June 27, 2014

Fire Victim

Filed under: found in the archives, interesting or noteworthy archival material — Tags: , — thiscangobacktothearchives @ 11:52 am

While processing the files of Murray Peters (Executive Director of Field Staff Operations at the Joint Campaign), I stumbled upon the letter pictured below. The letter, dated January 27, 1978, was in a folder that was part of Peters’ Joint Campaign (UJFC) 1978-1982 Subject Files.   Indeed as I read the note card attached to the letter, titled “Fire Victim”, I learned that the letter and the envelope attached to it, had been caught in a fire. Fortunately the fire had not occurred at the UJA-Federation Joint Campaign Headquarters. The letter was discovered in a Leadership folder of Irving Schneider who corresponded with Murray Peters. The letter itself is in fairly good condition aside from the blackened, frayed and fragile edge and since not much can be done with materials such as this, it was placed in a plastic sleeve.


It appears that the original, charred letter was kept as a copy of the clean, retyped version that was sent to the recipient. On first glance it appeared to be a marketing tactic, but on closer reading it appears that routine outgoing mail had been affected.

Additionally, in the same series of files but in a different folder I found the keys to the Palm Beach office (pictured below). One can only hope that the locks have been changed in the years since 1978.


June 20, 2014

Board minutes available online!

Filed under: audio-visual material, interesting or noteworthy archival material — thiscangobacktothearchives @ 12:05 pm

Earlier this year, we employed Hudson Microimaging to create digitized copies of Board minutes from the microfilm that UJA-Federation created in the mid-1990s. The digitized minutes are now available online through the Center’s Digital Collections and hyperlinks to the digital objects will be created in the finding aid for the collection for these Board minutes (in addition to hyperlinks for all of the other wonderful archival material that we have digitized for the project). The range of the minutes include:

  • Board of Trustees Minutes, 1916-1986
  • Board of Directors Minutes, 1986-1992
  • Executive Committee Minutes 1973-1986

This coverage will provide researchers a nearly complete picture of the Board of the Federation, from its organization to its merger with United Jewish Appeal of Greater New York, 8 years of minutes on the activities of the merged Board, and 14 years of information on the Executive Committee, from the beginning of the Joint Campaign to the merger. All that was microfilmed by UJA-Federation and, then, deeded to the American Jewish Historical Society has been digitized. Because very few files from Officers and Board members were retained or deposited into storage, the Board minutes provide an important resource on Board activities, resolutions and discussion on various issues. If a researcher is aware of the date of an event or issue, the minutes can offer a way to find a starting point for locating information about that event or issue. Since the files were scanned using optical character recognition software and stored as portable document format (PDF) files, each set of minutes is keyword searchable. For assistance with a global keyword search through the entire set of Board minutes (1916-1986), please contact us at

The Board minutes have also been collected online and are available here. A nice substitute until the finding aid for the collection is available online!

June 12, 2014

Retouching Update

Earlier this month I discussed the evidence of some rather heavy-handed old-fashioned photograph retouching work I have been encountering in the course of processing the UJA, UFJC, and FJP photographs subseries. Almost immediately after publishing this post, I found the most subtle example of retouching I have seen so far. It was particularly noticeable because there are two similar prints: one retouched, the other not. The unretouched photo appears immediately below and a very similar shot with slight retouching in the woman’s hair, blouse and hand can be seen below the first, if you study it for a moment.

FJP Miscellaneous

Here is a little closer view. The photographer or designer must have used a very fine paint brush.

Retouch Detail

So, some of the retouching work in this collection was quite subtle, at least occasionally. There is definitely less of this subtle variety overall, however.

Also since my previous post, I learned from a designer friend who is experienced with both digital and analog techniques that the opaque background paint that features prominently in a few of the photographs included in that post is Pro White Retouching Ink and it is apparently still available for sale. She likened the 20th Century use of Pro White to the contemporary use of the “silo” (short for “silhouette”) or “clipping path” Photoshop tools.

June 9, 2014

UJA Builds Their Own Office Building

Filed under: found in the archives — susanwoodland @ 10:59 am

In 1948 UJA began planning an office building to house their growing staff, and to escape the increasing rents of midtown Manhattan.  The threat of their rent going up to $4.50 a square foot was the impetus for board members to put together a plan to finance a new building at 220 W. 58th Street.

The architect was Hyman Isaac Feldman, a Jewish immigrant from Austria (an area now in Poland) who had a prolific career building primarily apartment buildings throughout many different neighborhoods in New York City.

Columbia University has an architectural database of real estate brochures for residential buildings in New York, which includes real estate brochures of 118  designs by Feldman or others in his firm.  His obituary in the New York Times mentions that Feldman was also responsible for the Federation building at 130 E. 59th Street, although it is unclear whether he worked on the original building or one of the renovations to combine buildings into the one we know today.  He won an award for best apartment house design in 1932 by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.


Architect's rendering of new UJA building at 220 W. 58th Street, NYC

Architect’s rendering of new UJA building at 220 W. 58th Street, NYC

Above is the architect’s rendering of the UJA building, complete with UJA on the front and late model sedans parked out front.  According to the UJA files on the building, from the office of Melville L. Rappaport, Assistant Secretary of UJA, the design included a map of Israel embedded in the terrazzo floor of the lobby, a nice touch for an organization that supported projects in Israel in the year following statehood.

The building until recently housed a New York City public school, but appears to have recently been demolished.  The link will take you to Google street view, which shows a variety of images of the building: in 2007 behind scaffolding to a 2014 image showing, sadly, an empty site.




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