thiscangobacktothearchives

August 28, 2015

Audiovisual Material

We are happy to report that our entire audiovisual (AV) collection is processed! We have nine boxes of AV materials, including audio reels, cassettes, records, 16mm films, floppy disks, VHS tapes, CDs, wire recordings, and microfilm.

Here’s a breakdown of how we process AV material:

  1. We find AV items mixed in with the regular collection, or acquire larger items (such as the 16mm film reels) in their own containers that are usually not preservation-friendly.
  2. We remove the AV item and place one copy of a transfer form in its original location, and keep the other copy with the item. This way, we can note the intellectual location of the item, even though it will not physically be housed in its correct subgroup and series.
  3. We try to deduce the content of the AV item, and make some decisions regarding the importance of keeping and also digitizing the item. Some items are labeled (though labels aren’t always correct) and some are not. Based on labeling and original location in the collection, if an item seems important — such as Board minutes — we listen to it or view it and, if necessary, create a digital version. Some items may not have content on them at all (blank cassettes, for example), or may have degraded so much that they are unable to be viewed or listened to. These items are weeded from the collection.
  4. In order to be efficient and cost effective when digitizing, we group materials by format and determine the best vendor for the process. We are lucky enough to have much equipment to play and digitize various media here at the Center for Jewish History, including cassette players, record players, disk drives, etc, though we did (and many other repositories do) send out certain formats for digitization. For our films and audio reels, we used MediaPreserve. Once a digital file has been created, we ingest the file into our digital asset management system and gather metadata about the digital version. This digital file has now become its own item in our collection, and is publicly available through the Center for Jewish History’s Digital Collections.
  5. When the digitization process is complete, we carefully rehouse the AV item with its transfer form, usually with materials of the same format, in preservation friendly containers. Some materials (like cassettes and diskettes) can be stored together, while other materials (like 16mm film) are prone to decay and should be housed individually. We also try to keep digitized items in separate boxes for easier retrieval.
  6. We then create a separate AV folder list to keep track of the AV boxes and their contents and location, and connect all digital versions to their physical counterparts through links in our regular folder lists. In addition to our digitized films, below are some links to other digitized AV items of interest in the collection, and in case you forgot what some of these old AV formats look like, at the very bottom are photographs!

FJP Executive Committee Special Meeting on Merger, 1985

UJA Stars for Israel fundraising event at Madison Square Garden (featuring Robert Kennedy and Jacob Javits), 1967

UJA Campaign Radio Spots, 1974

UJA Council of Organizations Yiddish Radio Programs, 1976

UJF Taskforce on the Jewish Woman: Conference on Women and Leadership, 1987

UJF Taskforce on Mixed Marriage, Speaker Egon Mayer, 1986

Audio reel

Audio reel

16mm film

16mm film

Wire recording

Wire recording

Video Umatic

Video Umatic

August 12, 2015

Federation films digitized and available online

Filed under: audio-visual material, found in the archives, interesting or noteworthy archival material — thiscangobacktothearchives @ 3:29 pm

After our success with MediaPreserve digitizing a number of sound recordings earlier in the year, we returned back to the vendor to digitize five short films. These films have been reviewed, described, ingested into a digital repository, and are now available through the Center’s Digital Collections.

Five films were selected for digitization:

Dial-a-thon

Screen capture, Dial-a-thon

Screen capture, Dial-a-thon, 1973

Williamsburg Y and Long Island Jewish Hospital

Screen capture, Williamsburg Y and Long Island Jewish Hospital, undated

Screen capture, Williamsburg Y and Long Island Jewish Hospital, undated

UJA-Federation News Release

Screen capture, UJA-Federation News Release, 1974

Screen capture, UJA-Federation News Release, 1974

A Journey into Life

Screen capture, Journey into Life, 1960

Screen capture, Journey into Life, 1960

At Any Given Moment

Screen capture, At Any Given Moment, 1972

Screen capture, At Any Given Moment, 1972

Two of the films, “A Journey into Life” and “At Any Given Moment,” have celebrity narrators, Sid Caesar and Alan King, respectively, to guide and appeal to viewers as part of the Federation’s educational, fundraising, and outreach efforts within the metropolitan New York area.

