WESLEY CHENAULT: Good afternoon. Welcome to today's session on Archives of the Yiddish-speaking immigrant left. I'm Wesley Chenault, director of the Kheel Center for Labor Management, Documentation, and Archives in the Martin P. Catherwood library at Cornell University. And I have the honor and privilege to introduce you to Dr. Elissa Sampson, who will walk us through the next few minutes of the program.
Dr. Sampson is an urban geographer who studies how we actively use the past to create new spaces of migration, memory, and heritage. She's a visiting scholar in Cornell's Jewish Studies program, where she teaches courses on Jewish cities, including New York's Lower East Side.
A Cornell Digital Humanities Award funded Dr. Sampson's recent work on digitizing a section of the confiscated archives of the Yiddish-speaking immigrant left housed at Cornell's Kheel Center in Catherwood Library. With no further ado, join me in welcoming Dr. Sampson.
ELISSA SAMPSON: Shalom aleichem, or hello and good day. And I'd like to talk to you a little bit about this conference and the IWO, the International Workers Order, and the JPFO, the Jewish People's Fraternal Order. But what's most important is to make sure that you feel welcome with us here. And what I say here, the virtual here is three places, minimally, which is the Catherwood Library and Kheel Center, it is Syracuse University's Rare Books and Manuscripts Collection, and also Cornell's.
So we'd like to start off with thanking those who sponsored this conference. It's a webinar series, and we'll talk a little bit about that format in a minute. But our sponsors are, very simply put, the Central New York Humanities Corridor, the Cornell Center for Social Sciences, the Kheel Center's Catherwood Library, and the Society for the Humanities, as well as the Jewish Studies programs from Cornell University and from Syracuse University.
We also have sponsors from Cornell's departments of history and anthropology, Near Eastern Studies in Government, and the American Studies program. And we have co-sponsors from the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and our sister institution at NYU, the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives.
So in terms of this being a webinar series, I've made this joke now twice, and I'm assuming that many people here have heard it already. But I will simply explain, this time around, that, since we know that people [YIDDISH] and don't have the [YIDDISH] for more than two hours, we decided to break this up into sessions over the course of a week and a half. So we very much appreciate your coming today for this session. And I just want to briefly explain what the other sessions are before we start this panel.
So if you look at tomorrow-- and I know your social calendars are so busy that the word tomorrow sounds very odd now-- we have the Internationale, which has gotten resurrected for the 19th century into the 21st. And we will be talking about Buenos Aires. We'll be talking about [INAUDIBLE], which is in the former Soviet Union.
We will be talking also about cases that became [? célébrés ?] internationale, such as the Scottsboro case. We'll be talking on Thursday about Kultur Arbet, and that is a panel about creativity and repression.
Now, Wednesday's and Thursday's panels will be at 3:00 to 5:00 PM, just like this panel, so same bat time, same bat channel, as they used to say. And then Monday the 14th, we'll have our closing session. And that closing session will be quite special because we will see something about the art of resistance, the children's art of resistance, with artist and author Ben Katchor. And then we will also be hearing memories and reflections from people who were actually involved with the JPFO.
So I want to thank you in advance for thinking about attending those other sessions and very much thank you for attending the session today. I've provided some links that you can look at in terms of the Cornell and Syracuse collections. And please, please, please use them. That's what they're there for.
Just very lastly. Wesley here is going to be explaining a little bit about how today's panel works. But I would like to introduce you to Wesley, who is Dr. Wesley Chenault, more formally, and is Director of the Kheel Center of Labor Management and Documentation Archives in the Martin P. Catherwood Library at Cornell. He oversees its operations, collections, programs, and services. And he will be introducing our other panelists today. So with no further ado, Wesley, thank you very much.
SPEAKER 1: You're muted.
SPEAKER 2: Wesley, you seem to be muted.
WESLEY CHENAULT: Thank you very much. My apologies. We are all learning about clicking and operating multiple sensory things at any given time. So again, my apologies to those in attendance for that.
So I am going to be introducing our speakers today and also going to provide a little bit of information about how we're going to run. So there will be a presentation by Dr. Sampson about the IWO and JPFO, about the collection itself. Then we will have individuals present, different representatives of the different collections that Dr. Sampson mentioned.
And that will include Steven Calco, who is research archivist at the Kheel Center. It will also include Patrick Stevens, who is the curator of the Icelandic collection, as well as Judaica collections at the Rare and Manuscript Collections Division, and Petrina Jackson, who is director of the Research Center for Archives and Rare Materials at Syracuse University. So immediately, we can return this, then, to Elissa for the presentation.
ELISSA SAMPSON: If you think about the IWO and the JPFO in its early days-- and it was founded in 1930-- we have, literally, The Worker Speaks Yiddish here. And you can see it's a left-wing organization.
It splits off at the beginning of the Depression from what's called the Arbeter Ring, or the Workman's Circle. And I will be talking very briefly about its history because I think you're going to really enjoy seeing some of these objects, not on a slide presentation but being shown with a webcam at the Archives themselves.
In terms of the JPFO itself, it's sort of a little funny in terms of its history. It is a Yiddish-speaking organization that becomes the IWO, the International Workers Order, and then, in effect, has the IWO become an umbrella organization, a multi-ethnic umbrella organization at that, and one in which the IWO's founders-- about 5,000 people split off from the Arbeter Ring, or the Workmen's Circle-- become its Jewish-American section.
They are fairly radical, as the first slide showed. And by the time we hit the popular front, they are really quite radicalized, between eight years of the Depression, a lot of ideology, a lot of poverty that ensued before migration, during migration, and particularly during the Depression. And now, they're facing fascism and Nazism in Europe. And so we have this book by poet and author and columnist and playwrite, I should add, Moyshe Nadir. He's also involved in theater. And he writes a book about the destruction of Germany, which is a very powerful book.
We also have a moment that's very powerful, which is once Nazi Germany attacks the Soviet Union in 1941. So we have a first. We have this popular front in which Nazi Germany is fair game for people on the left. And that changes very rapidly once Hitler and Stalin sign a non-aggression pact.
Once Operation Barbarossa happens in 1941-- in June 1941-- we have the formation of Jewish committees, including what becomes the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, and we have the publication of Moscow just prior to the Battle of Moscow, of a booklet of poetry that's edited-- it's an anthology. It's a proof. It's very rare.
It is by Peretz Markish, the poet who eventually does get killed by Stalin. But that's a later chapter of that history in the Soviet Union. And Peretz Markish has put together this booklet, For the Defense of the Homeland in Battle. And again, we will be seeing the actual booklet. Steve will be showing that to us.
This is a flyer at the point that the JPFO and the IWO are trying to raise money for Soviet Russia prior to the United States joining the war during Pearl Harbor. And as you can see, Paul Robeson is very much a fellow traveler here.
This is a newspaper. And you can see from the logo that medical aid is really what they're advertising with those angel wings. And it's for Soviet Russia. But the headline itself is very telling. It says, "Jews from the World, Take Revenge."
So people know if they're reading anything from the JPFO or its affiliated organizations, such as the Council for Soviet Relief, the Russia Relief-- war relief-- they have a fairly good idea of what is happening in Europe, whether it's in conquered Poland or the Western part of the USSR or in Lithuania, in terms of Nazi actions, as well as some local actions against Jews. This is not a hidden piece of knowledge at that point, as we see.
By the end of December '42, it's extremely explicit, and there are rallies at Madison Square Garden and Carnegie Hall against the Nazi genocide. And we have the JPFO joining, eventually, the American Jewish Conference as part of an umbrella organization for a Jewish unity front, ostensibly, during World War II in which there is backing for the US presence in the war. There is some backing-- it's harder for a second front-- but there's certainly backing for the Soviet Union as an ally.
Here, we have Albert Einstein. We have the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee from the [? Hulls ?] and Fefer visit in 1943 to the United States. And we have, again, a little bit of material on the Jewish Conference.
Here is a slide from [INAUDIBLE]. On the left, you will see tanks with Jewish names, such as Haym Salomon, Baruch Spinoza, Bar Kokhba-- names that are not typically associated with communists-- as well as on the right, you will see the idea that registering to vote is one way to help the war effort and particularly to re-elect FDR.
These are images from the slides of Marc Chagall at an orphanage right after the war that JPFO helps fund. And that's with the Emma Lazarus League, or division, at that point. And when we look at this, we not only see JPFO leaders but we also see how they sprang into action in terms of relief work. And Steve is going to be showing us some of the booklets and coupon booklets and leaflets that they used for that.
And we see also materials in the archives about what happens when they get shut down. We see also the Rosenberg case. Because the Rosenbergs were members of the IWO. They were part of its health plan. And we can see how the Cold War comes down in terms of the blacklisting and the fact that they were on the attorney general's Red List by 1947.
The graphic on the right, The People's Case, is from Rockwell Kent, who was president at that point of the IWO. He's a well-known artist and illustrator. This last slide about legacies and questions is, even after they're shut down, Jewish Currents is still there, though under somewhat different auspices because they've been spun off legally.
