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.

1 Comment »

  1. i imagine the old men’s old papers whispering greetings as they sit across the room from each other.


    Comment by dfalkmd — May 4, 2012 @ 4:02 pm

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