However, perhaps the greatest find is, among these newly digitized and available resources, the Dial-a-thon footage that captures the exuberance and excitement of a themed fundraising event with hand drawn tigers, ringing telephones, and circus music.

Screen capture, Dial-a-thon, 1973

Screen capture, Dial-a-thon, 1973

We have been able to positively identify Federation President Lawrence B. Buttenweiser, Martha K. Selig, comptroller and soon-to-be Mayor Abraham Beame, and Bess Myerson in Dial-a-thon. If you are able to identify any persons in the five films, please contact us and we can add this valuable information to the description of the footage.

June 19, 2015

Lots of UJA-Fed Photos Now Viewable Online

Good News! We now have nearly 500 images from the UJA-Federation collection selected, digitized, cataloged, and available online! Believe it or not, this represents just a small selection of all the photographs in the collection. It contains 71 bankers boxes of photographs from each of the four subgroups of the collection (Federation, UJA, Joint Campaign, and UJF). Each box holds an average of 850 prints, so, we estimate the grand total of photographs to be around 60,000.

The dates of the photos range from as early as the 1910s up to as recently as the 2000s, with the bulk of the material landing in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Both UJA and Federation sought to document and promote their accomplishments, events, and prominent personalities through these images. As these institutions merged, the Joint Campaign and UJA-Fed continued the practice of documenting their activities and their people, so researchers will have an unusually rich visual record of the whole organization to draw upon.

While the majority are black and white 8 x 10″ prints, many other sizes and formats, such as 35mm color slides, various types of color polaroid prints, and negatives of all sizes, are included as well. Below are a precious few for you to sample, but be sure to check out all the digitized photos in our digital gallery when you a chance.

aa-i433-ph-fjp-003

Campers at Hebrew Orphan Asylum Camp

Sophie Tucker, 1965

Sophie Tucker, 1965

“My Dad Upped His Pledge,” 1977

Rosenwald and Tisch at Special Gifts Dinner, 1974

Rosenwald and Tisch at Special Gifts Dinner, 1974

Silbert donating to Israel Emergency Fund, approximately 1970s

Silbert donating to Israel Emergency Fund, approximately 1970s

June 12, 2015

Elaine K. Winik, First Woman President of UJA Greater New York

I’m Boni Joi Koelliker, the Photograph and Reference Archivist at the American Jewish Historical Society, and this week I am excited to be the guest blogger. I was available to work with Elaine Winik when her donation was ready for transfer. The following is my account of my meeting with Elaine and the opportunity I had to go through the albums and documents with Elaine herself.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting with Elaine K. Winik, the first woman President of the UJA of Greater New York (1982-1984), to survey the materials she donated to the UJA-Federation NY collection. Mrs. Winik documented her time serving as UJA President by creating over a dozen albums that are part photographs, part ephemera and include correspondence, itineraries, notes, mementos, and UJA fundraising materials.

One advantage of an onsite visit with a donor is discovering additional materials relevant to the collection and being able to hear first hand about the context of the materials. This was the case with Elaine; while sorting through her papers we found a plastic bag full of audiocassettes containing speeches and interviews she gave during her tenure. Elaine Winik is known for her speeches so this was an auspicious find. She also donated correspondence, writings describing her experiences working with UJA, and notes she took on her trips to Israel and Russia. I was delighted to hear the stories of Elaine’s time working with UJA in person.