And Ruth Rubin is still doing concerts. And we will see a Ruth Rubin songbook as part of what Steve shows us. So that's a very brief introduction to some of that history and some of that material. And thank you. And I'm turning it back.
WESLEY CHENAULT: Thank you very much, Elissa. So I'm going to provide a brief introduction to the Kheel Center. Then Steven Calco, who is the research archivist at the Kheel Center, will follow with a presentation. He will then hand it off to Petrina Jackson, who I mentioned is director of Syracuse University Library Special Collections Research Center. And then Petrina will hand it off to Patrick Stevens-- again, curator in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections. And he's also the bibliographer of Jewish Studies in the Cornell University Library.
So the Kheel Center's the unit of the Martin P. Catherwood Library that collects, preserves, and makes accessible primary source materials about the history of work, the workplace, and labor relations. We also serve as the repository for the official records of the School of Industrial and Labor Relations, or ILR School, as it's more commonly known.
The Center was founded in 1949 as Labor-Management Documentation Center. Then, in May of 1996, it was renamed to honor Theodore W. Kheel, distinguished lawyer, arbitrator, mediator, and public figure, in recognition of the substantial contributions made by Mr. Kheel and his equally distinguished wife, Ann Sunstein Kheel.
We are unique among labor archives because we collect materials documenting labor-management relations. This includes labor unions, personnel managers and theorists, government agencies, advocacy groups, labor scholars, and labor educators.
A little bit about our collections. Our strengths include materials about workers and managers in the textile, railroad, education, and health care sectors, with a concentration on the US, 20th and 21st centuries. Increasingly, we collect materials with an international focus. We also are the repository of choice for labor-related government records of investigative and mediating commissions and arbitration decisions, especially in the public sector, as well as collective bargaining agreements.
We actively develop our collections using a variety of strategies, including working with faculty. Recent additions to our physical holdings include the manuscripts and archives from the now defunct American History Textile Museum. For digital collections, new editions include websites for US textile mills and fiber sheds and national and international pages documenting the responses of unions, governments, nonprofits, and others to labor and employment challenges raised by the pandemic.
A little bit about our reference and instruction services. Our archivists and curators offer individual consultations, course-specific instruction sessions, general introductions to archival holdings, and workshops on the nature and use of primary sources in research. Not surprisingly, we are actively incorporating technology and virtual presentation strategies to facilitate these services in a remote environment.
We also offer tours or orientation sessions, exhibitions about our holdings, and digital reproductions from collections for classroom instruction. We welcome opportunities to collaborate with faculty and others. This conference is one example. And another is the IWO/JPFO Digitization Grant that Dr. Sampson has mentioned.
We also offer financial support to researchers and students through awards and grants. This year, we launched the Richard Strassberg Travel Grant. It provides financial support to select researchers who seek to conduct research at the Kheel Center, which, clearly, that's on pause for the moment.
While the Center is physically open to the Cornell community for research by appointment-- this fall, possibly spring-- we're available to meet via Zoom, talk by phone, or correspond by email. Please know we welcome research inquiries, ideas for projects or partnerships, and hope we hear from you in the near future. Now I will hand this over to Steven Calco.
STEVEN CALCO: Thank you, Wesley. I will now share my presentation. Everyone sees that OK? OK, great. Hi, everyone. As Wesley mentioned, my name is Steven Calco. I'm research archivist at the Kheel Center for Labor-Management, Documentation, and Archives here at Cornell. So I'm going to be talking today about our collections based on the Yiddish left.
So Kheel Center is one of the largest archives that documents both labor and management. And we're located at Catherwood Library here at Cornell University and that School of Industrial and Labor Relations. So now I'm going to give you a little virtual tour of our spaces and see if this video works as I speak over it.
So this is our exhibition space, where we are currently displaying The Other Side of the Tracks-- Social Mobility and Discrimination in the Railroad Industry, highlighting the experience of women auxiliaries, black sleeping car porters, women railroad workers, during World War II, and the violence that was perpetrated against black railroad workers during the '20s and '30s.
Here is our reading room where, I am presenting live to you today. Typically, we provide instructions and classes, provide reading room support for researchers, put on workshops, like this one here on Uneasy Objects featuring the conference's organizer extraordinaire Elissa Sampson.
Today, I'm going to be talking a bit about the Kheel Center's collection focus more broadly, and I will be presenting on our archival materials pertaining to the Yiddish left. I'll be talking about these projects we pursued over the years and the collaborations we made, and are continuing to make, to provide access to our archival materials in Yiddish.
We have collections here that specialize in the 20th century, focusing on New York state labor relations in the public and private sectors. We have records pertaining to hospital worker unions, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King's favorite union, Local 1199. We have records pertaining to anti-union and union prevention campaigns, which have recently just been digitized and available online.
We have the records of the Southern Tenant Farmers Union featuring this early interfaith, interracial union, with an amazing photograph collection from Ithaca native Louise Boyle. As Wesley mentioned, we are the repository of the ILR School Records. We hold records pertaining to labor arbitrators, mediators, and labor lawyers.
And we're always finding new and exciting treasures, including this correspondence we recently found between Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Milton Konvitz, who was a professor here at the ILR school. She writes to him, "You opened my mind to the possibility of realizing human rights at a time that was not best for our nation and the world"-- during the 1950s, while she was taking his class.
But one of our greatest collecting strengths here at the Kheel Center focuses on the garment industry. We hold the records of the International Ladies Garment Worker Union, a union of many cultures, as the '30s ad highlights, Amalgamated Clothing Workers, "unite, UNITE HERE, spanning a century of labor activism.
Demographic of workers in the early textile industry in New York City consisted mostly of Jewish and Italian immigrant workers. So by our very nature, many of the organizing materials during this time period were written in Yiddish, English, and Italian, including broadsides, posters, and photographs that you see here.
And one of our flagship collections here at Kheel is the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire collection. Any book or documentary that has ever been written or made about the Triangle Fire has used our archives. The fire, in 1911, took the lives of 146 people in 18 minutes.
And the outrage that followed set in motion the steps to address the safety and working conditions of workers in New York state and completely transformed these codes and labor laws across the country. And we have an entire website dedicated to the history of the fire, including primary source materials, survivor interviews, photos and illustrations, audio recordings, testimonials, transcripts of the criminal trial, victim and survivor lists, and many more.
And we put together a guide on all of these Yiddish language materials, which you can find in the chat there. So I'm going to be talking a little bit about some of the various collections that really highlight collections based on the Yiddish left.
So the ILGWU contains many materials pertaining to the Yiddish left, being that many immigrants in the industry during the early 20th century were Jewish immigrants. The ILGWU was formed on June 3, 1900. And we have tons of amazing photographs, which you can see a few of them right here.
We have constitutions, bylaws, convention proceedings, an amazing assortment of posters, archives of various local unions within the ILG, officer and staff files, intricately craft union banners, general executive board minutes, union contracts, printed material, including a digitized collection of 3,000 broadsides, many in Yiddish and English, which are still not available online, but here are some other examples of some publications within our collections that are Yiddish in nature. And at over 2,500 linear feet, the ILGWU records are the most extensive and heavily used collection at the Kheel Center.
And we have this exhibit site that provides contextual information about the union-- historical timelines, highlights from the collection, and expansive history, as well as primary sources, that have been digitized. Our digital collections portal at ILR portal contains many of the publications of the ILGWU, including the Justice publication, Gerechtigkeit, which was the Yiddish publication of their main publication, Justice, conference reports, and many more.
So now, I'm going to talk a little bit about our Jewish Labor Committee collections here at Kheel. So David Dubinsky, president of the ILGWU was founder and treasurer of the Jewish Labor Committee, supporting their work through fundraising campaigns and refugee relief during and after World War II. During the war, Dubinsky worked to accept 1,000 refugees compiled from JLC from war-torn Europe, raised over $100,000 in war relief, and raised money for nearly a thousand displaced children ravaged by the war.
The guide also contains materials highlighting Charles Zimmerman, who was part of the ILG, James Lipsig, and the New York Cloak Joint Board records, but [? I haven't ?] [? found ?] JLC materials. And we have the records pertaining to Clara Lemlich Shavelson. She forced union leaders to acknowledge the importance of female workers in the labor force, and she organized important demonstrations for workers' rights and cost of living issues. Collections featuring Lemlich are important to highlighting feminism and gender in the Yiddish left.
Lemlich worked for the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, organizing women in 1905, arguing that, without women workers, any strike was doomed to failure. She forced their way into a meeting at the 1909 strike meeting at Cooper Union, and her fiery speech set off the Uprising of the 20,000, the largest strike by women workers at that time.
Here, you can see her on the executive board of Local 25 of the ILGWU. Other materials from relating to Clara Lemlich in our collections include her work with the ILGWU, the IWO, and the Lazarus Club. And we have photographs, documents, and even oral history interviews conducted with Lemlich in 1974.
And here at Kheel, we also have the records of Fur Workers Union and its president, Ben Gold. So the Fur Workers Union was founded in 1913. We have tons of records pertaining to the union, President Ben Gold, and the efforts to expel him from the union during the communist purge. So you can see here, through this flyer, "Moscow shall not dominate the Furriers Union."
