professional leader of Federation for 22 years.)

The company that supplied the hats was Adam Hats, a manufacturer and retailer of what seems to have been many styles of men’s hats.  In 1940 Adam Hat Stores’ administrative offices were at 651-659 Broadway, a block and a half north of Houston Street and less than 2 1/2 miles from 47th street.  Not far for a check to travel.

Attached to the letter was a copy of the invoice:

invoice

invoice, $59.38 for 75 straw hats

In 1940 Federation supported a few “old age homes” in Manhattan and Brooklyn, including the Jewish Home and Hospital for the Aged on west 105th and 106th streets in Manhattan, now called Jewish Home Lifecare.  The correspondence refers to a generic “Home for the Aged”, leading us to believe that the hats were sent to several different senior residences.

We saw no mention of women’s hats in the files, but presumably they were ordered from a women’s hat maker, and presumably the check for those hats found its way more promptly to its destination.

May 14, 2015

Surprise: more Special AIDS Project boxes!

Filed under: interesting or noteworthy archival material — Heather Halliday @ 12:36 pm

It was only after the first nine Special AIDS Project boxes were completely processed that we discovered four additional boxes on the project among the few remaining unprocessed boxes in the warehouse. We missed them the first time around because these were not labeled “AIDS” or “Simha Rosenberg” as the others had been, but “Caring Commision” instead. These additional four boxes became just two boxes in the course of processing, bringing the subseries total up to eleven boxes. The overall date range for these additional boxes is 1986 – 2001, with the bulk of material landing in the mid-1990s – 2001, which is a bit later than the first nine Special AIDS Project boxes.

articles

Articles from the Special AIDS Project subseries

Nearly one full box of this additional Special AIDS Project subseries is printed materials – pamphlets, journal and magazine articles, newspaper clippings, white papers and scholarly reports. Some of these publications were authored by UJF, most were not. Usually, an archivist would weed heavily this type of non-unique published material, but this group of materials has been retained in its entirety, weeding only for duplicate copies, in part because it demonstrates clearly the thorough organization of the Special AIDS Project and the sharp focus of Project Coordinator Simha Rosenberg upon its goals. This printed matter is organized by topic and an index listing citations of each item is included. Another reason I chose to retain this material is that archival material relating to AIDS from this era is rather rare. Impassioned activists struggling in the midst of a terrifiying new crisis and medical researchers dealing with an epidemic in triage-mode were not always able to save the important documents that archivists could later declare to be “of enduring value.” At last year’s Society of American Archivists annual meeting, this particular point was articulated by all the speakers at a session called “Preserving the Epidemic: Making Accessible HIV/AIDS History.” For an excellent summary of that session, see this l’Archivista blog post. Rosenberg and her colleagues clearly used this material as an active reference resource. Today and in the future, it can provide researchers insight into how the disease and was perceived, what the issues of prevention were, how society and the Jewish community reacted to it, and what HIV and AIDS services were being offered during the later 1980s through the 1990s.

AIDS comic book

Comic book on AIDS prevention published by the American Foundation for AIDS Research in 1987.

Bye Keith

Tribute to Keith Haring on the back of the April 1990 issue of The Body Positive magazine

Besides the printed materials, the other additional material is comprised of various subject files, including a bit of material from Rosenberg’s successors, Roberta Beer and Renanit Levy.

May 7, 2015

New sound recordings available online!

Filed under: audio-visual material, interesting or noteworthy archival material — thiscangobacktothearchives @ 2:41 pm

Earlier in the year, we selected and digitized 40 reel-to-reel tapes with the vendor MediaPreserve, these recordings have been ingested into the Center for Jewish History’s digital repository. You can find all of these wonderful recordings in two different ways, either searching for individual recordings on the Center’s Digital Collections portal or the recordings can also all be found aggregated here, and we will soon be adding a link on our project webpage on the American Jewish Historical Society website.