Below are photographs of the items before sorting and after waiting to be packed and shipped to AJHS.
couchwideshot                            readytopack

Raised in New York Elaine Winik retired to Palm Beach, FL a couple of decades ago but at ninety-two years old she continues to campaign for the causes for which she advocates. She is an honorary officer of the UJA-Federation of New York, an honorary board member of the Joint Distribution Committee, and describes herself as a fierce Democrat. To learn more about Elaine K. Winik, listen to her oral history in the UJA-Federation of New York Oral History Collection.

plaque

We received this wonderful plaque, above, of Elaine Winik (aka Mrs. Elaine Siris with Moshe Dayan) serving as the Co-Chairman of the Jewish Agency Assembly Plenary Session in Jerusalem February 7, 1973. 

May 26, 2015

Straw Hats – a summer story

Filed under: found in the archives, interesting or noteworthy archival material — susanwoodland @ 4:30 pm

After a sunny and warm Memorial Day, our thoughts are turning to summer hats.

In 1940, one or more of Federation’s affiliated homes for the aged purchased 75 straw hats, presumably for their male residents, through Federation’s Joint Purchasing Agency.  The letter below was sent to a Mr. Bernstein, probably in the Joint Purchasing department, encouraging swift payment to the hat company.  Hopefully the check was in the mail and crossed with this letter.

1940 Lowenstein correspondence

1940 Lowenstein correspondence

The letter survived because it ended up in the files of the Executive Vice-President (EVP) Solomon Lowenstein.  Lowenstein’s surviving files are fragmentary, taking up fewer than 4 boxes – just a small portion of his correspondence and subject files considering he was EVP at Federation from 1920 until his death in 1942. (His title was Executive Director from 1920-1935, but under both titles he was the professional leader of Federation for 22 years.)

The company that supplied the hats was Adam Hats, a manufacturer and retailer of what seems to have been many styles of men’s hats.  In 1940 Adam Hat Stores’ administrative offices were at 651-659 Broadway, a block and a half north of Houston Street and less than 2 1/2 miles from 47th street.  Not far for a check to travel.

Attached to the letter was a copy of the invoice:

invoice

invoice, $59.38 for 75 straw hats

In 1940 Federation supported a few “old age homes” in Manhattan and Brooklyn, including the Jewish Home and Hospital for the Aged on west 105th and 106th streets in Manhattan, now called Jewish Home Lifecare.  The correspondence refers to a generic “Home for the Aged”, leading us to believe that the hats were sent to several different senior residences.

We saw no mention of women’s hats in the files, but presumably they were ordered from a women’s hat maker, and presumably the check for those hats found its way more promptly to its destination.

May 14, 2015

Surprise: more Special AIDS Project boxes!

Filed under: interesting or noteworthy archival material — Heather Halliday @ 12:36 pm

It was only after the first nine Special AIDS Project boxes were completely processed that we discovered four additional boxes on the project among the few remaining unprocessed boxes in the warehouse. We missed them the first time around because these were not labeled “AIDS” or “Simha Rosenberg” as the others had been, but “Caring Commision” instead. These additional four boxes became just two boxes in the course of processing, bringing the subseries total up to eleven boxes. The overall date range for these additional boxes is 1986 – 2001, with the bulk of material landing in the mid-1990s – 2001, which is a bit later than the first nine Special AIDS Project boxes.

articles

Articles from the Special AIDS Project subseries

Nearly one full box of this additional Special AIDS Project subseries is printed materials – pamphlets, journal and magazine articles, newspaper clippings, white papers and scholarly reports. Some of these publications were authored by UJF, most were not. Usually, an archivist would weed heavily this type of non-unique published material, but this group of materials has been retained in its entirety, weeding only for duplicate copies, in part because it demonstrates clearly the thorough organization of the Special AIDS Project and the sharp focus of Project Coordinator Simha Rosenberg upon its goals. This printed matter is organized by topic and an index listing citations of each item is included. Another reason I chose to retain this material is that archival material relating to AIDS from this era is rather rare. Impassioned activists struggling in the midst of a terrifiying new crisis and medical researchers dealing with an epidemic in triage-mode were not always able to save the important documents that archivists could later declare to be “of enduring value.” At last year’s Society of American Archivists annual meeting, this particular point was articulated by all the speakers at a session called “Preserving the Epidemic: Making Accessible HIV/AIDS History.” For an excellent summary of that session, see this l’Archivista blog post. Rosenberg and her colleagues clearly used this material as an active reference resource. Today and in the future, it can provide researchers insight into how the disease and was perceived, what the issues of prevention were, how society and the Jewish community reacted to it, and what HIV and AIDS services were being offered during the later 1980s through the 1990s.

