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Borough of Roosevelt Historical Collection: History Of Roosevelt, New Jersey
Series Descriptions, Borough of Roosevelt Historical Collection

General Reference Materials

Records of Community Organizations

Papers and Collections of Individuals

The preceding series descriptions indicate associated box numbers; if required, a more detailed, folder-level container list for this collection is available in the repository.


Biographical Files, 1973-1992. [in boxes 1-2 and oversize folder]

Grouped in two sequences: people who have made a significant contribution to art, literature, music or some other field (arranged alphabetically), followed by a general file for other individuals and groups. Articles, newspaper clippings, broadsides and other materials (programs for performances, book covers, correspondence, flyers, resumes, etc.) concerning people who live or have lived in Roosevelt. Among the individuals documented are artists Ben Shahn, Bernarda Bryson Shahn, Jacob Landau, Gregorio Prestopino, Leonid Siverer and Stefan Martin, pianists Laurie Altman and Anita Cervantes, writers Benjamin Appel and Shan Ellentuck, photographers Edwin and Louise Rosskam, Sol Libsohn and Vivian Crozier, singer/actress Tamara Drasin, opera singer Joshua Hecht and city planner Alan Mallach.

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Newspaper Clippings, 1936-1995. [in boxes 3-4 and oversize folder]

Arranged alphabetically by subject and thereunder chronologically.

Newspaper clippings documenting the history of Roosevelt, New Jersey.

Of particular interest are the borough history folders, which include contemporary articles on Jersey Homesteads as well as retrospectives written in recent years; the folders of general clippings, which include articles on regional, state and national events and their effect on Roosevelt; the housing and development folder, which contains articles on the geodesic dome houses which were built in Roosevelt in the 1970s and the Solar Village senior citizens housing project constructed in the 1980s; and the separate environmental pollution and public works folders, which discuss the community's attempts to update its antiquated water and sewage treatment facilities.

Additional newspaper clippings are included in this collection in two other series: the BIOGRAPHICAL FILES and the PETER WARREN COLLECTION.

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Publications And Articles About Roosevelt, 1937-1995. [in box 4]

Arranged chronologically.

Publications and unpublished pieces about Roosevelt, New Jersey, including articles from journals, magazines and newsletters, excerpts from books, a publication resulting from an urban planning workshop and an unpublished undergraduate thesis.

Among the items in this series is Shepard Wolman's article "Sociometric Planning of a New Community," 1937, which was based on several months of participant observation in Roosevelt, where Wolman assessed the results of the attempt to assign houses in the community based on settlers' preferences. Another article, J.H. Kaufmann's "The Social Behavior of Wood Turtles," 1992, is included because it describes a rare species of turtle which was discovered in an undeveloped area of Roosevelt.

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Borough Newsletters, 1939-1996. [in boxes 5-7]

Arranged chronologically.

Newsletter of the borough of Roosevelt, a publication which changed its name several times during the borough's history.

This series includes The Jersey Homesteader, 1939, edited by Paul Bauman; The Roosevelt News, established January 1964, which reported on Borough Council meetings, School Board meetings, etc., and ceased publication ca. 1970 because of a lack of funds; and a revived newsletter, the Roosevelt Tabloid, published by the Community School Association, Roosevelt, beginning in 1977. The latter title was renamed the Borough Bulletin in 1978 and later became an independent publication.

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Broadsides And Programs, 1958-1995. [in boxes 8-9 and oversize folder]

Arranged chronologically, with undated items filed first.

Primarily handmade and photocopied sheets advertising events in the borough. Included are press releases, political campaign advertising and public notices, as well as announcements of charitable and cultural events, building dedications, lectures, birthday parties and picnics. Also interfiled in this series are invitations to Roosevelt events, certificates (including one plaque) presented to various Roosevelt organizations and individuals, and programs for cultural and educational events in Roosevelt.

