February 13, 2013

Solomon Lowensteins’s Correspondence Files, 1936-1940

Filed under: early history — susanwoodland @ 2:28 am

Solomon Lowenstein was Executive Director of the Federation for the Support of Jewish Philanthropic Societies of New York City from 1920 to 1935, when his title changed to Executive Vice-President.  He remained in this position until his death in 1942.

Over a year ago we processed what we thought were the only surviving files from Solomon Lowenstein’s office; they contained about a box and a half of his agency files, through the 1930s and 1930s.  They had been boxed up and sent to storage originally with Maurice Hexter’s files, with Dr. Hexter retaining the files for his own correspondence for about another 5 years.

We have just located another box of Lowenstein’s correspondence packed with miscellaneous early Budget Department files; there was no identification at the box level as to the existence in this box of Lowenstein files, so it was a very happy surprise.  The box contains General Correspondence files from 1936-1940.

The topics range from New York State Unemployment insurance guidelines to correspondence with staff from the Julius Rosenwald Fund, to communications with Samuel Levy, Manhattan Borough President.

Lowenstein’s correspondence with Samuel Levy focused on details of Works Progress Administration (WPA) funds that were channeled through the New York City Department of Buildings to about 30 Federation agencies with facilities in Manhattan, for long-overdue building maintenance.  As stated in the letter from Mr. Levy, the funds were to be used “for making repairs in charitable institutions in the Borough of Manhattan so as to make these institutions proper places for the care of the wards of the city”.

Borough President Levy writes to Solomon Lowenstein

Borough President Samuel Levy writes to Solomon Lowenstein

Among the Federation agencies whose buildings benefited from this WPA project were longtime Federation agencies Beth Israel Hospital, the Hebrew Orphan Asylum of NYC (near City College on 138th Street), and the Central Jewish Institute at 125 E. 85th Street.

Another correspondent was Mark M. Jones, the Economic Consultant to the The Hospital Survey for New York, which was sponsored by the United Hospital Fund; the carbon copy of the letter below is of interest mainly because, in response to a request from Mr. Jones for information about Federation, Dr. Lowenstein includes details of Federation’s mission, as well as how Federation’s budgeting decisions were made:

Solomon Lowenstein explains Federation's mission

Solomon Lowenstein explains Federation’s mission, page 1

Page 2

Page 2

This small group of files serves as a wonderful snapshot into the work of the Executive Vice-President of Federation during these 5 years just prior to WWII.

For more information about Dr. Lowenstein’s career just prior to joining Federation, please refer to the American Jewish Historical Society’s collection of Hebrew Orphan Asylum records, I-42; Dr. Lowenstein was Superintendent of the Hebrew Orphan Asylum from 1905 to 1920.


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