AIDS comic book

Comic book on AIDS prevention published by the American Foundation for AIDS Research in 1987.

Bye Keith

Tribute to Keith Haring on the back of the April 1990 issue of The Body Positive magazine

Besides the printed materials, the other additional material is comprised of various subject files, including a bit of material from Rosenberg’s successors, Roberta Beer and Renanit Levy.

May 7, 2015

New sound recordings available online!

Filed under: audio-visual material, interesting or noteworthy archival material — thiscangobacktothearchives @ 2:41 pm

Earlier in the year, we selected and digitized 40 reel-to-reel tapes with the vendor MediaPreserve, these recordings have been ingested into the Center for Jewish History’s digital repository. You can find all of these wonderful recordings in two different ways, either searching for individual recordings on the Center’s Digital Collections portal or the recordings can also all be found aggregated here, and we will soon be adding a link on our project webpage on the American Jewish Historical Society website.

Given that the sound recordings were digitized from reels, there are recordings from each of the philanthropic organizations that merged to become UJA-Federation of New York, including a Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York recording of the Board of Trustees dinner in honor of Joseph Willen and Dr. Maurice Hexter, 1967, a United Jewish Appeal of Greater New York 1967 recording of the Stars for Israel at Madison Square Garden with Robert F. Kennedy, Jacob Javits, Jack Weiler, and Mayor John Lindsay speaking, and a series of radio commercials from the UJA-Federation Joint Campaign in 1974.

Front of audio reel, 1967

Front of reel from Federation Board of Trustees dinner in honor of Executive Vice Presidents Willen and Hexter, 1967

One of our next steps as the project winds down will be making another series of sound recordings available online, another 30 audiocassettes!

April 9, 2015

Happy Passover (Part 2)!

As we arrive at the last few days of the festival of Passover, we wanted to take the opportunity to share with you this novel Passover-themed fundraising appeal envelope that looks just like matzo! This and other samples of direct mail fundraising appeals can be found within the UJF Marketing and Communications subseries.

Passover fundraising mailer, 1998.

Passover fundraising mailer, 1998.

The UJA-Federation Archivists wish you a chag sameach and a joyous Passover!

March 18, 2015

Special AIDS Project at UJA-Federation

Filed under: interesting or noteworthy archival material — Tags: — Heather Halliday @ 3:31 pm

In the late 1980s, UJA-Federation began providing assistance to HIV+ people and people with AIDS.

pamphlet back

UJA-Federation AIDS fundraising event pamphlet

This assistance took the form of programs, educational conferences, counseling, and housing assistance, mostly provided through Federation agencies, which were funded largely through grants. This Domestic Affairs Division program fell under the heading of “Special Projects” and Simha Rosenberg served as UJA-Federation AIDS Project Coordinator from about 1988 until about 1994.

nametag

Name tag from one of the many AIDS-related conferences attended by UJF Special AIDS Coordinator Simha Rosenberg.

UJA-Federation’s willingness to take on the crisis of AIDS, particularly as early as the 1980s, investing over a million per year, as well as time and expertise, speaks volumes about the humanitarian orientation of the agency. It also indicates UJA-Federation’s willingness to adapt to the times, their foresight, and their exceptionally inclusive view of community. It is clear from the document below showing that 76 people on UJA-Federation’s staff participated in the 1991 AIDS Walk that many at UJF had a personal stake in the issue.

