News from the AJHS Collections

October 25, 2022
by Melanie Meyers

A note from the Chair of Collections and Engagement

Stephen Wise seated at table, with Shad Polier in background. From Collection I-77, the American Jewish Congress.

Behind the scenes, when we’re not assisting researchers, the staff of the AJHS Library and Archives are always adding to the collections in our care. Newly acquired books are processed through library cataloging, and archival collections are constantly in various stages of arrangement, description, and digitization. A few of our newest acquisitions are now processed, and available for request through the Reading Room at CJH! We hope you will click on the links and see what wonderful new materials await you at your next visit. 

  • Representative Nita M. Lowey had an extraordinary thirty-two year career as a Congresswoman, representing the people of New York in the U.S. House of Representatives. She also served as the Democratic ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee starting in 2013. She was later the first woman to Chair the Appropriations Committee since its inception in 1865, and held that position from 2019 through her retirement. Lowey’s life of public service is well documented in this comprehensive collection, with particular attention on the interaction of her office with her constituents, as well as her Federal initiatives, particularly Homeland Security and Foreign Affairs in the wake of 9/11. AJHS is proud to be the home of this important archive, and are grateful to Representative Lowey and her family for donating this collection to us. 
  • The Simon H. Rifkind papers document the professional life of attorney, judge, and humanitarian Simon Rifkind. The materials include information about his work as an attorney and a mediator, and his advocacy on behalf of Holocaust survivors and Displaced Persons in post-WWII America. The collection was donated by Simon’s son, attorney Robert Rifkind, and these papers will be a wonderful resource for those interested in Judge Rifkind’s life and career. 
  • I. Edwin Goldwasser was the first Executive Director of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York, and an important figure in the rapidly expanding Jewish philanthropic landscape. We recently finished processing his papers and they are available to researchers in the CJH Reading Room. Additionally, we also recently processed the papers of his daughter, Marjorie Goldwasser Wyler. Her papers document her fifty-five-years as the Director of Public Relations for the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, including her work on television and radio broadcasts of The Eternal Light. Both sets of papers were donated by Ruth Messinger, former Manhattan Borough President, daughter of Marjorie Wyler and granddaughter of I. Edwin Goldwasser. 
  • The book GI Jews: How World War II Changed a Generation shed light on an important aspect of WWII history; namely, the 500,000 American Jews who entered the armed forces to fight for their country. The author, Dr. Deborah Dash Moore, was able to use the oral histories and letters of many of these participants to demonstrate firsthand how the experience of war changed an entire generation.  The Deborah Dash Moore collection of G.I. Jews Research materials was donated by the author, and contains transcripts of various oral histories, as well as memoirs and photocopies of letters and newspaper clippings used in the writing of the book. 
  • Henry M. Rosenthal was an important public intellectual who wrote extensively on philosophy and religion throughout his long and esteemed career. Graduating from seminary in 1929, Rosenthal became Religious Director at the 92nd Street YMHA in New York City, and later received his Ph.D in Philosophy from Columbia. His work was featured in publications such as The Menorah Journal, Conservative Judaism and The Reconstructionist, to name a few. His papers were donated by his daughters, and are a wonderful resource for those studying Jewish philosophy, and Jewish American academic life and works. 
  • Stephen Wise is a name that needs no introduction; AJHS holds microfilm of his papers, as well as many other collections (such as The American Jewish Congress archive) that speak directly to his lifetime of activism. This collection is smaller, and documents a different aspect of his legacy; this archive is composed of the condolence messages in the form of letters, cards, and telegrams that were sent to his son and daughter upon his death in 1949. The Stephen Wise Family Condolence Correspondence Collection consists of these messages from friends, family,  and the general public, as well as influential organizations and individuals, demonstrating the profound effect his life and work had on the Jewish community in America and worldwide. 

Each of these outstanding individuals’ lives and work were deeply intertwined with the Jewish philanthropic landscape. Over the coming weeks, we will be posting a series of articles spotlighting a variety of our Jewish philanthropic collections.