Given that the sound recordings were digitized from reels, there are recordings from each of the philanthropic organizations that merged to become UJA-Federation of New York, including a Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York recording of the Board of Trustees dinner in honor of Joseph Willen and Dr. Maurice Hexter, 1967, a United Jewish Appeal of Greater New York 1967 recording of the Stars for Israel at Madison Square Garden with Robert F. Kennedy, Jacob Javits, Jack Weiler, and Mayor John Lindsay speaking, and a series of radio commercials from the UJA-Federation Joint Campaign in 1974.

Front of audio reel, 1967

Front of reel from Federation Board of Trustees dinner in honor of Executive Vice Presidents Willen and Hexter, 1967

One of our next steps as the project winds down will be making another series of sound recordings available online, another 30 audiocassettes!

April 30, 2015

Joint Purchasing Corporation Newsletter, 1974

Filed under: found in the archives — susanwoodland @ 3:43 pm

The Joint Purchasing Corporation (JPC) of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies was established in 1922, just 5 years after the formation of Federation (until 1944 called the Federation for the Support of Jewish Philanthropic Societies of New York City).  According to a UJA-Federation pamphlet from 1989-1992 when UJA-Fed was considering an alternative structure for shared services, JPC was established as “a not-for-profit corporation to serve primarily the procurement needs of the institutions supported by the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York”.

JPC started a newsletter in the 1970s.  In Volume II No. 2 dated May 1974, among other articles “The J.P.C. Exchange” lists as items available from Federation member agencies to other Federation agencies a diverse group of items which includes:

3 Security Guard Shacks … rarely used …

Motorola Paging System … first reasonable offer gets it

Blickman coffee urn

6 racks to hold 9″ plastic covers

Joint Purchasing Corporation Exchange, May 1974

Joint Purchasing Corporation (JPC) Exchange, May 1974

Sent along with the May 1974 newsletter was an Index of Purchase Arrangements, listed by type of object.  On the “Laundry & Linen Supplies & Equipment” page it is interesting to see that Altro Work Shops, then an agency of Federation, is listed as the supplier for uniforms.

Laundry & Linen Supplies & Equipment, May 1974

Laundry & Linen Supplies & Equipment, May 1974

And on the Nutrition Supplies & Equipment – Food” page the list of Jewish-style and kosher foods is evocative of the era and geographic location in New York.

Nutrition Supplies & Equipment - Food, May 1974

Nutrition Supplies & Equipment – Food, May 1974

A recent blog post on the Urban Mass Transit Act (UMTA) of the 1960s discusses another aspect of JPC’s reach, in assisting Federation agencies in buying cars and vans at lower prices through grants from UMTA.  An earlier post, on Federation’s Research Committee in the 1960s, mentions joint purchasing as a subject for future study.

JPC “opened its doors to all not-for-profit institutions and agencies in the New York Metropolitan area” in 1976, and soon after began opening offices in other cities, including Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and St. Louis.  “The value of a shared service organization is based on effective, cooperative procurement techniques and the economies of volume contracting”, according to the 1989-1992 pamphlet.

Listed as services in the pamphlet were programs for the purchase of fuel oil, furniture and equipment, travel services, asbestos abatement, medical/surgical purchasing, computer maintenance, and many other services that were of value to the varied agencies in the Federation network.  By about 1990, UJA-Federation was considering a new model for shared services, under the leadership of Bonnie Shevins, Executive Director of Shared Services and Administration.  The files on the meetings and decisions made in connection with shared services after the merger have recently been processed and are available for research.

It appears that JPC exists today as Healthcare Supplyside Solutions, based in New York City but no longer at the UJA-Federation headquarters, according to the JPC website.

April 23, 2015

Another Missing Box Appears – Martha Selig

Filed under: Uncategorized — susanwoodland @ 1:49 pm

In reconciling our records of the 3232 boxes this project began with, we have been hoping that some of the boxes that could not be located in off-site storage when originally requested (and which had apparently not been lost in the fire) would turn up.  Through the course of the project, on repeated requests for delivery, some of the missing boxes have been found and delivered.

