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Jewish Studies Research Guide

Manuscripts and Personal Papers

Morris B. Abram Papers (MSS 514), 1873–2000; 122.375 linear ft. (234 boxes, .25 linear feet of born digital materials (BD), and AV Masters: 6 boxes (5.25 linear feet and 1 CLP)).

Born in Fitzgerald, Georgia to a Jewish family, Morris B. Abram (1918–2000) earned his law degree at the University of Chicago Law school. After his military service, he studied at Oxford University, while also joining the staff of International Military Tribunal prosecutors at the Nuremberg trials. Beginning in the 1950s, he began a long career as a civil rights lawyer and activist. In the course of his half-a-century-long career, he filled various government positions as well. Among his task were to serve as president of Brandeis University (1968–70), vice-chairmanship of the United States Commission on Civil Rights (1983-86) and the appointment to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations European office (1989–93). He was involved with Jewish public life as president of the American Jewish Committee (1963-68), as chairman of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry (1983–88) and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (1986–89).

The collection contains correspondence, speaking engagement files, writings, subject files, and personal papers.

Melech Epstein Papers (MSS 803), 1964–78; 2 linear ft. (2 boxes).

The author and journalist, chronicler of the Jewish labor movement in the United States, Melech Epstein (1889–1979) was born in Belarus and moved to the United States in 1913. He was a member of the Communist Party—which he left in 1939, after the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was signed—and, between 1925 and 1929, editor of the Yiddish Communist daily, Die Freiheit. Several of his books are available from the Woodruff library: Jewish Labor in the U.S.A. (second edition, 1969), The Jew and Communism (1959), Pages from a Colorful life : An Autobiographical Sketch (1971), Profiles of eleven : profiles of eleven men who guided the destiny of an immigrant society and stimulated social consciousness among the American people (1965). He published both in English and Yiddish.

The collection consists of papers of Melech Epstein from ca. 1964–78. The papers include Epstein’s writings, research, books, and other printed materials, photographs, memoirs, and correspondence relating to the publication of his writings and to personal matters, particularly his involvement in activities concerning the welfare of Jews in America. 

Leo Frank Collection (MSS 674), 1915–86; 0.75 linear ft. (2 boxes, 1 oversized paper, 3 microfilm reels).

Leo Max Frank (1884–1915), was born in Paris, Texas to a Jewish family. The family moved to Brooklyn, New York, when Leo Frank was a young child. He attended Pratt Institute and Cornell University, graduating from Cornell in 1906 with a degree in mechanical engineering. After working as a draftsman and testing engineer for companies in New York and studying pencil manufacturing in Europe, he joined his uncle, Moses Frank’s venture, the National Pencil Company in 1908 in Atlanta, Georgia. He was appointed superintendent and vice president. He became a respected member of the Jewish community and was elected president of B’nai B’rith.

In 1913, Frank was accused of murdering Mary Phagan, a thirteen-year-old worker at the factory. He was sentenced to death by hanging. In 1915, following multiple unsuccessful appeals, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment on the day it was scheduled to be carried out as the result of the outgoing governor John Slaton’s decision, which caused public outcry. Frank was moved to a higher security prison, where he was attacked. He survived the attack, however, shortly after, in August 1915, a lynch mob removed him from the prison and murdered him. Newspapers all over the U.S. reported about the case and scholars connected it to the history of antisemitism in the South, the establishment of the Anti-Defamation League, and the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan.

The collection comprises of transcriptions, notes, photocopies of trial documents, clippings, a scrapbook, and printed material. The collection contains a typewritten copy of the transcript from the hearing before Governor John M. Slaton regarding the request of commutation of Leo Frank’s death sentence and one of the attorneys representing Leo Frank at the commutation hearing, Manning Jasper Yeomans’s notes, “Decision in Response to Application for Posthumous Pardon for Leo M. Frank” from the State (Georgia) Board of Pardons and Paroles, December 22, 1983, and photocopies of clippings related to the application for and subsequent pardon. Parts of these items are fragile and have been photocopied for use by researchers.

