All Series Level Scope and Content Notes
This collection contains the organizational records of the NCJW Pittsburgh Section (variously Columbian Council and Greater Pittsburgh Section) founded in 1894. This collection includes correspondence, memorabilia, reports, minutes, photographs, and oral histories for the period 1894 to 1997. The bulk of the records are from the NCJW Pittsburgh Section, however there are some materials in the collection regarding NCJW state and national activities. However, the first three decades of the Pittsburgh Section history are not adequately represented in these records. The minutes and reports were probably kept in the executives' homes and were lost at their deaths. This history must be reconstructed from the historical summaries and yearbooks. The first fifteen years of Pittsburgh Section history are covered in Ida Cohen Selavan book,
The Columbian Council of Pittsburgh, 1894-1909: A Case Study of Adult Immigrant Education, and unpublished doctoral dissertation written in 1976.
There are fairly complete records for programs begun in the 1920s to the 1990s, as well as available historic and organizational materials. The Pittsburgh Section has also been associated with many organizations on the local, state, and national level, including the German Jewish Children's Aid Committee, American Service Institute, Health and Welfare Federation of Allegheny County, Allegheny County Council on Civil Rights, Allegheny County Federation of Women's Clubs, Women in Community Services Corporation, Women in the Urban Crisis of Western Pennsylvania, American Jewish Conference, American Jewish Congress, Irene Kaufmann Settlement, Jewish Community Relations Council, Jewish Social Service Bureau, Pittsburgh Conference of Jewish Women's Organizations, United Jewish Federation, and Young Men and Women's Hebrew Association. Materials on these organizations can be found throughout the collection.
Also found in the various series is correspondence with prominent Americans such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Henry A. Wallace, U.S. and State Senators and Representatives, Governors, Mayors, Clergymen, and local dignitaries. Besides correspondence, the collection also includes one tape recording of the First Annual Louis Rosenthal Legislative Institute, autograph albums dedicated to Section leaders, unmounted photographs of people involved in Section projects, and a series of scrapbooks with newspaper clippings documenting Section projects from the mid-1920s through the 1950s.
Of particular importance to the Pittsburgh Section has been their Oral History Project initiated in 1968. Volunteers for the project interviewed over 200 Jewish residents of Pittsburgh who had immigrated between 1890-1924. The interviewees were tape recorded and filled out questionnaires. The project resulted in the publication of a book in 1972,
By Myself I'm a Book! An Oral History of the Immigrant Jewish Experience in Pittsburgh. A second project, carried out between 1974 and 2001, inspired the book
My Voice was Heard. Tapes from both projects have been digitized and are available online on the website,
Pittsburgh and Beyond: The Experience of the Jewish Community. For more information on the NCJW Oral History Projects, refer to Series XXVIII.
In June 2011, NCJW Oral History Project Co-Chairs, Marcia Frumerman and Marlene Haus, donated additional material relating to the NCJW Oral History Projects. Included in this donation were further materials for both Oral History Project I & II and extensive files on curriculum and course development based on the oral history interviews. The new materials also include information on creating and standardizing abstracts and indices to create
Pittsburgh and Beyond: The Experience of the Jewish Community a guide to the oral history interviews. The new materials mostly have been added to the existing Series XXVIII. NCJW Oral History Project. New material has also been added to Series XVI. Subject Files. Further scope notes are found in both series.
The NCJW Pittsburgh Section has made many deposits to the Archives Service Center since 1964, however, all additions to the collection are located under AIS.1964.40.
Series I contains historical materials relating to the founding of the NCJW Pittsburgh Section. However, many materials have been lost. The little material that is available includes a condensed history of the Section written by Mrs. Amelia Zugsmith, President of the Pittsburgh Section from 1922-1925 and Council Historian. She prepared the history "from all available sources of information," including records of meetings, newspaper clippings and interviews, and this was updated periodically through 1929. However, the source materials referred to in the history are no longer available, except some early correspondence (1894-1901). A number of other histories were written in the 1940s from Mrs. Zugsmith's summary, but some contain errors. This series also contains materials devoted to the special anniversaries of the Pittsburgh Section, including the 35th, 50th, 75th, 80th, and 90th.
