Harold Ash was educated in Philadelphia and Atlantic City schools before attending Temple University. In 1934, he began his involvement with American labor unions, becoming a staff member of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) and the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).
Ash actively followed the work of organizations representing teachers and industrial workers throughout the country. By corresponding with and collecting the materials of unions and federations as they sought to defend their rights and interests, Ash created reference files he could draw upon when tasked with assisting these groups.
Until his death in 2010, Ash served both educational and industrial unions. Portions of the Harold Ash Papers document his committed role as federation negotiator for the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) and the Pennsylvania Federation of Teachers (PaFT) during his time as a staff member of the Industrial Union Department of the AFL-CIO. Due to his experience with collective bargaining contracts, Ash received many thank-you notes in response to his assistance with teachers’ organizations all over the United States, and the collection contains many agreement drafts and final agreements that Ash had a part in.
Additional material in the collection chronicle Ash’s work with the Telephone Workers Organizing Committee, Insurance and Allied Workers Organizing Committee (IAWOC), Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers of America (IUMSWA), and various other national unions. Ash also served as a teacher in Division of Extension, School District of Philadelphia, and compiled bargaining course materials for college students, federations, and individual workers alike. Materials touching on matters of race, gender, and religion suggest an interest in the array of issues facing workers in all fields.
Ash was not alone in his dedication to labor organization—his wife Martha also took part in union efforts, running as a delegate on the United Bargaining Slate of the PFT.
Problem-Based Learning (PBL) is a teaching method commonly used in medicine and science curriculum, but it has also been applied in teaching history. (See Stallbaumer-Beishline, “Problem Based Learning in a History Classroom,” in Teaching History: A Journal of Methods, 2012.) Stephen Hausmann, an instructor in Temple’s History Department, contacted our Rebecca Lloyd, History’s library subject specialist, about using this approach for assignments in his General Education course, “Founding Philadelphia.” He hoped that this method of answering historical questions would increase student engagement and help them to develop information literacy and critical thinking skills. Rather than writing a research paper, the course was designed to have students working together in teams over the course of the semester to learn to think like historians and answer specific questions based on evidence drawn from primary sources.
Librarian Rebecca Lloyd, held instruction sessions early in the semester to show students how to find and use the secondary and primary sources (drawn from her American history subject guide) that they would need to come up with answers to the PBL-based questions. She held follow up sessions to help with research and checked in throughout the semester to see how things were going.
Using this same teaching approach the Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) hosted a class session in our reading room. This was the last of the seven PBL-based assignments for the semester. Students were encouraged to handle and engage with the materials pulled for the class and use these primary sources to address two historical questions:
Question 1: The 1876 Philadelphia Exposition showcased the city as a modern, industrial, symbol of American strength and promise. This was very much in contrast with the dire economic situation the United States faced after the Panic of 1873. Look at some of the fair materials – in what ways did the Centennial Exposition foster this image? What attractions, items, displays, architecture, and landscape were used to create an American mythology at the event? Compare these with other collections from the 1870s. What contradictions do you see? In what ways was the exposition an accurate portrayal of late nineteenth century American life?
Question 2: One job of a historian is to piece together the basics of daily life in the past for different groups of people. Find two sets of documents that catalogue two different people from Philadelphia’s history. How were their economic and social situations different and similar? Describe their daily lives as best as you can and explain how they compared with one another. What did they eat and drink? What about their leisure activities or family life? What about the work they did or how they otherwise earned their pay?
At the end of the semester, Stephen Hausmann shared the following comments about his class’s experience in the SCRC working with primary sources:
“I had spent much of the semester training my students to use online databases. The visit to SCRC was a chance for them to use their skills in an “active” archival setting. One of my major objectives was to teach information literacy and ways of “reading into” a document, and I hoped that viewing archival material in the flesh would give students an opportunity to use those skills.”