Louis and Anna Geffen Family Papers. (MSS 651), circa 1898–2010; 48.75 linear feet (93 boxes), 3 bound volumes (BV), 6 oversized papers boxes and 3 oversized papers folders (OP), 1 extra oversized (XOP), AV Masters: 1 linear feet (1 box and LP1), and 1.2 MB born digital material (8 files)

Louis Geffen was born in New York in 1904, his parents immigrated to the U.S. from Kovno, Lithuania a year before his birth. He married Anna Birshstein, an active member of various Jewish organizations, of Norfolk Virginia in 1934. Both Louis and their son David (1938– ) were graduates of Emory University and served in the U.S. army. Whereas the father chose to practice law, the son became an ordained rabbi and moved to Israel to be closer to his children and grandchildren.

The Louis and Anna Geffen family papers consist of correspondence, writings, printed material by and about the Geffen family, photographs and photograph albums, subject files, audiovisual materials, and memorabilia relating mainly to Louis and Anna Geffen, and their son Rabbi David Geffen. The collection contains a small number of items relating to Rabbi Tobias Geffen including printed materials and photographs. Of particular interest is documentation, including multiple handwritten (in Hebrew) drafts and a galley proofs, relating to Louis’s father and David’s grandfather, Rabbi Tobias Geffen’s responsa that determined that Coca-Cola was kosher.

Philip JJaffe Papers (MSS 605), 1936–80; 90.25 linear ft. (160 boxes, 13 oversized papers, 1 oversized bound volume, 3 microfilm reels).

Philip Jacob Jaffe (1895–1980) was born in Mogilev, Ukraine, to a Jewish family, who immigrated to the United States in the first decade of the twentieth century. Through family connections he became interested in China and Communism there. In 1932, he attended the first meeting of the American Friends of the Chinese People (AFCP), and a year later, writing under the pseudonym J.W. Phillips, he was named the first editor of the AFCP's newsletter (later a glossy magazine) China Today which published numerous reports on the Chinese Communists. In addition to editing two journals, he was the author of New Frontiers in Asia (1943), served on the boards of numerous organizations, consulted and corresponded with scholars and government officials, spoke on college campuses and in large public forums, and was a prominent figure in left-wing political circles. At the same time, he was a successful businessman.

Among his papers are materials on Jews in the Soviet Union. The Philip J. Jaffe papers include personal papers, correspondence manuscripts by Jaffe and others, photographs, documents, clippings, pamphlets, and rare journals.

Mary Lane Collection (MSS 607), 1954–80; .5 linear ft. (1 box).

Mary Lane, English teacher from Waycross, Georgia, after reading Anne Frank’s diaryDiary of a Young Girl, began corresponding with Frank’s father Otto and his second wife, Fritzi Frank.

The materials in the collection were created between 1954 and 1980. The collection includes correspondence from Otto and Fritzi Frank to Lane in which they discuss the secret annex where the Franks hid from the Nazis in Amsterdam, Netherlands; the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany; Miep Gies, the women who aided the Franks; Anne Frank’s diary and reputation; the play based on her diary; Lane’s visits to Europe and subsequent meetings with the Franks; and post-World War II politics. The collection also includes photos of the Frank and Gies families; clippings, and printed material relating to Anne Frank’s diary and its dramatization; and copies of the diary and stories Anne Frank collected. 

Bert and Esther Lewyn Family Papers (MSS 1148), 1920–2009; 3 linear ft. (3 boxes).

Bert Lewyn was born Dagobert Lewin in Berlin, Germany, in 1923. In 1942, at the age of eighteen, separated from his parents, who were deported and murdered in Trawniki (Poland) concentration camp, Lewyn was sent to work in the Gustav Genschow and Co., Weapons Factory in Berlin, Germany. Lewyn learned about their death much later. Warranted by a non-Jewish worker in the factory that the Jewish laborers were to be deported, Lewyn went into hiding in 1943. In 1945 he was captured and imprisoned in the former Jewish Hospital in Berlin, from where he managed to escape and reach the apartment of his friends, Jenny and Leo Lebrecht, and remained there for several weeks until the arrival of the Soviet Army and the end of the war. Later, he connected with his aunt Riva Gutman and, together, they left for the Feldafing displaced persons camp in Bavaria, hoping to move onto Palestine. In 1949, however, with the sponsorship of his great aunt Sarah Hene and great uncle Rabbi Tobias Geffen, he emigrated to Atlanta, Georgia. In Atlanta, he started the Lewyn Machinery Company and, in 1951, married Esther Sloan; they raised five children together. His daughter-in-law Bev Saltzman helped him write his memoir On the Run in Nazi Berlin (2001).

