Tag Archives: Top News

Celebrating 50 Years of the Urban Archives

The Libraries are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Urban Archives with an exhibit,  a screening, and symposium.

Walt Whitman Bridge construction, 1955
Walt Whitman Bridge construction, 1955. Photograph by Philip Taylor

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.Octavia Hill Association Property Outline

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.

Lion cubs
Lion cubs born at the Zoo, 1936

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.MOVE

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.Case Study of a Riot

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


From the Philadelphia Jewish Archives: Investigating the Crucifixion of Uncle Sam

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.

Uncle Sam Crucifixion circular, April 1941
Uncle Sam Crucifixion circular, April 1941

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.

American Jewish Committee report, April 27, 1941
American Jewish Committee report, April 27, 1941

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.”

The Answer to the Betrayal circular, May 1941
The Answer to the Betrayal circular, May 1941

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

This is the third 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 2018.

Books of Hours

First page of the calendar
First page of the calendar. Book of Hours: Use of Toul, between 1450 and 1499.

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.

From the Gospel of Matthew
From the Gospel of Matthew. Ces presentes heures sont a lusaige de Ro[m]me toutes au long sans require. Ont este imprimees nouuellement a Paris.: Par Germaine Hardouyn demourant audict lieu: Entre les deux portes du Palais: A lenseigne Saincte Marguerite, [1534].
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.”

Flight into Egypt miniature
Flight into Egypt miniature. Book of Hours: Use of Toul, between 1450 and 1499

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.

Planetary Man
Planetary Man. Ces presentes heures sont a lusaige de Ro[m]me toutes au long sans require. Ont este imprimees nouuellement a Paris.: Par Germaine Hardouyn demourant audict lieu: Entre les deux portes du Palais: A lenseigne Saincte Marguerite, [1534].
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

Society Hill Playhouse’s Street Theatre

“A make-shift stage, a few actors, some stories to tell, and an audience–that’s all it took to bring the excitement of the theater to the inner city.”

Street Theatre flyer, 1969
Street Theatre flyer, with performance in the background, 1969

During the summers of 1968, 1969, and 1970, the Society Hill Playhouse (SHP) took theater to the streets of Philadelphia and Camden. SHP inaugurated its Street Theatre Program for “Better Break ’68,” a program created by Philadelphia Mayor Jim Tate’s Council on Youth Opportunity. The Better Break program collaborated with businesses, organizations, and individuals across the City to offer a variety of educational, recreational, and cultural opportunities for Philadelphia’s youth and families.

SHP’s Street Theatre was among several performing arts entertainments offered as part of Better Break. It turned a flatbed truck into a stage, which traveled to neighborhoods across the City. A deliberately integrated cast performed a series of skits that addressed tenant life and the Vietnam War, among other relevant issues of the day, and offered some upbeat musical numbers as well.

Street Theatre was reportedly well received by the neighborhoods and internationally praised. The troupe gave over 60 performances in 1969 alone, with many neighborhoods requesting the return of the truck from the previous summer. Some neighborhoods even coordinated block parties and other events around the performances. Photographs of Street Theatre were included in the U.S. Information Service’s, “Theater Now,” which was exhibited in the Near East, Far East, and North Africa. It was also featured in a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation documentary. Rene Bonniere of the CBC, reflected in a letter to SHP co-founder, Deen Kogan, “… after touring the greater part of the United States it was one of the most interesting experiments we found dealing not only with the theater but also with human relationships.”

Street Theatre performance, 1969
Street Theatre performance, 1969

Deen Kogan and husband, Jay – both Temple graduates – launched SHP in 1959 as Philadelphia’s “off-Broadway” theatre for contemporary American and European playwrights. Gradually, it developed a niche in populist comedies, like Nunsense, and, in cooperation with the City of Philadelphia, it presented major productions city-wide. It’s other programs included the Writers Project, beginning in 1962, which was dedicated to developing new works, and the Philadelphia Youth Theatre, 1970-1983, which drew students from public, private, and parochial schools. SHP was located in the Society Hill District, housed in the historic former David Garrick Hall. The theater closed on April 1, 2016.

Deen Kogan donated the Society Hill Playhouse Records to the Special Collections Research Center in 2016.  A finding aid is available to provide more information about ithe collection.

– Courtney Smerz, Collection Management Archivist, SCRC

From the Philadelphia Jewish Archives: Ban on Blackface in the Mummers Parade

In mid-December 1963, members of the Philadelphia chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) approached Elias Myers, the city appointed director of the 1964 Mummers Parade, to demand that blackface be banned from the upcoming event. Myers announced on December 16 that the use of blackface would be prohibited, but this decision did not sit well with some Mummers and Myers soon found his home picketed by over a hundred dissenters. The city tried to reach a compromise, but a few days later the ban on black face was rescinded.