And he, of course, worked very closely with the IWO as a founding member, as well as Clara Lemlich. So here are some other archival photos of Ben Gold from our collections. And collections of the Fur Workers Union contain executive board minutes, administrative records, photographs, as I noted, and here are some of the collections.
We have about a dozen Fur Workers collections, so it's pretty extensive. And we welcome anyone that's interested in the history of the union to reach out to us. So we worked on several digitization projects featuring Yiddish language materials, including the Justice Gerechtigkeit, as well as the broadside collections that I mentioned.
So I'm going to talk a little bit about the IWO, as Elissa started to mention and just kind of why this collection was so important. So this organization acted as an immigrant fraternal order, providing high quality, low cost health and burial insurance, as well as other benefits to members.
Our digitization project curated about 1,700 documents found from this 54 linear feet collection, including memos, minutes, correspondence, convention proceedings, flyers, ephemera, educational materials, political pamphlets, musical programs, and more. And then, the IWO was disbanded in 1953 due to the Cold War, Red Scare.
So reasons why many of these digitization projects were important for us was, essentially, that it's very rare from the World War II era. As Hebrew was typically the language used to speak to God and, to quote Henry Tobias, "most Jewish intellectuals regarded Yiddish as a base dialect, but it was the language spoken by the mass of workers, and there was no better way to communicate ideas of socialism to workers than in their own language."
So this period of Yiddish writing is especially significant in the historiography of the Yiddish left and the language more broadly. And we can learn more about New York City history, Jewish identity, immigration, and so much more.
So for these projects at Kheel, we collaborated with Elissa Sampson, faculty, student workers, our colleagues, and the Yiddish Book Center, who all had the language skills for an extra level of scholarly background in the history of the Yiddish left to help with creating metadata for these projects. And the outcome of this amazing digitization project was great.
So as you can see for this flyer here-- "May our tanks help beat Hitler," you can see a translated summary was provided. You can see the English, Yiddish, and transliteration of the Romanized text in Yiddish, and notes about the variations of spelling, names, and historical context about the speaker, as well as context on the IWO's war effort campaign. In this piece by famed artist William Gropper, you can see that we have tons of additional subject headings, like this. So you can hyperfocus your research while searching through all these digital items.
So now, I'm going to switch my camera. And I am going to highlight some of the artifacts that we have in our collections. So I'll just make sure it's focused. There we go. OK. It's a little blurry. OK.
So this pamphlet is "Give Back the World," and it is songbook from the 1930s. So I'm just going to kind of go through some examples of some of materials in this book and other pamphlets so you can get a sense of what we have within our holdings. Many of the items in our collections are very fragile.
And here is an Almanac from the JPFO from 1937. And this was somewhat water damaged. And as Elissa mentioned earlier, we have materials relating to Ruth Rubin, including the Jewish folk song program and sheet music.
ELISSA SAMPSON: Steve, do you want to show people here how those coupons work? How did you support Polish-Jewish orphans or French-Jewish orphans after the war?
STEVEN CALCO: Yeah, so they would have these coupon books that people can just kind of help to fund money for the effort, war effort. But they are these kind of great, colorful coupon books. And then you can see, we have a lot of pamphlets-- Free the Jews from European Concentration Camps, although everything is backwards, and I don't know how to change that. I apologize.
This says, "Open the gates of the United States to the 100,000 homeless Jews. Let my people in." And "For relief and reconstruction of Jewish life in all lands." Anything else you want to mention about the coupon books, Elissa?
ELISSA SAMPSON: Well, one of the great virtues of the politics that the JPFO espoused is there was a printer's union in the same way there was a furriers union. I'm not aware of a lot of people in the JPFO wearing mink coats, frankly. But I am aware of many people in the JPFO appreciating good typesetting and a good printer and a good bindery.
And so what they did with those coupon books is actually very clever. They're color coded. So if you pulled the book, Steve, you can see that the colors actually match amounts. So you could walk around, go door to door or be at a meeting, and choose basically what level of support somebody's going to have, or ask them, and they get something for it.
And four colors was a big deal back in the day. There's a lot in the way of the material culture which is fascinating. We're very used to thinking of paper as fragile, and particularly acid-based paper as fragile, for good reason, or older paper.
But we can also see that there's some very high-quality print that's involved in these collections. And often, we see printers bugs. Steve, do you want to explain what a bug is here?
STEVEN CALCO: Yeah. So sometimes, you will even see-- well, just to go back, there are certain types of materials that are incredibly fragile, including newspaper print. So we have tons of materials that are created with wood pulp, very low-quality paper. So we kind of keep those preserved. But then there are things that can harm papers, including bugs that can crawl through. And you can see how-- I don't have any examples right here.
ELISSA SAMPSON: OK, I actually meant something different. Do you see, just before you get to the lines over here, who printed this? How do you know who printed this and if this was union printed?
STEVEN CALCO: Oh, the bugs.
ELISSA SAMPSON: Those bugs, right?
STEVEN CALCO: Yeah. So for anything that's made with this particular label right there, that is the union label. So that means that this booklet was created with and by union labor. So within a lot of our collections-- I didn't mention this within our ILGWU site, but we have an entire exhibit site dedicated to the history of the union label and how important it is to the labor movement.
So some of these high-quality booklets, you can tell they were made in high quality because they were made with union labor and not exploited labor. So that's this selection. We also have this Warsaw Program Ghetto from 1946.
And this is a nine-page activities manual from the JPFO. And this history recounted here tells the story of Jews of different ideological persuasions working and dying together in armed systems.
And here are some other samples. So we have several Western Union telegrams in our collections. This is a pamphlet, a flyer, to demand justice for six million dead. And its call is to demand the outlawing of anti-Semitism and to continue to fight against fascism.
ELISSA SAMPSON: Steve, just because it's harder to read on a screen, could you just read who's on that letterhead so people get the idea of the names here?
STEVEN CALCO: Yeah, so honorary president Albert Einstein, president Sholem Asch, chairman [? B.Z. ?] Goldberg, executive treasurer Esther [? Treback. ?] That's the main joint committee people.
ELISSA SAMPSON: Right. And we also have JPFO members on that executive board and advisory board. So they were instrumental in helping to organize the American committee of Jewish writers, artists, and scientists, as well as some other groups that worked very hard on the war.
And I will end my presentation on the physical objects with this For Homeland and Battle publication from 1941. OK. So now, I'm going to switch my camera again.
OK, so here are some of the ones that we saw. Here are some other additional ones-- Albert Einstein Testimonial Dinner. And you can see a lot of these have been digitized on our website.
Now, our curated landing page on Cornell's digital collections platform, created by Cornell Jewish Studies. Elissa Sampson created a lengthy essay by the collection marking 3,600 words. The landing page details the history of the organization and highlights potential interest areas to scholars. And the curated selections are able to be browsed by set, including Black-Jewish relations, Cold War, women's work, and Einstein's involvement with the organization, to name a few.
Through our digitization and outreach efforts, we received nearly 10,000 page views on our IWO collection site and nearly 10,000 downloads of Gerechtigkeit on our platform. And here is, again, the Lib guide for the Yiddish left that is in chat if you are interested.
And before I end, I would like to dedicate this presentation to someone that recently passed away, Jeannine Burk, a Holocaust survivor and war orphan. Her daughter reached out to me over a year ago regarding a union convention in New York that her mother attended with four other orphans from all over Europe.
I was able to find correspondence articles from Gerechtigkeit and Justice and, even more exciting, a video of her at the convention meeting the president of the Union, David Dubinsky, in time for her 80th birthday party last year. Here are photos and videos of her watching the video in tears. This union convention was written about in the Yiddish publication, The Forward-- article in the middle-- which led to her adoption by a relative in New York.
Connecting people to their family history is one of the most rewarding experiences for me as an archivist and is the reason why these digitization projects are so important for me, personally. Access to Yiddish language materials is important not only for the reasons I outlined earlier-- for its rarity, historical significance, scholarly interest, and connections to our Kheel Center Yiddish language collections-- but also to help people understand the power of language, the power of connecting people like Jeannine to their past and their own personal history in their own words and in their own oral traditions.
So if anyone has any questions about our Yiddish left materials here at the Kheel Center, please reach out to me. And I will stop share. Sorry about that. And I will hand it over to Petrina Jackson, director of Special Collections at Syracuse University. Thank you.
PETRINA JACKSON: Can everyone see? OK, good, good. So good afternoon. I'm going to share some collection highlights with you from our Earl Browder and William Gropper Papers. And I just want to also acknowledge that you'll see my own personal bias in my selection.
When I see things that deal with cultural outsiders, cultural outsider communities and peoples, I'm always drawn to that. So you'll see that evident in some of the things that I've selected to show you. Also, I always think about the personal and how these different actions personally impact people. So those things appeal to me, too. So that will be evident in this presentation.
But before I go on to talk about the highlights of the particular papers, I want to talk a little bit about the process of accessing the collections at the Special Collections Research Center. And so, from now on, I'm going to refer to the Special Collections Research Center as SCRC. Oops, I don't want to go that far.
