July 24, 2015

Oversized Material

Filed under: Uncategorized — Leah Edelman @ 9:30 am

As we approach the end of our project, we are starting to tie up some odds and ends regarding the arrangement and housing of the collection, before we move into finishing the description of the collection in the finding aid. Although we have almost 2000 bankers boxes, there are still some items that just don’t fit, and these items are deemed “oversized material.” We now have 18 oversized boxes holding maps, charts, blueprints, newspapers, photographs, scrapbooks, plaques, and other items that need to lie flat for optimal preservation. These 18 boxes are different sizes themselves, and range from OS (oversized) 1 to 3, with the largest items in a flat file cabinet.

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

  1. We find oversized items folded up in regular boxes, or acquire them in their own containers that are usually not preservation-friendly
  2. We remove the oversized 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 carefully rehouse the oversized item with its transfer form in an appropriately sized box. Within the box, some items are fragile and need their own folders, some (such as newspapers) are acidic and need to be interleaved, and some can be carefully grouped together with other like items in a folder
  4. We create a separate oversized folder list to keep track of the OS boxes and their contents and location, and once again make sure each item links back to a folder in the regular collection
  5. We are then able to digitize some especially interesting material. We have digitized many of the maps (including the one that inspired our interactive map of Federation agencies), and are currently working on Isidore Sobeloff’s scrapbook. Sobeloff was Director of Public Relations for Federation in the 1920s, and his scrapbook from 1929 contains clippings of his work, as well as information about the crash of 1929 and how it affected Federation. (See next week’s blog post for more on Sobeloff and links to his scrapbook!)

Here are some other oversized items of interest in the collection:

Publications from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, including “Federation Campaigner,” “Campaign World,” “Jewish Week,” and “Appeal”


Car cards from the Jewish Vacation Association, from the 1960s


Blueprints and maps for many early agency sites, including Educational Alliance, Montefiore Hospital, Washington Heights-Inwood and Boro Park YM-YWHA’s, and Camps Rainbow, Ella Fohs, and Forrestburgh


Charts and statistics regarding the 1981 Jewish population study, including a “Distinctive Jewish Names Analysis”


July 17, 2015

“IDEAS & SUGGESTIONS” – Favorite Folder Titles

Filed under: found in the archives — susanwoodland @ 10:59 am
Folders - Ideas and Suggestions

Favorite Folders – Ideas and Suggestions

Processing is for the most part complete on the UJA-Federation of New York collection and we have moved on to everything else that has to be finished before the finding aid is completed, with just Marvin left to complete the last reboxing, refoldering, and folder listing.

In cleaning up my processing area I am finding things I stashed away during processing, not to integrate into the collection but because they represent a very ephemeral part of what archivists do, and I had a hard time throwing them out.  Perhaps a later blog post will illustrate some of the beautiful and weird paper clips that Federation used at different times between 1917 and whenever paperclips became more standardized.

But first I scanned a few of the empty folders and tabs I couldn’t bear to throw out without noting them in some way.  The contents of these folders were transferred a couple of years ago to new acid-free folders and probably relabeled. Or possibly the titles were retained. Once all the folder lists are combined into a  single final container list, I’ll be able to search for “CRANKS” and see if that folder title merited permanent retention. In fact at that point, with the finding aid and container list online, anyone will be able to search for any folder title or strange word they like and see if it exists among the tens of thousands of folder titles in this collection.

Favorite folders - CRANKS

Favorite Folders – CRANKS

I know that we came across a number of folders over the past four years that made reference to mail that had been received that was either troubling, or from a troubled soul not seeking help from Federation but on an opposite side of some philosophical or political issue, real or otherwise.  These other folders would have been called “White Mail” or “Unsolicited Correspondence” or hidden within a series of correspondence folders, making a title like “CRANKS” really stand out. Being handwritten, probably the only handwritten folder title in a box of folders with neatly typed titles also made it stand out. I assume it was handwritten because it was not a formal folder title; the executive who was dealing with its contents just scribbled a title himself and left it on his desk to work on, rather than handing it to his secretary to integrate into the departmental files.

