Historian, author, Professor of Russian and Soviet Jewish History at Rutgers University, who helped arrange the escape of Jews from Europe during World War II and was active in several organizations concerned with the emigration of Soviet and Eastern European Jews to Palestine. Papers include biographical materials, correspondence, legal documents, writings, lecture and research materials, statistical data in the world Jewish population before and after World War II, oral history transcripts, pamphlets, newspaper clippings, and four photographs.
The collection is open for research.
Background on Leon Shapiro
Leon Shapiro (1905-1984) was a historian and Professor of Russian and Soviet Jewish History at Rutgers University; author of The History of ORT: A Jewish Movement for Social Change ; a 35-year contributor of articles to "The American Jewish Yearbook"; fluent speaker of Yiddish, Hebrew, English, Russian, German, French, and Ukrainian; helped arrange the escape of Jews from Europe during World War II; and an active member in several organizations concerned with the emigration of Soviet and Eastern European Jews to Palestine and other issues related to Judaism.
The Leon Shapiro papers (1939-1984) pertain primarily to Soviet and Eastern European Jewry before and after World War II and to the formation of the nation of Israel in personal, research, and published materials.
The collection comprises biographical materials, correspondence, legal documents, audio-tapes, four photographs, writings, newspaper clippings, research materials, oral history transcripts, printed materials, and statistical data.
This collection is organized into seven series:
Shapiro's legal papers and official documents, biographical information, two audio-tape interviews of Mr. Shapiro, newspaper obituaries, and publication lists are in Series 1.
Incoming letters and typescript copies of outgoing letters, mostly professional, some personal, are in Series 2, alphabetically arranged. Notable are the letters from Romanian Jews seeking immigration to Israel (1970s). Series 2 also contains a photograph of a painting titled "On Both Sides of the Warsaw Ghetto Wall 1943" sent by the artist, Israel Beinbauer, and three other unidentified photographs, ca. 1931 Vienna.
Subject files in Series 3 are divided into two sections, arranged alphabetically. The first contains materials related to Shapiro's professional and personal interests, and includes pamphlets and minutes of meetings from the program for Jewish Studies Without Walls, his two audio-tape lectures on the History of Soviet Jewry, a certificate and badge of Honor from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee along with Russian newspaper articles, various committee materials, and independent research projects. The second section is primarily comprised of Rutgers University student papers, correspondence, and lectures.
Handwritten, typescript, and photocopies of various articles about the Soviet Union submitted to the American Jewish Yearbook for publication, along with their printed versions, are arranged chronologically in Series 4. Also present are statistics on the World Jewish Population, correspondence relating to publishing, ORT papers, book reviews, and an audio-tape of the 1980 ORT Rabbinic Scholar Conference.
Census and other statistical data on the world Jewish population before and after World War II, together with descriptions of French concentration camps and Jewish life in occupied France, are in Series 5 in chronological order. Notable are the materials regarding Irgun, Haganah, and Palestine. This series contains a message to British soldiers dated 1947, other Hebrew documents, newspaper articles, and transcripts of political broadcasts relating to the foundation of Israel. Also in Series 5 there are reference materials on Jewish resistance during the holocaust and in Palestine.
Series 6 contains transcripts and seven audio-tapes from the Lautenberg Oral History Collection of Surviving Eastern European Communities, listed alphabetically. These describe Jewish life before Hitler and Stalin assumed power.
Pamphlets, booklets, articles, and miscellaneous ephemera relating to Soviet and European Jewry and holocaust survivors are in this series.
Acquired from Luba Shapiro, Leon's wife, via Michael Wolff and Stanley Radosh, 1986.
Processed by Linda Seidman, December 1986.
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Cite as: Leon Shapiro Papers (MS 127). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.