OK, so this semester, we have closed our research room because of the pandemic. And so what does that mean for people who want to come in and do research? So we still are available remotely via our public services email, which is firstname.lastname@example.org, which is also available in the chat.
And here, via the email, you can tell our staff what you're looking for. And they will respond to you with answers. So even though we are closed, we're still open in a lot of ways but just not in the regular ways.
For those who are affiliated with Syracuse University, we've offered some expanded services. So those expanded services include remote extended in-depth research and the expanded amount of time that we dedicate to each inquiry. And we provide more direct assistance in identifying relevant materials in our collections.
So SCRC will also make virtual research consultations available for those interested in pursuing their own in-depth research in our collections when the reading room reopens. And the expanded complementary duplication services are available for current SU University students, faculty, and staff to support instruction and coursework and research.
So all the materials that are consulted by our staff, since we are doing the bulk of the research, and our student workers, when we use the collections-- like when I went through the collection materials to find highlights-- they have to go into quarantine for up to 120 hours after I use it. So I've gone through several boxes of the Browder and Gropper collections. My colleagues won't be able to access those until later on, just to ensure safety.
We do have testing here, but it's been several weeks since I've tested negatively for COVID-19. But we do do everything in order to ensure safety. And also, in spring 2021, because numbers are going up, and we've just been told by the campus administration that they want us to start scaling back time at the office-- and see, I'm at my office right now-- because there's an uptick in Onondaga County, the county that Syracuse is located in, with COVID-19, we'll probably be under the same arrangement in 2021 for spring 2021.
So I don't try to look super far ahead because things are so dynamic in this pandemic. So we just go a semester at a time. So hopefully, maybe by the end of the year, things will open up more, and people will actually be able to go in and enjoy our research and our reading room. But stay tuned.
So before the pandemic, members of the public would contact the SCRC via email and arrange to come for a visit. And these visits are arranged in advance because most of our collections are housed in our offsite storage facilities. And so we need time to get the thing to on-site.
So it is my dream-- I know you guys aren't responsible for it-- but it is my dream that, one day, we will have a new Special Collections Research Center that we could have all of our things housed, and you wouldn't have to come from offsite facilities. But I just put that out in the universe.
But we have some collections online, but the majority have not been digitized. But that's also a goal. We have a digital library program now, but we need more resources in the form of people to make it actually sustainable and successful.
So searching online. In preparation to make an online reference query or come into the reading room, when you can do it safely, you can search our online guides. And this is our home page, where you see the Searching for Collections.
And on the home page, there's-- I don't know if you can see the little Search the Collections, that's where it all starts. If you plug in Jewish studies or Yiddish or Earl Browder, it'll give you several hits and everything. And so you can do keyword searches or name searches. You'll yield hits, and then you can click on those hits and access the [INAUDIBLE].
So you'll see guides to the collections with inventories. And that's how it's essentially able to pull some of these boxes from the collection. I went through the guides, and then I thought, oh, correspondence in this area or original artwork. And that's how I selected it. So those are a few boxes from the ones that I found online on the guide.
So a little bit about Earl Browder. And you all could probably tell me more about him than I could tell you. But he was born in Kansas and showed evidence of activism very early on. He was an opponent of World War I. And he was jailed for his opposition to the war. He also traveled extensively to the Soviet Union and China.
So his papers came to SU, to Syracuse University, in the late '60s. And he had earlier sold them to a rare book dealer because financially, he needed some money. And in turn, the university bought them from the rare book dealer. And in that deal, the university was able to get intellectual copyright of his materials because they paid for it. And that was part of the agreement.
And during that time, there was a huge push at SU, in the late '60s, by the chancellor, Chancellor Tolley, to get really strong, kind of world class manuscript collections. And it's in that period where we establish ourselves as a world class research institution.
So when I was browsing Browder's collection, of course, a very large part of it is correspondence. And so one of the things that caught my eye was this actual letter to Browder from an E. Levin. I'm not sure what the E stands for.
But the letter reads, in part, "I am enclosing a photo of an early Japanese communist which I found among my old papers about 1920. I got this card when I first contacted a group of Japanese workers in Los Angeles in 1920. The photo and the notations may be of some historic value. The man in the photo is Shusui Kotoku."
And I selected that because that's just not a history that I hear much about at all, so it just struck me. And I thought, I'm going to note that, too, when it's for any kind of class session or perhaps in a exhibition idea, just to let people know that comrades came from a lot of different communities and to show the strength of the movement.
There are also a lot of pamphlets, newsletters, bulletins, related to groups with common goals of having fair and equitable workplaces and conditions. And this is a Bulletin of the International Trade Union Committee of Negro Workers of the RILU, which, of course, I can't memorize the acronym. It's red, but I can't remember anything else right now for the RILU acronym.
So the International Trade Union Committee of Negro Workers was a radical transatlantic network for the propagation of Black proletarian internationalism established by the-- here we go-- Red International of Labor Unions in 1928. And its key mastermind was James Ford, who was an African-American communist, labor union activist, who was in charge of the organization and its operations until the autumn of 1931.
Another thing that I know, before we got on this session, we briefly talked about art and everything and how art is really stylized during this time, kind of like a Soviet-looking art. Or another colleague was saying-- I think Elissa was saying-- kind of WPA-ish. And this kind of fits into that category, too.
And that strikes me right away. Because oftentimes, when you see any kind of art or drawing in this period of Black people, particularly African-Americans, it is very cartoonish, kind of Sambo-like. And this is the opposite of that. It's showing strength. It's showing he could be an Olympic athlete, the way he is drawn. And he looks like a real person.
And so it's interesting, throughout my looking through these collections, you see the mixed. Some of the work that Gropper did, the cartoonist, was for advertisement-- or even in his cartoons-- and the stereotype shows up. But when he does his lithographic work, it's much more stylized in a more dignified way. So this just caught my attention, the artwork, as well as the issues at hand.
So Earl Browder ran for us presidency twice. And these two telegrams refer to his 1936 run. I don't know the context behind these telegrams, but they gained my attention because-- I don't know if you all have heard of TMZ. In my head, I'm calling it the TMZ telegram.
TMZ is a current gossip media outlet that intersects into national politics at times now. But anyway, Harvey-- I think his last name is Levin-- is the creator of it. Because this isn't gossip, but it kind of borderlines into that. And it's also-- well, I'll save this part.
So the first telegram reads-- it's September 2, 1938. And it says "Earl Browder, Secretary, Communist Party, Frye Hotel, Seattle, Washington. Recall man who met you in Hillsborough Hotel, Tampa, Florida, 1936, then took you in his car to labor temple in Ybor City and brought you back to hotel? I was one who tried to defend your right to speak in Tampa when your meeting was broken up. A box of Eden cigars was on the bed in your hotel room, and you forgot to offer me one." This is from an EC [? Nance, ?] pastor of First Christian Church.
So I was thinking, what is he even talking about? And then you have the second one, which responds, "Your report of alleged conversation with me, published in Seattle Star, August 25, would, if true, expose me as a babbling idiot who confesses double dealing to complete stranger while campaigning for presidency. If not true, it exposes you as a bearer of false witness. Even my worst enemies agree, and I'm not such a fool as you picture. I'll leave it to the public to judge if I'm a fool or you are a liar."
So it's interesting in that, when I think about teaching students, students who don't have much context for any of this, or even if I had more time to go through it, the first thing I would do is, oh, he offers the date of the Seattle Star-- August 25. And I'm thinking it's probably 1936 that he's talking about.
You can find out, if there's a database of that newspaper, finding out what is the issue at hand, what was being said, and then start kind of pulling apart the story. So I just found it a little tantalizing. But anyway.
So Earl Browder was charged with passport fraud. And the government threatened to deport his wife to the Soviet Union. She was born, I think, in Moscow. And this threat dogged her for a great deal of her life, I think until she died from cancer. And many people spoke up for her in her defense.
In a letter to FDR-- or Franklin Roosevelt, excuse me-- a Dr. [? Auslander ?] writes, "During her entire stay in this country, she has proven to be a model citizen. She is sending her American-born sons to American schools, where they are being taught the doctrines of American democracy. Yet their own mother is being made the victim of political persecution by fascist elements in the United States because of her refusal to denounce her husband's political views."
But fact check-- according to Browder's granddaughter, Laura Browder, who is also a professor, or at least was a professor, at the University of Richmond, her father, which is the child of Earl and Raisa Browder, who they were threatening to deport, he was born in Moscow, as well. So two of the children, according to the granddaughter, were actually born in Moscow. But nevertheless, that doesn't take away from the fact that there was support for her to stay in the United States.
And also, this last paragraph-- let me see if I can read it-- it just reminds me of kind of a language that we hear about immigration today. "Under the regulation of a special law passed by Congress to prevent the tragic breaking up of families as would be the case here, Mrs. Browder should be permitted to establish permanent residence in this country and ultimate citizenship."
OK, so on to William Gropper's papers. So like Earl Browder's papers, Syracuse University acquired William Gropper's papers in the late 1960s. And it was acquired by donation. We also have purchased editions of his original artwork through the years.
So you can have collections that come through donation by the family, like in this case. But if you see particular items that would go well with the collection, we will purchase those if they fit really well and we think this will enhance the collection and our teaching and outreach, et cetera.