The collection consists of Bert and Esther Lewyn’s personal and professional correspondence, photographs of the Lewyn family, sites in Berlin, Germany significant to Bert Lewyn’s life, such as the Jewish orphans’ home where he lived at as a child or the Gustav Genschow and Co., Weapons factory, and various monuments and memorials. Also included are his speeches about surviving the Holocaust, materials relating to the Lewyn Machinery Company, and family documents, including contracts and legal documents of Esther Lewyn’s father, Louis Sloan, the writings of Bert Lewyn’s cousin Dov Levin, a study conducted by Esther Lewyn, and transcribed journal entries of Rabbi Tobias Geffen. The bulk of the collection contains materials relating to the writing and promotion of On the Run in Nazi Berlin, including manuscript drafts, self-publishing materials from Xlibris, financial documents relating to book ordering and royalties, and original photographs and documents related to Bert Lewyn’s survival in Nazi Germany, including his identification card from the Feldafing displaced persons camp.

Virginia Myers McBlair Papers (MSS 74), 1818–94; 0.5 linear ft. (2 boxes).

Virginia Myers McBlair (ca. 1821–96) was born in Pensacola, Florida to a Jewish family, and died in Virginia. In 1843, she married William McBlair of Maryland, a commander in the U.S. Navy. From1861, he served in the Confederate Navy. He died in 1863 commanding the C.S.S. Atlanta. The McBlairs had five children and raised the child of a relative. The eldest son, William Jr., served on the C.S.S. Atlanta with his father.

The collection includes notes, school compositions, and letters Virginia Myers McBlair received from her husband. He wrote about his experience in the Confederate Navy and military operations. Also included are letters Virginia Myers McBlair received from her mother Louisa Marx Myers discussing family, home, religion, and social activities. These letters include occasional references to Jewish-Christian relations. The collection also includes correspondence between Louisa and her husband, Virginia’s father, Samuel Myers describing Pensacola, native Americans, and slave traders. Letters that Joseph Marx, Virginia’s grandfather sent to his daughter, Virginia’s mother, and an extract of Joseph Marx’s will are also included. A sermon written for Louisa’s brother Samuel Marx’s funeral is enclosed. 

Richard Rich Papers (MSS 575), 1902–81; 42.5 linear ft. (83 boxes, 7 oversized papers, 9 oversized bound volumes).

Richard H. Rich (1901–75), merchant and business executive, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of Herman Rosenheim and Rosalind Rich Rosenheim. His maternal grandfather, Morris Rich, opened his first shop in Atlanta in 1860 and later established the Rich's department stores in Atlanta. His father was a shoe manufacturer in Savannah. Richard Rich legally changed his name from Rosenheim to Rich in 1920 at the urging of his grandfather. In 1924, he was elected a member of the Board of Directors of M. Rich and Brothers’ real estate holding company and, in 1929, the year the company changed its name from M. Rich and Bros. to Rich’s, Inc., he became a Rich’s director. He continued his rise through management ranks, being elected company vice-president in 1937, treasurer in 1947, and president in 1949. Twelve years later, he became Chairman of the Board, a position he held until 1972 when he entered semi-retirement as Chairman of the Executive Committee. He served in various positions in Jewish and city organizations: he was president and life trustee of the Rich Foundation, a charitable non-profit corporation, a member of The Temple (Jewish Reform Congregation), the Standard Town and Country Club, and the Atlanta City Club.

