Tag Archives: Religion

From the Philadelphia Jewish Archives: Pinchos J. Chazin Papers

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

Jenna Marrone, Project Archivist


Collecting the Puritans…and Their Contemporaries

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.

Books from Nordell 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.

Frontispiece from Hobbes' Leviathan
Frontispiece from a first edition of Leviathan; Or, The Matter, Forme, and Power of a Commonwealth, Ecclesiasticall and Civill, by Thomas Hobbes (London: Printed for Andrew Crooke, 1651).

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.

Swinden map
Map from Tobias Swinden’s An Enquiry into the Nature and Place of Hell (London: Printed by W. Bowyer, for W. Taylor [etc.], 1714).

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


From the Philadelphia Jewish Archives: Shana Tova, Happy Jewish New Year

Boy blowing Shofar

Scott Ellencrig, four years old, demonstrates traditional blowing of the ram’s horn, September 21, 1960
Philadelphia Evening Bulletin Photograph Collection

The ritual blasts of the shofar marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year on Rosh Hashanah, a time of personal reflection and examination of the events of the previous year. A shofar is an instrument made from the naturally hollow horn of a ram or other kosher animal such as an antelope, gazelle, or goat. These horns are not solid bone, but contain cartilage which can be removed. The ram’s horn is traditionally used because it acts as a reminder of the Binding of Isaac in the Book of Genesis in which Abraham sacrifices a ram in place of his son. The shofar is sounded up to 100 times during synagogue services on Rosh Hashanah. The ten days of Rosh Hashanah culminate in the celebration of Yom Kippur, a day of fasting, prayer, and repentance. To mark the end of the fast on Yom Kippur, the shofar is sounded once more.
The sounding of the shofar is not limited to Jewish religious services. Secular, humanist observance of the Jewish High Holidays often time includes the blowing of the shofar to signify bringing the community together and a reaffirmation of Jewish cultural values.

Cover of Sholom Aleichem club newsletterSholom Aleichem Club News & Comment, September 1988
Sholom Aleichem Club Records







The First Jewish Catalog, a do-it yourself guide to Jewish life first published by the Jewish Publication Society in 1973, offers step-by-step instructions for making your own shofar:
Step 1: Boil the shofar in water for 2-5 hours. The cartilage can be pulled out with the aid of a pick. If the horn is small, this should only take half an hour.
Step 2: After the horn is completely dry, measure the length of the hollow of the shofar, cutting 1 inch further with a coping saw or hacksaw
Step 3: Drill a 1/8” hole with an electric drill from the sawed-off end until it reaches the hollow of the horn.
Step 4: With an electric modeling tool, carve a bell shaped mouthpiece similar to that of a standard trumpet. The modeling tool may also be used to carve designs on the outer edge or the body of the shofar.

Cartoon of man blowing rams horn still attached to ram

Illustration by Stu Copans in The First Jewish Catalog: a Do-It-Yourself Kit
Jewish Publication Society Records

Jessica Lydon
Associate Archivist

LGBT History

The Libraries have acquired on microfilm The Lesbian Herstory Archives, part 7 of the Gay Rights Movement. This collection consists of a full 150 reels of primary-source material along with a 73-page printed collection guide. Media types represented include “clippings, flyers, brochures, conference materials, reports, correspondence, and other printed ephemera”. The earliest documents date to the 1950s and the era of the Daughters of Bilitis organization. Additional information about the nature of the collection is available from the LHA website. The Lesbian Herstory Archives complements existing primary-source printed and digital collections such as the Gerritsen Collection and Women and Social Movements. It also complements GenderWatch and the new-to-Temple LGBT Life, two databases that index journal articles and other secondary sources. LGBT Life in particular contains indexing and abstracts for more than 130 LGBT-specific core periodicals and over 290 LGBT-specific core books and reference works. It also includes comprehensive, full-text coverage of The Advocate (1996 to date) and other important LGBT publications. —David C. Murray

Historic Philadelphia Photographs

A partnership between the Philadelphia City Archives and the for-profit Avencia, Inc. has resulted in the creation of Phillyhistory.org, a website that provides users with an extensive online photo archive, historic streets index, and index to print photographs held in the Archives. According to Avencia, the site now provides access to “more than 20,000 scanned historic images” of Philadelphia (Avencia.com). —David C. Murray

Enhancements to ABC-CLIO History Databases

The recently released version 4.1 of America: History & Life and Historical Abstracts includes: -Cross-database searching between Historical Abstracts and America: History and Life -User-friendly searching, including inverted author names and punctuation alternatives -Ability for users to save search histories to a personal profile -Natural language date searching, in addition to the traditional decade and century searching -Speed improvements for faster searching -A display option for expanding all of a user’s search result records at once -Addition of a “print-this-entry” option for each record in a search results display -Ability to easily limit searches to English language entries only -OpenURL-support for book entries in the Historical Abstracts database –Brian Schoolar (Electronic Resources Librarian)

