thiscangobacktothearchives

February 25, 2015

“Uncle Henry” and the Irene Kaufmann Settlement

In processsing any collection as massive as that of the UJA-Federation of New York, an archivist is bound to encounter files that fall slightly beyond the expected scope of the project once in a while. Case in point: a folder found in the Federation Photographs sub-series titled “Irene Kaufmann Settlement.” Here is one our favorite images from this folder:

Irene Kaufmann Settlement

Milk give away event at Irene Kaufamann Settlement in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, August 1927

This file contains 16 other photographs, as well as historical background on the Irene Kaufmann Settlement (IKS), and biographical information on Henry Kaufmann.

When I first encountered the folder, I presumed IKS was one of over a hundred organizations in the New York City area that Federation had funded during the 20th Century. I had seen appearances of the Kaufmann surname in various other parts of the collection and I knew that FJP of New York funded the Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds, a group of day camps with locations in Rockland County, Suffolk County, and Staten Island, which are still in operation today.

hkc 061453 100

Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds dedication invitation, 1953

After that first cursory glance, however, I realized that IKS was actually not located in New York City – or even anywhere nearby – but rather in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania! Henry Kaufmann, known affectionately to many as “Uncle Henry,” became wealthy through his family’s successful downtown Pittsburgh department store, Kaufmann’s. Henry put up the initial capital to build the Irene Kaufmann Settlement in 1909, naming it after a daughter of his who had met an untimely death. He continued to contribute funding to IKS over the years, as did the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of Pittsburgh. A short history of IKS can be seen here on the Rauh Jewish Archives of the Heinz History Center’s website. This is the same person after whom the Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds in the New York City area are named. Kaufmann retired relatively early from the retail business in 1913 and devoted the remaining four decades of his life to philanthropic giving in Pittsburgh and New York, so it is easy to see how a file on a Pittsburgh community center found its way into the UJA-Federation of New York archives.

Program for a Henry Kaufmann birthday celebration at Irene Kaufmann Settlement

Program for a Henry Kaufmann birthday celebration at Irene Kaufmann Settlement

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February 22, 2015

When did we learn to trust e-mail?

Filed under: found in the archives, interesting or noteworthy archival material — susanwoodland @ 10:52 pm

Sherri Greenbach was an executive in the Development Division at UJA-Federation in 1994 and 1995.  She may have worked at UJA-Federation longer than these 2 years but just one box of her files has become part of the the archives project.  These files document Sherri’s work planning fundraising events for the Women’s Division campaign.  It appears that Sherri was primarily involved in fundraising with the Lawyer’s Division, but none of those files have surfaced to date.

In her work on the Women’s Division campaign during this time, Sherri corresponded regularly with Jodi Schwartz, a lay leader involved with a particular event in March of 1995.  In addition to details of these fundraising events in Sherri’s files, it is also possible to identify the moment a new technology was taking hold in the UJA-Federation offices.

This document is a fax cover sheet from March 7th ….

Sherri's cover sheet for her March 7th faxed e-mail

Sherri’s cover sheet for her March 7th faxed e-mail

 

Sherri wrote in her note on the cover sheet, “I am not yet overly confident in my ‘cyberspace’ skills.  Hopefully it worked but in case it didn’t, here is a copy.”

And here’s the e-mail she printed out and faxed, which (probably later) was edited by hand:

E-mail that was faxed

E-mail that was faxed

Just one week later, Sherri seemed much more comfortable with e-mail, as seen in her March 13th “I love this e-mail stuff” e-mail:

"I love this e-mail stuff!"

“I love this e-mail stuff!”

 

The adoption of e-mail in place of faxing brings to mind Heather’s December post on Federation’s early work on their own website, in 1998.

Technology began to change rapidly in the late 1990s as more of our documentation was created in electronic form only.  Questions of what have we may have lost come to mind.  In moving to e-mail and electronic communication, does it matter that we will no longer see someone’s handwriting on a fax?  Or doodles on pages of notes or meeting agendas?  Have we lost anything of value, as long as we are able to preserve and maintain and continue to access the content itself?  Are we sure, yet, that we will be able to preserve, maintain and continue to access the electronic files we depend on? Digital archivists are hard at work figuring out best practices to make sure that people interested in researching post-2000 files will in fact be able to do so.

