Record Group 12: Teachers Institute/Seminary College of Jewish Studies

  • Dates:
    • 1915 - 1992
  • Size: 10 linear ft.
  • Number of Boxes: 13
  • Languages:
    • English
    • Hebrew
  • Location: Special Collections Reading Room, Jewish Theological Seminary Library.
  • Restrictions: Jewish Theological Seminary records are available for research, with permission, through 1972; records dating from 1973 and afterward are currently closed. For permission to see records of The Jewish Theological Seminary write to: Archivist, Ratner Center for the Study of Conservative Judaism, Jewish Theological Seminary, 3080 Broadway, New York, NY 10027. Reproduction of fragile items is not permitted; consult the archivist about literary rights.
  • Related Collections: R.G. 1, General Files; Diaries of Mordecai Kaplan; Ratner Center Photograph Collection

JM, 2/4/92; EK 8/7/2004

Table of Contents:

A Note on Folder Headings

Individual folders are identified in the following way: record group# -- box# -- folder#, as in R.G.1-10-32. Please use this format in citations and when referring to files for any other reason.

Historical Note

 [see caption]
Teachers Institute student Tziporah Heckelman (class of 1950) at the Institute's school for observation and practice at the Inwood Hebrew Congregation in northern Manhattan, late forties. Photographer: Virginia F. Stern.

The Teachers Institute, or TI as it was familiarly called, was the teacher training department of the Jewish Theological Seminary. Courses for teachers were first offered at the Seminary in 1904, but the Teachers Institute did not formally open until 1909. Funding was originally provided by Jacob Schiff and Louis Marshall. Mordecai Kaplan was the principal, 1909-1931, and dean, 1931-1946; Samuel Dinin was the registrar.

Before the establishment of the Seminary's coeducational graduate and undergraduate programs and long before it accepted women into its rabbinical and cantorial programs, the TI was the only place at the Seminary where women could study for a degree.  As a result of this, and also because of the identification of teaching as a women's profession, the majority of students at the TI were women.

For many years the TI was geographically separate from the rest of the Seminary.  While rabbinical students traveled long distances to reach the Seminary campus on Morningside Heights, TI classes were held within easy reach of the Institute's students. During its first years the Teachers Institute met at the Uptown Talmud Torah on East 111th Street, the Downtown Talmud Torah on East Houston Street, and the Hebrew Technical Institute, downtown on Stuyvesant Street. In 1930 the Teachers Institute joined the rest of the Seminary, moving into the Unterberg Building, part of the Seminary's new group of buildings at 3080 Broadway in Morningside Heights.

The Teachers Institute offered both undergraduate and graduate degrees, and participated in a joint degree program with Columbia University's Teachers College. In 1931 the Teachers Institute became the Seminary College of Jewish Studies, the Seminary's undergraduate division, now the Albert A. List College of Jewish Studies.

In 1919 the Teachers Institute opened an extension department, which in 1922 was named the Israel Friedlaender Classes after the Seminary professor who was killed while doing relief work in Russia. The Classes met at the Seminary, and at branches in Yorkville and Harlem in Manhattan; Bensonhurst, Borough Park, Brownsville, and Flatbush, in Brooklyn; at University Heights in the Bronx; and in Newark, New Jersey.

The purpose of the classes was to train Sunday school teachers and Jewish club leaders, and to provide classes in Hebrew and Jewish history and literature for adults. Both men and women were admitted to the Israel Friedlaender Classes and, as was the case with the Teachers Institute, most of the students were women. Between 1942 and 1944 the school became the Seminary School of Jewish Studies.

The TI Alumni Association was founded in 1912 (with the first graduating class) and was incorporated in 1940.

Dr. Israel S. Chipkin was the registrar of the Israel Friedlaender Classes (beginning in 1921) and an instructor. He was also director of the Seminary's Women's Institute of Jewish Studies, which was affiliated with the Israel Friedlaender Classes.

