The American Jewish Archives Receives Historic Collection Documenting Family's 100-Year Legacy in American Social Activism, Women's Rights and Social Reform

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

CINCINNATI, OH: Mr. Philip Angel–whose great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother were pioneers in 20th century social activism in America–has given his expansive compilation of letters, family documents, diaries, and other archival materials documenting the lives and work of his family to The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives (AJA), located on the Cincinnati, Ohio campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. The papers of Hannah Greenebaum Solomon (1858-1942), Solomon's daughter, Helen Solomon Levy (1882-1955), and Levy's daughter, Frances Hannah Levy Angel (1912-2001) attest to their many activities pertaining to social action and social reform in America over a period of more than 100 years. 

Hannah Greenebaum Solomon is well known as a founder of the National Council of Jewish Women–an organization created to "further the best and highest interests of Judaism and humanity." To that end, the NCJW organized vocational and industrial classes for immigrant children and sponsored free libraries, employment bureaus, kindergartens, and nurseries. With the great wave of immigrants at the beginning of the twentieth century, the NCJW focused its efforts on caring for incoming single girls. Solomon also worked closely with suffragette Susan B. Anthony. In 1904, they attended the convention of the International Council of women in Berlin. A lifelong crusader for social action and reform, Solomon was involved in forming the Bureau of Personal Service, an organization designed to assist America's new Russian-Jewish immigrants. She also worked with the Illinois Industrial School for Girls in 1905 and became its president in 1907. She was an active member of the Women's City Club; a founder of the Chicago Juvenile Court and a board member of the Chicago Civic Federation. 

Helen Solomon Levy established one the country's first day nurseries to assist working mothers–with the help of Jane Addams, founder of America's Settlement House Movement and Chicago's Hull House. In addition to founding the Day Nursery Association, her activities also included leadership in the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, the Social Service Independent Committee for Political Action, the Chicago Woman's Club, the Chicago Association of Child Study & Parent Education, the Urban League of Chicago and the National Committee on the Cause and Cure of War. 

Frances Hannah Levy Angel helped launch the Charleston, West Virginia chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women and was the first Jewish board member of the Charleston YWCA. She helped found the community's Cerebral Palsy Clinic and was one of the first women to become a jury foreperson after juries ceased to be males only in West Virginia in the mid-1950s. She was also involved with the Charleston community's Medical Eye Bank, the West Virginia Opera Theater, the Appalachian Corridors Art Show and a United Nations support group, among many others. 

Philip Angel, Frances Hannah Levy Angel's son who compiled the extraordinary collection, believes that "the legacy of these three women is that we are in fact our brother's keeper. We have the chance to do in our own way whatever it is that makes life better for all. We are called to help those who, along with ourselves, make right as opposed to letting wrong perpetuate." 

"This new acquisition adds even greater luster to the AJA's remarkable archival holdings on the history of the American Jewish woman," said Dr. Gary P. Zola, Executive Director of the AJA and Associate Professor of the American Jewish Experience at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. "We are deeply grateful to Philip Angel for entrusting our research center with the responsibility of preserving these precious family papers for posterity." 

The AJA's Angel Family collection-which is still being catalogued-is currently organized into four files with more materials still to come from the Angel family:

  • Background and biographical information
  • "The Wellesley Experience," containing letters of Helen Solomon Levy to her parents while a student at Wellesley College, 1901-1902
  • "European Trip," a diary kept by Hannah G. Solomon during a 25th wedding anniversary trip to Europe
  • "Our Love Story," an extended letter from Helen Solomon Levy to her husband, Emile Levy, recounting their courtship, 1912

To find out more about the Angel Family collection at The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, please 

The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, founded in 1947 by its namesake on the Cincinnati, Ohio, campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, is committed to preserving a documentary heritage of the religious, organizational, economic, cultural, personal, social and family life of American Jewry. The Marcus Center contains over 15,000 linear feet of archives, manuscripts, nearprint materials, photographs, audio and videotapes, microfilm, and genealogical materials. 

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's first institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding.