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Jewish Studies in the Manuscripts and Archives division: Social life and culture

This guide was created by Michelle McCarthy-Behler, Manager of Public Services, Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Books

From the collection

Watching moving pictures of the war on outdoor screen in the school yard, People's Institute records, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library.

Personal and family papers

 Kohlbach-Bickel family papers The Kohlbach-Bickels were a Hungarian and Swiss family that contained a rabbi, a professor, engineers, and the first female Hungarian architect. This collection documents three generations, covering the period from the 1880s through World War II.

Isaac Myer papers Isaac Myer (1836-1902) was an attorney and author who practiced law in New York City and Philadelphia. His literary works focused on U.S. constitutional history, federalism, and mystical and antiquarian subjects. Materials relate to his research and writings on the Kabbalah and biblical history, as well as several manuscripts pertaining to federalism and constitutional history.

Faithful Friends Forever Club minute book  Faithful Friends Forever Club was a social club created by a small circle of Jewish girls in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York in 1938. The club lasted for seven years, from the time the girls were about nine years old until they graduated from high school.

Gertrude Amalia Heyman papers  Gertrude Amalia Heyman (1878?-1958) was a stenographer who served with the American Expeditionary Forces and the Jewish Welfare Board in France during World War I. She continued her career as a public stenographer and notary public in various U.S. cities before settling in New York in 1928.

Girshoy family papers   Consists of letters written to Miriam and Morris Gershoy from their children and relatives and friends in Europe and the U.S., and letters to and from their daughter Eugénie. Letters by Leo Gershoy reflect his life at Cornell and Rochester universities and his travels in France. Letters by Alexander Gershoy concern his career as a botanist at the University of Vermont. Also, photographs of the family, biographical notes and printed matter. 

Sam Rosenberg letters  Letters from Sam Rosenberg of Rochester, New York to his future wife Anna Cohen and others while stationed at Fort Hancock, New Jersey and in France during World War I.

LGBTQ Jewish life

 Arnie Kantrowitz papers Arnie Kantrowitz (1940- ) is a writer, educator, and gay activist who was integrally involved in several gay activist groups in the 1970s and 1980s including the Gay Activists Alliance, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and the Christopher Street Liberation Day Committee. The European journals contain meditations on his feelings of loneliness and varying degrees of self-consciousness as an American, a tourist, a gay man, and a Jew.

Lawrence Mass papers  Lawrence David Mass (1946- ), is a co-founder of the Gay Men's Health Crisis, physician and writer living in New York City. The collection contains personal and professional correspondence, essays, and reviews, personal press clippings, photographs, audio and videotapes, and ephemera reflecting his work as a writer and gay activist.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender periodical collection Periodicals collected by the International Gay Information Center (IGIC) and donated to the New York Public Library in 1988. In subsequent years, additional titles were added to the collection. The collection includes issues of the Jewish Gaily Forward.  

Richard Plant papers The Richard Plant Papers document the literary activity and academic career of the author and educator best known for his book The Pink Triangle (1986), a study of the persecution of homosexuals in Nazi Germany. The collection consists of correspondence, manuscripts, typescripts, research files, news clippings, personal papers, printed matter, photocopies, photographs and audio recordings.

Community and welfare organizations

New York Times Company Records. Adolph S. Ochs papers  Adolph Simon Ochs was an American newspaperman and the publisher of the New York Times for almost forty years, from 1896 to 1935. The subject files during his tenure at the New York Times include his affiliation with such organizations as the Hebrew Union College, American Hebrew and Jewish Tribune, Young Men's Hebrew Association, Union of American Hebrew Congregations, Teachers School of Hebrew Union College, among others. 

People's Institute records  The People's Institute was founded in 1897 to teach the theory and practice of government and social philosophy to workers and recent immigrants in New York City. The People's Institute records consist of minutes, correspondence, memoranda, reports, photographs, programs, fliers, pamphlets, legal documents, financial records, clippings, class rosters, press releases, and printed matter that document the founding and operations of the Institute. 

