February 25, 2015

“Uncle Henry” and the Irene Kaufmann Settlement

In processsing any collection as massive as that of the UJA-Federation of New York, an archivist is bound to encounter files that fall slightly beyond the expected scope of the project once in a while. Case in point: a folder found in the Federation Photographs sub-series titled “Irene Kaufmann Settlement.” Here is one our favorite images from this folder:

Irene Kaufmann Settlement

Milk give away event at Irene Kaufamann Settlement in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, August 1927

This file contains 16 other photographs, as well as historical background on the Irene Kaufmann Settlement (IKS), and biographical information on Henry Kaufmann.

When I first encountered the folder, I presumed IKS was one of over a hundred organizations in the New York City area that Federation had funded during the 20th Century. I had seen appearances of the Kaufmann surname in various other parts of the collection and I knew that FJP of New York funded the Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds, a group of day camps with locations in Rockland County, Suffolk County, and Staten Island, which are still in operation today.

hkc 061453 100

Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds dedication invitation, 1953

After that first cursory glance, however, I realized that IKS was actually not located in New York City – or even anywhere nearby – but rather in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania! Henry Kaufmann, known affectionately to many as “Uncle Henry,” became wealthy through his family’s successful downtown Pittsburgh department store, Kaufmann’s. Henry put up the initial capital to build the Irene Kaufmann Settlement in 1909, naming it after a daughter of his who had met an untimely death. He continued to contribute funding to IKS over the years, as did the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of Pittsburgh. A short history of IKS can be seen here on the Rauh Jewish Archives of the Heinz History Center’s website. This is the same person after whom the Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds in the New York City area are named. Kaufmann retired relatively early from the retail business in 1913 and devoted the remaining four decades of his life to philanthropic giving in Pittsburgh and New York, so it is easy to see how a file on a Pittsburgh community center found its way into the UJA-Federation of New York archives.

Program for a Henry Kaufmann birthday celebration at Irene Kaufmann Settlement

Program for a Henry Kaufmann birthday celebration at Irene Kaufmann Settlement

February 22, 2015

When did we learn to trust e-mail?

Filed under: found in the archives, interesting or noteworthy archival material — susanwoodland @ 10:52 pm

Sherri Greenbach was an executive in the Development Division at UJA-Federation in 1994 and 1995.  She may have worked at UJA-Federation longer than these 2 years but just one box of her files has become part of the the archives project.  These files document Sherri’s work planning fundraising events for the Women’s Division campaign.  It appears that Sherri was primarily involved in fundraising with the Lawyer’s Division, but none of those files have surfaced to date.

In her work on the Women’s Division campaign during this time, Sherri corresponded regularly with Jodi Schwartz, a lay leader involved with a particular event in March of 1995.  In addition to details of these fundraising events in Sherri’s files, it is also possible to identify the moment a new technology was taking hold in the UJA-Federation offices.

This document is a fax cover sheet from March 7th ….

Sherri's cover sheet for her March 7th faxed e-mail

Sherri’s cover sheet for her March 7th faxed e-mail


Sherri wrote in her note on the cover sheet, “I am not yet overly confident in my ‘cyberspace’ skills.  Hopefully it worked but in case it didn’t, here is a copy.”

And here’s the e-mail she printed out and faxed, which (probably later) was edited by hand:

E-mail that was faxed

E-mail that was faxed

Just one week later, Sherri seemed much more comfortable with e-mail, as seen in her March 13th “I love this e-mail stuff” e-mail:

"I love this e-mail stuff!"

“I love this e-mail stuff!”


The adoption of e-mail in place of faxing brings to mind Heather’s December post on Federation’s early work on their own website, in 1998.

Technology began to change rapidly in the late 1990s as more of our documentation was created in electronic form only.  Questions of what have we may have lost come to mind.  In moving to e-mail and electronic communication, does it matter that we will no longer see someone’s handwriting on a fax?  Or doodles on pages of notes or meeting agendas?  Have we lost anything of value, as long as we are able to preserve and maintain and continue to access the content itself?  Are we sure, yet, that we will be able to preserve, maintain and continue to access the electronic files we depend on? Digital archivists are hard at work figuring out best practices to make sure that people interested in researching post-2000 files will in fact be able to do so.

February 10, 2015

The Value of Valuing Archives

Filed under: the process of archival processing — susanwoodland @ 12:36 pm

Our previous post ended with a general comment on the value of archives:

Whether for the sake of development, public relations, analysis, or reporting: archives, especially those housed in a climate controlled environment in an archival repository, have limitless value both to researchers and the institution that created those records.