Demonstrators protest ban of blackface in Mummers parade,
Demonstrators protest ban of blackface in Mummers parade, December 19, 1963, Philadelphia Evening Bulletin Photograph Collection

1963 had been a turbulent year, punctuated by imagery of police dogs and fire hoses turned on young African American protesters, church bombings, mass civil rights demonstrations, and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. It was in this context of activism and struggle, that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) filed a petition in court on December 30 seeking to have the use of blackface by the Mummers banned. The NAACP argued that permitting ridicule of a large percentage of the city’s population was unacceptable given that the parade was subsidized by taxpayers and subject to the issuance of a city permit.

At the hearing, Jules Cohen, Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Philadelphia (JCRC), offered this testimony, “Not too long ago, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Philadelphia and other Jewish organizations were constrained to take action to end the caricaturizing of Jews on the vaudeville stage, in plays and movies. Stereotyping through the use of blackface in the Mummers Day Parade is an insult to the Negro community and offensive to Negro and white citizens alike.” Nevertheless, the court denied the petition on the basis that there was no law prohibiting the wearing of blackface and that the Mummers’ intent was not to ridicule.

Members of the Hammond Comic Club
Members of the Hammond Comic Club, 2nd and Mifflin Streets, January 3, 1964, Philadelphia Evening Bulletin Photograph Collection

Due to bad weather on New Year’s Day, the Mummers Parade was postponed until January 4, which allowed tensions over the controversy to rise to alarming heights. Reports surfaced that Mummers, motivated by what they saw as an intrusion on their traditions, intended to have over 1,000 marchers wearing blackface at their parade. Meanwhile, CORE announced their intent to disrupt the march, and Police Commissioner Howard Leary was informed that he should expect demonstrators to arrive from across the Mid-Atlantic. As fears of a violent confrontation escalated, Philadelphia’s Council on Human Relations spearheaded talks on how to resolve what they feared was an impending disaster peacefully.

Officers of the JCRC participated in talks with representatives of the Greater Philadelphia Council of Churches, the Board of Rabbis of Greater Philadelphia, and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese. This resulted in a new court petition on January 2 emphasizing the threat to public safety and seeking to ban the use of blackface as well as prevent any protests at the parade. The petitioners were chosen to represent an interfaith consensus and included JCRC’s Vice-President, Fanny Goldsmith. The court issued an injunction, citing the “clear and present danger” to the city, and as a result the parade was held on January 4 without blackface or significant disruptions.

JCRC statement, January 29, 1964
Civil Liberties Committee meeting minutes, January 29, 1964. Jewish Community Relations Council Records

On January 6th, Jules Cohen wrote a report to the Council of National Jewish Agencies that stated in part:   “By New Years Eve, those of us close to the picture were convinced that rioting and disorder were inevitable. All of the ingredients for an explosion were present–an issue about which both sides felt strongly…. I am satisfied the police could not have controlled these extraordinary crowds and that granting of the injunction prevented property damage, physical harm and perhaps even some killings. Such an explosion would have set us back 100 years in civil rights and it would have done untold economic damage to the city in the loss of conventions and other business.”

Following these events there was widespread discussion in the press over the controversy and whether or not the prohibitions on both blackface and protest went too far. Indeed, the JCRC’s Civil Liberties Committee expressed mixed feelings about the outcome in a statement that both sympathized with the motivations of those involved, but also worried about the implications of a court decision that infringed on the right to protest.

–Kenneth Cleary, Project Archivist, SCRC

This is the second 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.


Amateur Press Associations and Science Fiction Fandom

Song 'It's Eney's Fault"
“It’s Eney’s Fault.” Target: FAPA in the combozine Alexandria Trio, FAPA mailing #105, November 1963. Fantasy Amateur Press Association Publications, SCRC 256, Special Collections Research Center.

Amateur Press Associations, or APAs, began in the late nineteenth century as groups of amateur printers. The first APA was the National Amateur Press Association (NAPA), founded in 1876. The associations function by distributing “mailings” containing materials created by its members, copied (if necessary), and compiled by a central person. The   compiled submissions were mailed back out as a packet to members, along with the association’s official organ or “memberzine,” which generally lists the titles and author/editors of pages of the publications included in the mailing, a membership roster of active members, and updates and reports from the APA editor.