Series II contains organizational records. While there is a constitution for the National Council of Jewish Women, sections are governed by their own by-laws and standing rules. These are frequently revised and this series contains many revisions from 1926 onward. Mrs. Zugsmith's historic survey mentions, "the Pittsburgh Section, NCJW took out a charter and became an incorporated body... in May, 1909." No trace of this charter has been found to date. This series also includes the incorporation papers of 1921.
Series III contains materials relating to the Board, committees, and projects of the Pittsburgh Section. In its earliest years the Pittsburgh Section was run by just a few women serving as officers. As membership grew and various projects were undertaken, committee and Board members were elected and appointed to fulfill certain governance functions. The oldest and most continuous records available are from the Executive Board (1914-1917, 1925-1973). The formation of an Executive Committee consisted of a President, Vice President, Corresponding, Recording, and Financial Secretaries, Auditor, Historian, and five Members of the Executive Board (1926-1969, 1971). A Steering Committee, which was made up of the Executive Committee plus appointed members, served as an Advisory Committee to the President from 1936-1946. An Advisory Committee, whose minutes date from 1946 was replaced by the Executive Committee in 1964, although references to the Advisory Committee continue to 1971. There are also materials from the Board of Directors, an honorary function for the section from 1950 (1933-1960).
Series IV contains materials for the number of officers that have servied the Pittsburgh Section over the years. During its first year the Pittsburgh Section functioned with four officers, a President, Vice-President, Treasurer, and Secretary. By May of 1895, the job of Secretary was divided into two positions the Recording and Assistant Secretary. In later years other positions were added, including Auditor (1906), a second Vice-President (1908), and a Financial Secretary (1911). Third and fourth Vice-Presidents were added in 1913 and 1918, but it is unclear whether the positions were re-elected.
It is only from the mid 1920s, with the election of Mrs. Lillian Freund as President, that minutes, records and reports were maintained. Reports and minutes from annual meetings, sometimes called "President's Day" or "Volunteer Recognition Day," include the President's report. The President's report can be found in the President Files. Material on both are included in the files. The annual reports were published in the yearbooks, reports missing in this series may be found there.
A separate folder has been assigned to the correspondence and papers of each President even where no papers have yet been located. Folders are arranged chronologically by term of office.
Series V contains materials of the Executive Board. During its first decade of existence the Section administered all activities via the Executive Board. At that time budgets were usually drawn up on an ad hoc basis. However, in its second decade the Pittburgh Section's membership increased, committees proliferated, and the collection of dues and the allocation of funds became more organized. A budget of a few hundred dollars in 1904 had grown to $20,000 by 1915.
By 1921, there were 54 committees and it was decided to divide them among nine departments. The "departments" were renamed "bureaus" and reorganized in the late 1940s. They were renamed "departments" again in the early 1960s. In 1962, the Pittsburgh Section was decentralized into divisions based on place of residence and meeting time (e.g. Evening Division). However, in April of 1970 the divisions were dissolved.
Because of these administrative permutations and combinations, these series are based on function rather than subject. The series contains files and reports relating to finance, membership (including oversized ledgers), policy and personnel, and program, publicity and public relations.
Series VI contains materials for the Pittsburgh Sections fundraising activities. One of the Section's first projects was fundraising. Most early fundraising was ad hoc, to cover the expenses of renting a hall for a lecture, for example. An early campaign raised a little over $1,630 to give to the Pittsburgh and Allegheny Free Kindergarten Association for the establishment of a new kindergarten. The school was named "Columbian Kindergarten" in honor of the Columbian Council. In 1897 the increasing expenditure of funds for philanthropy led the Section to inaugurate other fundraising techniques, including special memberships, personal solicitations, and memorials. In 1909 the Section introduced a Ways and Means Committee whose purpose was fundraising. The committee introduced sponsorship of theatrical events, guest lectures, and souvenir programs, which were very successful. The first supper dance and automobile raffles were introduced in 1917 and balls, fashion shows, dinner dances, and carnivals were popular through the 1930s and 1940s. In the late 1950s extravagant musicals were produced featuring members of the Section. During the 1970s the low key Stay-At-Home Balls replaced the Angel Balls of the 1960s.