Favorite folders - Eliminated Societies

Favorite folders – Eliminated Societies

This next image is a folder tab from a very brittle and dusty folder from about 1920. “VI Eliminated Societies” is also handwritten, but one of an entire years’ worth of handwritten folder titles, definitely a formal folder title and labeled very formally and neatly.  It is also numbered as if it were an official category, which at that time in the ‘teens or 1920s it must have been, until Federation settled into a more stable and comfortable relationship with their affiliated agencies.

As the project slowly winds down, we have been discussing the things we’ve learned from and noticed about this collection.  One of the most ephemeral things is simply how folders are labeled, what that says about the institution, and what it says about the time and place a particular person wrote a particular title on a folder in a particular way. One thing I’ve been very aware of is how the documents and other materials in this collection reflect that time and that person and that institution, and how all of that affects the content itself.  Our hope is that we are presenting the collection so it is easily accessible, but also as an intriguing series of snapshots of an ordinary office over time, vanished except for the records a lot of people so carefully kept.

July 1, 2015

“The Federation City”

Filed under: found in the archives — Tags: — susanwoodland @ 2:57 pm

Mrs. Louis Morberg with a 1961 Federation City Map

Through its history, Federation issued maps showing the range of their affiliated agencies across the New York metropolitan area. Some iterations were closely based on earlier maps and were simple updates. In 1961 a stylized version of the New York City map became the basis of a design overhaul; this version was updated a few times in the 1970s, with further updates probably through the 1980s.  The different versions of these maps that have turned up in the collection during processing have been digitized and made available online.

Federation City map, circa 1970s

Federation City map, circa 1970s

The map above, undated but clearly from the 1970s, was selected as the starting point for an interactive map of Federation agencies. We chose to maintain the stylized look of this map, which is not to scale, and have therefore not used strict global positioning of the pins on the map. Instead, the pins, each representing one location of a specific agency, are located generally in the correct part of a borough or in the general vicinity of its location in an outlying county around New York City.  Federation’s reach eventually extended to Westchester, Long Island and New Jersey, particularly for summer camps and other facilities responding to a community need, and this is reflected in the map.

We extracted a large amount of data from the collection itself, primarily addresses of the agencies and the dates of their affiliation with Federation – this information was readily available in the voluminous annual agency budget files processed early in the project and which you may remember from earlier posts.  We have also included histories of many of the agencies, with information pulled from various publications and files in the collection, which appear in pop-ups when you click on a specific agency.  Where photographs of the agency buildings exist, they have been added to the histories. Before the end of the project we plan to add more histories and photos as they are available. Until an agency has a linked history, just the name of the agency will appear when you click on the pin or when you click on the name on the sidebar.

Working with our website developers, A+R Media Studio, LLC, has been an exciting experience, not least because of the enhancements they suggested that have made the map even more interactive than originally planned.

When you play around with the map, make sure to adjust the timeline across the bottom.  If you set it on the shortest date range and start it all the way to the left, press the arrow to start an animated picture of Federation’s growth and reach during the 20th century. If you set the timeline for the longest date range, and filter the categories on the sidebar on the left to “select all”, you will see all of the agencies through all of Federation’s history. Click on an agency name on the sidebar to see where it is on the map.  Or click on a pin on the map to see the name of the agency.

We hope you will agree that this map works as a visual reminder of how large an impact Federation has had in the field of social services throughout New York City, and how that impact grew over time.

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June 19, 2015

Lots of UJA-Fed Photos Now Viewable Online

Filed under: audio-visual material, interesting or noteworthy archival material — Tags: , — Heather Halliday @ 3:58 pm

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.


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

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June 12, 2015

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

Filed under: interesting or noteworthy archival material, the process of archival processing, UJA people — bonijoi @ 10:48 am

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.


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. 

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June 8, 2015

1917 provision for Jewish Education

Filed under: early history — susanwoodland @ 6:47 pm

As Federation was preparing to officially incorporate in 1917, the men and women of the Committee on Federation met frequently in 1916 and 1917 to set up the structure of the new organization and determine how it would function and which agencies it would support.  I have found one set of minutes particularly interesting – the minutes of January 8, 1917 (beginning on page 13), which include several appendices.  Appendix C is a letter to Felix Warburg, the Chairman of Federation prior to incorporation and his election as president, from a group “constituting … a temporary committee of twenty-five to consider the financial aspect of Jewish religious education in New York City”.  A faction involved with the creation of Federation was in favor of including Jewish education as agencies eligible for Federation’s support; this issue was discussed repeatedly in the meetings that year.  It was clear that in addition to disagreements about Federation’s core responsibilities to the community, and whether that included any agencies in addition to medical institutions and the truly poor and needy, there were financial hurdles to adding Jewish education to Federation’s commitments.