Chipkin was born in Vilna in 1893 and came to this country as a child. In addition to his Seminary responsibilities Chipkin was active in the Jewish Education Association of New York and in Zionist organizations, including the Zionist Organization of America and Young Judaea.

For more information about the Teachers Institute see: David Kaufman, "Jewish Education as a Civilization" in Tradition Renewed: A History of the Jewish Theological Seminary, ed. Jack Wertheimer (New York: JTS, 1997).

Collection Description

The Teachers Institute and its extension division, the Israel Friedlaender Classes are only sparsely documented. So far, records of the Israel Friedlaender Classes, mainly correspondence of its registrar, Israel Chipkin, and a few files of correspondence belonging to Teachers Institute registrar Samuel Dinin, are available for research.

Material documenting the Alumni Association came from the association's former office at the Seminary.  This material, as found, was extremely fragmentary and miscellaneous. Most of this material has been arranged by the Ratner Center as alphabetical subject files. A smaller amount of association material was donated by Ruth Wechsler, a former president of the association.   

Until the summer of 2002, the bulk of TI material had consisted of correspondence and records of the Israel Friedlaender Classes, the files of the Registrar, Samuel Dinin, and the records of the Alumni Association.  Additional TI  files were found unprocessed in the attic of JTS in the summer of 2002. Included were minutes of TI committees, student reports and course packets.

Some additional material about the Teachers Institute can be found in the files of Mordecai Kaplan in the Seminary's General Files, designated as Record Group 1. See also the diaries of Mordecai Kaplan, held by the library of the Jewish Theological Seminary.

Series List

  • A. Israel Friedlaender Classes/Seminary School of Jewish Studies, 1919-ca.1944
  • B. Registrar, Samuel Dinin Files, 1941-1942
  • C. Teachers Institute Alumni Association, 1915-1992
  • D. Teachers Institute Minutes, 1921-1934
  • E. Students' Reports, 1919-1937
  • F. Course Packets, 1919-1921, 1926, n.d.

Series Descriptions

A. Israel Friedlaender Classes/Seminary School of Jewish Studies Records, 1919-ca.1944; (1920s-1930s, bulk) Boxes 1-3

Records of the Israel Friedlaender Classes date principally from the 1920s and 1930s and consist mainly of correspondence of the registrar, Israel Chipkin. Also included are: minutes, lists, publications, questionnaires, statistics, songs and poems, bills, examples of forms and form letters, class attendance sheets, lists of library books, clippings of newspaper advertisements for the Classes, posters, brochures, programs, scholarship applications and letters of recommendation for scholarship applicants, and application forms completed by students.

The largest group of material is Chipkin's correspondence with prospective and current students, alumni, faculty members, and administrators. Included among the correspondents are: Cyrus Adler, Samuel Dinin, Louis Finkelstein (in his roles as assistant to the president and provost), Mordecai Kaplan (dean of the Teachers Institute), Israel Levinthal, Arthur Oppenheimer, student organization president Rose Rosenberg, and others. The correspondence concerns such matters as scholarships, graduation, choice of prize books, publicity, absences and departures of students, student payments, scheduling of classes, and other administrative matters. Some of the correspondence concerns Chipkin's activities at the Jewish Education Association where he was involved in an effort to have Hebrew taught in the public high schools during the 1930s. Typescripts of some of his articles on this and other topics are included with his correspondence.

Student life is documented by songs and poems from the twenties and thirties, and by issues of student publications, including Extension '22 a journal published by members of the class of 1922 (the first class), and one issue of the Alumni News, February 13, 1926.

Of particular interest are some notes, and compilations and lists of information from a survey done of Teachers Institute alumni who entered the school between 1916-1921. This material was found among these records, but it is unclear whether or not the alumni surveyed include graduates of the Israel Friedlaender Classes.