One box arrived on April 8th, and for a moment our heads returned not just to 2013 when we originally requested it, but to the late 1960s when many of the documents in the box were created.

This is what we knew about the box:

Bar Code #: 060802

Box #: 0099

When it went into storage: pre’86

Department: Community Services

Whose files: Selig, M

Date range: 1/1/65-12/31/74

File description: JACY [Jewish Association for College Youth] files

Date box originally requested: 6/4/13

 

Eric described the contents when he went through the box as being half correspondence and subject files and the other half publications from outside organizations that Martha kept as part of her extensive subject files.  There are now 35 boxes of Martha Selig’s files in the collection, which will add enormously to an understanding of Federation’s work from 1946 to 1974, and primarily during the years of huge growth in the 1950s and 1960s.

Some readers of this blog may remember earlier posts that have mentioned Martha Selig and the work she did as a “consultant” at Federation:

Special Thanks to Dr. Morton Teicher

Mission Statement of the Community Services Division, 1983

Mickey Levine’s Quandary

We are the Dinosaur Bones

The Role of the Consultant

She was a committed leader in the Community Services division for several decades, and she controlled the budgeting and allocations as well as services to Federation’s agencies with a strong hand.  Together with Maurice Hexter and Joseph Willen, the co-Vice-Presidents of Federation 1942-1967, Selig was involved in every aspect of how Federation made it possible for each individual agency in their network to grow, offer expanded services to their clients, and move into new, modern facilities.

Martha Selig, approximately 1960s

Photograph of Martha Selig, circa 1960s, from her oral history transcript

Because all of Selig’s previously processed files have already been transferred to off-site storage, Eric has intellectually integrated these newly found files into the collection, and they will be housed physically in their own box.  Martha Selig’s oral history, including a few photos of her, can be found here.

Martha Selig and Jeanette Solomon

Martha Selig and Jeanette Solomon at Oral History Project celebration, circa 1990s

April 9, 2015

Happy Passover (Part 2)!

As we arrive at the last few days of the festival of Passover, we wanted to take the opportunity to share with you this novel Passover-themed fundraising appeal envelope that looks just like matzo! This and other samples of direct mail fundraising appeals can be found within the UJF Marketing and Communications subseries.

Passover fundraising mailer, 1998.

Passover fundraising mailer, 1998.

The UJA-Federation Archivists wish you a chag sameach and a joyous Passover!

April 2, 2015

Happy Passover!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Leah Edelman @ 9:40 am

Have you done your Passover shopping? Was it similar to this list– and these prices– from 1977?

JPA 1977

With the beginning of Passover tomorrow night, we wanted to share some materials from the collection about the Joint Passover Association (JPA), one of Federation’s agencies.  Founded in 1927 with the purpose of coordinating Passover assistance activities and fundraising conducted by synagogues and Jewish organizations, the JPA provided Jews in need with funds to buy Passover items. By its 50th anniversary in 1977, the JPA provided aid to 4,065 applicants (11,263 individuals) and distributed $116,707 that year in relief funds.

The above food list details the “basic Passover needs for one person” in 1977, and the prices reflect the amount of aid most people received. Though it may seem bare-bones compared to some lavish Seder spreads of today, most recipients were very grateful to receive help to celebrate the holiday. Below are a few of the many thank-you notes sent to Federation in response to receiving Passover assistance. The Joint Passover Association was a Federation-affiliated agency through 2009.

