UB Archives, Bureau of Jewish Education Cited For Excellence in Historical Documentation

Release Date: November 4, 2010

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The UB Archives has been honored for its role in helping to document the Buffalo Jewish community for the Jewish Buffalo Archives Project, which includes memorabilia such as this photo of Temple Beth-El's 1925 confirmation class.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University Archives, University at Buffalo, and the Jewish Buffalo Archives Project, Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Buffalo, have received the New York State Archives' 2010 Debra E. Bernhardt Annual Archives Award for Excellence in Documenting New York's History.

The annual state awards program recognizes outstanding efforts in archives and records management work in New York State by a broad range of individuals and organizations.

The award was accepted at a luncheon ceremony in Albany last month by Chana Kotzin of the Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Buffalo.

The recipients were honored for facilitating partnerships between community agencies, educational institutions, cultural and professional organizations and many other entities in documenting the Jewish community in Buffalo for the Jewish Buffalo Archives Project (JBAP).

The project was founded in 2007 under the auspices of the Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Buffalo with a seed grant from the Foundation of Jewish Philanthropies.

Held in the UB Archives, it collects mostly 20th-century materials related to the diverse histories, religious traditions and cultures of Jewish communities in the Greater Buffalo area, which comprises Erie and Niagara Counties.

Collected materials come from individuals and families; active and closed institutions and organizations; synagogues, community-based schools, community welfare and other agencies; Jewish cultural and social groups and initiatives; and Jewish businesses.

The records and written materials are augmented by hundreds of related images and by the Oral History Program, which permits members of the Western New York Jewish community to make their own first-hand experiences available to researchers interested in the development of Jewish family life and community in the region.

The UB Archives developed a website for the project, which can be found at http://library.buffalo.edu/archives/jbap/index.html.

UB Archivist John Edens points out that UB and local Jewish community have had a long and productive relationship.

He says, "In the 19th century many Jewish men received their professional training at UB.

"In their book 'From Ararat to Suburbia: The History of the Jewish Community of Buffalo,'" he says, "UB Professors Selig Adler and Thomas E. Connolly point out that with the establishment of its College of Arts and Sciences in 1913, UB 'became a godsend to poverty-stricken immigrant children of all nationalities.'

"Adler and Connelly also noted that, at a time when many colleges managed to limit the number of Jewish students they admitted, Chancellor Samuel P. Capen established that at UB 'there would be no discrimination against minorities on either the student or faculty level,' which was a definite boon to Jewish students and scholars in Western New York."

State Archivist Christine Ward said this year's award recipients have helped preserve the archival heritage of this region, "thus enabling historians and educators to use these archives to help bring important history to life.

"Through their efforts and those of other historical record repositories all over the state," she said, "the people of New York will have a far greater understanding of the Empire State's past."

The award is named after the late Debra E. Bernhardt, former director of the Wagner Labor Archives at New York University, who was a staunch advocate of the documentation of the history of groups who traditionally have been omitted from the historical record.

Previous winners of the Bernhardt Award include the Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives of New York University (2001); the Center for Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College, CUNY (2002); Consumer/Survivor/Ex-patient (C/S/X) Oral History Project (2003); the Marist College Archives and Special Collections (2005); the Rochester Museum and Science Center/Latino Alliance (2006); the Dominican Studies Institute (2007); and the Backbone Ridge History Group (2009).

The Jewish Buffalo Archives Project is an initiative separate from those of the UB Institute of Jewish Thought and Heritage, which was created in 2009 as a multidisciplinary research and academic degree-granting center that focuses teaching and scholarship on the critical role the Jewish tradition has played in the development of Western civilization.

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