B. Registrar, Samuel Dinin Files, 1941-1942; Box 4

Included are two folders of material, 1941-1942, of Samuel Dinin, registrar of the Teachers Institute and the Seminary College of Jewish Studies. The bulk of the material is correspondence - mainly in English, with some in Hebrew - between Dinin and students and faculty of the Teachers Institute/Seminary College; with Mordecai Kaplan, its principal; and with representatives of various Jewish educational organizations and schools. Also included are a scattering of documents, including: a newsheet about Teachers Institute alumni, 1942; a list of prize money available, 1942; examination schedules; lists of students; notices to students; bibliographies; and a report on student activities, 1940-1941.

C. Teachers Institute Alumni Association, 1915-1992; Boxes 5-9

This collection consists of records of the TI's alumni association.  Included is correspondence, circular letters to members in both final and draft form, flyers, membership lists, photographs, and financial data.  Cumulatively this material dates from the 1930s through the early 1990s.  In addition there are minutes of the association, 1942-1975, with gaps; issues of the association's publications; and suveys of alumni gathered for publication in the association's bulletin.

A small amount of this material was donated by Ruth Weschler, a former president of the association.  The two groups have been kept separate.  Note that there is duplication between them.  Of note in the Wechsler material are additional questionnaires, and a binder of material gathered to document the career of Frances Krasnau Thau (this has been disbound for reasons of preservation and put in a folder).

All of the material documents the alumni association's continuing efforts to support the Seminary through awards and scholarships to students and faculty chairs; events, such as meetings, alumni days, kallahs, celebrations in honor of former teachers; as well as internal association matters

The questionnaires were completed by members of the classes of 1912 through 1971 in 1968-1969, and the classes of 1912-1979 in 1977.  Class lists compiled in 1971 of all classes up to that point are also included.  In the questionnaires alumni report on their careers, families, education, achievements, and extent of Jewish affiliation.  In some cases letters, resumes, biographical sketches and other material that reports more fully on the lives of alumni is attached.

While the above questionnaires were sent out in order to gather information to include in the TI's Alumni Bulletin  Ruffman, himself a 1922 graduate of the TI, asked a selected group of alumni to comment more fully on the effect the Institute had had on their lives in the years following graduation.  Included here are copies of the letter Ruffman sent out to alumni, the responses, and  summaries of data about respondents compiled by a statistician, C. Morris Horowitz.  Some of the respondents comment at length about their experiences at the TI and its effect on their later lives.  Many of  them mention the influence of faculty, particularly Mordecai Kaplan.  For some, the TI, and particularly Kaplan's teaching, provided a way to leave the world of Orthodoxy while still remaining observant Jews.  Included are letters from: Miriam R. Ephraim, Emanuel Gamoran, Ernestine [Goldstein], Harry Goldstein, Simon Greenberg, Emanuel Halpern, Minnie Halpern, Harold D. Kastle, Lotta Levensohn, Shonie Levi, Abraham E. Millgram, Jacob Sloan and Hajnalka Winer

D. Teacher's Institute Minutes, 1921-1934; Box 10 

Minutes from various group meetings within TI date from September of 1921 through December of 1934. Included are minutes from groups such as:

  • Attendance Committee
  • Committee on Budget
  • Committee called to consider plans for reorganizing the work of the Teachers Institute
  • Committee of Special Admissions
  • Committee on Teachers Institute
  • the Faculty of Teachers Institute
  • Executive Committee
  • Executive Council of Israel Friedlaender Classes
  • Freshman Committee
  • Instructors of the Post-Graduate Department,
  • Israel Friedlaender Classes: Meeting of the Faculty
  • Post-Graduate Committee
  • Scholarship Committee
  • Sophomore Committee
  • Student Council of Israel Friedlaender Classes
  • Student Organization of the Extension Department of Teachers Institute
  • Teachers Institute Staff