The Richard H. Rich Papers contain general correspondence, subject files, materials created by and about Rich's, Inc., family financial and legal papers, writings and printed materials, photographs, scrapbooks, memorabilia, and miscellany. These items document Rich’s business career, Army service, extensive participation in local civic and business organizations, and, to a lesser extent, his family life. The movement toward desegregating store facilities and the sit-ins of the early 1960s protesting store policies are covered in the Rich’s, Inc. series. Papers relating to Hosea Williams’s 1973 lawsuit against Rich for slander during a strike of black employees are enclosed in the subject files.

Jacob M. Rothschild Papers (MSS 637), 1933–85; (bulk 1942–73) 13.25 linear ft. (27 boxes, 2 oversized papers).  

Rabbi Rothschild (1911–73) was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was ordained a Reform rabbi at the Hebrew Union College (HUC) in 1937. Before beginning his Army service in March 1942 in the Pacific as an American Division chaplain, he led congregations in Davenport, Iowa, and his hometown Pittsburgh. He was discharged from the Army in April 1946, and he traveled to Atlanta to assume the position of rabbi of the city's only Reform congregation, the Hebrew Benevolent Congregation, or the Temple. He remained in this position until his death in 1973. Rothschild married Janice Oettinger on December 29, 1946. They had two children, Marcia in 1947 and Bill in 1948.

He became a prominent member of the Atlanta community, holding leadership positions in local, but also regional and national Jewish organizations, including the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), and the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC). As a long-time member of the UAHC-CCAR Commission on Social Action, chairman of the CCAR's Commission of Justice and Peace, and executive board member of the National Conference of Christians and Jews (NCCJ), he was involved in social justice issues. In addition, he was Chairman of the Greater Atlanta Council on Human Relations and a member of Atlanta's Community Relations Commission, the Human Relations Council of Georgia, and the Southern Regional Council during critical years of the Civil Rights Movement.

The collection includes correspondence with Ralph Abernathy, Jimmy Carter, Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ralph McGill, and more, sermons, writings, clippings, printed and audiovisual materials, and memorabilia. There are also some materials relating to the 1958 bombing of The Temple, which was in retaliation for Rothschild’s stance on Civil Rights. 

Sol Singer Collection of Philatelic Judaica (MSS 909), 1902–2008; 60.5 linear ft. (131 boxes).

The Atlanta businessman Sol Singer (1918–2003) has been collecting stamps for over forty years. His collection housed in the Rose Library includes stamps that were issued by the State of Israel, the Jewish National Fund, and countries all over the world. These stamps portray important Jewish historical figures or featuring Jewish themes and symbols. The fifth and last series of the collection includes stamps that the TAM Institute purchased after Singer’s death and added to his philatelic collection.

Alfred Uhry Collection (MSS 833); 12 linear ft. (12 boxes).

Playwright Alfred Uhry (1936– ) was born to a German Jewish family and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a graduate of Druid Hills High School and Brown University. A two-time Tony Award recipient, Uhry also received an Academy Award and the Pulitzer Prize. His Atlanta trilogy, Driving Miss Daisy, Last Night of Ballyhoo, and Parade addresses different aspects of the Southern Jewish, specifically Atlanta, experience at different periods of the first half of the twentieth century. Parade is based on the Leo Frank case (see Leo Frank Collection, MSS 674).

The collection holds notebooks, drafts of scripts and television screenplays. Additionally, there are photographs, printed material, and a videotape of the documentary Southern Roots, Southern Stories: Alfred Uhry

Alfred Wolf Papers (MSS 747), 1898–1981; 1.25 linear ft. (3 boxes).

Alfred Wolf (1889–1981) was born in Heilbronn, Germany to a Jewish family. After his army service during World War I, he enrolled in the School for Textile Technology in Reutlinger and graduated as a textile engineer. He earned his Ph.D. in 1922 at the University of Frankfurt in Economics and Political Science. In 1939–40, he was interred in France and in 1941, he emigrated to New York. Before moving to Atlanta in 1945, he worked there in the textile industry for four years.

The collection includes Wolf’s autobiography "Alfred & Story" in two formats: a manuscript (carbon copy) and audiocassette recordings, and a photograph of Wolf. 

