In Anticipation of Centennial, Federation Establishes Archives
By Marshall Weiss, The Dayton Jewish Observer
Last year, most historical materials of the Jewish Federation were randomly piled up in the basement of Covenant House in Trotwood or stuffed in a storage closet at the Federation’s downtown office at 33 W. First St.
But with the Federation’s centennial year approaching in 2010, professional archivist Pam Schwartz stepped up as a volunteer to establish the Federation’s first formal archives, now housed at the downtown office.
With help from Scott Constable of Central Business Group, Vorys Legal Counsel in Cincinnati donated a high-density mobile shelving unit for the new archives. Schwartz and her husband, Andy, provided the funding to install the unit.
“Through our initial inventory,” Schwartz says, “We found quite a bit of water damage. Our priority was to stabilize the collection by transferring the records to standard storage containers until we could begin an appraisal process. Based on administrative, fiscal, legal and historical values, materials will receive appropriate preservation techniques.”
To help her take inventory, organize the collection, and begin the process of preservation, Schwartz recruited Wright State University public history graduate student Jenna Edwards to serve as an intern for the spring quarter. Schwartz is a 1997 graduate of the program.
Edwards received her degree in March and has accepted a position with the National Park Service in Washington, D.C.
Schwartz, who served as Warren County’s archivist for 10 years, left that position when her third child, Seth, was born last fall.
Now that she and Edwards have taken inventory of the entire collection, Schwartz will continue on with preservation work.
“I’m very impressed with the photographic collection, the scrapbook collection, and there’s a really fascinating civil rights collection,” Schwartz says. “These smaller collections within the whole will be carefully processed and eventually scanned so that we can have a secure copy of all the information, not just on one medium in one place.”
The oldest records in the archives are the minutes from the Federation’s first year, 1910.
Schwartz says the archives will play a key role providing resources for the Federation’s centennial programming, a project she’ll co-chair with Judy Abromowitz.
“It’s important to preserve the Federation’s history,” Schwartz says, “to serve not only as a reference tool for the administration and staff, but most importantly as a valuable educational resource for the Jewish community and for the city of Dayton.”