The group proposed various solutions, and recommended that Federation form a Board of School Aid in order to solve the issue of funding.

There were several fears in NOT becoming involved in funding Jewish Education soon.  High on that list was that another federation would form specifically for that purpose, and would compete for resources and influence from within the same community.

The letter is signed by the 25 members of the committee – an illustrious group of Jewish educators in New York, most of whom were not involved with Federation in any other capacity.  Please follow all the links for additional information about some of these remarkable committee members:

Israel Unterberg (chairman) – Self-made manufacturer, banker, philanthropist and president of the Jewish Education Association.  Unlike other members of the committee, he was on the board of Montefiore Hospital, an early Federation agency, and his wife Bella was a member of the Special Committee on Federation.  Their daughter Lillian Derecktor speaks about her father in her oral history.

Henrietta Szold – In 1917, 5 years after founding Hadassah, Henrietta Szold continued as the head of the Department of Education of the ZOA in New York.  She remained influential in the field of Jewish Education in America before moving to Jerusalem in 1920 to focus on the Hadassah Medical Organization.

Samson Benderly – “Benderly was a visionary and was capable of inspiring others to follow his vision. He developed around him a group of remarkable young people who shared his excitement about changing the face of American Jewish education”, known as “The Benderly Boys”. [quoted from the review of the book about the Benderly boys – click on “Samson Benderly” above to follow link]

Judah L. Magnes – First Chancellor and President of Hebrew University, and a founder of Ihud, which proposed a bi-national state in Palestine.

Louis Marshall – Lawyer and Jewish community leader who was a founder of the American Jewish Committee. The finding aid to his collection is here.
Mordecai M. Kaplan – Rabbi, essayist and Jewish educator and the co-founder of Reconstructionist Judaism. The finding aid to the Jewish Reconstructionist Foundation Records is here.
Cyrus L. Sulzberger – Jewish communal leader who was director of the Jewish Publication Society, chairman of the Executive Committee of the Bureau of Jewish Social Research, founder of the American Jewish Committee and later, treasurer of Federation.
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June 1, 2015

Women Executives at UJA-Federation

Filed under: Uncategorized — Leah Edelman @ 1:54 pm

Coinciding with national discussions in the 1980s about women in the workplace, the topic of women in executive positions at Federation was under consideration, as seen in this excerpt of minutes from a Board of Trustees meeting in January, 1984.


Responding to “a problem in relation to the lack of women in executive positions” and the sentiment expressed by Federation leadership (including two of the women who would later become Presidents of the organization) that “everyone needs to be sensitized to this problem and something must be done about it,” in this excerpt we find a mandate for a task force. This task force, composed of Federation and agency leaders, was charged with recruiting more women to “all levels of executive positions.” Indeed, in its nearly 70 year history before the 1986 merger with UJA, Federation had only one female president who served a complete term (Wilma Tisch served from 1980-1983, while Madeline Borg served as acting President for a shortened term, from 1938-1939). We also find some opposition to the idea of more women in leadership positions, in the form of an anti-“affirmative action” argument.

Though the specific actions of the task force at this point remain unclear, perhaps this outline from the year of the merger, titled “Ratio of Women to Men in UJA-Federation Structure,” was a product of their efforts. As of 1986, all categories except one (Board of Directors, New Candidates, Domestic) show that less than half of existing positions were filled by women.


Women in leadership positions continues to be a hot topic. In the case of presidents (the highest office) at UJA-Federation, Peggy Tishman became the first President of the newly merged organization, serving from 1986-1989, and Louise B. Greilsheimer was its fourth President, serving from 1995-1998. Alisa Robbins Doctoroff was appointed President in 2013, and currently holds that office. However, this is still only three women out of ten presidents of UJA-Federation, since 1986.

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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, $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.

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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 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.

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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!

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