February 10, 2015

The Value of Valuing Archives

Filed under: the process of archival processing — susanwoodland @ 12:36 pm

Our previous post ended with a general comment on the value of archives:

Whether for the sake of development, public relations, analysis, or reporting: archives, especially those housed in a climate controlled environment in an archival repository, have limitless value both to researchers and the institution that created those records.

This statement is more meaningful than ever in light of the disastrous fire at a warehouse holding some of the remaining UJA-Federation of New York files for this project.  Starting early in the morning of Saturday January 31st, by the afternoon it had become a seven-alarm fire with 300 firemen rotating in and out of active firefighting in below freezing conditions.  A week later the fire was still smoldering.

As of today, we still don’t know which material survived the fire.  Fortunately, the larger of the two warehouses (and all the files in it) UJA used is unharmed.

We are extremely fortunate that more than 90% of the collection has already been removed from storage, most of which is already processed and available for research. Because UJA-Federation of New York understands the importance of their institutional history, especially as they begin planning their centennial in 2017, their earliest surviving history is safe and secure in a climate-controlled warehouse and is accessible not only to UJA-Federation but to all qualified researchers.

Fewer than 10% of the boxes from this project (305 of over 3200) remained in storage; most of the files are from the 1990s, after the merger.  Our expectations are that the files that have survived will offer at least a snapshot of each of the departments whose files were part of the project.

February 6, 2015

A return in 1997 to the beginning of Project Renewal

Filed under: found in the archives, interesting or noteworthy archival material — thiscangobacktothearchives @ 1:14 pm

The files related to Project Renewal, a program of the UJA-Federation Joint Campaign to raise funds to preserve and revitalize neighborhoods in New York City and Israel, are processed and available to researchers. The processed material falls into two different groups of archival material, based on geographical location, Federation of Jewish Philanthropies coordinated and distributed funds related to Project Renewal in New York City, whereas, the Joint Campaign (with staff and support from United Jewish Appeal of Greater New York) oversaw Project Renewal in Israel.

Within the Federation files related to Project Renewal, there are the files of Joseph Langer, the director of Project Renewal/Neighborhood Preservation (approximately 1978-1984) and later Community Development department (1984-1994). Langer’s material documents Federation’s activities in the New York metropolitan area to revitalize and encourage Jewish residents to move to neighborhoods like Pelham Parkway in the Bronx or Jackson Heights in Queens. In the Joint Campaign files related to Project Renewal, there are the files of Lucille Strauss, the coordinator then director of Project Renewal for the Joint Campaign (approximately 1978-1983). Among other subjects, her files highlight the beginning of the Joint Campaign’s efforts to develop programs and services in the Tel Aviv neighborhood, Hatikvah.

It is always nice to find a tacit reminder of the value of archives to an institution as well as to researchers. Mixed in with Strauss’s files, there was a folder that contained correspondence to Colonel Seymour Pomrenze, Federation’s records manager and archives consultant, requesting that he locate archived records related to Project Renewal in Hatikvah.

Correspondence from Susan Saul to Seymour Pomrenze, August 29, 1997

Correspondence from Susan Saul to Seymour Pomrenze, August 29, 1997

A potential donor was interested to discover and, likely, compare Hatikvah area at the beginning of the Project Renewal’s efforts in the early 1980s with its current condition in 1997. Information on Project Renewal in Hatikvah like this file–including reports, needs-based analysis, fundraising coordination, and printed material–could be found and retrieved, since Colonel Pomrenze had some intellectual control over the philanthropic institution’s records.

Correspondence thanking Stephen Solender, October 15, 1997

Correspondence thanking Stephen Solender, October 15, 1997

The potential donor later thanked Stephen Solender, UJA-Federation Executive Vice President until 1999, for locating the information on Hatikvah found in the UJA-Federation records. The Project Renewal records were located, retrieved, shared with the donor, and then returned to offsite storage, where records like these and many, many others would be processed, arranged, described, preserved, and incorporated into the ongoing UJA-Federation of New York Archives Project.

Whether for the sake of development, public relations, analysis, or reporting: archives, especially those housed in a climate controlled environment in an archival repository, have limitless value both to researchers and the institution that created those records.

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