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
The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Philadelphia (JCRC) was established by B’nai B’rith in January 1939, but was originally known as the Philadelphia Anti-Defamation Council (PADC). The organization changed its name in May 1944, to better reflect its dual mission to fight anti-Semitism and organized bigotry, as well as to promote intergroup understanding and cooperation. Although the JCRC developed into an organization that worked to advance both of these goals, the earliest records show their focusfrom 1939 through the end of the Second World War was on investigating and combatting anti-Semitism.
Prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, conspiratorial ideas regarding Jews increasingly became intermixed with an isolationist and nativist sentiment that hoped to keep America strictly neutral in the growing conflict in Europe and Asia. A graphic example of this came to the attention of the PADC on April 17, 1941.
Initially referred to as the “new pro-Nazi circular,” correspondence shows that Maurice Fagan, executive director of the PADC, was in contact with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and other groups who were investigating its appearance in Philadelphia. An ADL contact revealed that a large number of these circulars were sent to “H. L. Smith” of 2218 Pine Street by “M. Slauter” of 715 Aldine Ave., Chicago. A few days later, Fagan learned that the “Uncle Sam crucifixion circular” was the “brain child” of Newton Jenkins of Chicago and that there were reports of the circular appearing in Oregon and New York. A memorandum from April 24, described 715 Aldine Ave. as a “clearinghouse for anti-Semitic material” and connected Newton Jenkins with Elizabeth Dilling, a right-wing activist and supporter of isolationism.
An April 27 American Jewish Committee report, orchestrated by George Mintzer, details an investigation of the 715 Aldine address and the individuals associated with the case. While the address turned out to be a boarding house and M. Slauter to be a fictitious name, the investigator discovered the circular was printed by John Winter, co-owner of a Chicago printing company that had previously been investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for connections with the German American Bund, the National German-American Alliance, and other “front organizations associated with the Nazi movement.”
A second circular began appearing in May that shared the same artistic and thematic style as the first. A May 15 letter from Joseph Roos to Maurice Fagan and others, states that Gustav A. Brand was very likely the artist behind both circulars. Roos states that he knew Brand well and that Brand was a former Chicago City Treasurer who “has constantly been under fire because of his strong Nazi language.”
On May 29, Maurice Fagan sent a letter to the Philadelphia office of the F.B.I. with an update on the investigation into the circulars. This letter appears to be the last action taken on this case, but the records of the JCRC contain many other examples of PADC investigating and exposing cases of anti-Semitism in the Greater Philadelphia region.
–Kenneth Cleary, Project Archivist, Philadelphia Jewish Archives Collection, SCRC
The Special Collections Research Center is fortunate to hold two Books of Hours from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in its collection. Looking at these two volumes side by side, visitors to the SCRC can see for themselves the transition from the manuscript tradition to the printing tradition during the early years of the printing press.
Books of Hours were generally created during the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries, and contain prayers dedicated to the Virgin Mary to be read throughout the day. These prayer books were intended to aid personal prayer rather than public worship in a church or cathedral. Books of Hours were enormously popular with the middle class of the day, and even today are the most common type of book or manuscript remaining from the medieval period. For more information on books of hours, see the tutorial on the Les Enluminures web site.
Specific content of Books of Hours varies widely. While all contain the Hours of the Virgin, some might also contain the Hours of the Cross, or certain psalms. The liturgical content of a Book of Hours is referred to as its “use,” and is typically named for the region or area where that use was common, such as “Use of Rome.”
SCRC’s manuscript book of hours is thought to be from Toul, France (Book of Hours: Use of Toul), and dates from between 1450 and 1499. It is written on parchment, which is made from animal skin, and it contains hand painted miniatures. As a manuscript, it is a unique item. The printed Book of Hours (Ces presentes heures sont a lusaige de Ro[m]me, or Book of Hours: Use of Rome), printed in Paris around 1534 by Germain Hardouyn, contains metalcuts hand painted by artist Jean Pichore. It is printed on vellum, which is a finer quality parchment made from the skin of a calf or other young animal. This volume is believed to be one of only three remaining copies of this edition.
The manuscript Book of Hours was recently digitized for Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis a Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL) project, funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) . 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
With thanks to Katharine Chandler, Bryn Mawr College, for her assistance
On August 13, 1957, William and Daisy Myers and their three children, an African American family, moved into the all-white community of Levittown, Pennsylvania, and shortly thereafter found themselves confronted by angry residents displeased with their arrival. Large crowds gathered during the day and hurled insults towards the home, while at night, cars drove by flashing their lights and honking their horns. The situation escalated over the course of eight days, with rocks being thrown through the windows of the Myers’ home and another stone knocking a local police officer unconscious. In response, the Pennsylvania State Police were sent to Levittown to restore order, where they would remain for nearly two months before a semblance of calm returned.
