March 12, 2014

UJA Photographs

Eleanor Roosevelt at Person To Person, 1960

Eleanor Roosevelt at Person To Person, 1960

This image of Eleanor Roosevelt attending a United Jewish Appeal “Person To Person” event in 1960 is from a recently processed 20 carton group of UJA photographs containing approximately 18,000 prints and occupying 24 cubic feet. The vast majority of prints are black and white 8 x 10 inch prints, though some prints of smaller sizes, a number of negatives and a few slides are also included. The date range of this group is from the late 1940s through 1973. The photos are primarily organized chronologically and then alphabetically according to division, event, or community name, though some files on the Joint Distribution Committee, on Keren Hayesod, and on the state of Israel are included among the late 1940s boxes. The majority of images show posed group portraits or candid views of agency board members, agency executives, and celebrity guests attending special events and fundraising parties. A few famous names included in the group of photographs are: Nelson Rockefeller, New York City Mayor Abraham Beame, Eddie Cantor, Danny Kaye, Shelley Winters, Gerald Ford, Moshe Dayan, Eleanor Roosevelt, Hal Linden, Golda Meir, Joan Rivers, George McGovern, David Ben-Gurion, and George Romney. Before sending this sub-series off to storage, I selected a few samples and digitized them. We have uploaded these dozen images as a Flickr set, visible here.

May 25, 2012


Filed under: interesting or noteworthy archival material — Tags: , , — thiscangobacktothearchives @ 2:25 pm

Camping can play an important part of the formation of a personality and now we even have news from the Jewish Voice that  Bob Dylan became who he is (including a soon-to-become recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom) due to the time he spent at Camp Herzl, the Jewish summer camp in Wisconsin.

Another entertainer (though not a prophet,  a mystic or a poet), who owed a lot to the Jewish summer camp experience was Eddie Cantor—comedian, actor and singer, famous from the 1930s to the 1950s. Eddie Cantor initiated the “March of Dimes” fundraising campaign against polio, and is one of the very few real people depicted as a balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Eddie Cantor (“Banjo Eyes”, born Edward Israel Iskowitz, 1892-1964) became an ardent supporter of Jewish camping in general and of the  summer camp he attended as a child, Surprise Lake Camp, run by the Educational Alliance.

Orphaned at birth and raised by his grandmother, Cantor was able to avail himself of the camping services due to the program of scholarships awarded to children from poor families by the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies. Upon attaining fame and success as an entertainer, Eddie Cantor returned the favor with generous support of Jewish camps and camping for underprivileged children. As Jacob Birnbaum, former director of camps for the Educational Alliance says in his oral history interview, Eddie Cantor “provided more money, I think, than any other individual. And he refused to have his name on anything.”

The Camping Subseries materials at the UJA-Federation of New York collection contains a significant amount of materials about the Educational Alliance’s Surprise Lake Camp. The name of its first famous alum, Eddie Cantor, is mentioned in many documents and booklets. At this point, we have not come across any documents generated by Cantor himself with the UJA-Federation of New York collection. However, within the National Jewish Welfare Board collection, there is a great photograph of Cantor with some young campers and also there are some digitized items here at the Center for Jewish History (the YIVO Institute’s Milstein Family Jewish Communal Archive Project website) which give an  idea of Eddie Cantor’s warm regard and care for the camps and campers:

Other material related to Eddie Cantor from this collection or other collections at the Center for Jewish History can be found by searching on his name at

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