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

April 17, 2014

Doodles From the FJP Public Relations Files

Filed under: found in the archives, the process of archival processing — Tags: , — Heather Halliday @ 2:15 pm

We hope you all are enjoying Passover and/or spring break. As we stop briefly into a lightly staffed office today, we offer you a few examples of doodles found within Federation Public Relations files. The documents, upon which the doodles appear, date from the 1960s. I can imagine these doodles being drawn by workers daydreaming of being elsewhere.


What basis?






Matthew Donner



Alma and Bob Smith

February 6, 2014

Before and After

ScriptsBefore       ScriptsAfter

In the course of processing the FJP Public Relations files, I encountered a few boxes as well as some stray file folders here and there that were labeled “scripts.” The contents of these exceptionally dusty boxes were somewhat of a mess. One box contained several rough bundles of stained, yellowing documents, like the one seen above on the left, tied up with thick twine. Some bundles were wrapped up in brittle brown butcher paper dating back to the 1940s and 1950s, when these scripts were written. Another box contained some loose and disheveled documents in bad condition and in no particular order.  This happens often enough with archival materials. Archivists do not always know under what chaotic conditions the boxes we encounter were originally packed. We keep our eyes open for any and all clues that could help a researcher put the materials to use in the future.

Closer inspection of these records revealed scripts for radio and television programs, film projects, spoken presentations and slides shows. Much of the processing work here involved selecting the best copy of any given script and discarding the numerous duplicates. The scripts were then housed in fresh new acid-free folders and packed snugly into sparkling white acid-free cartons. Processing reduced the total volume of material by about half. The files are arranged first chronologically, then by program title, if it was supplied.

December 11, 2013

Winking Eye, Fake Moustache, and Other Novelty Items Unearthed in Federation Public Relations Series

Processing the archival materials of Bob Smith’s Public Relations Department at FJP certainly was fun!

ImageThe paper false moustache pictured above was included with a packet of materials prepared by the PR Department for a Federation Dial-A-Thon event that took place sometime between 1960 and 1965. This event apparently had and “old time” theme and the PR team must have thought various board members and celebrities pitching in to make fundraising phone calls while wearing these disguises would make for memorable photographs. We will find out if any such pictures survive when we complete processing the FJP photographs.

To fully appreciate the promotional item from the FJP PR series below, you must take a few seconds to watch this short video.

ImageThis type of image is called a lenticular print. You may call it a “flicker picture,” though if, like me, you were born in the 1960s or 1970s and remember encountering some of these things as prizes in Cracker Jack boxes. It is a little like an analog version of a GIF file in that it combines two separate images to create the illusion of motion. The curved ridges on the surface of the lenticular print are what fuse the images together. More recently, lenticular print technology has evolved to incorporate more images per print for the illusion of a greater degree of motion and even three-dimensionality. This card was included as an insert in an invitation for an event the Great Neck division held in 1963.

ImageThis inventive item designed and produced by the PR department helped Federation donors calculate their contribution and see in very concrete terms the good that their money did the community. A circular piece inside the card could be rotated to reveal various contribution levels, multiplied by the number of agencies affiliated with FJP and described what their gift paid for in the small windows on the right of the card.

These are just a few examples of lively and surprising fundraising items contained within the FJP PR series. If any of you have received similar silly mailings over the years, we’d love to see them.

November 20, 2013

FJP Public Relations

Federation of Jewish Philanthropies had a Public Relations department, which handled all sorts of publicity and communications concerns for FJP as well as FJP’s affiliated agencies and subventions. Robert I. Smith, who was hired by FJP in 1945 and retired from UFJC in the early 1980s, was perhaps the most prominent Public Relations Director the agency ever had, both in terms of the volume of archival material he generated and in the impact of his tenure upon the organization. Over the course of his career, Mr. Smith (seen below and definitely not to be confused with this Robert Smith) gathered many materials relating to the history of Federation. These historical materials saw heavy reference use by his department and they comprise a portion of the FJP Public Relations series. Other materials in this series include: press releases, annual reports, biographies, newspaper clippings, brochures, printed materials, event invitation samples, PR directors’ papers, dramatic scripts for radio and television programs, photographs, and logo art.  This summer I processed all of the non-photographic FJP PR materials. The series is rather unlike the rest of the collection in that it documents the creative work of the PR department and includes a high percentage of visual materials. Expect more to come soon from the PR series here on This Can Go Back to the Archives. In the meantime, the images below offer just a taste of the variety found in this series.

Image  ImageFJP Division separators found in event invitation boxes

ImageFrom the Films sub-series of the FJP PR files

ImageFundraising brochure

ImageDial-A-Thon fundraising event flier

ImageRobert Smith papers

October 2, 2013


The idea of smoking at one’s desk may seem foreign to most office workers in the United States today, but this was not always the case. Bans on smoking in offices and other workplaces have been widespread in states across the U. S. since the 1980s and 1990s. Any institutional archival collection that precedes the 1980s will inevitably hold a few tell-tale cigarette burn marks here and there. These photos represent just a sampling of some I noticed in the course of processing the Ernest Michel papers and the FJP Public Relations files.

Cigarette burn on document in FJP Public Relations files

Cigarette burn on document in FJP Public Relations files

In a memo dated July 10, 1980 from Colonel Pomrenze to Ernest Michel and Sanford Solender regarding his records management goals at that time, The Colonel acknowledges the frequency of smoking in the agency offices: “…In one office, even the Director of the Department was shocked at the conditions created by a litter of papers on the floor, on desks, etc. Additionally, this and other sites are fire hazards, since people flip cigarette ashes over the papers.”

Cigarette burn on document in FJP Public Relations files

Cigarette burn on document in FJP Public Relations files

Cigarette burn on document in FJP Public Relations files

Cigarette burn on document in FJP Public Relations files

Cigarette burn on document in FJP Public Relations files

Cigarette burn on document in FJP Public Relations files

Cigarette burn on document in EVP Ernest Michel papers

Cigarette burn on document in EVP Ernest Michel papers

SJP memo

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