The events in Levittown attracted the attention of the national press and a wide range of civic and religious organizations that shared a common mission to combat prejudice and discrimination. One of these organizations was Philadelphia’s Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), which frequently worked to promote fairness and equal opportunity in housing for African Americans throughout Philadelphia. The JCRC would not take a direct role in events taking place in Levittown, but correspondence between JCRC executive director Maurice Fagan, and several other regional Jewish organizations, demonstrates the level of interest they shared. On October 18, Stephen Remsen, the director of the Philadelphia based Jewish Labor Committee, wrote to Fagan saying, “The pressures of time and the fact that my Levittown file is at home preparing itself for some more speeches to everybody and his brother make it difficult for me to do justice to your request.”
The apparent request was for an account of the role of Levittown’s Jews in response to the unrest. The letter praises the activities of the local Jewish Community Council, which worked in cooperation with Protestant and Quaker groups to actively support the rights of the Myers. Remsen notes that there were some “individual” Jews who were either neutral or opposed to the racial integration of their community, yet also stresses that he could find no evidence that any Jew took part in any of the protests or acts of mob violence. Perhaps the most interesting comments in the letter come when Remsen expresses concern to Fagan about the way Jews are sometimes perceived and how this could influence events in Levittown.
Remsen writes: “If there was any problem, it was the identification of the Myers move-in as a Negro-Jewish-Quaker movement and cause. While the Rabbi and all the others of Jewish faith who were in this fight tried to remain in the background, it was impossible to do this. I am convinced that the enemy – smelling one Jew in the community – would have played the anti-Semitic game even if that one Jew did nothing but study the Torah.”
Fred Grossman, director of the regional Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, also wrote to Fagan on October 18 about his assessment of events in Levittown. Grossman describes some of the harassment endured by the Myers family and their supporters over the previous weeks and similarly lauds the work of Jewish groups, despite, “reports of anti-Semitic comments and instances of hostility from non-Jewish neighbors previously friendly or at least indifferent.” Grossman also makes it clear that Jewish support for racial integration was not universal, and, in terms that are a bit more stark than Remsen’s, says that, “Although there are many Jews who are strongly opposed to integration and who resent the Myers, few if any of these agree with the violence or the attrition techniques aimed at driving the Myers out.”
Following these letters, Fagan submitted a report on October 23, 1957, to the JCRC board of directors that outlined what he saw as four key reasons why Jews had a stake in Levittown: “(1) the family which sold the home [to Myers] is Jewish; (2) the friendly family next door is Jewish; (3) organized Jewish groups and synagogues were called upon to make a public stand; and (4) Levitt of Levittown is Jewish.”
A local group, the Levittown Citizens Committee, took the lead in organizing support for the Myers and appealing for peace in their community. Comprised of Levittown residents, as well as local rabbis, Protestant ministers, and members of the Society of Friends, the group lent direct support to the embattled Myers and campaigned against the racism on their streets. Before it was over, the Myers and their friends would endure numerous forms of intimidation, including the burning of several crosses and the painting of “KKK” on the home of Myers’ Jewish neighbor. For several weeks, a vacant house situated next to the Myers’ home was occupied by members of the Levittown Betterment Committee–a hastily organized group that wanted to preserve Levittown’s whiteness. This vacant house was used as a rallying point for the demonstrators, which featured a Confederate flag flying above and the loud broadcast of songs, such as “Old Man River” and “Dixie.”
Eventually, William and Daisy Myers appealed to the Pennsylvania State Attorney General and charges were filed against members of the Levittown Betterment Committee, followed by a court ordered injunction issued on October 23, 1957–the same day as Fagan’s report. Records show that the JCRC was ready to lend aid if called upon, but no such request came from Levittown’s Jewish community, which had no formal relationship with their organization. The JCRC’s board of directors issued formal resolutions of commendation to both the Levittown Citizens Committee and the Levittown Jewish Community Council on December 20, 1957. Their commendation to the Levittown Jewish Community Council read, in part:
“The Philadelphia Jewish Community Relations Council notes with pride and gratification the courage, dignity and integrity with which the Jewish Community of Levittown, in the main under the leadership of the Levittown Jewish Community Council, expressed its regard for human dignity and democracy when the Myers family was threatened by mob harassment and violence.”
