February 27, 2013

The chronological files of Sanford and Stephen Solender

Filed under: Uncategorized — thiscangobacktothearchives @ 10:14 am

During the last quarter of 2012, Susan completed the subject and chronological files of Executive Vice President (EVP) Sanford Solender.  Mr. Sanford Solender was EVP of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York from 1970-1981. This quarter, Eric has completed processing the chronological file of Stephen D. Solender.  Mr. Stephen Solender was the EVP of the UJA-Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York from 1986-1999. From 1986-1989, he shared the position of EVP with Ernest W. Michel, during the Federation’s merger with United Jewish Appeal of New York and the subsequent transition, and continued as Executive Vice President for another ten years.

The Solender family has a long history of work in Jewish social services. The Solender Family Papers (P-554), a separate, small collection that already exists at the American Jewish Historical Society, document in part the service of Samuel Solomon Solender (grandfather), Sanford Solender (father), and Stephen Solender (son) at various Jewish philanthropic or social service institutions in Ohio, Maryland, and New York. Now, with Eric’s completion of a portion of Stephen Solender’s files as EVP, we are taking the opportunity to discuss some of our observations regarding the chronological (and subject) files of both Solenders during their respective tenures as Executive Vice Presidents.

Susan:  One challenge of the Sanford Solender (SS) files was the fact that SS integrated his short-lived predecessor David Salten’s files into his own.  Because Salten was EVP for just 2 years (which was a very brief stint in the history of Federation EVPs – Salten’s predecessors Maurice Hexter and Joseph Willen jointly held the position for 25 years) his surviving subject files consist of just a few pages in scattered folders in which the bulk of the contents consisted of SS files.  If we were processing at a slower rate we might have separated Salten’s files from Solender’s to create his own small subseries as EVP.  But the goal of this project is to create access to the entire collection within 4 years which we can accomplish only if we process minimally, and prioritize access over arrangement and description.  Researchers interested in Salten’s files will be able to find them based on the folder dates – a beginning date of 1967-1969 will in most cases bring Salten’s files to light.  At the other end of SS’s tenure was William Kahn, who completes the Salten-Solender-Kahn sandwich that makes up the Sanford Solender subseries.  Many of SS’s files end with a few additions of Kahn’s, traceable by the ending date range.  The bulk of Kahn’s files exist within his own subseries, as he generated a substantial number of files in his 6 years as EVP (1981-1987).  For a delightful description of Sanford Solender as a Federation leader, please listen to the oral history of Reynold Levy or read the transcript beginning on page 40.

Chronological Files, Box 7

Executive Vice President, Stephen Solender, Chronological Files, Box 7


The volume of the chronological files is what initially struck me about the files and continued to amaze me as I processed the material. The archivally-processed files fill approximately 32 Banker’s boxes (linear feet of shelf space) and, with several gaps in the dates, range from 1986-1998. From roughly 1986-1990, the chronological files are arranged by month, with some months requiring multiple folders; these four years fill about five boxes. However, in 1991, where the amazingly huge volume of the files seems to start, the chronological files begin to fill folders on a daily basis. With the folders dated from 1991-1998, the archival material is arranged by month and day. Mr. Solender was receiving and sending enough correspondence daily that each day (or most days) of a month has its own folder!

To compare with the files of his father, Sanford Solender’s chronological files fill up about 3.5 Banker’s boxes, not including his time as a consultant. His chronological files range from May 1974 through September 1980 and most folders cover an entire month. The difference between the two sets of chronological files does not seem to be a difference of kind, but a difference in volume. The subject matter within the Stephen Solender chronological files does not seem to differ significantly from that of other Executive Vice Presidents. There are the same kinds of correspondence we might expect—thanks, condolences, acknowledgements, solicitations, coordination with affiliated and non-affiliated institutions, appeals, recognition of donors, and praise of various employees. Although, the subject matter remained the same, the volume of correspondence sent and received by an Executive Vice President seems to have exponentially increased between the tenure of Sanford Solender and Stephen Solender.

Predictively speaking, it may be a fair assessment to assume that, ceteris paribus, Executive Vice Presidents that sequentially follow Mr. Stephen Solender will have even larger sets of chronological files that account for their daily activities as chief executive of UJA-Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York, either in paper or electronic form.


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