Oliver M. Kaufmann Photograph Collection - The History of the Jewish Community Center of Pittsburgh
3000.0 items (14 boxes)
The Oliver M. Kaufmann Photograph Collection - History of the Jewish Community Center of Pittsburgh contains approximately 3,000 images from the years 1912 through 1969 depicting activities at the Irene Kaufmann Settlement and the Emma Farm Camp. The Irene Kaufmann Settlement, a neighborhood social welfare agency located in the Hill District, was one of the first settlements of its kind in the United States and its highly successful programs served as models for similar institutions. Digital reproductions of selected images are available
ULS Archives Service Center
University of Pittsburgh Library System
7500 Thomas Boulevard
Pittsburgh, PA, 15260
Finding aid prepared by Renee Ziemann.
The Columbian School, which would eventually evolve into the Irene Kaufmann Settlement, opened on January 5, 1896, through the efforts of Rabbi Lippman Mayer of Rodef Shalom Congregation, who developed the Russian School for Jewish immigrant children, and Mrs. A. Leo (Cassie) Weil, President of the Columbian Council. With a volunteer staff and philanthropic support, the school enrolled two hundred students by the end of the first year. The Columbian School’s first residence was in a small room on Miller Street in the Hill District; it then moved Downtown to the Sunday school rooms of Rodef Shalom in 1897.
In 1907, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Kaufmann, proprietors of Kaufmann’s Department Store in Downtown Pittsburgh, made a donation in memory of their daughter, Irene Kaufmann. The money was to be used to construct a larger building on the site of 1835 Centre Avenue and to be known as the Irene Kaufmann Settlement. KS, as it was called, helped immigrants adjust to their lives in America. It provided social programs for adults as well as a summer camp for youngsters called Emma Farm, or the Emma Kaufman Camp.
The Settlement was non-sectarian and continued to aid the Hill District community until 1959, when it moved to Squirrel Hill, merging with the Young Men’s Hebrew Association and the Young Women’s Hebrew Association to become Y-IKS. In 1972, the Irene Kaufmann Settlement changed its name to the Jewish Community Center of Pittsburgh. Also in 1972, the Emma Kaufman Camp moved to Morgan, WV, where it continues to operate today.
Collection Scope and Content Notes
This collection of about 3,000 photographs was taken by the Irene Kaufmann Settlement and the Y-IKC between the years 1912 and 1969; however, the bulk of these were taken between 1918 and 1941. The collection consists almost entirely of black and white photographic prints with a small number of negatives and oversize material.
Photographs in this collection cover a variety of activities, programs, and celebrations offered by the Irene Kaufmann Settlement. These activities include the Better Baby Clinic, the corner-stone laying to a building addition, theatrical and artistic events, and other programs. The collection also documents the activities of the Emma Farm Camp.
In additon to documenting the organization, the collection provides historical documentation of the community activities surrounding the Kaufmann Settlement as well as the Hill District itself. Many photographs depict housing conditions in the surrounding neighborhoods and testify to the changing social climate of the period.
The photographs are arranged by the title, number, and date assigned by the creator.
- Jewish community centers -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
- Emma Kaufmann Farm Camp (Pa.).
- Irene Kaufmann Settlement (Pittsburgh, Pa.).
- Kaufmann, Henry
- Kaufmann, Irene
- Hill District (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
- Ethnic groups
Access and Use
Gift of the Jewish Community Center of Pittsburgh in 1978.
Digital reproductions of the collection are available electronically at
Oliver M. Kaufmann Photograph Collection, AIS.1978.12, Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh