April 30, 2012

Off-site storage and empty shelves

Filed under: the process of archival processing — thiscangobacktothearchives @ 11:56 am

Last week, we were able to organize, barcode, and label many of the boxes that we have processed since the beginning of the project. And last Thursday, we assisted Clancy-Cullen with moving 151 boxes down to the storage dock of the Center for Jewish History, so that the boxes could be loaded onto a Patterson, New York bound truck (thanks to Susan for preventing an almost error of mentioning Paterson, New Jersey) for transport to climate controlled off-site storage.

I had a little bit of experience barcoding archival material, as I worked on the barcoding of the American Jewish Congress Collection, and was able to develop (along with my UJA-Federation of New York project colleagues) what I hope will be an efficient workflow for barcoding and labeling archival boxes in the future.

We were able to free up space for another 189 boxes–which, humorously, as a multiple of the 7 spaces available in each column, does not round up to space for 190 boxes–with a little wiggle room for staging and/or space between new and processed boxes of the collection. We are currently selecting (hopefully) no more than another 185-189 boxes to accompany a recent delivery of roughly 90 boxes.

The shelves are bare now, but will be full again by this time next week.

April 17, 2012

Carbon Copies I

Filed under: the process of archival processing — susanwoodland @ 6:45 pm

We use the term “cc” all the time.  Some of us remember using actual carbon paper to make copies of a typed document.  There are many carbon copies in the Federation files from the decades before office photocopiers became common, probably in Federation’s case in the 1970s.  The carbon copies are problematic for many reasons.  2 reasons stand out for me:

1. The paper used for the copy was a cheaper quality than the letterhead used for the original letter or report, and often turns brown and becomes brittle.  More on this in a later post.

2. Multiple carbon copies could be made using as many pieces of carbon paper as you could and still get a legible copy.  Many documents in these files are multiple sets of the same document, filed so that if another copy was needed, the document would not have to be retyped – which, often, it was.  There were rooms full of typists at many organizations and companies in the 1920s to 1950s, creating all the necessary sets of the same document as were needed – usually correspondence, as longer documents could be professionally printed.

A problem with carbons of course was that the greater the number of copies made at one time, the weaker the later copies would be – farther from the strike of the typewriter key and the inked ribbon.  The 2 versions of the document below subtly illustrate the difference.  If just a later carbon copy survives, it can be difficult or impossible to read or reproduce the document.

The 6th carbon copy of the same budget document

The original copy of a "recapitulation" of the 1941-42 budget of the Brooklyn Hebrew Orphan Asylum

April 16, 2012

A.S.W. Rosenbach correspondence

Filed under: found in the archives, interesting or noteworthy archival material — thiscangobacktothearchives @ 11:30 am

Whether in a long novel or when processing an archival collection, it can be really interesting when disparate threads come together.

Letter from Joseph Willen to A.S.W. Rosenbach

Willen to Rosenbach, carbon copy of correspondence, 1946.

While recently processing Joseph Willen material from 1946, I encountered correspondence between Mr. Willen, David Dubinsky, and A.S.W. Rosenbach. The correspondence itself dealt with the disposition of a collection of early Soviet and Russian printed material, compiled by the author and journalist Elias Tobenkin. Willen was seeking advice on the Tobenkin collection from Rosenbach, who was a rare book collector and seller, as a well as being a scholar, librarian, and President of the American Jewish Historical Society and of the American Friends of the Hebrew University.

Letter from Joseph Willen to David Dubensky

Willen to Dubensky, carbon copy of correspondence, 1946.

Ultimately, a portion (or perhaps all) of the Tobenkin collection came to reside at Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas (as near as I can tell without a more detailed inventory of the Tobenkin material), rather than at the Congressional Library. What caught my eye about the correspondence is the range of Willen’s contacts, which extended to a prominent collector/scholar/librarian (Rosenbach) and an American labor leader (Dubinsky), while Willen was Executive Vice President of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York. Specifically, it is interesting to encounter correspondence between the person whose material you are processing (in this case, Joseph Willen) and a former President of the institution that you are employed by (in this case, the American Jewish Historical Society).

A.S.W. Rosenbach, in addition to his role as President of the American Jewish Historical Society, generously donated a portion of his substantial book collection to the Historical Society. The disparate (or interestingly coincidental) thread brought together by this correspondence is that the Rosenbach Book Collection is shelved in the AJHS stacks not too far from where Willen’s papers are currently being archivally processed.

April 2, 2012

processing the boxes of Federation executive Joseph Willen

Filed under: early history, the process of archival processing — thiscangobacktothearchives @ 10:12 am

In our first shipment of archival material from offsite storage (see earlier blog entries for photographs), we processed eight boxes of material from Joseph Willen’s tenure as Executive Vice President and Executive Consultant at the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York.

So far, the material processed has been mostly material from 1938-1945 (including material from before his time as Vice President) and 1967-1975 (material from his work as an FJP consultant). This last Thursday, along with many other boxes, we have received another 32 boxes of archival material related to Joseph Willen from offsite storage. With the new shipment, we hope to expand our collection to include the rest of his tenure as Executive Vice President, roughly from 1945-1967.

To account for some of our great anticipation associated with receiving and processing additional Willen material, here is a portion of a draft of our historical/biographical note for Willen (which will be further augmented after the new shipment of material has been processed):

Alongside Dr. Maurice Hexter, Joseph Willen was appointed executive vice-president of the organization in 1942. During his time as Executive Vice President, Willen actively participated in the merger with the Brooklyn Federation of Jewish Charities (1943), the successful Building Fund for Expansion, Modernization, and Research (1945-1947), the significant expansion of services and assistance to veterans, families, and the elderly, and aided in the City of Life Campaign and Building Fund (1962-1967).

Even before his tenure as Executive Vice President, Joseph Willen was relied upon as an exceptional and innovative fund-raiser. In the article by Jack Wertheimer, “Current Trends in American Jewish Philanthropy,” the author cited Carl Bakal (author of Charity U.S.A.) as suggesting that Joseph Willen invented the practice of publicly calling on a donor to announce how much the donor will be giving, often known as “card-calling,” at fund-raising dinners. Willen enlisted the aid of Felix Warburg to begin the practice of “card-calling” in the 1930s at Federation dinners or events. In the Wertheimer article, Willen offers “that for a person to show off his wealth by conspicuous spending …was considered good form, whereas conspicuous giving was considered bad form…Why couldn’t more modest givers also give conspicuously, simply by announcing their gifts?” (Page 11).  Willen distinguished himself with fund-raising practices like “card-calling” or the successful 1944 Campaign without a Fixed Quota, where “[o]ur quota will be the conscience, the foresight, and the courage of the Jewish community…its readiness to prepare for the returning soldier and the needs of the post-war world…its will to build a finer community” (Golden Heritage, 72). Throughout his career, Willen brought a level of professionalism to the business of fund-raising for a philanthropic organization. Together, Willen and Hexter “organized fund-raising campaigns that brought in more than $1 billion” dollars (New York Times, July 10, 1985).

In 1967, Joseph Willen retired from his position as Executive Vice President to become an Executive Consultant and remained a consultant until the 1980s. He passed away on July 6, 1988 at Mount Sinai Medical Center, an institution that Joseph Willen helped raise funds for and expand the mission of as Executive Vice President of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York.

In the coming weeks, we look forward to completing the processing of the Willen boxes and adding to the draft of the note you (hopefully) just read above.

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