Actively looking at documents in groups led his students “to draw many conclusions about the materials at hand in a way that never really happened during the usual, online, archival research sessions I held in class. Being able to walk around tables and pick up documents, turn pages, and discuss with their peers what they were seeing made for an archival experience I didn’t really foresee. in short, the visit’s collaborative nature achieved what I had been trying to get my students to understand all semester.”
“I think maybe faculty think a session like this will be extra work for them, while on the contrary it actually lessened my burden by allowing me to walk around and talk more with students substantially about the documents they were looking at. I couldn’t have been happier with how things went and some of my students told me it was their favorite single class of the semester.”
We intend to encourage instructors to try PBL-based assignments in their courses, as a hands-on alternative to the traditional research paper. The SCRC is uniquely suited to collaborate on just such an approach.
–Josue’ Hurtado, Coordinator of Public Services, SCRC
In the late 1960s, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Philadelphia (JCRC) saw it a priority to take a public stance regarding gun control legislation. While cases of local antisemitic incidents often included violence, they did not generally include firearms. However, in June 1968, gun control legislation was on the JCRC Board of Directors meeting agenda resulting in the board adopting a policy in support of stricter gun control legislation. The primary motivating factors appear to have been two-fold. First, the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy had just occurred. And second, there was concern for Jewish merchants and surrounding neighborhoods due to an increase in violent crimes in historically Jewish neighborhoods. This had produced increased fear and a call for action from the community. The JCRC argued the solution was to address wider, systemic problems and that an escalation of violence and vigilantism could only beget more violence. In a statement by Executive Director Albert Chernin:
[W]hat we must do is to forge with others a national consensus to persuade the federal government to carry out that massive program that we have postponed for more than 25 years to deal with our massive social, political, and economic problems….That, my friends, is Jewish self-defense. Jewish self-defense is better schools…full and fair employment…full and fair housing….In short, Jewish self-defense is a dynamic, thriving democracy.
Between 1968 and 1971, the JCRC did very little beyond releasing public statements. Their involvement in the gun control debate began again in earnest in 1972. Motivated by a desire to reduce violence in their community, the Old York Road Suburban Division of the JCRC reminded the board of their 1968 opinion and called on them to renew their public stance advocating gun control. While reassessing their position, the JCRC solicited advice from the Philadelphia Crime Commission, the criminal justice expert at the American Jewish Committee, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Executive Director of the National Council of Responsible Firearms Policy on the question of the constitutionality of private hand gun ownership. JCRC counsel concluded that, “The United States Supreme Courts and lower courts have consistently interpreted the Second Amendment as a prohibition against federal interference with the state militia and not a guarantee of an individual’s rights to bear arms.”
The board then sanctioned the petitioning of elected officials and public advocacy groups, supported most notably by the Philadelphia Fellowship Commission. Though they received positive responses from the community, the responses from elected officials were tepid. For instance, in response to the JCRC’s suggestion that gun control legislation be advanced at a federal level, the Pennsylvania Senate’s minority caucus chairman Wilmot Fleming called the JCRC’s petitioning of Congress “somewhat meaningless.” The JCRC continued to lobby Fleming to push a total ban on handgun ownership, but he remained unmoved, citing the belief that, “The problem with any gun control measures, either state or federal, is the fact that a criminal who wishes to obtain a firearm of any kind to be used in the commission of a drime [sic] will get it regardless of any law on the statute books.”
In 1975, after failing to make any headway, the JCRC’s focus on gun control legislation began to wane. A change in the executive directorship brought a reassessment of priorities and a focus on Soviet Jewry and the defense of Israel.
Casey Babcock, Project Archivist, SCRC
This is the fourth post of an occasional series highlighting the work of Philadelphia’s Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC). The records of the JCRC, housed in Temple University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center, are currently being processed and will be available for research in late summer 2018.