However, the Section's most successful, ongoing fundraising has been through their thrift shops. Thrift shops were inaugurated by Mrs. Minnie Kaufmann in 1927. She stated their purpose to be, "to utilize the waste of the Jewish community, to collect, and dispose of rummage." The Service Shop, and later the Council Shop, have been located at various addresses throughout Pittsburgh.
Series VII consists of records regarding the overall goals of the Pittsburgh Section. When the NCJW was organized at the Columbian Exposition in 1893 four resolutions were passed which served as the basis of its constitution. These resolutions emphasized working in religion, education, and philanthropy, studying Judaism, improving Sabbath schools, and opposing religious persecution. Each local section was given considerable leeway in implementing these goals.
The Pittsburgh Section has worked, sometimes in cooperation with other groups, to encourage Jewish education. Shortly after its founding the Columbian Council organized study circles and the earliest standing committee, the Committee on Religion. The religious education of children, especially the children of immigrants, was the Council's earliest outreach project. In January of 1896 they started a religious school which became the nucleus of the Columbian School and Settlement, later renamed the Irene Kaufmann Settlement. The Settlement separated from the Council in 1900, but the religious school continued under the Council's direction. In 1927 the Sisterhood of Rodef Shalom joined the Pittsburgh Section to form the Southwestern District of Pennsylvania Jewish Religious Schools Committee. This relationship lasted until 1964. For more information on this subject see Mildred W. Kreimer's, "Southwestern District Religious Schools Celebrate Sixtieth Year,"
Jewish Criterion, September 11, 1953.
Series VIII contains materials on the Pittsburgh Sections philanthropic activities. To implement the goal of philanthropy the NCJW Pittsburgh Section involved itself in numerous activities. A Personal Service Committee, formed in 1895 performed traditional acts of charity, including visiting the poor and sick, donating food and clothing, and providing medical care. The Personal Service Committee was disbanded in 1912 with the establishment of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies.
Another early interest of Section's was to aid immigrants, which developed from informal relationships based on involvement in settlement work to a full-fledged department with a professional at its head. The Pittsburgh Section was also interested in working with girls, often immigrants, and helping them to find housing, employment, and recreation. In 1946 the NCJW's Service for Foreign Born merged with the National Refugee Service into the United Service for New Americans (USNA). However, the committees for Service to Foreign Born continued functioning at the section level. In 1954 the Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) and the refugee services of the Joint Distribution Committee joined the USNA to form a unified agency, United HIAS Service, Inc. In the Foreign Born subseries there is information on activities relating to the immigration and rescue efforts in Europe, as well as other functions for new citizens.
This series also contains materials relating to the Section's work with the handicapped. Their activities led to the establishment of many programs, such as the Pennsylvania Association for the Blind, the Industrial League (for the sale of items made by handicapped people), and the Bertha F. Rauh Nursery School for the Deaf. Many of the projects initiated by the Section were taken over by other agencies, became independent, or disappeared when the need for them was gone.
Series IX contains materials of the Pittsburgh Section's work with community and overseas projects. From the mid-1940s on the Pittsburgh Section's philanthropic activities changed in accordance with changing conditions. While continuing its services to the foreign born, the section developed new programs of outreach for the aged, hospitalized veterans, mentally ill, and children in need. Files concerning legislation for the aged includes correspondence from U.S. Senator Joseph Clark, State Senator Michael O'Pake, Louis H. Rosenthal Memorial Institute "Our Senior Citizens-The Legislative Road to Dignity," and a tape recording from the institute located in Box 55. Additional correspondence includes letters from local clergymen, agency executives, U.S. Representatives Elmer J. Holland and William S. Moorhead, U.S. Senators Hugh Scott and Joseph S. Clark, and County Commissioner William D. McClelland.
The Pittsburgh Section also participated in NCJW programs overseas, including Ship-A-Box, which sent educational and play materials for kindergartens abroad. They also created fellowships for students abroad and initiated the Hebrew University High School project. Locally, the Council innovated the Share-A-Toy program with hospitals in Israel.
In the Services for the Aged subseries there is information on a number of activities and projects, including Anathan House, Central Bureau on the Care of the Aged (CBCA), and various senior citizen programs. The bulk of the records in the subseries are from 1941-1980, and contain reports, publications, planning and architect records, history and surveys. The subseries on Work with Children and Youth has information on pre-school health programs, the Headstart program, children's enrichment programs, and Delinquent Children and Adoptive and Foster Care Procedures.