Many of the items in this series were posted on a community bulletin board or mailed to Roosevelt residents, and collected by Borough Council member Peter Warren and others. Some of the items were annotated while hanging on the community bulletin board, creating a form of public dialogue. Warren also added his own comments to some of them. Additional broadsides and/or invitations are included in this collection in four other series: the BIOGRAPHICAL FILES, the ROOSEVELT PUBLIC SCHOOL PUBLICATIONS, the BORIS DRASIN PAPERS and the PETER WARREN COLLECTION.

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Miscellaneous Documents, 1935-1962. [in box 8]

Unarranged.

Includes correspondence, telegrams and an application form.

Of particular interest is a letter to Eleanor Roosevelt signed by six women from Jersey Homesteads (1940) asking her to intercede on their behalf to expedite the negotiations between the Farm Security Administration and Kartiganer & Co., the firm which ultimately leased the factory building. Also of interest is a photocopy of an application to settle in Jersey Homesteads (1935). The telegrams are, respectively, from the Provisional Government of Israel, thanking Roosevelt for its message of congratulations on the state's founding (1948), and from President John F. Kennedy sending regrets that he would not be able to attend the dedication of the Franklin Roosevelt Memorial (1962).

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Photographs, 1936-1980. [in boxes 8, P1-P5 and oversize folder]

Bulk grouped by size and subject matter, with secondary arrangement by date.

Photographs of Roosevelt views and people, including prints, negatives, contact sheets and reproductions (chiefly photocopies). Most of the images are black-and-white; a few are in color. Of particular interest are Farm Security Administration photographs (including 35mm copy negatives) of the building of Jersey Homesteads and scenes of early life there taken by photographers Dorothea Lange, Russell Lee and others. (These images are reproductions of originals in the Library of Congress.) Also of interest are photographs and photocopied images depicting Roosevelt in the 1960s (created by resident photojournalist Edwin Rosskam) and negatives of applications to settle in Jersey Homesteads (reproduced from original forms at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research). This series also includes portraits of Roosevelt artists and other residents, community groups and scenes of community events, such as the Fourth of July celebration, dating from the late 1940s to 1980. Additional visual images of Roosevelt are included in this collection in four other series: the ROOSEVELT HISTORY PROJECT FILES, the SOL AXELROD COLLECTION, the ALFRED KASTNER PAPERS and the RICHARD KROEHLING PAPERS.

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Telephone Books, 1986-1993 and undated. [in box 8]

Arranged chronologically.

Names, telephone numbers and (for 1993) addresses of Roosevelt residents, together with lists of emergency and special numbers. These books were originally compiled by the Roosevelt Pioneer Women (a local branch of the Zionist women's organization) and later by the Congregation Anshei Roosevelt Sisterhood.

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Miscellaneous Publications, 1951-1995. [in box 8]

Arranged alphabetically by title.

Various publications (excluding books) produced by the borough of Roosevelt or by Roosevelt residents. Of particular interest is the Civic League Reporter (1951), the mouthpiece of the Roosevelt Civic League, an anti-communist citizens group. Also included are the Community Handbook, a pamphlet guide to local services published by the Borough Bulletin in 1987, and a newsletter and flyer from the Millstone-Roosevelt Little League (1995). More unusual publications are Medicine Pouch (1991-1993), the newsletter of Natives of the Earth, Inc., an environmental group based in Roosevelt which focused on Native American culture, environmental issues, spirituality and preparation for the effects of changing weather patterns, and Earth Savers (1991-1992), a newsletter which included poems, articles and tips about recycling, pollution and endangered species, probably produced by children.

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Books Written By Borough Residents, 1951-1993. [in box 9]

Unarranged.

Books written by Roosevelt residents or published in Roosevelt, including children's books by the Silverstein family; books by engineer and artist Robert E. Mueller; various works by poet, engineer and botanist Rodham Tulloss; an autobiography and catalog of works by Leah Schwartz, an artist who grew up in Roosevelt; and a book published by the Spectrum Press in Roosevelt. This series also includes examples of reports by the State Commission of Investigation whose deputy director Robert J. Clark was a Roosevelt resident.