Richard Williamson Ellis, born in 1895, was a successful book designer and printer. After being introduced to and inspired by the acclaimed typographer, Bruce Rogers, Ellis went on to launch his own press in 1924, calling it the Georgian Press. Initially locating it in New York, Ellis moved in 1927 to a renovated barn in Westport, Connecticut, where he stayed until 1933. Although some of the books carried his own imprint, Ellis printed the majority of projects produced at the Georgian Press for publishers and private collectors. When forced to sell the Georgian Press due to financial difficulties, Ellis sold it to George Macy, founder of the Limited Editions Club.
During his career, Ellis printed close to fifty books. He often collaborated with friends, most notably, the famous typographer, Frederic Goudy. Ellis often included Goudy’s work in his own. Five Hundred Years of Printing from Type: A Series of Notes on Printing History, from Johann Gutenberg to Bruce Rogers, a book designed and authored by Ellis, has a section devoted to Goudy. When Goudy’s press had a devastating fire in 1939, Ellis and other friends held a dinner to help him recoup his losses. Ellis’s files, housed in the Special Collections Research Center, includes not just examples of Goudy’s influence on Ellis, but correspondence between the two, photographs, and even keepsakes and ephemera Ellis designed for him.
In 1935, Ellis and his wife Esther moved to Camden, New Jersey, where Ellis took a position with Haddon Craftsmen. Ellis’ time at Haddon Craftsmen ended in 1942. From 1942 to 1944 he worked for Kingsport Press in Kingsport, Tennessee. In 1945, Ellis moved to New York as a consulting book printer. He was employed by Curtis Publishing Company in Philadelphia from 1947 to 1956, working on the firm’s popular magazines, The Saturday Evening Post, Ladies’ Home Journal, Country Gentlemen, Jack and Jill, and Holiday. After leaving Curtis, Ellis once again struck out on his own. His final work, commissioned by the Free Library of Philadelphia, was completed while Ellis was in his eighties: Pennsylvania German Fraktur of the Free Library of Philadelphia. Publication of this book marked the end of a sixty-year career in book designing and printing. During that lengthy career, Ellis gained recognition among his New York and Philadelphia colleagues as a master of fine printing. Ellis died on October 9, 1982, in Philadelphia.
Ellis’s papers and the majority of his work product and book collection are now available for research use in the SCRC.
Established in 1974, the National History Day competition is a year-long educational program that attracts thousands of middle and high school students and educators nationwide. Students compete at the local and state levels, which award participants the opportunity to present their work in a national contest held every June at the University of Maryland, College Park. Since 2006, the Special Collections Research Center has participated in NHD and has hosted classes from numerous Philadelphia area schools, including the Julia R. Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School.
In preparation for the 2017 NHD competition, Masterman High School students Abigail Leighton, Eva Faenza, and Madeline Kim visited the SCRC to use the original news clipping and photograph files of the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin and Philadelphia Inquirer newspapers for information to include in their group documentary, “The Selma Marches: Two Steps Forward One Step Back for Voting Rights.” Their project placed second in the Senior Division, Group Documentary category at the Pennsylvania state NHD competition.
Abigail Leighton describes the class visits to the SCRC as “…instrumental in the creation of our film. The sources we studied not only helped us develop our knowledge of the Selma Marches, they also provided us with visuals such as headlines that articulated key points that we made in our documentary. The insights we developed from the articles we discovered at the SCRC helped propel our documentary from the NHD Philly competition at the National Constitution Center, to the NHD national competition at the University of Maryland. “
“We visited the SCRC very early on in our research. Because of this, the sources we found there provided a framework for our project. We worked with over twenty articles from the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin Clipping Collection. Primarily, these articles helped us place the Selma Marches in historical context, a crucial part of the National History Day process. They were like puzzle pieces. Each article told the story of a different day leading up to the three major voting rights marches. When we pieced the puzzle together, we were able to understand the motivation behind the movement. The articles also helped us interpret the immediate national impact of the marches. We read about protests sparked by the violence in Selma in major cities across the nation. Although throughout this year we consulted many primary sources from speeches to letters to footage and pictures and even conducted a primary source interview with James H. Barker, photographer of the third Selma March, the most instrumental sources were those first articles that we read at the SCRC.”