The events that took place in Levittown, Pennsylvania, are a small chapter in the larger story of American’s struggle over civil rights, but in many ways it represents themes that would reverberate in numerous communities across the country. While not all Jews took up the fight against segregation, in many cases American Jews could be found either on the front lines or working to support the efforts of those who were.
Additional photographs of crowds protesting the Meyers’ family move to Levittown, PA, can be found in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin photograph collection.
To learn more about the Levittown communities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, see Suzanne Lashner Dadyanim’s essay on The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia’s website.
–Kenneth Cleary, Project Archivist, Philadelphia Jewish Archives Collection, SCRC
This is the first 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 early 2018.
Philip Gardiner Nordell (1894-1976), graduated from Dartmouth College in 1916, where he was an All-American in the running broad jump. He claimed to have invented the predecessor to boxed cake mixes in the 1920s—founding a business that combined the dry ingredients for muffins, allowing the baker to simply add water. Nordell’s primary research interest was early American lotteries, which he studied for over thirty years. His personal collection of early lottery tickets and related newspaper announcements, brochures, and broadsides, is now at Princeton University.
Nordell also assembled an extraordinary collection of books documenting religion, politics, and science in Britain and New England in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Temple Special Collections acquired this collection from Nordell in 1965. It contains more than 250 books, including a significant number of rare British and American imprints on religion from the 17th and 18th centuries. The collection documents the predominant and often conflicting ideas during this period, particularly related to religion, religious liberty, and rationalism in England and the New England colonies. Included in the collection are many books on “fringe” groups, such as Anabaptists, Levellers, Ranters, and atheists, as well as many works on witchcraft. Authors represented include Francis Bacon, John Cotton, Thomas Edwards, Joseph Glanvill, Thomas Hobbes, John Lilburne, Cotton Mather, and William Prynne.
Of particular interest are the books on witchcraft which represent a very comprehensive view of the topic. Originating on both sides of the Atlantic, they document the conversation that old and new worlds were having about sources, causes, and cures for witchcraft–and the eventual repudiation of the belief that witches exist.
In a 1965 letter, Nordell said: “My central aim in gathering the collection has been to furnish important source material helpful in appraising the comparative mental patterns in old and New England.… In different words, the collection furnishes much of the basic source material to form a sound judgment as to the truth of an observation made in the 1640′s, that while New England was becoming old, old England was becoming new.”
–Margery Sly, Director of Special Collections, and Katy Rawdon, Coordinator of Technical Services, Special Collections Research Center
Since the late 1940s, Philadelphian Philip Taylor has been taking photographs of his environment—Philadelphia as it was in the intervening decades. His painstakingly-processed silver gelatin prints illuminate Walt Whitman Bridge construction, the homeless, pre-gentrification Society Hill, the Camac baths, the Philadelphia neighborhoods of South Philadelphia, Northeast Philadelphia, and East Poplar, Atlantic City, and Philadelphia residents—both anonymous and famous—as well as his travels to Israel, the Canary Islands, and Cuba.
Philip Taylor attended local public schools in South Philadelphia. In 1943, during his junior year in high school, he dropped out to help support his family after his father died suddenly while working at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Taylor worked as a civilian in the Navy Department in Center City Philadelphia—in the mail room located next to the photography department. Drafted into the United States Army in 1944, Taylor served until 1946 at various stateside bases.
After the war, Taylor apprenticed as a union tradesman in the lithographic printing industry in Philadelphia. For the next twenty-five years, he worked the night shift as a master lithographic cameraman making half-tone negatives and color separations for the print medium at Mid-City Press, one of the largest commercial printers in Philadelphia. Taylor also taught at the Philadelphia Lithographic Institute and holds two United States Government patents, one in the medical field and another in the lithographic field. He also invented two devices related to the lithographic printing industry. Working full time, Taylor photographed his environment using a Rolleiflex 3.5F TLR camera and a Leica 35mm camera, and frequently stayed up until dawn developing negatives into photographic prints.
Temple University Libraries are grateful to Mr. Taylor for his donation of his life’s work. It will serve as a resource in the Special Collections Research Center for study and research. Please join us for a reception celebrating his work, February 26, 4:00 – 7:00, Paley Library Lecture Hall. The exhibit is on view on the ground and first floors and mezzanine of Paley through August 2016.
The Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) at Temple University Libraries is pleased to announce that the Franklin H. Littell collection is open and available for research.
View the finding aid on the Libraries’ website, along with portions of the papers which have been digitized. Dr. Littell’s extensive library is cataloged and is available for use along with the papers in the SCRC reading room on the Ground Floor of Paley Library.