Sources for the Study of Early America

Over the past semester alone, the Libraries have acquired more than eighty databases. That’s an awful lot of new information to keep up with, even for the librarians! The rapid pace of change means that it can sometimes be difficult to pinpoint the most appropriate database for a specific research need. One way to keep pace is to consult a discipline-specific subject guide. Another, of course, is to frequently read this blog! And so, in the spirit of “keeping up,” I offer the following list of… Full-Text, Primary Source Databases Relevant to the Study of Early America Books Early American Imprints, Series 1: Evans (1639-1800) Early American Imprints, Series 2: Shaw-Shoemaker (1801-1819) Making of America Books (University of Michigan) Pennsylvania County Histories to 1900 Google Books Many important, pre-1900 monographs are available. American Memory Several distinct monograph collections from the Library of Congress: California, First-Person Narratives 1849-1900; The Capital and the Bay: Narratives of Washington and the Chesapeake Bay Region, ca. 1600-1925; Dance Manuals 1490-1900; Nineteenth-Century Books 1850-1877 (see Making of America, above); Puerto Rico Books & Pamphlets 1831-1929; Sunday School Books 1815-1865; Traveling in America 1750-1920; Upper Midwest Books 1820-1910; and Woman Suffrage Books & Pamphlets 1848-1921. Newspapers African American Newspapers: The 19th Century Early American Newspapers, Series 1 (1690-1876) HarpWeek (1857-1877) New York Times (1851-present) Pennsylvania Gazette (1728-1800) Wall Street Journal (1889-present) Journals / Magazines American Periodical Series Online (1740-1900) Making of America Journals (University of Michigan) Ephemera American Civil War Letters & Diaries Digital Sanborn Maps, 1867-1970 Early Encounters in North America Gerritsen Collection: Women’s History Online, 1543-1945 LexisNexis Congressional with the U.S. Serials Set Documenting the American South (University of North Carolina) Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000David C. Murray

International Medieval Bibliography Online

Temple now has access to the premier database for medievalists, The International Medieval Bibliography Online (IMB), which contains over 300,000 articles in thirty different languages. The articles come from journals, conference proceedings, essay collections, and festschriften chosen by a “worldwide network of fifty teams to ensure regular coverage of 4,500 periodicals and a total of over 5,000 miscellany volumes”. Extensive indexing–including separate indexes for subjects, people, places, repositories, and time periods–allows for precise searching. The IMB covers the period from 300 to 1500 CE and the geographic regions of Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, making it relevant to scholars of classics, religion, philosophy, art and archaeology, history, literature, and Islamic studies. In addition to the IMB, here are some other electronic resources relevant to the study of various aspects of the Middle Ages: Encyclopedias:


–Fred Rowland

ArchiveGrid = NUCMC Improved

Manuscript catalogs connect advanced history researchers with important primary documents housed in obscure and not-so-obscure collections all over the country. Generations of scholars have turned to the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC) to track down collections critical to historical research. ArchiveGrid is a new database from the Research Libraries Group (RLG) that also allows researchers to locate relevant manuscript collections. “Thousands of libraries, museums, and archives have contributed nearly a million collection descriptions to ArchiveGrid. Researchers searching ArchiveGrid can learn about the many items in each of these collections, contact archives to arrange a visit to examine materials, and order copies” (ArchiveGrid). RLG is providing free access to ArchiveGrid through May 31, 2006. After this date ArchiveGrid will remain free if RLG receives additional funding to continue the project. If funds are not found, ArchiveGrid will be made available to institutions as a subscription. All records in the NUCMC catalog are said to be available in ArchiveGrid. Given that ArchiveGrid is a brand new resource, researchers should consult both databases for the sake of completeness. Graduate students and senior scholars should cross-check online search results against the print version of NUCMC. —David C. Murray Postscript: History researchers might also wish to consult Ready, Net, Go!, an index/guide to archival research on the web created by the Special Collections Division of the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library, Tulane University.

Infomine: A “Library Catalog” for Web Sites

Instructors usually experience frustration when students turn first to Google and other non-vetted sources of information for papers and research projects. Most history professors, for example, would greatly prefer that students not cite an elementary school project on Abraham Lincoln. (Yes, such things have been known to happen.) Let’s face it: The vast majority of web sites indexed by Google are inappropriate for college-level research. And yet the benefits offered by digital information sources are undeniable. What to do about this dilemma? Typically, concerned instructors require students to use a prescribed set of sources vetted by them (or by a librarian). Another solution well worth considering, and one that allows for greater student autonomy, is to use a directory of scholarly web sites. Services such as the Internet Public Library, Librarian’s Index to the Internet, WWW Virtual Library, INFOMINE, Internet Scout Project, Argus Clearinghouse, Digital Librarian, BUBL Information Service (U.K.) and others, diligently strive to separate the Internet wheat from the chaff. INFOMINE — whose tag line is “Scholarly Internet Resource Collections” — will be most useful to academic researchers. “INFOMINE is a virtual library of Internet resources relevant to faculty, students, and research staff at the university level. It contains useful Internet resources such as databases, electronic journals, electronic books, bulletin boards, mailing lists, online library card catalogs, articles, directories of researchers, and many other types of information” (Infomine Welcome). Conceptually it helps to think of directories as library catalogs for web sites rather than print books and journals. Thus, INFOMINE is to scholarly web sites what the Diamond catalog is to Temple’s print holdings. INFOMINE permits access to its records through title, author/publisher, subject (Library of Congress Subject Headings, or LCSH), assigned keyword, description/abstract, and a “full-text” search. What is more, INFOMINE allows users to browse through an alphabetical listing of all titles, authors, LCSH headings, and keywords used in the database! It can be said without exaggeration that INFOMINE’s search and retrieval capabilities are easily on par with those of most modern library catalogs, such as Diamond. In sum, human-powered directories of the type discussed above provide a respite from the dubious results often obtained through software-based search engines such as Google. The various web directories (or catalogs) do suffer from a lack of standardization in the way metadata is searched and presented; novice researchers might find it difficult to quickly switch from one service to another. Students who make the effort will nonetheless discover the benefits of incorporating directories into their research repertoire. Professors, meanwhile, will just be happy that students are using appropriate sources while simultaneously developing their information literacy skills. —David C. Murray