Of particular interest are the attendees of the various committee meetings which include such significant figures as Cyrus Adler, Mordecai Kaplan and Hillel Bavli. The Committee on Teachers Institute was one of the most prominent committees of TI, as it was in direct contact with JTS's Board of Directors, and was responsible for overseeing the budget of TI. The members of the Committee on Teachers Institute included Cyrus Adler, Mordecai Kaplan, Solomon Stroock, Samuel Unterberg, Felix Warburg and Samuel Dinin. The minutes are organized chronologically by year, from 1921 through 1934. The bulk of this series are minutes from the TI Staff which give a detailed description of the rules and policies of TI, especially in regards to absences, examinations and grading. Of further interest within the minutes of Teachers Institute committees is a detailed list of entrance requirements potential applicants had to possess to be admitted to TI. The students' role in TI is represented in the series in the minutes of the Student Organization of the Extension Department of Teachers Institute and the Student Council of the Israel Friedlaender Classes.

E. Students' Reports, 1919-1937, Boxes 11-12

The students' reports of the Teachers Institute (TI) include progress reports, monthly reports of the material covered in particular classes, and attendance reports.

Students' Progress Reports make up the bulk of the series and are arranged in chronological order from September 1919 till June of 1937, with gaps in the years 1925, 1927, and 1930-32. Information included on the Progress Reports is the name of the professor, subject, class list and grades for each student in Proficiency and Effort. Within each year, the files are arranged in alphabetical order according to subject. Monthly reports of students' work date from October 1922- June 1930, with gaps in the years of 1926 and 1927. Monthly reports include such information as ground covered within a month span of particular classes, and names of students that were called to the registrar. Within each year, the monthly reports are arranged by Department and Class. Attendance reports date from 1928 till 1929, and serve as a record of students who were absent or late for specific class dates. Each attendance report covers a one month time span, and the reports are arranged in chronological order.

F. Course Packets, 1919-1921, 1926, n.d.; Box 13

The course packets from various classes offered at the Teachers Institute are included. The bulk of the course packets are from Hebrew literature courses, which date from 1917-1921. Of note is an outline from a Modern Jewish History class for the Training School of Jewish Social Work dated 1926 which offers a detailed account of Jewish history in Europe prior to the French Revolution through 1920s Jewish life in the United States.