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Roosevelt History Project Files, 1978-1981. [in boxes 10 and AV5]

Videotapes filed together; loose items filed chronologically.

Files of a local history project undertaken by first and second graders at the Roosevelt Public School, including questionnaires and responses, correspondence, a scrapbook of photographs and text, and (1/2 inch) videotapes of interviews with early Roosevelt residents, including Bernarda Shahn.

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Roosevelt Memorial Association Files, 1961-1975. [in boxes 10-11]

Arranged alphabetically by folder heading.

Records of a non-profit corporation established to raise money to construct and maintain a memorial to President Franklin Roosevelt. As constructed in the early 1960s, the borough's memorial consists of a five-foot high bronze bust of President Roosevelt, an amphitheater and a reflecting pool. Records of the Association include documents such as the certificate of incorporation (1961) and tax exemption applications; financial records comprising lists of donors and receipts for expenses (1962-1975); the program from the dedication; and articles written about the memorial. This series also includes records of a sale of works donated by Roosevelt artists which was held to raise money for the Association. Artists represented included J. Kearns, Jacob Landau, Sol Libsohn, David Stone Martin, Stefan Martin, Robert Mueller, Gregorio Prestopino, E. Schlinsky, Abby Shahn, Ben Shahn, Bernarda Bryson Shahn, Jonathan Shahn and Herb Steinberg.

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Congregation Anshei Roosevelt Publications, 1958-1981. [in box 11]

Arranged alphabetically.

Newsletters, memorial books, programs and broadsides from Roosevelt's Conservative (formerly Orthodox) synagogue, founded 1938. Affiliated with the synagogue was the Congregation Anshei Roosevelt Sisterhood, the mission of which was to raise money for the Congregation's purposes, to encourage traditional holiday get-togethers and to help the community; it was open to all women in the community. This series includes the Book of Remembrance (1959-1981), the annual memorial book for the High Holy Days; the newsletter Congregation Anshei Roosevelt (1958-1960); an ad journal (1966) commemorating the anniversary of the founding of the Congregation; and four issues of the sisterhood newsletter The Yenta Hotline, renamed The Patchwork News (1975).

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Roosevelt Public School Publications, 1941-1995. [in box 12]

Arranged alphabetically.

Publications of the Roosevelt school district which consists of one school, the Roosevelt Public School, which holds grades K-6, formerly K-8. This series includes the Roosevelt Public School Yearbook (1956-1987/88), produced by the graduating class (three are facsimiles); two issues of the Roosevelt Dragon (1993), a monthly newsletter published during the school year; commencement programs (1941-1993); the "Parent & Student Reference Guide" (1990/91 and 1994/95); and evaluations of educational and safety facilities (1978-1979). This series also includes proposed school budgets (1987-1995), distributed for voters' information; several financial reports and documents (1949-1973); and an invitation and a program for miscellaneous events sponsored by the school.

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Roosevelt Oral History Committee Files, 1981-1983. [in boxes 13-14 and AV1-AV4]

Transcripts arranged alphabetically by name of informant, followed by correspondence, etc.; original and enhanced duplicate tape recordings arranged in separate alphabetical sequences. Correspondence, transcripts, cassette tapes and other materials related to the work of the Roosevelt Oral History Project, overseen by an ad hoc committee set up in 1981 which was coordinated by Evelyn Datz and Freda Hepner. The goals of the project were to interview remaining early Roosevelt settlers and their children and to collect and preserve memorabilia documenting the history of the borough. This series contains documentation of the project such as correspondence setting up interviews, lists of questions, notes, inventories of material collected and receipts for transcribing tapes and reproducing photographs, as well as the products of the project: 50 original cassette tapes, enhanced duplicates of each tape (created in 1995) and transcripts of the interviews. Of particular interest are the interviews with Benjamin Brown's wife Sarah and with artist Bernarda Bryson Shahn. This series also includes cassette tapes and transcripts of four interviews conducted by photographer and writer Edwin Rosskam in the 1960s, including interviews with architect Alfred Kastner, artist Ben Shahn, Jersey Homesteads community manager Harry Glanz and Roosevelt mayor Irving Plungian.