Just as the Centennial Exhibition of 1876 was captivating visitors in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park, Fannie and Amelia Allen began chronicling their social and intellectual pursuits in their diaries. The Allen sisters filled their diaries with short summaries of the day’s events and longer, introspective passages that revealed their personal ambitions and struggles to find a mate who was both desirable and an intellectual match.
In an entry dated April 20, 1876, Fannie (age 21) writes: “I am trying to school my thoughts and make myself contented with the blessings, and not wish for others, but it is hard, and it is only now and then, when I see some others not, as I think, situated happily as I am so I feel thoroughly contented. It is hard to see others happily mated, and neither Amelia or I is so, or likely to be…”. Amelia (age 22) expresses similar sentiment in a June 18, 1878 entry: “Years do not bring what I long for as every girl I suppose at my age wants – a lover whom I can respect. Times are either different now or we are hard to suit. I know not which but certain it is never have I seen the person I could care for in that light.”
Already working as a teacher, Amelia frequently writes about the challenges she experienced in the Hebrew Sunday School Society and Philadelphia Public Schools. Despite her desires, Amelia never married. She dedicated her life to education and social service. In 1885, along with other like-minded Jewish women, Amelia founded the Young Women’s Union, where under her tutelage adolescent girls learned domestic skills and in 1894 helped organize the women’s branch of the Young Men’s Hebrew Association.
As Fannie approached her late twenties, she spent less and less time recording her thoughts in her diary, but on August 25, 1884, she (age 29), made the following revelation: “I reopen this to say though I’m not married, I hope to be. It seems too wonderful. Not only do I expect to be a physician, but I hope to wed a Mr. Moses De Ford. A man who though younger than I, is my ideal in almost every particular. We were engaged Aug. 17 but expect to keep our betrothal a secret, even from my dear Mother until after I graduate and he is a physician, then as soon as he gains enough supporters, we hope to be married partners, no fear of deficient love on his side and mine.”
Nearly three years later on June 8, 1887, at the age of 32, Fannie married Moses De Ford, eight years her junior, but not before graduating from the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. Fannie practiced medicine alongside her husband for over 30 years in the Kensington neighborhood, providing medical care to the immigrant population that worked in the textile mills and shipyards nearby, and advocated for better hygiene and sanitation for the working poor.
On Christmas Day 1979, Mr. and Mrs. John Boston of the Alleyne Memorial AME Zion Church in West Philadelphia welcomed several Vietnamese refugees into their home for dinner. Earlier in the month, some 200 refugees accepted an invitation to attend services in their church. Part of the Human Relations Program, these inclusive gestures were coordinated by the Nationalities Service Center (NSC) in cooperation with numerous neighborhood associations, churches, social service organizations, and city departments. The program aimed for community involvement in refugee resettlement. It developed out of necessity, as tensions were mounting in neighborhoods into which thousands of Southeast Asian refugees settled in just a few years.
Ongoing conflict and political upheaval in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos contributed to a worldwide refugee crisis in the late 1970s. By 1980, NSC—just one of several area refugee resettlement agencies—had resettled over 3000 Southeast Asian refugees in Philadelphia, with a commitment to settle 75 people per week going forward. NSC settled the refugees primarily in West and North Philadelphia, where apartments were available and rents were low.
NSC did not consult or alert West or North Philadelphia residents to the influx of refugees, nor were the residents made aware of the political circumstances of their dislocation. Refugees, many of whom were from rural areas in their countries of origin, in turn were not initially educated in the workings of life in a modern American city or the culture of the neighborhoods into which they settled. The language barrier exacerbated matters. At University City High School, existing students misconstrued an ESL program established to assist SEA students as favoritism that gave them an unfair advantage. In Walnut Hill, NSC unknowingly placed refugees in apartment buildings deemed unfit for habitation and inadvertently undermined a boycott of the Dorsett apartment building.