Happy Passover!

caring and enjoy

Left: “This note is to thank you for the help received this passover from your passover fund. It certainly helped me to cheer up and enjoy some of the passover foods I otherwise would not have been able to enjoy.” Right: “You have helped to enrich our Passover holiday…Thank you and god bless you for caring about us. You really have no idea how you pull us through all these years.”

exodus and not been refused

Left: “Every year…I have requested your aid and haven’t been refused. It is due to your kindness and generosity that have helped make the holiday more joyous.” Right: “[There are] people like you at the J.P.A. to help us observe the memory of our Exodus.”

sweet and more money

Left: “May God bless you for being so kind, thoughtful, and friendly spirit you have shown me. It means the world to me and cheered me up a bit.” Right: “…I respectfully ask you if I can get a little more cash I should enjoy Passover.”

faith and kosher meat

Left: “…I was able to buy kosher chicken and a little meat. Keep up the good work.” Right: “…it helps to restore one’s faith that our people will not forsake us.”

March 30, 2015

Resolution of materials lost in the warehouse fire

Filed under: the process of archival processing — susanwoodland @ 11:20 am

In a blog post in February I wrote about the fire at the warehouse where our boxes were stored for many years before this project began.  For the past 3 1/2 years our workflow has been to bring 100-200 boxes into our offices at a time where we do what we do with files (officially called “processing”).  As I mentioned in the February post, we had 305 boxes remaining in storage before the fire.

We requested delivery of the remaining boxes in two shipments; the final count of boxes lost in the fire was 123.  For the most part the lost boxes were scattered among the different departments represented in those 305 boxes, but a high percentage were from Overseas Services, Immigrant Services, Administration and Government Relations.  Except where there were fewer than 5 boxes from a department, at least some of the material in each department survived; we will in the end have a slightly smaller snapshot of the work of these departments.  The largest portion of these records is from the second half of the 1990s.

To look at the loss of these boxes philosophically, records from many non-profit organizations that are ultimately transferred to the archives for permanent retention seem to have survived almost at random.  UJA-Federation of New York was more organized than many non-profits, having engaged the services of a consulting archivist for many years – Colonel Seymour Pomrenze, who we have written about in this blog before.  The colonel determined the fate of many of UJA-Federation’s older files in an organized, professional manner.  Because of his professionalism many of the hundreds of boxes of files that were not of permanent value were destroyed long ago, saving UJA-Federation thousands of dollars in storage fees.

The  material that remained and which became the core of this archives project, is in the process of becoming the permanent record of the legacy of UJA- Federation of New York and its predecessor organizations.  What files ultimately remain is what historians have to sift through to tell the story of an organization – a movement, a certain time in a community when a group of men and women took care of those less fortunate than themselves.  The surviving files, whether through careful determination according to a retention schedule or to random placement in a warehouse, become what we ultimately learn and remember about the past.

Map of organizations funded by UJA-Federation terrorism response grants after 9/11

Map of organizations in lower Manhattan funded by UJA-Federation’s “Terrorism Response” grants after 9/11 – from the Wiener Educational Center files that survived the warehouse fire in January

March 18, 2015

Special AIDS Project at UJA-Federation

Filed under: interesting or noteworthy archival material — Tags: — Heather Halliday @ 3:31 pm

In the late 1980s, UJA-Federation began providing assistance to HIV+ people and people with AIDS.

pamphlet back

UJA-Federation AIDS fundraising event pamphlet

This assistance took the form of programs, educational conferences, counseling, and housing assistance, mostly provided through Federation agencies, which were funded largely through grants. This Domestic Affairs Division program fell under the heading of “Special Projects” and Simha Rosenberg served as UJA-Federation AIDS Project Coordinator from about 1988 until about 1994.

nametag

Name tag from one of the many AIDS-related conferences attended by UJF Special AIDS Coordinator Simha Rosenberg.

UJA-Federation’s willingness to take on the crisis of AIDS, particularly as early as the 1980s, investing over a million per year, as well as time and expertise, speaks volumes about the humanitarian orientation of the agency. It also indicates UJA-Federation’s willingness to adapt to the times, their foresight, and their exceptionally inclusive view of community. It is clear from the document below showing that 76 people on UJA-Federation’s staff participated in the 1991 AIDS Walk that many at UJF had a personal stake in the issue.