Series X consists of materials of the Pittsburgh Section's activities with health and welfare services. The Pittsburgh Section is noted for introducing the visiting nurse to Pittsburgh. In addition, the section has often worked in association with other organizations in providing volunteers for health and welfare programs. The subseries on Health Services contains a history, correspondence, minutes, reports, members from the Health and Welfare Federation of Allegheny County, and other organization materials for the period 1946 to 1973. In the subseries Mental Health Programs there is information on the history, minutes, reports, financial records, program services, and information regarding Council House social rehabilitation for mental patients (under community auspices from 1967) for the period 1957 to 1973.
Series XI contains records on the Pittsburgh Section's political activities. The Pittsburgh Section was involved in political action for many decades. Some activities were short lived, such as Liberation Day and Pennsylvania Week, but other activities have gone on for years, such as the section's involvement in the Human Relations Commission between 1952 and 1973. The Council involves itself in political action on the local, state, national and international levels, with particular interest in Jewish affairs.
This series contains information on the Department of Public Affairs Files (previously the Department of Education, the Bureau of Education, the Bureau of Education and Social Action, and the National and International Affairs), Fair Employment Practice Commission (FEPC), Fair Housing Practices Committee (FHPC), Club Women of Western Pennsylvania, Human Relations Commission, and civil rights. Of importance to the civil rights subseries is the information regarding Marjorie H. Watson and her work with the Allegheny County Council on Civil Rights.
Series XII contains materials for the Pittsburgh Section's Jewish affiliations. The NCJW Pittsburgh Section has been involved in many local, national, and international Jewish affairs. They have also founded institutions (Columbia School-IKS), participated in the founding of others (Conference of Jewish Women's Organizations), and have provided support for many more.
The Jewish Organizations subseries contains information on the Community Relations Committee, at one time the Joint Public Relations Committee; the Jewish Public Relations Council; the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC); the Irene Kaufmann Settlement; the United Jewish Fund; and the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies. For more information on the JCRC the researcher should refer to the Papers of Lillian A. Friedberg (ais 2000:04)on deposit with the Archives Service Center. Friedberg served as Executive Director of the JCRC from 1943 to 1965.
Also in this series are materials regarding the Expanded Overseas Program, the Israel Education Project, Seymour Fox Operation, Soviet Jewry programs, workshops and training, Community Leadership Training Program (CLTP), and information on the Evening and South Hills Branches.
Series XIII: The NCJW Pittsburgh Section is part of a number of affiliated networks, including the Pennsylvania State Conference (sometimes called Pennsylvania Regional), the Central District, and the National Council. This series contains information on Central District Conferences, Pennsylvania State Conferences, NCJW, and the International Council of Jewish Women. Also included are materials on the NCJW Oral History Project, including awards, certificates, photographs, and "Bridges to History", a 26 minute film written and produced in 1980 by Marcia Frumerman and Gene Dickman to explain the NCJW Pittsburgh section Oral History Project.
Series XIV contains photographs, scrapbooks, and record books for a number of the Pittsburgh Section's activities for the period 1960 to 1973. The Angel Ball, sometimes called the Angel Ball Cotillion, is the bulk of the photographs for this series. Although there is a volume "Friends of Anathan House," this is simply a list of contributors to Anathan House at their dedication in 1963 - there are no photographs in this volume. The researcher should also be aware that Box 60 also contains slides and negatives for the same years.
Series XV contains publications and organizational records for the NCJW Pittsburgh Section. Of interest in this series is a catalog listing English language books relating to Judaism, including author, title, publisher, and number of pages. However, this catalog was completed in 1974, so titles published after this date are not included in their list. The organizational records contain various materials including meeting minutes and national by-laws, policies, and procedures.
Series XVI contains files for a range of subjects. Because these boxes were added to the collection later than 1964, many of the subjects in this series also have materials located throughout the collection. All files are alphabetically arranged. Material added in 2011 can be found under the section "New Material Added."
Series XVII contains the Pittsburgh Section's administrative committees and activities, workshops, projects, and community and political involvement. This series primarily consists of materials dated from 1970 to 1997, however there are some records dating from the 1930s to the 1960s. Because these boxes were added to the collection later than 1964, many of the subjects in this series also have materials throughout the collection. All files are alphabetically arranged.