New York Foundation records The New York Foundation is a philanthropic foundation, established in New York City in 1909, which has awarded grants to charitable and non-profit organizations in numerous fields, including civil rights, immigrants' rights, and education reform, among others. Includes grant files from 1911-1940s for Jewish organizations such as the National Jewish Welfare Board, Jewish Family Welfare Society, Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds, New York Jewish Committee of the Deaf, and Jewish Board for Welfare Work in the U.S. Army & Navy.

Eben ha-Ezer Synagogue and Emanuel Community of Alliance records  Constitution and reports of meetings of the Eben ha-Ezer Synagogue and the Emanuel Community of Alliance (Salem County, New Jersey), dated December 1887-December 1913.

Leopold and Berta Katscher papers  The collection consists of the papers of journalist and peace activist Leopold Katscher (1853-1939) and his wife, the novelist Berta Katscher (1860-1903). Papers including event announcements, membership documents, and solicitations for talks documenting Leopold Katscher's involvement in various professional and non-professional organizations, many of which were related Jewish philanthropy and welfare.

The library : an East-Side scrapbook  Content focuses on reader services and community programs at the Branch, mainly during the 1930s and 1940s, evoking the ethnic makeup of the Lower East Side, especially its Jewish heritage.


Jewish Foundation for Education of Women records The Jewish Foundation for Education of Women was founded in New York City in 1880 for the purpose of helping underprivileged children of Jewish immigrants on the Lower East Side. From 1895 to 1932 it was known as the Hebrew Technical School for Girls and offered courses in commercial and industrial arts to young women. 

Henry Marcus Leipziger papers  Henry Marcus Leipziger (1854-1917) was an educator, lecturer and teacher. Born in England, he came to the U.S. as a child and settled in New York City. He established the Hebrew Technical Institute and became its director between 1884 and 1891. Other positions he held were Assistant Superintendent of New York City public schools and Supervisor of Lecturers.

Stanley M. Isaacs papers  Stanley Myer Isaacs (1882-1962) was a New York City politician and civic leader. He was an active member of the American Jewish Committee, whose mission is to enhance the well-being of the Jewish people and Israel, and to advance human rights and democratic values in the United States and around the world. His papers include various correspondence and papers related to the American Jewish Committee.

Joseph Barondess papers Joseph Barondess (1867-1928) was an American labor organizer and Zionist leader. Collection consists of general correspondence, 1908-1928; business correspondence and papers, 1913-1932; letter press copybooks, 1900-1925; and business ledgers, account books and other papers regarding Barondess's work with the New York City Board of Education, Jewish affairs, and the Brooklyn Federation of Jewish Charities.

Elias Lieberman papers Elias Lieberman (1883-1969), educator and poet, was born in Russia but emigrated to the U.S. as a child. Elias Lieberman (1883-1969), educator and poet, was born in Russia and came to the U. S. when he was seven years old. In 1940 he was appointed associate superintendent of schools, a post which he held until his retirement in 1953. Lieberman also published many poems and books of poetry, his most famous poem being "I Am An American". He was editor of Puck (1916), and literary editor of The American Hebrew (1916-1932). 

Margarete Schurgast papers Margarete Schurgast was a Jewish feminist and pacifist, boardinghouse owner, and German émigré who fled Nazi rule in 1941. She was a friend and correspondent of Carrie Chapman Catt, Karin Michaëlis, and Rosika Schwimmer.  Schurgast fled Nazi rule in 1941, moving to Cincinnati, Ohio, where she lived until her death. She was co-founder of the Aid Society for Educated Women (Hilfsverein für gebildete Frauen), and an active member of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and the League for Human Rights. 

Political figures

Emma Goldman papers Emma Goldman (1869-1940) was an anarchist, feminist, author, editor, and lecturer on politics, literature and the arts. Her lectures and publications attracted attention throughout the U. S. and Europe. Collection contains correspondence, typescripts, address books, scrapbook, photographs, clippings, and printed matter.

Louis Waldman papers Louis Waldman (1892-1982), a prominent labor lawyer of New York City, was born in the Ukraine. Following his emigration to America in 1909, he became a garment cutter, attended evening school and earned a civil engineering degree from Cooper Union and a law degree from New York Law School. Papers reflect Waldman's career as labor lawyer, politician, civic reformer, lecturer and author.