Additional interviews with Roosevelt residents are included in this collection in two series: the ROOSEVELT HISTORY PROJECT FILES and the RICHARD KROEHLING PAPERS.

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Records Of Other Community Organizations, 1938-1995. [in box 15]

Arranged alphabetically by name of organization.

Miscellaneous records of about a dozen Roosevelt community groups for which there was not enough documentation to warrant separate series. Types of materials include minutes, correspondence, legal documents, bulletins, broadsides, programs and newspaper clippings.

This series includes some documentation of cooperative associations set up in Roosevelt in the late 1930s, including the Jersey Homesteads Cooperative Distributing Association, the Jersey Homesteads Agricultural Association and the Jersey Homesteads Consumers' Cooperative Association. More recent organizations represented include the Citizens Committee Against the Jetport (1969); the Ad Hoc Committee of Concerned Roosevelt Citizens (1982) and its successor, the Roosevelt Citizens Group (1983-1988), which addressed local issues such as recycling, reform of borough government and residential development in Roosevelt; the Roosevelt Senior Citizen Housing Corporation; the Roosevelt Community Nursery, a non-sectarian, private non-profit nursery school founded in 1986 by local parents (previously the PTA had run a nursery school); and the Roosevelt Arts project (1988-1995) which sponsored programs by local artists. Additional organizational records, in the form of certificates, are included in this collection in the series BROADSIDES AND PROGRAMS.

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Sol Axelrod Collection, 1935-1970. [in box 15]

Grouped by document type.

Material collected by Sol Axelrod (b. 1922), who lived in Roosevelt as a teenager and visited it frequently as an adult. This series includes correspondence between David Dubinsky, president of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, and Elias Lieberman, ILGWU counsel, and correspondence between Dubinsky and Resettlement Administration officials, dating from the period 1935 to 1938, as well as complaints made against the Workers' Aim Cooperative Association for paying workers less than union wages and for underselling merchandise. (This material, photocopied from the ILGWU Archives in New York City, is annotated to illustrate Axelrod's thesis that Dubinsky was single-handedly and intentionally responsible for the failure of the cooperative factory at Roosevelt.) Also present in this series are a copy of a scrapbook kept by Axelrod in which there are articles and newspaper clippings about Roosevelt; photocopies of photographs of Roosevelt; a translation of the Yiddish diary of settler Jacob Rearson (copied from the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati, Ohio); and an interview with Sol Axelrod conducted by his daughter Susan.

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Boris Drasin Papers, 1933-1940. [in boxes 15-16]

Grouped in three sub-series: correspondence and documents (arranged chronologically, followed by undated items), Yiddish documents (many with brief descriptive annotations in English) and certificates of incorporation and by-laws.

Papers of settler Boris Drasin relating to his activities in connection with Roosevelt, New Jersey, including his role as chairman of the Provisional Executive Committee of the Hightstown Colony, which represented the settlers during the process of trying to set up the factory and build the houses, and as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Workers' Aim Cooperative Association. The correspondence in this series comprises letters received and copies of letters sent by Drasin in his various capacities. Correspondents include Benjamin Brown; officials of the Division of Subsistence Homesteads, the Resettlement Administration and the Farm Security Association such as J.O. Walker and Will Alexander; ILGWU counsel Elias Lieberman; Tripod factory manager Samuel Herzlinger; architect Alfred Kastner; and community manager Walter Simon. Other documents in this series consist of press releases, lists, invitations, broadsides, notes and receipts. Of particular interest are letters expressing Drasin's original interest in the colony, statements of the colony's cooperative principles and documentation of the incorporation of Jersey Homesteads as a borough in 1937.

