Selected Archival Collections of Jewish Interest at the Tamiment Library/Robert Wagner Labor Archives, New York University
The Tamiment Library is one of the oldest special collections in the U.S. devoted to the history of labor and of radical political movements. The Library also holds substantial collections in the areas of civil rights and civil liberties, women’s history and immigration history. The Tamiment Library is open to the public. For more information and detailed guides to individual collections, see the Collections and Finding Aids sections of our web site.
Jewish Labor Committee Records, Part I, Holocaust-era Files, 1934-1947. 54 linear feet, Wagner #25 Finding Aid
The Jewish Labor Committee, an umbrella group of Jewish or Jewish-led trade unions and fraternal organizations, was founded in New York City in 1934. Its primary purposes were to organize anti-Nazi and anti-fascist activity and to provide assistance to European Jews and others persecuted by these movements. During World War II it maintained close ties with European resistance movements and was able to effect the rescue of hundreds of labor and socialist activists and their families. After the War it helped to reunite families and resettle survivors. The original donation of JLC records to NYU included more than 800 linear feet of material. The first portion of the JLC records includes are general administrative records for the Committee’s earliest years as well as files documenting anti-Nazi activity (including relations with other Jewish organizations), rescue and aid activities, and overseas work in general. Available for loan on microfilm.
Jewish Labor Committee Records, Part II, Holocaust Era Files, 1948-1956. 106 linear feet, Wagner #25. Finding Aid
The JLC's Holocaust-related records, Part II, include minutes, convention proceedings, reports, press releases, correspondence, survivors’ biographical files, card-file indexes of refugees and survivors in DP camps and a wide range of printed material. Documented in detail are the JLC's efforts to sustain and resettle survivors, contacts with socialist and trade-union leaders in post-war Europe, proposals for liberalizing American immigration policy, lobbying for reparations, and anti-discrimination work. Available for loan on microfilm.
Note to researchers: Most documentation of the JLC’s domestic anti-discrimination work, which increased in intensity in the post-war years, is included in Part III of the archival collection.
Alex Bittelman Papers. 3 linear feet. Tamiment #62.1.
Bittelman, communist activist and theoretician, was one of the founders of the Jewish communist movement in the United States. He joined the Communist Party in 1919, and held a number of responsible positions until his expulsion in 1959. The collection consists of manuscripts of various unpublished and published writings, including the book-length “The Bolshevik Revolution and its Historic Consequences,” manuscripts of Communist Party USA programmatic documents, correspondence relating to Bittelman’s writings, correspondence between Bittelman and William Z. Foster, some in relation to Bittelman’s assistance to Foster in his writing endeavors, legal documents relating to Bittelman’s indictment under the Smith Act, and to the U.S. government’s attempt to deport him, and clippings. Also included is Bittleman's "Things I Have Learned" [Autobiographical typescript], 1963, 1.75 linear ft. (TAM 062), which covers his experiences as a Communist activist and theoretician. In 1919, when he joined the fledgling Communist Party Bittelman became the head of its Jewish Federation. This autobiographical typescript includes discussion of these activities, and of his post-World War II concern for Jewish Survival. Some of the material in the Bittelman Papers is in Yiddish, including clippings reviewing Bittelman’s writings. Topics include communism and the Jewish people, Marxist theory, and political economy.
Harry Fleischman Papers. 41.5 linear ft. Tamiment #115.
Fleischman (1914-2004) was National Secretary of the Socialist Party (1942-1950), author of Norman Thomas: A Biography (1964), director of the Jewish Labor Committee’s National Labor Service (1953-1979), chair of the Workers Defense League (1979-2004), and a former labor editor at Voice of America. The collection contains biographical materials, clippings, correspondence, writings, scrapbooks, printed ephemera, and various documents, the bulk pertaining to Fleischman’s writings and political activities, including a planned book on the history of American socialism.
Jacob Pat Papers. 2 linear feet. Wagner #127. Finding Aid.