So Gropper was born in New York City. And he was a radical. But he was never an official member of the Communist party. So this is an original artwork. According to the guide, it is oil and watercolor. And it's no dates associated with it on both sides of the actual artwork.
You can see a lot of the acronyms, a lot of the groups, that are kind of holding Uncle Sam down. And it would be a great opportunity to read this painting based on what's he trying to tell us based on these groups trying to hold him down?
And the one thing that I noticed, too, exposing my ignorance, is that the NRA is on there. And if this is the NRA-- the National Rifle Association, I'm not sure, I would have to check-- it made me want to check and see, hey, how long has that been in existence and everything? It would be very interesting, and just to check out all the groups involved.
So another place that frequently his work appeared is Freiheit, or Morgn Freiheit, I've seen. And it's, as you all know, a New York-based Yiddish newspaper. And so the first drawing you see, it's a pen and ink reproduction.
And this is how it appears before it goes into the newspaper. So he draws it first. And then, when it goes into the newspaper, you can see this news clipping to see when it's transferred from his actual drawing into what it looks like when it's in print. So we actually have the pen and ink of the one that you see the news clipping for.
And because I don't speak Yiddish-- you all probably know, at the top of the news clip, what is being said. And I can see where he's funneling patriotism, [? bunk, ?] Christianity, militarism, and all those things in his head, which it's like the more things change, the more things stay the same. But anyway, I don't know what the Yiddish says at the top. But I would love to know. So maybe write it in. Somebody could tell me.
And I'm going to leave you with the last one. William Gropper produced a lithograph of John Henry for his American folk heroes work, not just of John Henry but others, like Davy Crockett, Paul Bunyan, et cetera-- all those big folk heroes. And this was a gift from a family member named [? Donna ?] Gropper Snyder.
And it's really interesting because he had many talents. The fact that he knew how to create a lithograph, which is basically, if you take a flat stone surface or a flat metal surface, and you take a greasy pen or pencil, an oily pencil, and you create the drawing that you want. And then a chemical solution is put over that. And then a water is put over that. The water is used in order to not smear the color of the picture.
A piece of paper is placed on that, where it's going to be imposed. And then it is closed, and it's put through a press. And that's how you create a lithograph. And a lot of war posters from both wars-- World War I and II-- use this type of artwork, this press work.
Oh, did I do that? Oops. Sorry about that, you guys. I noticed. I didn't finish that slide. But that is all. If you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer them. And I look forward to talking to my colleagues a little later on about this. And so now, you have Patrick. It will be a treat.
PATRICK STEVENS: Thank you very much, Petrina-- a very interesting presentation on your part, and good to see the participation from Syracuse University Libraries. First, can you all hear me well? Good. Thank you very much.
My presentation is called Rarely Seen Yiddish. It's going to feature, first, a little discussion, and then I'm going to go to the camera. So you'll see that I'll be moving things around-- books, in particular. I don't have a PowerPoint or anything like that, but I have the actual books that come from the collection.
So I'll start with an introduction. Rarely Seen Yiddish presents a modest sample from the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections in the Cornell library and from remotely stored holdings of distinct literary and political works in Yiddish.
These selections derived from, or relate to, the Jewish experience in organized labor and left-wing politics, chiefly in America, and the continuity of Yiddish literary expression in the Soviet Union. The selection will focus on several authors and publishers but is far from exhaustive.
There are more than 5,100 Yiddish titles in the Cornell Library. Some 170 are presently classified as rare. Around 2,890 titles populate the Yiddish language and creative literature classification. Another 760 works focus on Jewish history or on Eretz Yisrael, the land of Israel, mandatory Palestine.
A further 155 cover the Second World War, including the Hurban-- the Holocaust. Approximately 200 works in Yiddish address Judaism and rabbinical literature, and nearly 50 concentrate on the Bible. Our rare Yiddish books date as early as 1816, with most coming from the 19th century and especially the 20th century.
In fact, the number rises by two orders of magnitude across these two centuries. All of our Yiddish works published in the 19th century number just under 50, whereas for the 20th, we possess 4,800 titles.
The presence of the Jewish left in print in America is manifest through well-known book publishers from the early 20th century on. As a prime example, YCUF, spelled with a Y or an I, that is the Yidisher-- or Idisher-- Kultur Farband, was active as a publisher in New York, as the [? Ykuf ?] Farlag, and elsewhere. The international organization was established in 1937 by Jewish communists. YKUF members were not, however, necessarily party members.
The Jewish People's Fraternal Order here in the States provided support in the US for publication. Ykuf Farlag was responsible for serious literary output in Yiddish from the 1940s onward, at least. And YKUF in the United States, as an organization, ceased existence at the close of 2006.
I'm going to switch now to the document camera that I've got set up here. And let's see that happen. It has happened. Can you still hear me? Everyone can still hear me. Thank you. I like to check on the technology once in a while, as you can imagine. Let's move that aside, for one thing. Now you get to see my hands and books, chiefly.
The first item that you can see is an Ykuf publication. Let's look at the spine briefly and the cover-- as you can see, a good cloth binding for the time. And let's go to the title page.
Again, these are books-- they're going to look like library books, but they're going to be chiefly in Yiddish. This is the book of poems by Abraham Sutzkever, the great Yiddish poet, Di Festung, [SPEAKING YIDDISH].
And you can see, of course, the little symbol there of Ykuf as the publisher-- Ykuf Farlag. This is actually printed and published in 1945. The paper is a little acidic, but actually, it's held up quite nicely. It's got a portrait of the author at that time that you can see here. And then, the poems, of course, in Yiddish, dated.
So that's the first example that I wanted to show you and give a sense there of some of the production values. Ykuf is putting out something that is really durable and meant for the permanent bookshelf. It is a good publication. It's held up quite well.
The next one from Ykuf is this item. I'll show the English side first. Again, a good cloth binding. This is a rather large volume-- it's what we call a plus, it's an oversize-- of the paintings of Frank C. Kirk, noted artist who was active, of course, throughout sort of the mid-20th century. He was actually born in Zhitomir in Ukraine and died in New York.
And a quote from him is that, as he says, "my approach to art is social realism, as are my convictions and general conception of life." So you can see he's affiliated with, or at least allied with the idea of the workers, the proletariat, if you will.
I've shown you both sides of the cover. The opening, of course, is in English on this side. [INAUDIBLE] [? Weinper ?] was general secretary of YKUF. And this publication is from 1956, so you see it goes on into a later time in the history of this organization. And then, it's also in Yiddish back here, with a title page here that you can see here.
And I'll show just a few of the plates because plates, usually in black and white, occupy most of this particular volume. The first one I want to show is simply one of the laborer. And you have a sense here of an art that is often seen at this time that emphasizes to the worker, the fatigue of the worker. And that face is a very tired face. You can imagine he's come home, this gentleman, after a long day at work, at hard physical labor.
Kirk also was not too far from his own Jewish roots in portraying Jews from different backgrounds, in this case, a Yemenite. And he not only made portraits but also did landscapes, some of them which focused on the industrial world, as you can see on [INAUDIBLE]-- increase the focus on that a little.
That's Pittsburgh. It's called Booming Smoke, Pittsburgh in English. And you can see it's a very industrial photograph. I hope you can see that it's-- I'm trying to watch this as I adjust the camera a little bit.
And on the facing page, again, another worker, [INAUDIBLE] from Seville in Spain, where you can see, again, something that comes out with Kirk in these paintings is the fatigue of the worker. [INAUDIBLE] would probably have to work hard, carrying heavy loads and probably didn't get too much return on his work.
So two YKUF publications. The next item I want to show is from another press, perhaps a smaller one, that focused on multiple left-wing, pro-union labor and antifascist works but included, in this case, a poem by Moyshe Nadir, whose name you've heard already today and will probably hear again, possibly.
This is a simple binding, and this copy that we have is not in great shape. It's going to have to go to our conservators, as you can imagine. But that is the cover right there. And Rivington Street is the name of the work, from 1932, so in the middle of the Depression.
Production values is, again, the paper is really not great. It's going to take some preservation. But the intellectual contents are basically there, and that's what we look for initially. We'll do something with this. We'll have to do some sort of housing, perhaps some reattachment, perhaps create a preservation photocopy of some kind. But we'll probably keep the original. Again, the artwork is there. And that's Gropper right there. This is his artwork. No, that's not his name-- yes, I think so.
ELISSA SAMPSON: It's a very famous poem if you like the Lower East Side, Patrick. And among other things, it is a memory poem in which the streets of the Lower East Side are recited. And people remember in the Depression the way the streets used to be. It is a fantastic poem.
PATRICK STEVENS: Yeah. And it's a fairly lengthy one. As you can see, it's 32 pages and two columns per page and then illustrated throughout, as you can see with this little figure here, upper left-hand corner. So just a little chance to look at that. It's kind of fragile, so let me be careful with it. Don't want to damage too many things there.