Science fiction APAs began in the 1937 with the Fantasy Amateur Press Association (FAPA), established by Donald A. Wollheim and John B. Michel, and quickly became integral to science fiction and comic book fandom.  Comic book fandom, especially in the 1960s and 1970s,  was largely defined by fanzines and APAs. APAs continue to thrive in the digital age, sending out their members’ creations, which include newsletters, zines, drawings, and other formats. While many APAs continue in physical form, some are now published as “e-zines” online.

Cover of Crypt of Cthulhu
Cover of Crypt of Cthulhu, EOD mailing #36, November 1981. Esoteric Order of Dagon Amateur Press Association Publications, SCRC 257, Special Collections Research Center.
Feline Mewsings cover
Cover of Feline Mewsings #30, FAPA mailing #281, November 2007. Fantasy Amateur Press Association Publications, SCRC 256, Special Collections Research Center.

Temple University Library’s Special Collections Research Center’s Fantasy Amateur Press Association Publications collection contains issues of the association’s mailings from 1963 through 2009, including its memberzine, The Fantasy Amateur.It is the longest- running APA. The Esoteric Order of Dagon Amateur Press Association (not to be confused with the occult group Esoteric Order of Dagon or the Australian zine of the same name), was established in 1973 by Roger Bryant, and is dedicated to scholarship and writing related to the author H. P. Lovecraft. The SCRC’s collection of Esoteric Order of Dagon Amateur Press Association Publications contains an almost complete run of issues of the association’s mailings from 1979 through 2009, including the APA’s memberzine, titled at various times The Cry of the Cricket and Nuclear Chaos.

Cover of The Cry of the Cricket
Cover of The Cry of the Cricket memberzine, EOD mailing #29, February 1980. Esoteric Order of Dagon Amateur Press Association Publications, SCRC 257, Special Collections Research Center.
Terrors Cover
Cover of The Cry of the Cricket memberzine, EOD mailing #36, November 1981. Esoteric Order of Dagon Amateur Press Association Publications, SCRC 257, Special Collections Research Center.












These collections of APAs complement SCRC’s other collections related to the history of science fiction fandom. In addition to files of ephemera from science fiction conventions and three fanzine collections (the Science Fiction Fanzine Collection, Sue Frank Collection of Klingon and Star Trek Fanzines, and the Women Writers Fan Fiction Collection), SCRC also holds the papers of Carlos Roy Lavender, aerospace engineer, science fiction fan, frequent convention attendee and organizer, author, founder of Midwestcon, and member of First Fandom. SCRC also hold a large number of books by and about H. P. Lovecraft, as well as the Arthur Langley Searles Collection of H. P. Lovecraft Research Files.

–Katy Rawdon, Coordinator of Technical Services, SCRC. With thanks to Michael Rawdon, brother and former APA contributor.

Friendly Visits

Women and children of League St., 1899
Women and children of League St., 1899

The Octavia Hill Association was incorporated in 1896 to improve working class housing conditions through the sympathetic management of dwellings which it purchased and renovated. The association’s activities were modeled after the work in London of Octavia Hill, with whom one of its founders, Helen Parrish, had studied. Helen Parrish who served as secretary for the association, kept a diary in 1888, and created correspondence, notes, reports, and other publications describing the associations’ work, (1888-1943).  The OHA archives are housed at Temple University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center.

Parrish Diary Cover
Parrish Diary

Parrish’s 1888 diaries (in three volumes) were recently digitized and describe her “friendly visits” to OHA’s  tenants.  In common with other social welfare activists of the era, Parrish and other agency staff members believed that part of their role was to police tenants’  behavior.

Dr. Christina Larocco who surveyed the collection as part of the In Her Own Right grant project, notes:  “It is rare for historical figures to lay out their thoughts, influences, and goals so explicitly. Helen Parrish emerges as a figure as complex and compelling as Jane Addams, one whose life and work encapsulate the central paradox of Progressivism as both altruistic and coercive. This collection adds new evidence to the perennial debate over which characteristic more fundamentally describes this movement. Moreover, these papers reveal Philadelphia to be a city as important to Progressive reform as New York and Chicago, not only within the U.S.but also as a hub in the transatlantic circulation of Progressive ideas.”

In addition to the diaries, many of the images in the OHA archives have been digitized, illustrating housing interiors and exteriors before and after renovations, court yards, and street scenes around Philadelphia.

Children outside property owned by OHA, 1920
Children outside property owned by OHA, 1920

Additional material from the Octavia Hill Association archives is in the process of being digitized and will be available both through Temple Libraries and through a pilot site “In Her Own Right:  Women Asserting Their Civil Rights, 1820-1920,”  being built as a part of a NEH planning grant received by the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries which looks toward commemorating the 100th anniversary of women receiving the vote in 2020.