Box List

Alumni, 1920s-1930s:
11-2Correspondence, 1924-1938
13Executive Board minutes, n.d.
14Form letters, 1930-1934
15Lists, 1920s-1930s
16Publications, 1920s
17Questionnaire for (Teachers Institute?) students who entered between 1916 and 1921
18Songs and poems, ca. 1920s-1930s
19Bills Paid, 1930s
Correspondence, 1924-ca.1944: Administrative Correspondence, 1931-ca.1944:
110Abrahams, Joseph B., 1935-1938
111Adler, Cyrus, 1936-1938
112-14Chipkin, Israel (including articles), ca.1935-1944
115Dinin, Samuel, 1931; 1936-1938
116Faculty, 1934-1938
117Finkelstein, Louis, 1934-1938
118Gamoran, Emanuel (Commission on Jewish Education), 1937
119General, 1935-1938
120Horden, Jack (accountant), 1935-1937
121Hospitalization insurance, n.d. [1930s]
122Kaplan, Mordecai Menachem, 1935-1938
123Levinthal, Israel, 1935
124Oppenheimer, Arthur, 1933-1938
125-28Form Letters, 1924-1934
Student Correspondence, 1929-1938:
129Absences, 1935-1938
130Afternoon classes, 1930-1932
131General, 1935-1938
132Jewish Daily Bulletin, student subscriptions, 1934-1935
133Lefts and drops, 1936-1938
134Payments, 1935-1938
135Student Organization, President Rose Rosenberg, 1929-1930
136Student records, 1930-1935
Employment, 1935; 1937; 1942-1943:
137Club leaders, 1935
138Hours worked (by students?), 1937
139Job applicants, 1942-1943
140Forms, Blank, 1920s
141-43Graduation, 1925-1930; 1937-1938
144Hebrew Classes, Attendance Sheets, 1920s
145Jewish Studies for Women, Press Release, 1935
146Library Books, Lists, 1930s; n.d.
147Performances, Programs, 1920s
148-50Prizes, 1922-1938
Publicity, 1919-1921; 1930-1936
151-53Advertisements and Press Notices, 1930-1935
154-55Correspondence, 1930-1935
21Correspondence, 1935-1936
22-4Form letters, 1930-1936
25-8Inquiries and Applications, 1930-1936
Lists, 1930-1935
3156 Lists, 1936
32Posters and brochures, 1919-1921; n.d.
33Statistics, 1930-1931
34Questionnaires, 1920s
Scholarship Applications and Letters of Recommendation, 1928-1937:
35Applications, 1930-1931
36-7Letters of Recommendation, 1928-1937
41-2Samuel Dinin files, 1941-1942
I. SUBJECT FILES, 1915-1990
51Accounts, 1977-1978
52-3Address list, n.d.
54-20Alumni annual dinner, 1956-1980s (gaps)
521-30Alumni day, 1957-1990s (gaps)
531Annual alumni luncheon, 1985; 1990
532Annual open board meeting, 1961; 1972
533Archives Committee, 1985
534Awards list, 1977
535Bavli, Hillel, fund, 1962-1963
536Board of Directors Nominating Committee, 1978-1982
537Branch lists, 1975
538Brit Ivrit Olamit (World Hebrew Association), 1974-1976
539Budget, 1961-1963
540Celebrating classes get-togethers, 1975-1976
541Centennial luncheon, 1986
542Children's event, 1972-1977
543Chipkin, Israel/Leo Honor Memorial Fund, 1955-1958
544Chug Ivri
545Class lists
546Class representatives for classes 1920-1962
547Clippings and synagogue bulletins
548Commencement, 1959-1962
549Commencement program information, 1956-1970
550Committee On Recruitment, 1955-1956
551Constitution of Alumni Association (proposed), 1957-1958
552Constitution of Alumni Association, 1964; 1977
553Constitution of Alumni Association (revision), 1965
61-161944-1990s; n.d.
616Death notices, 1975-1986
617Dinners and other honors: Bavli, Chertoff, Chipkin, Levine, 1950s
618-20Directory material
621-26Dues lists, 1951-1975 (gaps)
627-33Dues payment slips
634Elections, 1974-1978
635Endowments/prize funds, 1969-1973
636Epstein, Sarah, fund and annual reception, 1954-1961
637Eternal Light radio series, 1975
638Ettenberg, Sylvia, scholarship fund, 1990-1992
639Finances, 1950-1955
71Finances, 1950-1955
72-3Financial statements, 1969-1985 (gaps)
74Gamoran, Emanuel, memorial fund
75Gittelson Award winners, 1954; 1962
76Goldstein, Harry and Ernestine, ZOA certificate, 1978
77Graduates in University teaching positions
78Hadassah tour to Israel, May, 1973
79Halkin, Abraham, dinner for, 1962