Refugees were reportedly harassed and robbed on the streets, neighborhood associations began to complain, and a general sense of anger and resentment permeated the neighborhoods. Several task-forces involving NSC, other resettlement agencies, assorted city and state departments, and social service organizations assembled in the city. What the media reported as racially motivated discord, NSC saw as a “human relations problem,” one that could be solved with education and community involvement.
NSC’s Human Relations Program officially ran from 1979 to 1980, organizing events and programs to bring the SEA and other refugees together with their new communities. There was a cultural performance festival held that aimed to teach refugees about American culture. It included dancing, drama, singing, and disco. A field trip to a Phillies game, a summer sports program for children, block parties, and a church social at the Mount Carmel Baptist Church were also among the program’s offerings.
Ultimately, NSC and the other task forces working on the issue found that “…public relations is of primary importance. Once informed about the refugees, most communities are receptive.” It was an important lesson to learn at the time. In addition to SEA refugees, private sponsors and settlement agencies were also contending with thousands of Cuban and Haitian refugees. In an effort to improve their ongoing resettlement work, at the conclusion of the Human Relations Project NSC planned to maintain project staff to continue hands-on community work. The Task Force on Inter-Group Crisis, of which NSC was a part, was also discussing a “comprehensive resettlement program and conflict avoidance…”.
The Special Collections Research Center holds a number of medieval manuscripts of various types, including financial ledgers, notated music, a Book of Hours, and philosophical texts.
One interesting volume in the collection is a manuscript of the “Pore Caitif,” a late 14th and 15th century devotional text consisting of tracts intended for home use by the laity. The compilation of this handbook for religious instruction is most frequently attributed to English reformer John Wycliffe (1330 – 1384), and it contains approximately fourteen tracts intended to teach the reader about the Ten Commandments, the Paternoster, the Creed, and other basic aspects of Christianity. The number of Pore Caitif manuscripts in existence–more than fifty–demonstrates that this text was extremely popular during this time period.
It is unlikely that the compiler of this instructional volume was the one to assign the title “Pore Caitif,” even though that title seems to have been used as early as the 14th century. Most likely the common title was taken from the manner in which the compiler refers to himself: “pore” being an alternate spelling of “poor,” and “caitiff” or “caitif” meaning “wretched” or “despicable.”
Temple’s Pore Caitif dates from the 14th century. It has a later binding from the 16th century, made of black Moroccan leather, and contains the bookplate of Robert R. Dearden, a 20th century Philadelphia book collector. An inscription on the last pages of the manuscript indicates that Dame Margaret Hasley, a sister in the Order of Minoresses, presented this work to another sister.
The volume was recently digitized for the Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis project, funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) and sponsored by the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL). The project aims to digitize and make available online medieval manuscripts from fifteen institutions in the Philadelphia area. Images and descriptive metadata will be released into the public domain and easily downloadable at high resolution via University of Pennsylvania Libraries’ OPenn manuscript portal. Temple is contributing over twenty manuscripts to the project.
–Katy Rawdon, Coordinator of Technical Services, SCRC
Each year in October, the Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) celebrates American Archives Month through dedicated programming that raises awareness about the value of archives. This year, the SCRC participated in the Archives Month Philly sponsored event, “Animals in the Archives,” at the Free Library of Philadelphia Parkway Central Library. The event featured over a dozen Philadelphia-area institutions including the Chemical Heritage Foundation, Presbyterian Historical Society, The Stoogeum, and the William Way LGBT Community Center, each of which brought along archival material and hands-on activities, all with animal related content.
At the event, the SCRC featured publications, photographs, and printed materials from the archives of two local organizations founded in the 19th century, The Philadelphia Zoo and the American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS). Throughout their existence, “America’s First Zoo” and AAVS have sought to educate the public about animals and animal welfare through organized programs. One of those programs was the Miss B’Kind Animal Protection Club, started in 1927 by AAVS Recording Secretary and Managing Director, Nina Halvey.