Now, among other things, Moyshe Nadir, who was born in Eastern Galicia later came to the States, and Moyshe Nadir is a pen name of his. He did a number of things. He was a poet, a theater critic-- apparently an acerbic one-- and a playwright. He wrote for Freiheit, Morgn Freiheit, The Signal, The Hammer-- the last two, of course, being periodicals-- and plays for several groups, including the organization Artef, which I'll get to in a little bit.
But first, let's look at The Hammer. And in the case of The Hammer, we have holdings from 1926 to 1939 here. Most of them are in bound volumes, but we have a couple of loose ones that I want to show here.
And the records that I've seen in WorldCat and Cornell indicate that the Freiheit was the original publisher. But The Hammer, from at least 1932, was its own publisher in what it called Workers Monthly. And it's obviously an orientation. Therefore, The Hammer was both communist and literary, if you will.
The covers of these issues signal an increasing concern with the rise of Nazism and fascism, as well as US economic recovery from the Great Depression, and then something else on the last of three covers that I'm showing now. As you can see, the paper is not terrific. Can you all see that? I think you can. I can see it here.
So December 1934. Obviously, in full swing is the fight against Nazism. And this sort of column here or whatever it is is being smashed by a hammer and sickled fist, if you will. And everything, of course, is in Yiddish, or just about everything in here. So the text is thick with Yiddish. So that is one.
The next one-- these are in date order, if you will, that one was from 1934-- June 1935. In May 1935, what happened is with certain parts of the National Recovery Act, or the National Recovery Administration, which was organized under the National Industrial Recovery Act, were declared unconstitutional-- not the entire NRA, as it's perhaps called, or NRA, but parts were declared unconstitutional.
So this is part of what's going on with this particular illustration. You see the NRA here, across the horse, so June 1935, so keeping up on the politics and, in this case, the court decision-- Supreme Court decision in this case-- of this time.
And then, right on to September 1936. The Spanish Civil War has broken out. And as you can see, the popular front in Spain is the banner here. And so you have a heroic figure here who almost looks like from another time-- Liberty leading the people but turned to one side, if you will, and hoisting a rifle with infantrymen with their rifles leveled in the background.
Again, I see the name Gropper here in the lower right-hand corner, where my index is. So I believe he must be the artist, no? So The Hammer in three covers. And the covers are, of course, very much expressive of ideology.
And then, the next thing I want to show you is relating a little to Moyshe Nadir. This is actually a volume celebrating 10 years of an organization called Artef, which is the Arbeter Teater Farband. And you see the cover here, it's kind of a velvet feeling kind of cover, if you will.
It's hard to read the characters on the front, so I'll turn right to the title page here. [YIDDISH] Artef. And as you can see, it's got a committee, a Jubilee Committee, down here for Artef that has edited this. We're looking at March 1937. And it was, of course, in private hands. It has since come to us.
And if we look through here, there are several pages to look at that might be interesting. Apart from the title page, we have the [YIDDISH], the contents page here with a number of names that are going to leap out at some of you who are experts in this area, or these areas. I am not. As you can see, I can barely read Yiddish. But there you have it, the number of names there that are referred to and articles that appear in this publication.
Then the next item to show you-- going one too far-- is back here, is you have the [YIDDISH]. Before you had, I believe this is actually the [YIDDISH] roster-- yes, the Artef [YIDDISH], which is right here. We're showing who did the planning for all this and then the table of contents. There's a photo montage here on page 23 on the Yiddish side.
And this is actually a good quality, glossy paper. We've seen some paper that looks pretty minimal, shall we say. But this is actually much better. And right in the middle-- you can see I'm lifting it a little-- is Moyshe Nadir. He's in the center. He takes center stage on this little montage, if you will, of writers and participants.
A number of photographs throughout. And an essay is discussing a theater. If we come back here, there is an English part of it, too-- Ten Years Artef, as you can see. Then, if we go in here, some writing in English, as well.
Pages 12 and 13. In case you want to make your trip to the Soviet Union, it's not too late if you are reading this publication in 1937. And Intourist is already in business at this time. See the land of the Soviets. You get the idea. It's a place to be visited if you are interested. The Daily Worker is on sale, as well, as you can see on page 13. So again, a good production, obviously with a lot of pride in this organization.
I want to move now to Yiddish publications and pre-war and wartime Soviet Union, Emes Farlag and the others. And I'll keep the camera focused on the props I have here because I'm going to go right back to them.
As I talk first, I should mention that Emes Farlag, or Melukhe-farlag der Emes, Soviet Yiddish publisher but with origins as early as 1909, from what I've read. Not the same as a newspaper. There's a newspaper also called Der Emes. So Emes Farlag continued to publish during the war, extreme privation notwithstanding. Our catalog here at Cornell indicates 58 titles published by Emes Farlag from 1932 through 1948. There are maybe some other holdings, of course, items we don't have. But we do have these.
One I'm going to start with is by Rivke Rubin, who was born 1906 and passed away in 1987. And this particular work-- I'm going to hold it like this, it might be easier just to hold it, I can see both my screen and the camera at the same time-- Yidishe Froyen. And it's a book of essays. The publication is from 1943, as you might see down here. The two lines of the imprint say OGIZ and then Melukhe-farlag der Emes [YIDDISH].
And to give you a sense of the paper here, this is really little better than newsprint. It's held up, but it's very, very flimsy paper. I mean, these are hard times. I mean, I'm surprised, in a way, that there are the resources, the material resources, to publish anything at this time, given what the Soviets are going through in the war. I mean, the material shouldn't have been there, you might think. But there you have it, 64 pages of text.
Now, showing you that, I should mention that, at this time, that the Emes was under the organization called OGIZ, which stands for, in English, Union of the State Book and Magazine Publishers that is under the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic and publishing out of Moscow. I should also mention one other thing that you might notice, or you might know. And we can see it, actually, right on the title here, that we're looking at Soviet Yiddish orthography.
If you look at the word "froyen," you don't get what we call in Hebrew a [HEBREW], a long [INAUDIBLE] that you will see in Western Yiddish. You get a [HEBREW] letter-- [HEBREW]-- N-- that is, you would expect, at the initial or medial positions in Hebrew and Yiddish. But this is one of the changes [? that ?] was actually in the title Der Emes itself.
Emes-- in Hebrew, [HEBREW]-- is spelled differently from Emes in the name of the publisher. It means the same thing, but this was a change to a Soviet-controlled, or Soviet-initiated, orthography of Yiddish to standardize it and, perhaps not incidentally, to move it away from association with actual Hebrew, although that is arguable.
But there you have it. So that was the standard from about 1932 to about 1961, when there was a shift, somewhat of a shift, back, from what I understand.
I'll put that one over there and follow it with this. We're going to move after looking at this particular author. But before we move, we'll mention that Rivke Rubin was an essayist, a critic, translator, instructor, instrumental in popularizing several classic writers of Yiddish.
There is, for her, and there are for some others, articles, even brief biographical articles, in the YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe. If you just even key in YIVO encyclopedia, you'll probably get all the rest of that. You can get to that incredibly useful resource. I really suggest going to it.
The next author I want to deal with under the Emes publisher label is David [INAUDIBLE] Bergelson And he has quite a biography, as well. He was a novelist, a founder of something called The Yidishe Kultur Liga in Kiev, lived in Germany in the 1920s, wrote for the Ford, for Morgn Freiheit, Emes, had considerable interest in Birobidzhan and was a member of the Anti-Fascist League.
Now, Birobidzhan, as virtually all of you will know, was the attempt to create a province, if you will, a territory, in the Asian Soviet Union, the East Asian part of the Soviet Union, that would be settled by Jews and where the official language, essentially, was Yiddish. So this particular work by Bergelson is a collection of short stories, remembering, of course, he was an author, called Birobidzhaner.
And there you have it. 1934 is the imprint date, Emes-- just Emes, this case-- [YIDDISH]. And fairly good paper. And a collection of stories-- 200-plus pages of stories here, 250 or so, followed by, if I may, a work of history during the war called-- you see a flimsy paper cover, 1941. You can see that-- let me hold it so you can see it.
And the title was exactly the same. Again, that sort of very newsprint feel paper that's obviously acidic, not in great shape. But it's held up OK. [SPEAKING YIDDISH]-- so [INAUDIBLE] in the fight with Hitler is the topic of this. Essentially, it's a pamphlet, as you can see. So he's writing political and certainly encouraging words in terms of fighting the common enemy.
And he meets a sad end. He is liquidated during the tragic Night of the Murdered Poets in 1952 by the orders of a rather paranoid Stalin.
There were, then, some other publishers, apart from Emes. One was Idishe Literarisher Farlag in Berlin, active at least in the early 1920s. And there are many references, actually, in the YIVO Encyclopedia to this.
What I'm doing here is bringing up a work by my last author here, Leib Kvitko from the 1890s, passed away in 1952, also liquidated during the Night of the Murdered Poets in Lubyanka Prison. And the first work of his is from Idishe Literarisher Farlag, Berlin, where he lived for a while. It's from 1923. Actually, the title was 1919. I'm not going to try to say that in Yiddish.
But you can see that the printer is there. It's a German printer in Berlin-- [GERMAN]. And then, the cover, actually, was tipped perhaps a little incorrectly by someone way back when. But that is the original paper cover of this work.