710Halkin, Abraham, history fund, 1971
711Histadruth Ivrith of America
712Hodas, Nathan, treasurer, 1955-1958
713Homecoming, 1964
714Horowitz, A. David
715Israel, alumni in, 1962-1973; 1976
716Israel, articles from, 1970s-1980s
717Israel Friedlaender Classes
718Jewish Museum
719Jewish Museum event, 1975, slides
720Jewish Museum meeting, 1962
721Jewish Museum street festival, 1977
722-23Jubilee, 1959
724-39Kallahs, 1973-1990s (gaps)
740Kallah ideas
741-42Kallah notebook, 1970s-1980s
743-44Kaplan, Mordecai, 75th birthday celebration and fund, 1956-1957
745Levine, Morris D., chair, 1963
746Lewittes, Judith, scholarship fund, 1957-1959
747Mailings, 1959-1964
748Mathilde Schechter Residence Hall Committee, 1963
749May award, 1970
750Membership, 1970s
751Membership information, miscellaneous
752Membership lists, 1977-1978
753-54Notes, 1950s-1960s
755Ovsay, Joshua, award
757Pirkei Avot, 1977
758Planning Committee, 1974-1975
759Prayer services
760President's remarks, 1982
761Press releases
762Prize lists, 1975, 1976
763Programs, 1915-1984
764Publications used for Seminary releases (list of)
81Rosenzweig, Leo, fund, 1952-1959
82Scharfstein, Zevi, jubilee volume, 1969-1970
83Seventieth Anniversary Jubilee
84Siegel, Seymour
85Song sheets
86Soviet Jewry, 1972; 1974
87Summer letters, 1968-1971
88Tea, 1960-1962; n.d.
89Textbook project, 1968
810-11Thau, Frances Krasnow, 1962; 1969-1970; 1979
812-13Treasurers' reports, 1968-1979 (gaps)
814Wechsler, Ruth
815Wigder, Bernard, correspondence
816Meeting notices and correspondence, 1968-1970
8171942; 1949; 1952-1956
827-31Alumni Bulletin, 1945-1986 (gaps)
832-33Alumni Bulletin, preparatory material, 1977-1982
834Journal of the Alumni Association, 1989-1992
91The Alumnus, 1959-1963; 1966
92-5Deans' newsletters, 1959-1974 (gaps)
96Ruffman, Louis, alumni survey, 1959
97-37Alumni questionnaires, 1968-1969 and class lists, 1971, classes of 1912-1971
938-43Alumni questionnaires, 1977, classes of 1912-1979
944Alumni Day, 1956-1979 (gaps)
945Alumni directory, 1959
946Alumni living in Israel, 1978
947Annual alumni dinner, 1938-1977 (gaps)
948Bavli, Hillel, 1962
949Blank questionnaires, n.d.; 1962
950Board of directors, minutes, meeting notices, etc., 1949-1990
951Centennial celebration of the arts, 1987
952Chipkin, Israel, 1958
953Completed questionnaires, 1978 Alumni Bulletin
954Constitution, 1977
955Correspondence, 1938-1983
956Hebrew printed material, 1958-1990
957Kallah, 1990
959Printed material, n.d.
960Thau, Frances Krasnow binder, 1942-1989
961The Alumni Bulletin, 1953-1965 (gaps)
962The Alumnus, 1956-1966 (gaps)
963The Bulletin, 1977-1986 (gaps)
964The Journal, 1987-1992
965Brochures, n.d.
Series: D, Minutes of Teachers Institute, 1931-1934
101Sept.- Dec. 1921
102Jan.- Dec. 1922
103Jan.- Dec. 1923
104Jan.- Dec. 1924
105Jan.- Dec. 1925
106Jan.- Dec. 1926
107Jan.- Dec. 1927
108Jan.- Dec. 1928
109Jan - Dec. 1929
1010Jan - Dec. 1930
1011Jan - Dec. 1931
1012Jan - Dec. 1932
1013Feb.- Dec. 1933
1014Feb.- Dec. 1934
1015Minutes of the Students’ Organization of the Extension Dept. of Teachers Institute, 1926-27
Series: E, Students’ Reports, 1919-1937
111-2Student Progress Reports, 1919-1922
113Student Progress Reports, 1919-1922
114Student Progress Reports, 1923-1924
115Student Progress Reports, 1924-1925
116Student Progress Reports, 1926-1927
117Student Progress Reports, 1928-1929
118Student Progress Reports, 1929-1930
119Student Progress Reports, 1933-1934
121Student Progress Reports, 1934-1935
122Student Progress Reports, 1935-1936
123Student Progress Reports, 1936-1937
124-6Monthly Student Progress Reports, 1922-1930
127Attendance Reports, 1928-1929
Series: F, Course Packets, ca. 1920s
131Outline of Modern Jewish History, 1926
132-7Hebrew reading material, n.d.
138Hebrew reading assignments from classes, 1917-1921