Series XVIII contains the two logbooks from the Council Lounge for Older People dating from 1949-1954. Each logbook includes daily and weekly narrative entries documenting various Council Lounge administrative activities and projects.
Series XIX contains two copies of a 1967 NCJW publication,
Where There's A Woman by Bernice Graziani. The book is a 75-year narrative and pictorial history of NCJW. Also included in this series is the dissertation by Ida Cohen Selavan, "The Columbian Council of Pittsburgh, 1894-1909: A Case Study of Adult Immigrant Education." Authored by Selavan in 1976, this paper was submitted to the Graduate Faculty in the School of Education in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Doctor of Philosophy degree. The paper focuses on the NCJW Pittsburgh Section's development and activities concerning education and immigration between 1894 and 1909.
Series XX consists of a total of 15 scrapbooks. Eight of the scrapbooks document various organizational activities and events of the NCJW Pittsburgh Section and two are dedicated to the South Hills Branch. Most of the scrapbooks contain newspaper clippings, however some contain bulletins, letters, and photographs.
Series XXI consists of various photographs of NCJW Pittsburgh Section members, activities, programs, parties, and local and national conferences and meetings. The photographs date from 1933 through the 1990s, however the bulk of the photographs are from the 1970s to the 1990s. Their primary focus is on activities related to the Organizational Records Series (Series XVII). All photographs are placed in alphabetical order according to subject.
Series XXII consists of various local and national awards and plaques given to NCJW Pittsburgh Section and individual members. Of importance are awards given to the Pittsburgh Section by the Governor of Pennsylvania and Mayor of Pittsburgh.
Series XXIII consists of the Pittsburgh Section's organizational records. The bulk of the records are from 1970 to 1990. Again, since this is a later addition many of the materials in this series can be found throughout the collection.
Series XXIV contains photographs of various NCJW Pittsburgh Section and South Hills Branch activities, members, and programs. On photographs where the exact date is not known a general date is given, such as "1970s." Also, names of those pictured can be found on the back of the photographs.
Series XXV contain organizational records of the NCJW Pittsburgh Section added in 1998. Much like the other series that contain organizational records, these materials relate to the Pittsburgh Section's activities and programs. There are some photographs contained in this series. Folders with photographs in them are labeled.
Series XVII includes many files pertaining to Council Care and other volunteer service programs, the Scholarship and Student Aid Committee, events held for new members, and recruitment and fundraising campaigns. Some minutes from meetings of the Executive Board, Advisory Committee, and the general membership are also found in this series. Several of the subjects in this series can also be found throughout the collection.
Photographs in this series show organizational activities, including the Angel Ball, a Soviet wedding, and golf outings. Names of those pictured can be found on the back of the photographs. They are arranged chronologically within each activity.
Series XVIII contains materials relating to three oral history projects conducted by NCJW between 1968 and 2001. Through the personal accounts of over 500 men and women from the Pittsburgh area, the projects document the immigration of European Jews to the region as well as many aspects of Jewish-American life in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including immigrant education, holidays and religious practices, reactions to World War I and World War II, family structures, and the lives of women. These gathered remembrances help preserve early social and political cultures while providing insight into the creation and history of the Pittsburgh community as a whole.
The majority of the interviews were collected by the NCJW Pittsburgh Section through two systematic studies. The first, carried out between 1968 and 1969, focused specifically on the experiences of individuals who had immigrated to Western Pennsylvania between 1890 and 1924 - a time when thousands of persecuted Jews left Eastern Europe to seek new lives in the United States. Excerpts from the interviews formed the basis of
By Myself I'm a Book!, published by the American Jewish Historical Society. The second project began in 1974 and took a broader approach, interviewing older members of the Jewish community regardless of background. This project continued through 2001, and some individuals were interviewed a second time to provide updates and evidence of change. The book
My Voice was Heard was based on this set of interviews. Both projects are notable for their large scale and sociological methods; information on the methodology behind the first study may be found in the introduction to
By Myself I'm a Book. Although many members of NCJW contributed to the projects, Gene Dickman and Marcia Frumerman chaired and supervised it in its entirety.