–Margery N. Sly, Director, SCRC


“We Ought to Have Our Fences Up”: Nativism and Xenophobia in the Progressive Era

An immigrant couple and their children., circa 1910
An immigrant couple and their children., circa 1910. Philadelphia Jewish Archives photograph collection

As early as the 1890s, immigration bills with provisions for literacy tests were introduced in Congress as legislative measures to control the influx of immigrants into America. On several occasions these proposed literacy tests were passed by both houses of Congress, only to be vetoed later by the President.  In 1897, for example, Grover Cleveland rejected a proposed literacy law on the basis it was “unnecessarily harsh and oppressive.”

Beginning in 1907, the United States Immigration Commission, under the leadership of Vermont Senator William Paul Dillingham began its work to address the growing nationalist concerns over the ever increasing numbers of immigrants (over 1 million annually between 1905 and 1907) arriving each year. The Dillingham Commission completed its work in 1911 and concluded that immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe posed a serious threat to American society and culture and should therefore be greatly reduced. It further called for regulation of the “kind” or “type” of immigrants admitted to the U.S.

Dillingham bill
Dillingham Bill (S. 3175), March 1, 1912, Louis Edward Levy Family Papers

The Dillingham Commission’s work was part and parcel of a wave of xenophobic and nativist sentiment in the early twentieth century, which saw numerous immigration restriction bills introduced to Congress with measures that included not only literacy tests, but also head taxes and specification of “barred” or “undesirable” immigrants by geographic and ethnic origin, physical and mental health status, and socioeconomic means. As the twentieth century unfolded, this nativist sentiment drove a progression of severely restrictive immigration legislation.

William Howard Taft vetoed a 1913 bill including a literacy test, as did Woodrow Wilson in 1915, asserting that “it excludes those to whom opportunities of elementary education have been denied without regard to their character, their purposes, or their natural capacity.” Wilson vetoed a restrictive immigration bill containing a literacy test provision for the second time in 1916; however Congress was successful in overriding that veto.   On August 17, 1916, in support of the bill, Republican Senator William E. Borah of Idaho stated “we ought to have our fences up and be thoroughly prepared to protect those in this country who will be brought into competition with the hordes of people who will come here.”

The Immigration Act of 1917 enacted the literacy test as law and expanded the list of “undesirables” barred from entering the country including all persons originating from a geographic area termed the “Asiatic Barred Zone,” a region that included much of East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands.

Letter to Congressman Moore
Letter to Congressman J. Hampton Moore, February 28, 1912, Louis Edward Levy Family Papers

Many individuals and organizations engaged in debates on immigration as this legislation was introduced, including Louis Edward Levy, a prominent figure of Philadelphia’s Jewish community. Levy spoke out against the literacy test as a prerequisite to entry into the United States. He did so both as a private individual and as President of the Association for the Protection of Jewish Immigrants, in published writing and in speeches and testimony. Recently prepared for research use, the Maxwell Whiteman Collection of Louis Edward Levy Family Papers, housed in Temple University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center, includes some of these writings, extensive correspondence, and accounts of speeches that Levy gave on the subject.

The Levy Family Papers document the activities of Louis Edward Levy, the Association for the Protection of Jewish Immigrants, and other local and national immigrant aid societies and their efforts to mobilize and coordinate collective action against immigration restriction in favor of more liberal immigration policies. To use the Levy Family Papers, request materials from the finding aid  for use in the SCRC Reading Room in Paley Library, or view a digitized selection of files from the papers.

Anastasia Chiu, Resident Librarian
Jessica M. Lydon, Associate Archivist, SCRC

“A Free and Modern Zoo for Philadelphia”

Lion cubs
Lion cubs born at the Zoo, 1936

One of the notable aspects of the Philadelphia Zoo  (the Zoological Society of Philadelphia) archives in Temple University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center, is its rich photographic materials, which include approximately 200 lantern slides dating from 1880 to 1936, used to help educate and advance the mission of the Zoo.  Some of these slides were featured in a presentation at the Wagner Free Institute’s Annual Lantern Slide Salon, on October 13, 2016.

Gorilla cage
Old Gorilla Cage, circa 1920

The earliest lantern slides depict the nineteenth-century Zoo, its buildings, grounds, and animal attractions, while the slides from the 1930s document both scientific advancement and a push for change in animal housing.  Breeding and collecting remained in the forefront, great strides were made in nutrition, and the iron-barred cages of the  nineteenth century began to disappear, as new, natural, open-air habitats were constructed.