Oral History Projects

Records of the American Jewish Committee Atlanta Chapter Oral History Project (MSS 596), 1976–83; 1 linear ft. (2 boxes).

The Atlanta Chapter of the American Jewish Committee was founded in 1944 and has been active since. The Atlanta Oral History Project was conducted from 1976 to 1983 to preserve the history of the Jewish community in Atlanta.

The interviews pertain to recollections about the history of the community and Atlanta in general. Audiotapes relating to oral history meetings, educational programs, and the Atlanta Chapter of the American Jewish Committee seventy-fifth anniversary celebration are also included.

Emory University Center for Research in Social Change Witness to the Holocaust. Emory University Archives. (RG 600/Series 11). Project files, 1978–82; 31 boxes.

The Center for Research in Social Change was established at Emory University in 1965 to promote the study of social change and to train students in methods of social research. Fred Roberts Crawford was appointed its first director in 1966.

The collection consists of papers of the Witness to the Holocaust project conducted between 1978 and 1982. The papers include recorded interviews with concentration camp liberators and taped recordings and transcripts of conversations with camp survivors, many of them residents of Atlanta, Georgia. There is also a large collection of photographs, originals and reproductions from the post-World War II era depicting the conditions in concentration camps at the end of World War II. The collection also includes subject files, newspaper clippings, reports, and published materials relating to the Holocaust, Nazism, Israel, and Emory University’s Witness to the Holocaust project. Additionally are enclosed publications, including entire issues of newspapers and magazines, such as Hadassah, Martyrdom and the Resistance, and The Southern Israelite. 

Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies

As of 2023, the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies holds over 4,000 interviews with Holocaust survivors, witnesses to the Holocaust, and liberators of concentration and extermination camps operating during the Holocaust. The collection comprises of over 10,000 hours of recorded audio-visual material. The archive was established in 1979, when the grassroots organization the Holocaust Survivors Film Project “began recording interviews with survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust in New Haven, Connecticut. In 1981, the original collection of testimonies was deposited at Yale University, and the Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies opened its doors to the public the following year. Since then, the Archive has worked to record, collect, and preserve Holocaust witness testimonies, and to make its collection available to researchers, educators, and the general public.”

Emory University’s Rose Library is an Access Site for the collection. After registration as a user with Rose Library, users select the testimony they would like to access and, on the same page, under “Request for Use in Manuscripts and Archives,” ask to access it. For additional explanation of how to view testimonies, see this page on Rose Library’s website. (For the relevant information scroll down. At the end of the explanation, the form to schedule a visit to Rose Library is also available.)

The Pekl: Folk/Histories of Jewish Peddlers in the South 1890-1914 is part of the New South Miscellany Collection (MSS 49); 1 linear foot (2 boxes) (1 oversized papers box (OP); AV Masters: 0.25 linear feet (1 box))

Ruth Scheinberg’s oral history collection includes the corrected typescript summaries and the recordings (on audiocassettes) of interviews Scheinberg conducted with Jewish peddlers and their descendants in addition to background information on the subject matter.

Institutional Archives

Records of Atlanta Hillel Emory University (RG 300/Series 9), 1963–2006 (bulk 1963-1988); 1.5 linear ft. 2 boxes.

Atlanta Hillel was an organization for Jewish College students in Atlanta, Georgia, enrolled in Emory University, Georgia State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Oglethorpe University. In 2003, as a result of the establishment of Hillels of Georgia, campus-based sub-divisions were created: Emory Hillel continued Atlanta Hillel’s work at Emory.

The collection consists of records of the Atlanta Hillel from 1963–88 and its successor at Emory University, Hillel Emory, 2004–6. The files include membership applications, correspondence, subject files, public relations materials, budget reports, and information on the programs at Georgia Tech, Oglethorpe University, and Emory University. Files also include papers of the Reformed Jewish Students Committee, circa 1982–84, and pledge cards from the Jewish dental fraternity, Alpha Omega, circa 1963–77. Emory Hillel materials are chiefly printed items related to events sponsored by the organization. The collection also includes Emory Hillel’s preserved website, available to browse via the Web Archiving Service of the California Digital Library.