He's a poet is his basic medium of expression and very noted, especially as a children's poet, but not only-- also a political poet and definitely part of this Soviet Yiddish world, if you will. So that is one.
Our next one is a work that actually includes children's poems. It's called [YIDDISH]. And it's published not by any other than a publisher in Ukraine called Melukhe-farlag fun [YIDDISH], 1929, as you can see from the date. It's held up pretty well. Illustrations here go throughout the book, as you can see-- poem after poem after poem. Some pages have been damaged-- not surprising. It's nearly 100 years-- it's 90 years-- old as we speak.
And finally, a work called [YIDDISH]. And you can see the cover here. Cover art, again, can be very attractive and important-- arresting, if you will-- by, again, Kvitko. Tsentrfarlag [? Kharkov ?] in Ukraine is the publisher in this case.
This needs a little bit of repair, as you can imagine. 1929 again. Both these works employ the same Ukrainian typesetter, whose symbol you can see here. That's written in Ukrainian, not in Russian. And again, poetry-- poetry. The man is a poet.
Finally, this is a reproduction of something that impressed me, again, from him. It's a reproduction published by the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, in Israel, and by the Yiddish Circle there. It was originally published in Berlin by the [GERMAN] in 1922.
And this is, again, more poems, poems about birds-- [YIDDISH], as you can see there. And then there is the artist [INAUDIBLE]. So looking through this-- again, reproduction. I like the owl. It's my personal favorite in here, but throughout, very evocative.
And it's interesting to me that in a rough time-- and times were rough, very rough for what began the Soviet Union for the first half of the 20th century, a brutal time-- that there can still be a poetry of this kind, evoking birds and thinking of children and some of the older folk traditions, perhaps. So as I said, poet, children's poet, member of the Jewish Anti-Fascist League. And let me try to switch back to the integrated webcam. I'm switching back. There I am.
My conclusion, then, is to mention that, as far as our library here, Cornell University Library, and its experience with Yiddish, recent research on the Jewish People's Fraternal Order and related Yiddish holdings in the Cornell Library is stimulating an ongoing re-examination of our Yiddish collection. It is likely we shall be reclassifying more Yiddish works in the collection as rare and distinctive as scholars pursue discoveries on our own selves.
A footnote here, my email is email@example.com. And if you have a question that you want to send to me about our works in Yiddish in this part of the library, certainly please feel free to do so. That's what I'm here for. So I welcome questions.
The effort to identify scarce items relating to Di Linke, the Jewish left, and related distinctive categories will also involve selective evaluations by our conservation colleagues with the goal of stabilizing and preserving, especially, fragile texts. And with that, I end my little presentation. I welcome, in the section coming up in terms of questions and answers, any questions you might have. Thank you all very much.
WESLEY CHENAULT: Thank you very much. Thank you, Patrick, Petrina, and Steven for the virtual walk-throughs and the focus on these wonderful collections. And thank you to our participants for your attention and engagement during these presentations.
We're going to move now to our live Q&A portion of the session. And if there's any remaining time, perhaps we return to the panelists and have them reflect on one another's presentations, given the collections span different spaces and the various connections that were raised in some of the discussion online.
ELISSA SAMPSON: Hi. I'm back again, so to speak. And thank you for your really interesting questions. I put some links into chat. I know chat can't be saved, and a number of you have asked about that. But you can hopefully copy and paste from that. And we will also try to send it out after this.
One of the questions that was asked has to do with the Bakers Union. So we have the furriers. We have the ILGWU, including the famous Local 25 and Clara [? Wendler, ?] who's one of the founders of JPFO. But there's also the question about, what do we know about the Bakers Union?
So without giving away trade secrets, Steve, can you let us understand that better?
STEVEN CALCO: Thank you, Elissa, and thank you for the question. So even though David Dubinsky-- he was actually a member of the Bakers Union early on, before he joined the ILGWU-- we do not have tons of records pertaining to the Bakers Union here at the Kheel Center.
So we have scattered records. We have constitutions from that time period that you're referencing-- I think you said the '20s to the '40s. We do have a lot of constitutions from that. We have just scattered correspondence between government worker unions and the Bakers Union within our collection, some arbitration records from the '40s.
But where you're going to find most of the Bakers Union materials are at the University of Maryland, who is the repository for American Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO records. So that's really where the bulk of the Bakers Union records are.
ELISSA SAMPSON: And may I add to that, that because New York really knew what a good bialy was, there was also a separate bialy bakers union, not only a bagel bakers union. So we see the same thing with bagels and bialys that we see with the garment trade. How many garment trade unions are there? Can you count? It's specialized, right?
And so we see this in the Yiddish world in terms of the materials. And with the furriers, which some people have asked about, there's more than one furriers union. Steve, can you speak to that, as well?
STEVEN CALCO: If I can share. So essentially, there has been a lot of worker unions within the history of the United States. And many of them, first, they worked with the AFL. Then they switched over to the CIO. And then they merged with other unions. So the history of the Fur Workers Union is very confusing. And we have several fur worker union collections within our archives, practically almost about a dozen of them, which you can learn about the kind of confusing history of the union from our collections.
ELISSA SAMPSON: So one of the questions, and then a few others followed on to this, has to do with the Non-Aggression Pact, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, in 1939 between Stalin and Hitler, so to speak, and how this affected trade unionism. And in the case of the furriers, we know from some of the records at Catherwood that there was really a disruption among people who might have been very leftist prior to that pact. Can you speak to any of those records and what the archives might show?
STEVEN CALCO: Pass this over to my colleagues.
ELISSA SAMPSON: If not, I can take a stab at it, all right?
STEVEN CALCO: Yeah.
ELISSA SAMPSON: So generally speaking, in the labor movement, if it was somewhat [INAUDIBLE] or Soviet-sympathetic, it was a big problem to deal with Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. It was not an obvious that this made sense in terms of politics, logistics, the division of Poland, whether it was good for Jews-- tons of reasons people disagreed with what happened. And it took them by surprise, usually.
And so, you see real ruptures in political groups, including in labor unions and including the furriers, which has a dissident committee that gets set up. And there are some records at Catherwood from that dissident committee.
Now, everything gets papered over in 1941, once Hitler invades the Soviet Union. But trade union records are a really good place to see these discussions, as are the JPFO archives themselves. Because it's discussed in lodges. It's discussed on executive minutes. And you see this in trade unions. You see it in the JPFO. This is controversial, at best.
There's another question here, which relates to a different part of the Jewish left. And that is, perhaps-- and it says the Bund, but it's also related, in effect, to the Arbiter Ring, or the Workers Circle or Workmen's Circle, depending on how you'd like to translate that into English. Could you speak to the collections that are pertinent to the Workers Circle, or to the Bund?
Dubinsky, for instance, was influenced by Bund's thinker's, as was [INAUDIBLE].
STEVEN CALCO: So within our collections, we have various scattered records, as Elissa mentioned. While David Dubinsky was part of the Bakers Union, which was kind of controlled by the Bund. And we have just scattered records, but they're just kind of a file within our New York Cloak Joint Board records or materials within our rare pamphlet collection documenting their early history.
And there's some Bund archive materials from the '50s and just some other scattered materials throughout all of our collection. So we do have just a bunch of scattered records pertaining to the labor Bund at Kheel.
ELISSA SAMPSON: And how about the Jewish Labor Committee?
STEVEN CALCO: Yes, we have tons of records pertaining to the Jewish Labor Committee. And I'll put the lib guide that I made about the Yiddish left contains a whole section on the materials at the Kheel Center that are related to the Jewish Labor Committee. So I will put that in chat so you guys can see.
ELISSA SAMPSON: And thank you very much. And there's a question, I guess for Wesley or Steve, about what percentage of the IWO archive has been digitized, and what is the time frame for getting it all digitized?
WESLEY CHENAULT: I'll take a go at that. S don't really have a time frame for digitizing. We have hopes that we can continue the effort and work that's gone into digitizing it. And a lot of that comes from collaborations-- collaborations with faculty like Elissa Sampson, who bring to our attention materials that have multiple resonances in terms of just their research value.
The portion that you see came from a grant-funded project. There have been other projects. And so we hope to continue working with her and others to help make these collections available to a broader group. So I mean, we're doing that work. We don't have a timeline, per se. But I have every confidence that we will continue the partnerships that have been very fruitful moving forward. That's a non-answer. I'm sorry.
ELISSA SAMPSON: No, thank you. It's a good answer. We digitized this, in part, because we felt there was a story that these JPFO/IWO records told and that, while there were historians who were aware of them, there was not a lot of public awareness that this confiscated archive was at Cornell.
And the thought was that if we digitized some of it that we would bring not only a greater focus on such records but on the question of the broader Jewish left and the groups that were in it, whether in the '30s and the '40s, what happened to these voices. What do they actually say? What did these people do?
Because sometimes debates from historians can be very theoretical. And it can be helpful to actually see what organizations were doing. I have to say, in terms of the archives themselves, my biggest shock-- and it wasn't a political one-- was the day I read something in which somebody had translated from English into Yiddish, "what do you do as a large activity"? Because they're a fraternal organization.