Making “zoocakes” in the commissary, circa 1935

Later slides document the Zoo’s Penrose Research Laboratory which made early strides in the study and prevention of diseases effecting animals in captivity, and the lab’s pioneering work in nutrition. The Zoo discovered that disease, early mortality, and low fertility affecting the animals was directly linked to nutritional deficiency. To combat this, the Penrose Lab developed the Philadelphia Zoocake, which was “a mineral and vitamin rich concoction…” formulated from corn meal, ground meat, ground vegetables, eggs, fat, molasses, salt, and baking powder. By 1936, the Zoo tested its new dietary program, including the zoocake, and saw dramatically increased general health. Greater fertility and diminished mortality rates were also noted. In fact, some of the animals went on to break records in terms of longevity in captivity.

Unloading groceries
Unloading groceries with orangutan, circa 1935
Beaver Pond
New Beaver Pond, constructed by the WPA, 1935

In addition to the strides in nutrition, labor provided by Depression-era federal work relief programs kept things moving forward in other areas. In the 1930s,  workers for the Works Progress Administration repaired the buildings and grounds, helping to advance how the Zoo housed and exhibited animals. Where barred cages and cell-like enclosures were the norm for the nineteenth century zoo, the twentieth century zoo sought to remove the bars and to create habitats that resembled the animals’ natural environments. This offered better living space for the animals and more thrilling exhibitions for visitors.

Monkey Island
View of Monkey Island, constructed by the WPA, 1935

In 1936, the Citizens Committee for a Free and Modern Zoo was formed to ascertain public interest in the Zoo and campaign for public funding to make the Zoo a free attraction and finance continued improvements. The committee used images from other zoos’ more modern animal exhibits to excite the public about the proposed changes at the Philadelphia Zoo. Such images were coupled with pictures of caged animals under tag line, “Iron Bars a Prison Make,” to underscore the need for this important change in zoo-keeping practices. While the ground work was laid in the 1930s, it wasn’t until after World War II that the city answered the call and appropriated one million dollars to help the Zoo realize its vision.

— Courtney Smerz, SCRC Collection Management Archivist


Publishing Poetry and Prose: A Faculty and Student-Curated Exhibition

Codex Infernum
–by student Duncan R. Copeland

In Fall 2015, the Special Collections Research Center partnered with Richard Orodenker and his Intellectual Heritage class to exhibit commonplace books created by the students alongside examples of commonplace books and related materials from the SCRC. This year, we are happy to continue our faculty and student exhibit collaborations with an exciting display of poetry and prose chapbooks created by students in Kathryn Ioanata’s Honors Creative Acts class.

–by student Keri Klinges

The term chapbook is used to describe the printed literature of two distinct moments in the history of printing in the West. In Europe in the early modern period, a chapbook referred to the cheaply printed and simply illustrated popular literature distributed widely and often sold by travelling booksellers called chapmen. These pamphlets contained abbreviated texts, such as fairy and folk tales, ballads, histories, or moral tracts. In the modern context, chapbooks refer to publications of shorter length, 40-50 pages or less, that are simply bound. They often contain either poetry or prose on a single theme or subject.

During the Spring 2016 semester, Professor Ioanata brought her Honors Creative Acts (ENG 926) students to the SCRC to see a selection of modern chapbooks from our various print collections, including the Contemporary Culture Collection and the Rachel Blau DuPlessis collection. Professor Ionata describes the connection between the visit and the students’ final projects: “This assignment asked students to take their best writing from the semester, revise it, and arrange it artfully into a chapbook. In working on this project, rather than a simple portfolio of work typed on plain paper and stapled together, it became necessary for students to consider the book as a work of art. Using the chapbooks in the Special Collections Research Center as an example, I encouraged students to think about not only their writing itself, but its placement on the page, in the book, and the aesthetics of the book itself.”

Student Nick Stanovick with Professor Kathryn Ionata
Student Nick Stanovick with Professor Kathryn Ionata

Special collections and archival materials are regularly used by students as inspiration for their own creative endeavors. Featuring these student projects in our library exhibits demonstrates the impact that the Libraries’ resources and instructional outreach can have on student success. The exhibit process also creates opportunities for faculty, student, and staff collaboration. Professor Ionata and Nick Stanovick, a student in the class, both participated in the selection of materials for the exhibit, including determining which page(s) of each chapbook would be featured.

Many of the chapbooks created by the students, featuring their own prose and poetry writing, and a selection of chapbooks from the SCRC will be on display on the first floor of Paley Library in the main lobby throughout the fall semester.

–Kim Tully, Curator of Rare Books, SCRC