While at work processing the Ernest W. Michel papers series, I happened upon this black permanent marker inside one of the cartons. Based on some UJA-Fed administrative records, I knew this series of boxes had all been packed up and sent to storage in the late 1980s or early 1990s. Based on box lists found in these cartons, I also knew that archivist / records manager Colonel Seymour J. Pomrenze and his team had been the people responsible for sending this material to storage for UJA-Fed.
“The Colonel” as he was affectionately known, is famous in Jewish Archival circles for his prolific archives and records management consulting work at various Jewish non-profit organizations in the United States from the 1970s through the early 2000s. AJHS actually holds the personal papers of Seymour Pomrenze in its archives. The finding aid for the Pomrenze papers is very informative about the Colonel’s interesting life. As a young man in 1939, Pomrenze happened to take a job at the National Archives in Washington D.C. A few years later, after joining the army to fight in WWII, Pomrenze remained in the army and was sent with a team to Europe to recover library, archival and art materials looted by the Nazis. The Monuments Men, written in 2009 by Robert Edsel, tells the story of this team. There is currently a major motion picture on the Monuments Men in the works, as well, in which George Clooney is both director and star in the role of Pomrenze’s colleague, George Stout. The Monuments Men Foundation website has much more information on this. The Colonel served in the army until the 1970s, when he began consulting for UJA-Fed, the American Jewish Committee, FEGS (Federation Employment and Guidance Service) and other Jewish agencies. The consulting phase of his career lasted until the early 2000s, when the Colonel was in his late 80s. He died in 2011 and AJHS recognized him posthumously with a Legacy Award earlier this year.
The marker, which is about twenty years old, wrote just as if it were brand new the recent day I discovered it. Its ink color and line quality seem to mirror closely the writing in the Colonel’s hand on the outside of the carton it was found in, leading me to conclude this marker had once belonged to Colonel Seymour Pomrenze.