Franklin Littell (1917-2009), emeritus professor of religion at Temple University, led a distinguished career that spanned more than seventy years. He was a pacifist and activist, proponent of the Christian Laity and an advocate for new religious movements, an historian, political commentator and supporter of the State of Israel. He devoted ten years to work with the Protestant Churches and Laity in US-occupied Germany and more than fifty years to the study and remembrance of the Holocaust and German Church Struggle. He career is marked by strong beliefs in interfaith understanding and religious liberty.
The Littell and Sachs families donated Dr. Littell’s papers and library to Temple in 2010, where they were the focus of a three-year cataloging and processing project. Processing of the collection was funded through a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, Inc., and generous support from Norman Braman.
The Leo L. Honor Papers, a recently processed collection now open for research, is one of a few collections in the SCRC that document the growth of Jewish education in Philadelphia in the twentieth century. Dr. Leo Lazarus Honor was an educator who for much of his career taught Jewish teachers how to teach, and, in the process, mentored a generation of Jewish educators. Dr. Honor was an advocate for religious education and believed that an engaging curriculum of Jewish studies would encourage young people to identify with their heritage from an early age. Honor was well known for emphasizing religious education based on unity, rather than uniformity. His dedication to the Jewish teaching profession and his inclusive approach to religious education made Honor a leading and well-respected Jewish educator.
Rabbi Pinchos J. Chazin (1914-2006) was a well-known and much admired spiritual leader in Philadelphia’s Jewish community. For forty-three years, he inspired and engaged the congregation of Temple Sholom with sermons and weekly lectures that connected scripture with contemporary culture in a way that was both meaningful and motivational. Rabbi Chazin’s sermons were invariably positive, encouraging congregants to explore their spirituality and delve deeper into Jewish tradition. He also displayed compassion for the foibles of human nature, an ability that impressed many people who heard Rabbi Chazin speak.
“Your work as the spiritual guide of Temple Sholom must be a taxing one,” wrote one correspondent in 1950, “but one can’t help feeling your sincerity of purpose….It did a lot to create and instill the desire to delve deeper into the beauties of Judaism, and what it stands for.” In 1970, another correspondent noted, “You are unquestionably the finest rabbi in terms of learning and expression and humanity that I have ever known, and one of the finest human beings I have ever known, as well.” And in 1979, a congregant succinctly wrote, “For the many years that you have acted as Rabbi in Temple Sholom you have opened the doors to ourselves and our children to the true meaning of Judaism and warm friendship.”
Chazin’s personal papers including his weekly sermons, book review lectures, eulogies, cantatas and related materials are now open for research in the Special Collections Research Center. To learn more about this collection, review the online finding aid http://library.temple.edu/scrc/pinchos-j-chazin-papers
Fans of the Special Collections Research Center likely know that letters, photographs, newspaper clippings, and other archival materials usually come to us in collections – large and small groups of materials either created or collected by a person or organization. Often, the histories behind the gathering together of these primary source materials, and the long road from creation to their final home in SCRC, is as interesting as the content of the materials themselves.
Less well known is that we also frequently receive our rare books in the form of a collection, as well. While books tend to be rather individual in nature, as collections they have personalities and histories as unique as any archival collection.
One of SCRC’s book collections is the Philip Gardiner Nordell Collection, which consists of over 250 books, primarily rare British imprints on religion from the 17th and 18th centuries. The collection documents the different predominant and often conflicting ideas during this period, particularly related to religion, religious liberty, and rationalism in England and the New England colonies. Included in the collection are many books on “fringe” groups such as Anabaptists, Ranters, and atheists, as well as many works on witchcraft. Authors represented include Francis Bacon, John Cotton, Thomas Hobbes, and Cotton Mather.
Philip Gardiner Nordell (1894-1976) was a man of many talents and interests. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1916, and was an All American in the running broad jump. He claimed to have invented the predecessor to boxed cake mixes in the 1920s, founding a business that combined the dry ingredients for muffins, allowing the baker to simply add water. Nordell’s primary research interest was early American lotteries, which he studied for over 30 years. His personal collection of early lottery tickets and related newspaper announcements, brochures, and broadsides, is now at Princeton University.
Nordell also assembled his extraordinary collection of books documenting religion in Britain and New England in the 17th and 18th centuries. In a 1965 letter, he said: “My central aim in gathering the collection has been to furnish important source material helpful in appraising the comparative mental patterns in old and New England.… In different words, the collection furnishes much of the basic source material to form a sound judgment as to the truth of an observation made in the 1640’s, that while New England was becoming old, old England was becoming new.”
Katy Rawdon, Coordinator of Technical Services, SCRC