This statement is more meaningful than ever in light of the disastrous fire at a warehouse holding some of the remaining UJA-Federation of New York files for this project.  Starting early in the morning of Saturday January 31st, by the afternoon it had become a seven-alarm fire with 300 firemen rotating in and out of active firefighting in below freezing conditions.  A week later the fire was still smoldering.

As of today, we still don’t know which material survived the fire.  Fortunately, the larger of the two warehouses (and all the files in it) UJA used is unharmed.

We are extremely fortunate that more than 90% of the collection has already been removed from storage, most of which is already processed and available for research. Because UJA-Federation of New York understands the importance of their institutional history, especially as they begin planning their centennial in 2017, their earliest surviving history is safe and secure in a climate-controlled warehouse and is accessible not only to UJA-Federation but to all qualified researchers.

Fewer than 10% of the boxes from this project (305 of over 3200) remained in storage; most of the files are from the 1990s, after the merger.  Our expectations are that the files that have survived will offer at least a snapshot of each of the departments whose files were part of the project.

February 6, 2015

A return in 1997 to the beginning of Project Renewal

Filed under: found in the archives, interesting or noteworthy archival material — thiscangobacktothearchives @ 1:14 pm

The files related to Project Renewal, a program of the UJA-Federation Joint Campaign to raise funds to preserve and revitalize neighborhoods in New York City and Israel, are processed and available to researchers. The processed material falls into two different groups of archival material, based on geographical location, Federation of Jewish Philanthropies coordinated and distributed funds related to Project Renewal in New York City, whereas, the Joint Campaign (with staff and support from United Jewish Appeal of Greater New York) oversaw Project Renewal in Israel.

Within the Federation files related to Project Renewal, there are the files of Joseph Langer, the director of Project Renewal/Neighborhood Preservation (approximately 1978-1984) and later Community Development department (1984-1994). Langer’s material documents Federation’s activities in the New York metropolitan area to revitalize and encourage Jewish residents to move to neighborhoods like Pelham Parkway in the Bronx or Jackson Heights in Queens. In the Joint Campaign files related to Project Renewal, there are the files of Lucille Strauss, the coordinator then director of Project Renewal for the Joint Campaign (approximately 1978-1983). Among other subjects, her files highlight the beginning of the Joint Campaign’s efforts to develop programs and services in the Tel Aviv neighborhood, Hatikvah.

It is always nice to find a tacit reminder of the value of archives to an institution as well as to researchers. Mixed in with Strauss’s files, there was a folder that contained correspondence to Colonel Seymour Pomrenze, Federation’s records manager and archives consultant, requesting that he locate archived records related to Project Renewal in Hatikvah.

Correspondence from Susan Saul to Seymour Pomrenze, August 29, 1997

Correspondence from Susan Saul to Seymour Pomrenze, August 29, 1997

A potential donor was interested to discover and, likely, compare Hatikvah area at the beginning of the Project Renewal’s efforts in the early 1980s with its current condition in 1997. Information on Project Renewal in Hatikvah like this file–including reports, needs-based analysis, fundraising coordination, and printed material–could be found and retrieved, since Colonel Pomrenze had some intellectual control over the philanthropic institution’s records.

Correspondence thanking Stephen Solender, October 15, 1997

Correspondence thanking Stephen Solender, October 15, 1997

The potential donor later thanked Stephen Solender, UJA-Federation Executive Vice President until 1999, for locating the information on Hatikvah found in the UJA-Federation records. The Project Renewal records were located, retrieved, shared with the donor, and then returned to offsite storage, where records like these and many, many others would be processed, arranged, described, preserved, and incorporated into the ongoing UJA-Federation of New York Archives Project.

Whether for the sake of development, public relations, analysis, or reporting: archives, especially those housed in a climate controlled environment in an archival repository, have limitless value both to researchers and the institution that created those records.

January 30, 2015

Jewish Education at UJA-Federation

Filed under: Uncategorized — thiscangobacktothearchives @ 10:40 am

The files of Howard Wasserman (15.5 Bankers Boxes), Director of Jewish Education at UJA-Federation from 1989 to 1995, were recently processed. Approximately half of Wasserman’s files, 8 Bankers boxes, are requests from agencies for funding from the Fund for Jewish Education (FJE) – what we are calling agency proposals. The Fund for Jewish Education was created under the auspices of UJA-Federation in 1978 through the contribution by Mr. and Mrs. Joseph S. Gruss of $1 million per year for a five-year period, matched by the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies and the United Jewish Appeal of Greater New York. Eventually Gruss gifted more than $30 million as a “life monument” to perpetuate Jewish religious education in the New York region. According to the documentation, FJE’s goals are “to help insure the stability of Jewish schools, improve the quality of educational programs, help increase the number of children receiving a Jewish education, and encourage and support outreach programs.”