UJF 1991 AIDS Walk Team

UJA-Federation staff 1991 AIDS Walk team participants list

pamphlet front

UJA-Federation AIDS fundraising event invitation

Rosenberg attended a great many AIDS conferences on behalf of UJA-Federation and led quite a few, as well. Both types of conference materials are included in the Special AIDS Project subseries. She also served as UJA-Federation’s representative at the New York AIDS Coalition (NYAC), and many folders in the subseries document her committee work there. The collection  documents some of NYAC’s political activism in the form of postcards demanding more funding aimed at Governors Mario Cuomo and George Pataki. Rosenberg was instrumental in obtaining grants for Federation agencies to carry out AIDS progams and these efforts are documented here. Researchers can also learn about AIDS fundraising events held by UJA-Federation. One such event represented in the files was the “Madison Avenue Sell  Out,” which involved many of New York’s most successful advertising agencies and  corporate sponsorship.

The project also planned and implemented workshops designed to inform agency staff and program participants about the disease, from which extensive data was collected. The raw data, taken from pre- and post-workshop surveys, delineates attitudes and knowledge of the disease and sexuality at that time. It can be found in folders titled “AIDS Education and Training (AET) –  Evaluations” within the subseries. Rosenberg apparently published some scholarly articles as a result of her initial AET Evaluation findings. Future researchers may wish to delve deeper into this data. Other areas of interest within the subseries include files on Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), medical research, press  coverage of the disease, and Rosenberg’s own chronological files.

UJF AIDS Quilt

UJA-Federation AIDS Quilt invitation

The collection is comprised of nine cartons on the Special AIDS Project, spanning the years just prior to and just following Rosenberg’s tenure.

NYAC Sticker

NYAC Sticker, 1993

March 12, 2015

Asset studies, inactive records, and archives

Filed under: found in the archives, interesting or noteworthy archival material — thiscangobacktothearchives @ 12:34 pm

While processing administrative and subject files of the UJA-Federation of New York’s Legal Department, I encountered several subject files labeled “Asset Study.” A few years after the merger between United Jewish Appeal of Greater New York and Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York, the Legal Department cooperated with other departments to create a comprehensive list and accompanying data related to the assets, including real estate, held by UJA-Federation and all of its predecessor organizations.

To that end, in April 1990, James L. Rothkopf contacted Colonel Seymour J. Pomrenze, the UJA-Federation’s record manager and archives consultant, to assist in finding documentation within the organization’s inactive records stored in their building and off-site storage. And, much like a reference request or inquiry sent to an archival repository, Pomrenze identified resources within the philanthropic organization’s inactive records to find information on real estate and tangible assets.

Correspondence for James L. Rothkopf from Seymour Pomrenze, April 26, 1990

Correspondence for James L. Rothkopf from Seymour Pomrenze, April 26, 1990

As inactive records went into storage, either on or off-site, a List of File Folder Titles (LFFT), which listed the contents of each box, was placed in the box and also photocopied and retained by UJA-Federation. With the assistance of these LFFTs, Pomrenze and others could identify a list of knowledgeable persons, pinpoint the location of relevant records, create copies of lists of files and boxes with records “retired” (sent to storage) by knowledgeable persons, and help determine where information might be kept by the county or state governments related to property and land registries.

Redacted version of List of Knowledgeable Persons, prepared by Seymour Pomrenze, April 1990

Redacted version of List of Knowledgeable Persons, prepared by Seymour Pomrenze, April 1990

With the names and LFFTs of knowledgeable persons, such as heads of departments, comptrollers, counsels, employees and consultants, the Legal Department could locate information by box and strategically recall boxes out of off-site storage to review and collate data on real estate and other assets held by UJA-Federation or its predecessor organizations and affiliated agencies.

In addition to any of the assets identified within the early 1990s study, it is important to remember what an asset (or benefit) it is to have organizational records under intellectual control stored in a safe, ideally climate-controlled, environment for later inquiries from both the organization that created the records and researchers alike.

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