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 home >> Civil Rights History Project >> Survey of Collections and Repositories >> Collections >> Collection Record

The Civil Rights History Project: Survey of Collections and Repositories

Oral and recorded history project [of the Jewish Historical Society of Memphis and the Mid-South]

Repository: Temple Israel [of Memphis] Archives

Collection Description (CRHP): This collection covers the history of Jews in Memphis, and it includes some interviews of Jews active in civil rights efforts as well as activities to improve social conditions for African Americans such as through the local anti-poverty program Fund for Needy Children. It also includes interviews of Jews active in programs to promote racial harmony in Memphis such as the Panel of American Women. Individuals interviewed who fall within this framework include Rabbi James and Mrs. Helen Wax, who advocated for civil rights; Myra Dreifus, Jocelyn Wurzburg, and Selma Lewis, who all were involved in social welfare organizations; and Josephine Burson, who was the first Jew and first woman to be appointed a cabinet member in Tennessee. The interviews relating to these issues are focused on the individuals who acted within the school and legislative systems to improve racial conditions rather than those people who engaged in civil rights demonstrations.

Collection Description (Extant): Our Oral and Recorded History project began in 2000 by collecting already-prepared genealogies and family histories from Jewish families in the Mid-South. It progressed to conducting interviews of older members of the Jewish community, a project which is ongoing. Completed interviews now number about 90 and are housed in the JHS section of the Temple Israel Archives. Interviews are audiotaped.

Collection URL: External Link

Digital Status: Partial

Extent: 250 oral histories (audio and video formats); approximately 100 transcripts

Language: English

Related Archival Items: The Temple Israel archive has a number of other resources related to the civil rights movement. It includes information on the Fund for Needy Children and the National Council of Jewish Women--which was very involved in social activism--as well as copies of newspapers published during the 1968 sanitation strike.

Interviewees: Rabbi James Wax, Helen Wax, Myra Dreifus, Jocelyn Wurzburg, Selma Lewis, Josephine Burson

Rights (CRHP): Contact the repository which holds the collection for information on rights


African Americans--Relations with Jews
Civil rights movements--Tennessee
Civil rights--Religious aspects--Judaism
Memphis (Tenn.)


Sound recordings


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   May 15, 2015
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