The agency proposal files are arranged alphabetically under “Fund for Jewish Education” and include agency proposals, both accepted and rejected, from 1984 to 1995 as well as general proposals from 1993 to 1995 while he served as Director of FJE. Wasserman was Director of FJE while Director of Education at UJA-Fed.

Below is a transmittal form from the Five Towns School of Jewish Education for the Special Child for a program called, “Community outreach to families of pre-school to young adults” in February of 1989, an example of the types of proposals that the Fund for Jewish Education received. Unfortunately, this proposal was later rejected.

The Five Towns School of Jewish Education for the Special Child

The Five Towns School of Jewish Education for the Special Child

Below is a scan of a 1990 acceptance letter to Parents for Torah for All Children (P’Tach) for $25,000 for a program entitled, “Early Childhood Screening Program”, accompanied by a renewal request in October 1989 that discusses the purpose of early childhood screening.

P'Tach acceptance letter for 1989-1990

P’Tach acceptance letter for 1989-1990

P'Tach, early childhood screening, 1989

P’Tach, early childhood screening, 1989

Below is an example of correspondence between the Executive Director of the Shorefront Jewish Community Council and Debbie Niderberg, Coordinator of Outreach and Special Projects for the Fund for Jewish Education, addressing the need for additional funds. Note that the first letter was blind carbon copied (bcc) to Howard Wasserman and that the second letter was on stationery where Howard Wasserman was listed as Director of FJE (Wasserman was FJE’s Director of Outreach from 1991 to 1992). The third scan below is the first page of a grant application by the Shorefront JCC to FJE for $14,300 in the 1994 to 1995 fiscal year.

Correspondence between Judah Klein (ED of Shorefront JCC) and Debbie Niderberg, August 3, 1994

Correspondence between Judah Klein (ED of Shorefront JCC) and Debbie Niderberg, August 3, 1994

FJE final installment letter to Shorefront JCC

FJE final installment letter to Shorefront JCC

Shorefront JCC Grant Application

Shorefront JCC Grant Application

After leaving UJA-Federation and the Fund for Jewish Education, Wasserman was Executive Vice President (EVP) at the Edith and Carl Marks Jewish Community House of Bensonhurst from 1997 to 2010. According to John Ruskay, EVP and CEO of UJA-Federation, “Howard provided extraordinary professional leadership in transforming an agency – from one challenged in terms of finances, program quality, its physical plant, and its board – to a thriving agency.” ( In the late 1990s, Howard Wasserman served as Consultant to the Israel Experience, Inc. (Israel in Jewish Communal Leadership) in which older students can experience an educational trip to Israel. (

January 23, 2015

Hippies in the Village

Filed under: Uncategorized — Leah Edelman @ 10:05 am

While processing the files of Stephanie Newman, a Social Planning Consultant that helped secure funding for the community service initiatives of Federation agencies in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I came across an interestingly titled project proposal in the Jewish Family Service folder: “Village Project: Therapy Training Program in Dealing with ‘Hippie’ Youth” (c. 1970).

The Jewish Family Service of New York, one of the organizations that merged to form the current Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, was a counseling agency staffed by social workers and mental health professionals that served individuals and families in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Though the organization had Jewish roots, a 1968 project proposal notes that “among latter-day developments of the Jewish Family Service has been its readiness to move beyond its sectarian, Jewish base and assume responsibilities for serving the non-sectarian, interracial community.”

Indeed, this 16-page project proposal describes the hippie population of the Village as part of a nation-wide youth phenomenon, and addresses the specific needs of this population and the challenges of providing social services for them. The project aimed to “produce a corps of therapists who are specifically and especially trained for dealing with a clientele of ‘hippie’ youth whose unsolved problems constitute one of the major problems facing not only the mental health professions, but our society at large.”

Take a look at some of the other language in the proposal used to describe hippies …

“Hippies, love people, street people, flower children…”

“Hippies, love people, street people, flower children…”

“escape from the square world, its hypocrisy, discipline and commitments…”

“escape from the square world, its hypocrisy, discipline and commitments…”

And used to describe the problems hippies posed…

“shrink [as] an agent of the square world… who wishes to brainwash the hippie…”

“shrink [as] an agent of the square world… who wishes to brainwash the hippie…”

“[the hippie] rejects the discipline of time, place, and of external rational routines and rhythms to his life. He will rarely go to the therapist…or a clinic removed from his ‘natural’ ambience…”

“[the hippie] rejects the discipline of time, place, and of external rational routines and rhythms to his life. He will rarely go to the therapist…or a clinic removed from his ‘natural’ ambience…”

The proposal really paints a certain picture of what was going on in some neighborhoods of New York in the 1960s and 1970s. And while it does not indicate whether the project was actually funded, a separate 1973 proposal for mobile van service for youth in Brooklyn notes that “… in 1969 we set up a ‘rap’ room, reach-out storefront service in Greenwich Village of New York, with interdisciplinary staff and ‘indigenous’ youthful workers also employed.” So, it appears that the Village hippies did indeed receive some mental health services from the Jewish Family Service.