In addition to the two project books, there have been a number of other publications and productions based on the Pittsburgh Section Oral History Project. "Bridges to History," a 26 minute film, features vignettes based on both projects and explains how the interviews were gathered. A 1985 pamphlet entitled
Partners in Creation was used as a curriculum guide for the study of
My Voice Was Heard. In 2002, abstracts for all interviews were collected into
Pittsburgh and Beyond: The Experience of the Jewish Community. In 2009, the audio cassettes were digitized and mounted
online for greater accessibility.
The South Hills Branch of NCJW also conducted an oral history project, interviewing nineteen Jewish men and women living in the South Hills area of Pittsburgh between 1979 and 1983. The project focused on early experiences in Europe prior to emigration and adjustment to life in a predominantly non-Jewish community. This project is unrelated to the studies carried out by the Pittsburgh Section, and files are subject to different restrictions. Please contact the ASC for more information.
The folders listed below contain information associated with the recorded interviews and include photos, transcripts, notes, and biographical information supplied by the interviewer and interviewee. The interviews have been reformatted from audio cassettes to MP3s and are available for streaming online through the
Pittsburgh and Beyond website.
In 2011, NCJW Oral History Project Co-Chairs Marcia Frumerman and Marlene Haus donated to the archives additional material documenting the oral history projects. Files were added to the Pittsburgh Section Project I: The Immigrant Experience and Pittsburgh Section Project II: My Voice was Heard. The new material has been added at the end of each existing subseries. Four new subseries (Advisory Committee; Oral History Course Curriculum Development; Abstract and Index Project; and Volunteer Interviewers Training Materials) were added to the series. Further scope notes are found after each subseries title.
This subseries contains the first set of interviews conducted by the NCJW Pittsburgh Section. Since the goal was to document how early Jewish immigrants adjusted to life in Pittsburgh, respondents were confined to foreign-born citizens who had immigrated to Western Pennsylvania between 1890 and 1924. Interviews focus on topics such as ancestry, overseas life, departure, journey, and Americanization and assimilation. Material added in 2011 can be found under the section "New Material Added."
Beginning in 1974, the NCJW Pittsburgh Section conducted a second oral history project focusing on the impact Pittsburgh's Jewish community made locally, nationally, and internationally. The project continued through the 1990s and added 350 oral histories. Some individuals were interviewed a second time. Material added in 2011 can be found under the section "New Material Added."
The South Hills branch of NCJW collected nineteen interviews from Jewish residents of Pittsburgh, concentrating primarily on their immigration experiences and early lives in Western Pennsylvania. Although these interviews cover subjects similar to those of the Pittsburgh Section projects, they are not part of the same study. Files contain questionnaires, descriptions of the interviewees' homes, abstracts, and photographs.
The Advisory Committee began as the Oral Jewish History Committee. The committee's role was to supervise all aspects of the oral histroy project from the selection of respondents, recruitment of voulnteers, seeking publication, and directing the future uses of the project. The subseries contains information from both phases of the project and includes notes on suggested oral history respondents and the project as it developed. The files in this subseries date from 1971 to 2011 and are arranged chronologically.
This subseries includes material from the creation of adult continuing education courses on Jewish history and identity which were developed from the oral history interviews. The Oral History Course Curriculum Development subseries contain materials from 1975 to 2000 and is arranged chronologically.
The Abstract and Index Project was undertaken to in order to make to the recorded interviews searchable. The NCJW's goal was to create a polished, completed collection of interview abstracts and indices to complement their oral history interviews. The result of the abstract and index project was the creation of the guide to the collection,
Pittsburgh and Beyond: The Experience of the Jewish Community. This subseries dates from 1981 to 2000 and is arranged chronologically.
This subseries contains information on the NCJW, Pittsburgh Section created program for training volunteers to conduct oral history interviews. The material in this subseries dates from 1975 to 2000 and is arranged chronologically,
This subseries contains two documentary films produced by NCJW based on the first two oral history projects.
This series contains large scrapbooks of newspaper clippings and NCJW brochures and leaflets documenting the clubs many activities. Also included are several posters and smaller printed images promoting NCJW's many educational programs, a list of members who contributed to the Friends of the Lounge group, and a framed certificate from Hebrew University thanking the members of NCJW for their efforts to promote education in Israel.
This material was added to the finding aid in November 2010.