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Collection 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Ida Cohen Selavan book, The Columbian Council of Pittsburgh, 1894-1909: A Case Study of Adult Immigrant Education, and unpublished doctoral dissertation written in 1976.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.

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