This series also includes correspondence and documentation related to the operation of Consumers Wholesale Clothiers, Inc., 1938; correspondence and notes documenting the attempt, led by Drasin, to attract another factory to the site after Tripod failed in 1939; and statements by the Jersey Homesteads Settlers Association, formed in 1940 to try to preserve the community.

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Alfred Kastner Papers, 1935-1937 and ca. 1973. [in box 16]

Grouped by document type.

Photocopies of selected items from the Alfred Kastner Papers at the American Heritage Center which relate to the design of Roosevelt. Items present in this series consist of photographs of houses in Jersey Homesteads; the weekly drafting report, 1935-1936, and daily log, 1936-1937, kept by Assistant Principal Architect Louis Kahn, who was in charge of the drafting room in Washington, D.C.; miscellaneous reports, notes, diagrams, budgets and correspondence between Kastner and Kahn; and part of a manuscript written by Kastner ca. 1973 about the history of cooperative housing projects.

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Richard Kroehling Papers Concerning The Film Roosevelt, New Jersey: Visions Of Utopia, 1981-1984. [in boxes 17 and AV5-AV6]

Grouped in five sub-series: film footage; reel-to-reel audio tapes; transcripts of interviews (arranged alphabetically by surname); shooting script; and documents relating to the making and showing of the film.

Materials related to Roosevelt, New Jersey: Visions of Utopia, a 52 minute, 16mm color documentary film produced for Lumen Productions in New York City by Richard Kroehling (director) and Laura Nathanson (editor). The film premiered October 22, 1983, in Roosevelt, and was later shown on public television. The documentary was filmed without narration using interviews with surviving Roosevelt settlers and their children, who describe the founding and early history of the town. It includes archival pictures of the construction of the town, of Board of Sponsors members Albert Einstein and Eleanor Roosevelt, and of Roosevelt artist Ben Shahn. The film footage, including stills, trims (OK portions of takes not used in the workprint), outtakes and a few negatives, is stored in a metal canister. The audio tapes comprise 37 reels of 1/4 inch reel-to-reel tape of interviews with the settlers, some recorded with camera (sync) and others without camera (wild). All of the interviews have been transcribed: each file contains several copies of each interview, some with emendations (including directions to the camera crew) and sequence numbers. Each interview also appears again in the shooting script--the parts of the interview that were actually used in the documentary. There are copies of these fragments both with and without camera, annotated by the film editor. The final subseries is made up of other materials related to the making and showing of the film, including correspondence, copies of research materials borrowed by Kroehling and Nathanson from Roosevelt residents, press releases for the film premier and reviews of the film.

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Peter Warren Collection, 1945-1995 (bulk 1981-1994). [in boxes 18-19]

Arranged alphabetically by subject and document type and thereunder chronologically.

Material collected by Borough Council member (1990-1994) and Roosevelt resident Peter Warren which documents his work as a leader of the Roosevelt Citizens' Group and as a member of the Jersey Homesteads Historic District Advisory Council. Types of material present include correspondence, notes, reports, articles, petitions, broadsides, diagrams and newspaper clippings. Of particular interest are a chronological set of Warren's regular column in the Borough Bulletin, 1983-1995, some of which also appear in this series in the subject files; copies of Warren's pamphlet A Report to the People of Roosevelt: The Chronological History of the Relations between the Borough of Roosevelt and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, 1990; and a presentation given by Roosevelt borough to the DEP on Roosevelt's water/sewer problems. Also of interest are correspondence and documents related to a commemoration of Jersey Homesteads founder Benjamin Brown by the World Zionist Organization (1993). (During the Second World War, Brown's farm was used by the Hechalutz movement, which trained pilots to fight in Israel.) Other subjects documented in this series are Warren's campaigns for recycling, for more openness in borough government and for development in Roosevelt in order to provide tax relief for its citizens. During the early 1980s, the issue of development caused public discord between Mayor Leon Barth and several Council members which Warren also documents.

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