Record Group 21: Board of Overseers

  • Dates: 1946-1972
  • Size: 8.5 linear ft.
  • Number of Boxes: 7
  • Languages: English
  • 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.

SGS, 6/23/93


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

The Seminary's Board of Overseers was created in 1946 in order to involve Jewish community leaders in the planning and administration of Seminary programs. Herbert H. Lehman, then governor of the state of New York, served as the founding chairman of the Board of Overseers from its inception in 1946 until his death in 1963. Lehman was replaced as chairman of the Board of Overseers by United Nations Ambassador (and former Supreme Court Justice) Arthur Goldberg, who served until 1970 when he was replaced by co-chairmen Abraham Ribicoff and Sol M. Linowitz. Linowitz was named sole chairman of the board in early 1972.

The Board of Overseers was an advisory body and functioned in tandem with the Board of Directors in governing the Seminary. The membership of the two groups overlapped. The Board of Overseers, however, encompassed a much larger group of people than did the Board of Directors, thus allowing the Seminary to draw support from the leaders of many Jewish communities across North America.

The Board of Overseers included many standing committees which were responsible for advising particular Seminary departments and programs. Through these committees, the Board of Overseers concentrated on the adminstration of The Rabbinical School, the adult education program, the Jewish Museum, the Institute for Religious and Social Studies, the Conference on Science, Philosophy, and Religion, the Eternal Light radio program, the Seminary library, the Teachers Institute and Seminary College of Jewish Studies, and the University of Judaism in Los Angeles.

The Board of Overseers was discontinued in the 1980s, during the tenure of Chancellor Gerson Cohen.


Collection Description

Records of the Board of Overseers, 1946-1972, mainly consist of administrative files documenting its periodic meetings. Included are: minutes; files pertaining to the pragmatic arrangements for board meetings; by-laws; correspondence; membership and attendance lists; resolutions; agenda; memoranda and correspondence relating to nominations to the Board; and biographical information about members.

Of particular note are reports which various departments and programs of the Jewish Theological Seminary made to the Board of Overseers on a yearly basis. The collection contains reports from the following years: 1947-1951, 1954, 1956, 1958, 1962-1972. In some years these reports appear as typescripts, while in later years they were often compiled into a printed booklet. These reports are a valuable source of information about the activities of the following Seminary activities: The Rabbinical School, the Teachers Institute and Seminary College of Jewish Studies, the library, the Institute for Religious and Social Studies, the Ramah camps, the Jewish Museum, the Seminary's television and radio programs (including the Eternal Light series), the University of Judaism, the Cantors Institute, the Leaders Training Fellowship, the Women's Institute of Jewish Studies, the Herbert H. Lehman Institute of Talmudic Ethics, the Schocken Institute, the Seminary Israel Institute, the American Jewish History Center, the Melton Research Center, and the Universal Brotherhood Movement. Also included are reports from the United Synagogue, the United Synagogue Israel project, and the Rabbinical Assembly.

Another worthwhile source of information within the collection are the files of the various standing committees of the Board of Overseers. Separate committees were formed to devise and monitor the programs of the following Seminary departments and programs: The Rabbinical School, the adult education program, the Jewish Museum, the Institute for Religious and Social Studies, the Conference on Science, Philosophy, and Religion, the Eternal Light programs, the Seminary library, the Teachers Institute and Seminary College of Jewish Studies, and the University of Judaism.

Of special note is a copy of a report written in 1959 by Morton A. Rauh investigating the function of the Seminary's Board of Directors (box 3, 1959, folder 19). Also, an undated manuscript provides biographical information about numerous members of the Board of Overseers (box 7, folder 24).

A number of reel-to-reel tape recordings of Board of Overseers meetings in 1969 and 1972 are included within the collection. Descriptions of these have been added to the Ratner Center sound database. They are numbers S354-361.


Box List

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