Halvey taught humane education in private and parochial schools throughout the Philadelphia region as part of the AAVS’ effort to combat the use of animals in scientific experimentation. The club also hosted meetings for children ages 8 to 16 at the AAVS headquarters every other Saturday and provided a correspondence membership for children across the U.S, Canada, England, Ireland, and Australia. Club members pledged “I will be kind to animals now and when I grow up.” Halvey promoted the club through lectures and a radio show series on WPEN called “Dogs I Know About.” In 1931, Halvey received a humanitarian prize from the Geneva International Bureau for the Protection of Animals for her humane education work related to the Miss B’Kind Club.
To learn more about the Miss B’Kind Animal Protection Club and the historical records of the AAVS, including preserved versions of the organization’s website, contact the SCRC at firstname.lastname@example.org
In 1967, when Temple University’s history department decided to collect the records of city organizations in order to document the history of Philadelphia from the Civil War to the present, and more generally represent the urban experience, the faculty may not have imagined how the archives would evolve. They were interested in gathering raw material for their graduate students’ research use. Since then the Urban Archives has evolved into the most extensive collection of 20th century Philadelphia history in the region, holding the archives of hundreds of city and regional organizations–from a few to thousands of boxes each. And it’s holding are used not only by undergraduate and graduate students, but by high school students, scholars from all over the world, the media, documentary producers, and the general public.
The late sixties was something of a turning point in the study of history. As Fred Miller, who served as director from 1973 to 1989, put it: “The archives owes its existence to…the growth within the historical profession of the study of social history; the crisis of the cities, which led to the rise of a veritable urban research industry; and the growth of higher education, during which Temple became a major research university.” Fred arrived shortly after the administration of the archives was transferred to the Libraries (in 1972). And he was succeeded by Margaret Jerrido, who was head of the archives from 1990 until her retirement in 2007.
It’s striking how true the archives has stayed to its original purpose, described in the 1968 History Department press release announcing the archives as “creation of a new manuscript collection focusing on urban life and development and drawing on the Philadelphia metropolitan area since the Civil War. The collection will collect institutional and individual records which will illuminate ethnic and racial groups, social welfare, crime, education, religion, economic development, and political activity.” Neighborhood association records became a strength, and in the early 1980s a major initiative to collect labor records increased those collections. And the archives continues to grow, adding, in the past few years, the archives of Occupy Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Zoo, the Weavers Way Co-op Records , and the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Associations to name a few.
Many of the earliest collections gathered in between 1967 and 1969 by the history department, the first director Phillip Benjamin, and a team of graduate students remain the most frequently used, including the first major collection: the records of the Housing Association of the Delaware Valley. The Urban Archives has also become know for holding the photograph and clippings library of the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin–and for being the premiere location for the study of MOVE and the MOVE bombing in 1985.
Representing the hundreds of graduate students, from Temple, Penn, Yale, Duke, and across the country and the world, who have used the archives in their work, is Matthew Countryman, whose dissertation, researched at the Urban Archives among other archives in the city, became the monograph Up South: Civil Rights and Black Power in Philadelphia. Matthew is Associate Professor of History and the Director of the Arts and Citizenship Program at the University of Michigan, and we are also grateful to him for his work with us on our Civil Rights in a Northern City website.
At the symposium, we are privileged to have Herb Bass, Emeritus Professor of History, with us, who was present at the creation, to tell us more about that. Matthew Countryman, Margaret Jerrido, Ang Reidell (Education Specialist, National Archives and Records Administration-Philadelphia); Frank Hoeber; Joe Slobodzian, a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter; and Sam Katz from History Making Productions. We asked the to talk about their time with the Urban Archives and perhaps speculate where the next fifty years should take us.
–Margery N. Sly, Director, Special Collections Research Center