January 19, 2015

The Educational Alliance benefits from a former art student’s success

Filed under: interesting or noteworthy archival material — susanwoodland @ 9:45 pm

In the earliest years of Federation’s affiliation with the Educational Alliance, a boy from Belarus named Peter Blume studied art at the Alliance, probably in the 1920s.  Blume went on to a career as a painter, was active in the 1930s and 1940s, and died in 1992 in his 80s.

In a recent review in the New York Times of a show of Blume’s work in Philadelphia, at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, I couldn’t help but notice that all of the photographs of Blume’s paintings are credited to the Educational Alliance.  The review mentions that he also studied art at the Art Students League in New York, and that he began exhibiting his work at 18.  One painting in the show was purchased in the 1940s by the Museum of Modern Art.

The Alliance’s Facebook page includes a post from 2014 with a photograph of a painting and a drawing, both by Blume.

It’s not entirely clear what the relationship is today between the Educational Alliance and the ownership of Blume’s paintings, but it appears that a strong bond was formed between the young boy discovering his talent for painting in a program at the Educational Alliance which was funded in part by the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies.

January 9, 2015

Federation’s UMTA grants

Filed under: Uncategorized — Leah Edelman @ 2:24 pm

The Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964 authorized the New York State Department of Transportation to administer a capital grants program which provided assistance to non-profit organizations in purchasing vehicles for transportation of the elderly and handicapped. The Urban Mass Transportation Administration (UMTA, later renamed the Federal Transit Administration) provided 80% of the cost of the vehicle, and grant recipients were responsible for providing the remaining 20%, as well as the subsequent costs of operation, insurance, and maintenance of vehicles.

In 1976, under the direction of Social Planning Consultant Rachel Radlo Lieberman (and later, Stephanie Newman), nine Federation agencies—the Bronx-Lebanon Hospital, the Bronx House, the Bronx House Emanuel Camps, the JCC of Staten Island, the Gustave Hartman YM-YWHA, and the YM-YWHA’s of Central Queens, Riverdale, Washington Heights-Inwood, and Williamsburg—applied for and received grants to purchase a variety of vehicles.

These agencies, serving all five boroughs, used vehicles to transport frail and elderly passengers, those living far from public transportation, and those needing special assistance, to Federation agency sites, to clinics, to senior citizens clubs, and to do daily chores such as grocery shopping or going to the bank. Many of the agencies still provide transportation services today.

Applying for the UMTA grants was part of an initiative by Lieberman and others to seek additional sources of funding for Federation projects. Working more with government and non-Jewish foundations, Federation sought to persuade these funding sources that they should have an investment in Jewish needs as part of the health of New York City.

Below find information about the vehicles purchased by the nine Federation agencies, as well as rough costs of additional expenses in a memo to Lieberman from William Doll, Executive Director of the Joint Purchasing Corporation (a division of Federation that provided discounts to agencies when purchasing items such as paper, furniture, and fuel).

buses costs

(Just for comparison to 1976, take a look at what gas prices and fuel economy look like today!)

January 6, 2015

The Late Mario Cuomo

Filed under: audio-visual material, found in the archives — Heather Halliday @ 12:19 pm


As New Yorkers and other gather today to pay their last respects to former Governor Mario Cuomo at his funeral, I remembered having seen his image in some of the photograph sections of the collection I have processed. The portrait above is from a subseries of portrait photographs found in the Joint Campaign Public Relations files. This subseries ranges from the 1950s through the early 1980s and includes the faces of many well-known actors, musicians, and politicians, especially those based in New York. Fortunately, these portrait files were relatively well organized and in good condition when I encountered them, with the names of individuals featured in them listed clearly. When our project is complete, researchers will be able to easily search the finding aid for names like that of Mr. Cuomo and his contemporaries to see if this collection happens to hold an image of their research subject. In the case of Mario Cuomo, researchers need not stop at the Joint Campaign portrait subseries; he attended quite a few UJA-Federation events over the years, especially in the 1970s when he was active in local city politics, and he appears in photographs from some of these events.

December 31, 2014

2014 in review

Filed under: Uncategorized — susanwoodland @ 12:37 pm

Below is the WordPress annual report of 2014 stats for This Can Go Back to the Archives.

Please continue to enjoy reading our blog as much as we enjoy writing the posts.  The project is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2015, so many more posts to come.  Click below for complete report.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,200 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Best wishes for a happy new year from the UJA-Federation archives project team.

Susan, Marvin, Leah, Heather and Eric


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