So it suggested that you read books together, you see films together, you might want to play some board games together, you might want to have discussions-- perfectly reasonable things that you would expect as part of Americanization into lodges. And then they suggested, because they translated literally, you have a rodeo. The idea of a rodeo in New York City, in the Lower East Side in the '30s, is clearly not going to fly.
But you can see there's an enormous type of diversity in this material, some of it very overtly political, some of it very overtly fraternal, some of it health-oriented, some of it poetry and art, and some of it really sort of a type of daily life in lodges that you don't usually get a lot of insight into. And that is also true when you start looking at the union records. They're not all about political decisions.
A number of people have commented about Soviet orthography. Patrick, I know that you brought that up. I would say that you don't see a lot of it in the JPFO collection, despite the fact that their politics not only leaned left but leaned Soviet. But you see some of it.
And you can also see some of it not simply in publications that come from the former USSR but sometimes in correspondence. But I think if we look at the publications that come out in New York, it's not a big deal on them, for the most part. I don't know. Patrick, what's your sense of it?
PATRICK STEVENS: My sense, there's a split, if you will. I think people in North America are used to what we think of standard Yiddish, which continues to have the orthography that they're used to. What's happened in the Soviet Union is a government decision to standardize in another direction.
I think it would take them a little getting used to were readers expected to adapt to such a standard here. So it didn't happen. In The Hammer, you don't see it, as far as I can see. I was looking through these copies before our meeting today. You don't see it in the publication of [YIDDISH] and some of these other publications that I've shown.
So you do see it, again, especially with publications under Farlag Emes. You're going to see that. That's a government publisher. So that's how that's driven. So yeah, I think you've got it just about right. And again, in about 1961 or so, it began to fade away so that Yiddish began to be written more in what we think of as the standard.
ELISSA SAMPSON: Thank you. I'm going to ask a question here about Ben Gold because there have been at least four queries about Mr. Gold, who was also a writer in Yiddish and quite a militant. There was also a query that came the other day about Irving Potash, who's also associated with these unions. So Steve, if you'd like to go for Mr. Gold and Mr. Potash, please feel free to expound upon their various virtues, as found in archives.
STEVEN CALCO: Yeah. So as president of the Fur Workers Union, Ben Gold, we have tons of materials relating to him. We even have materials linked to his very public trial, where he was accused of being a communist.
So we have the trial transcript. We have tons of materials relating to his work with Jewish campaigns during his time. So I can, if anybody has any specific questions, please feel free to email me, and I can give you a rundown of the specific materials that we have in our collections pertaining to Ben Gold.
ELISSA SAMPSON: And Ben Gold is quite a character. And he wrote a novel about the Spanish Civil War, among other things. He also did jail time. Many of these people, because they're immigrants, can be denaturalized because of their politics. And that also is something that we see in the archives.
We see some of the proceedings against them and the legal world that surrounds them in terms of having these politics and trying to basically claim the First Amendment, which is unclear given the legal landscape in America let alone the political landscape of the Cold War. So all that and more is in these archives.
There's a question for Petrina here and for Patrick, I think, as well, which is, are there any pertinent photographs in the archives?
PATRICK STEVENS: In the rare manuscript collections here at Cornell, I believe that there are. I think it's a matter of doing some searching for them. They may be in publications, integrated into publications, and not independent, not necessarily loose collections of photographs in folders, for example, in an archival sense.
But again, it's worth looking through, doing the searching that we can do and trying to isolate what might be available. The great thing about Cornell is, really, the strength of the Kheel Center in terms of that focus on labor history and Jewish labor history. And it's magnificent, seeing and hearing what you have over there.
But by all means, do keep it and keep it up because it's wonderful stuff. In our place, it's a matter of looking a little differently and looking within actual imprints, published works, for photographic evidence that might be valuable alongside literary evidence.
ELISSA SAMPSON: And the Kheel Center, I can tell you as somebody who teaches at Cornell, has the archive-- and I'm not saying a archive-- the archive on the Triangle Fire. I never have a student leave without tears when Steve shows original photographs that are not on Cornell's website from the fire and of the families and of much of what happened before and after, including, by the way, of the 1909 strike that Clara Lemlich, who's one of the leaders of the JPFO, leads.
So the photographic collection at Kheel is unsurpassed when it comes to some aspects of immigrant Jewish life and immigrant Italian life, for that matter, in 1909 or 1911. Now, Petrina, would you like to talk about photographs at Syracuse?
WESLEY CHENAULT: Elissa, I believe Petrina had to leave. Her library closes at 5:00, so lots going on.
ELISSA SAMPSON: She has to leave the building.
STEVEN CALCO: I'll just interject that I put in the link a link to our Kheel Center photograph collections that have been digitized and put up on Flickr. So you can kind of see some of those Triangle Fire and ILGWU images that Elissa was just mentioning documenting early immigrant Jewish life.
ELISSA SAMPSON: And there's a last question here, and I think we just do a go-around, 30 seconds for each of us, if that's OK. Many historians of the Jewish left are somewhat dismissive of the Communist Yiddish left. It is hoped that this program will begin to remedy that. So Wesley, I'm going to start with you. What do you think of that comment/question?
WESLEY CHENAULT: I mean, admittedly, this is not a subject area that I have deep knowledge in. But what I appreciate about how the group that put the conference together, the focus seemed very much on intellectual idea, life of ideas, how ideas move between people, how different points and organizations, how certain ideas that were fine six months prior suddenly changed, and how, then, you saw community.
So what I deeply appreciate is how this opens up more conversations and raises questions that I think people can continue to do research. I think there's a lot to tease apart.
ELISSA SAMPSON: Thank you. Steve and then Patrick.
STEVEN CALCO: I think just being able to provide access to these materials digitally can really provide more research opportunities to make those distinctions and create more opportunities for discourse of the historical narrative.
ELISSA SAMPSON: Thank you. Patrick.
PATRICK STEVENS: I think that it must be remembered-- two things about the Yiddish left, if you want to call it that, is that there's a tremendous amount of documentation here that we're talking about. It's certainly not the only perspective of the great Jewish migration to the Americas.
There is the entire rest of the, if you will, Ashkenazi nation that came over here. And there are also, of course, Sephardim-- Sephardic Jews and other smaller groups who have a history, either with labor or with cultural aspects.
But there's something else I want to touch on here, and that is what is going on here in our division. And that is we are looking at and creating records for a large consignment of ledgers from Jewish organizations. And this is work in progress in terms of unpacking, if you will, what we have.
And these organizations include Landsmannschaften and synagogues and yeshivot and such organizations. I would like to see what the tie is between some of these organizations and some of what was going on with the Yiddish left. I think there is a tie of some kind. Let's see how deeply that goes in the coming years as we begin, as I said, to unpack this material and get it described and then have scholars come and look at it.
ELISSA SAMPSON: And I think that is an excellent thought. And I will just add my own comment here, which is that if the JPFO, at its height, had over 50,000 members and gets admitted to the American Jewish Conference, it is important back in its day.
It's important enough that we've had over 100 people here attend this program. We have over 500 people who have been registered for sessions as part of this week-long program. It is important historically. It's important in terms of its legacy. And it has been underappreciated, in part because the history of Jews and communism is, at best, controversial.
So enough time has passed that we're all adults and can take a look at this and try to form some of our own decisions. And being able to hear people's voices from the archive is very important. There's no better way to be able to understand the past than to hear a direct voice from it and to see an artifact from the past.
So I thank all the libraries and archivists here and all the institutions that have digitized or maintained in paper or film or microfiche records of the Jewish left. Because they are an oytser. They are a treasure, not simply for the past but for the future. So thank you.
PATRICK STEVENS: [YIDDISH], Elissa. Thank you all so much. [INAUDIBLE].
ELISSA SAMPSON: Thank you. And again, I saw the request for getting the actual links into an email, and we will process that. So thank you very, very much for your time here. And again, we're encouraging you to go to some panel sessions Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. No, seriously, no Friday?
PATRICK STEVENS: No.
ELISSA SAMPSON: So you have Wednesday, Thursday, and you also have, basically, Monday and Ben Katchor at 3:00 to 5:00 PM, along with memories and recollections. And again, please come back for more. That's what we're here for. Thank you.
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"Di Linke: the Yiddish Immigrant Left from Popular Front to Cold War" explores the history, cultural and political activities of the Jewish People’s Fraternal Order (JPFO), a significant component of the Yiddishist immigrant Jewish Left. The JPFO, the Jewish section of the Soviet-oriented multi-ethnic International Workers Order (IWO), was shut down with the IWO during the Cold War when its funds and organizational archives were confiscated. Much of the material discussed is from the now partially-digitized IWO/JPFO archive housed at Cornell’s ILR School Kheel Center.
In this session: Tour the Cornell Kheel Center Archives, Cornell and Syracuse Special Collections, with Wesley Chenault, Steven Calco, Patrick Stevens, and Petrina Jackson. Collections hold materials about the IWO/JPFO and its relationship to Yiddish art, poetry, publishing, the Soviet Union, postwar Poland, the Communist Party and American Left, black and feminist activism, and the Cold War.