Jacob Pat was a journalist, writer and activist born in Bialystok, Russian Empire, in 1890. He served as the General Secretary of the Jewish Labor Bund's Central Association of Yiddish Schools in Warsaw, Poland in the years preceding World War II. A fund-raising trip in the fall of 1938 brought Jacob Pat to the United States where he was compelled to remain due to the war. He then devoted his efforts to anti-Nazi activity and rescue work and became the Executive Secretary of the Jewish Labor Committee, a position he held until his retirement in 1963. He also served as a member of the Delegation of the Jewish Labor Bund to the U.S., and as a chairman of the Congress of Jewish Culture. These papers include correspondence, essays and writings, in particular, material pertaining to Pat's work with the Jewish Labor Committee.
Abraham I. Shiplacoff Papers. 2.5 linear ft. Tamiment #102. Finding Aid
Shiplacoff (1877-1934) was born in Russia in 1877 and came to the United States in 1891. In 1914, he became secretary-treasurer of the United Hebrew Trades. Politically active in the Socialist Party, he was the first elected Socialist Assemblyman from New York City in 1915 (serving three terms) and led the Socialist delegation in the Legislature opposing intervention in World War I. He was also involved with the International Pocketbook Workers Union, the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, the Socialist Party and the National Labor Committee for Palestine. The collection includes materials pertaining to these affiliations, including: correspondence with Samuel Gompers that documents the conflict between the American Federation of Labor and the United Hebrew Trades.
Baruch Charney Vladeck Papers. 15 linear feet. Tamiment #37. Finding Aid.
Vladeck (1886-1938) was born in Russia and emerged as one of the leading figures of the Jewish socialist movement of this century. He was general manager of The Jewish Daily Forward from 1918-1938 and was elected to the New York City Board of Alderman. The papers contain correspondence, the manuscript of a partial autobiography, addresses, debates, biographical material, reports, memos, press releases, personal and family papers and printed material. Included is material relating to public housing, Jewish charitable and labor organizations such as ORT and the Jewish Labor Committee, the status of Jews in Nazi Germany, political campaigns, Socialist Party affairs and political matters. Correspondents include Freidrich Adler, Sholom Asch, Victor and Meta Berger, Daniel Hoan, Louise Kautsky, Harry Laidler, Algernon Lee, Ramsey McDonald and Lillian Wald.
Irving Weissman Papers. 2.5 linear feet. ALBA #165. Finding Aid.
One of the more than 200 Abraham Lincoln Brigade archives (ALBA) collections at the Tamiment Library. Weissman (1913-1998) was a labor activist and a member of the Young Communist League before he went to fight in the Spanish Civil War. In Spain he trained and fought with the MacKenzie-Papineau Battalion. Weissman also fought with the United States Army in World War II. Weissman’s work as an organizer for the Communist Party in the late 1940s led him to be charged and tried under the Smith Act for conspiring to advocate the overthrow of the U.S. government; the charges were eventually dismissed. Later in life, Weissman was an active member of the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade (VALB) and was editor of their newsletter, The Volunteer, for several years. This collection includes correspondence written by Weissman while in Spain and documents related to his participation in the Spanish Civil War and World War II. It also contains extensive subject files related to VALB activities, especially in the 1970s and 1980s, and to Weissman’s writings, including material reflecting his interest in Jewish issues.
Other archival collections of Jewish interest at the Tamiment Library include: the
Morris U. Schappes,
Julius Bernstein, and
Edward S. Goldstein Papers and the records of the New Jewish Agenda,
Americans for Progressive Israel,
the International Workers Order,
several Jewish-led socialist and communist summer camps, and a number of relevant labor union and other organizational records collections.
In addition to archival collections, the Library has extensive holdings of audiotaped interviews (including those of the Lower East Side Oral History Project and the Herbert Gutman New York City Immigrant Labor History Project ), film, Jewish periodicals, posters, photographs and printed ephemera.