UJF 1991 AIDS Walk Team

UJA-Federation staff 1991 AIDS Walk team participants list

pamphlet front

UJA-Federation AIDS fundraising event invitation

Rosenberg attended a great many AIDS conferences on behalf of UJA-Federation and led quite a few, as well. Both types of conference materials are included in the Special AIDS Project subseries. She also served as UJA-Federation’s representative at the New York AIDS Coalition (NYAC), and many folders in the subseries document her committee work there. The collection  documents some of NYAC’s political activism in the form of postcards demanding more funding aimed at Governors Mario Cuomo and George Pataki. Rosenberg was instrumental in obtaining grants for Federation agencies to carry out AIDS progams and these efforts are documented here. Researchers can also learn about AIDS fundraising events held by UJA-Federation. One such event represented in the files was the “Madison Avenue Sell  Out,” which involved many of New York’s most successful advertising agencies and  corporate sponsorship.

The project also planned and implemented workshops designed to inform agency staff and program participants about the disease, from which extensive data was collected. The raw data, taken from pre- and post-workshop surveys, delineates attitudes and knowledge of the disease and sexuality at that time. It can be found in folders titled “AIDS Education and Training (AET) –  Evaluations” within the subseries. Rosenberg apparently published some scholarly articles as a result of her initial AET Evaluation findings. Future researchers may wish to delve deeper into this data. Other areas of interest within the subseries include files on Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), medical research, press  coverage of the disease, and Rosenberg’s own chronological files.

UJF AIDS Quilt

UJA-Federation AIDS Quilt invitation

The collection is comprised of nine cartons on the Special AIDS Project, spanning the years just prior to and just following Rosenberg’s tenure.

NYAC Sticker

NYAC Sticker, 1993

March 12, 2015

Asset studies, inactive records, and archives

Filed under: found in the archives, interesting or noteworthy archival material — thiscangobacktothearchives @ 12:34 pm

While processing administrative and subject files of the UJA-Federation of New York’s Legal Department, I encountered several subject files labeled “Asset Study.” A few years after the merger between United Jewish Appeal of Greater New York and Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York, the Legal Department cooperated with other departments to create a comprehensive list and accompanying data related to the assets, including real estate, held by UJA-Federation and all of its predecessor organizations.

To that end, in April 1990, James L. Rothkopf contacted Colonel Seymour J. Pomrenze, the UJA-Federation’s record manager and archives consultant, to assist in finding documentation within the organization’s inactive records stored in their building and off-site storage. And, much like a reference request or inquiry sent to an archival repository, Pomrenze identified resources within the philanthropic organization’s inactive records to find information on real estate and tangible assets.

Correspondence for James L. Rothkopf from Seymour Pomrenze, April 26, 1990

Correspondence for James L. Rothkopf from Seymour Pomrenze, April 26, 1990

As inactive records went into storage, either on or off-site, a List of File Folder Titles (LFFT), which listed the contents of each box, was placed in the box and also photocopied and retained by UJA-Federation. With the assistance of these LFFTs, Pomrenze and others could identify a list of knowledgeable persons, pinpoint the location of relevant records, create copies of lists of files and boxes with records “retired” (sent to storage) by knowledgeable persons, and help determine where information might be kept by the county or state governments related to property and land registries.

Redacted version of List of Knowledgeable Persons, prepared by Seymour Pomrenze, April 1990

Redacted version of List of Knowledgeable Persons, prepared by Seymour Pomrenze, April 1990

With the names and LFFTs of knowledgeable persons, such as heads of departments, comptrollers, counsels, employees and consultants, the Legal Department could locate information by box and strategically recall boxes out of off-site storage to review and collate data on real estate and other assets held by UJA-Federation or its predecessor organizations and affiliated agencies.

In addition to any of the assets identified within the early 1990s study, it is important to remember what an asset (or benefit) it is to have organizational records under intellectual control stored in a safe, ideally climate-controlled, environment for later inquiries from both the organization that created the records and researchers alike.

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