Contact SCUA
Alton Blackington image of woman and parrot
Alton Blackington image of crystal gazer
Alton Blackington image of woman selling walnuts
Burt V Brooks image of family
Alton Blackington image of young woman
Alton Blackington image of cat
Alton Blackington image of woman with feathered hat
Burt V Brooks image of young woman
Burt V Brooks image of dog on porch
Alton Blackington image of Cleo the monkey
Burt V Brooks image of farmstead
Burt Brooks image of young woman


Shapiro, Leon

Finding aid

Leon Shapiro Papers, 1939-1985.

15 boxes (8.75 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 127

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.

Biographical Note

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.

1905 Born July 14, in Hersun (Korsun, Korsoun,
Hersein), Kiev, Russia, to Mark and Freida Scheinblum
Candidate for degree in Social Sciences and Law,
University of Kiev.
Imprisoned for anti-Bolshevik
1925 Exiled to Palestine.
1928 Diplome de Licencie en Droit, Social Sciences and
Law, University of Toulouse.
1935 Married in Paris to Leorfore Rita Willdorff;
divorced in 1940.
1940 Secretary General, Federation des Societes Juives
de France, Paris
1941-1949 Research Associate, American Jewish Joint
Distribution Committee, New York.
1941 Immigrated to U.S.
1946 Married Luba.
1954-1956 Assistant Director, Cultural Department,
Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against
1964-1967 Research Associate, Columbia University Seminar in
International Research Methods.
1964-1972 Assistant Executive Director, Memorial Foundation
for Jewish Culture.
1968-1978 Professor, Russian and Soviet Jewish History,
Department of Hebraic Studies and Soviet/Eastern European
Studies Program, Rutgers University.
1972-1973 Adjunct Professor, Queens College, School of
General Studies, City College of New York.
1973 Adjunct Associate Professor, Judaic Studies,
Brooklyn College, City College of New York.
1974-1975 Adjunct Associate Professor, Academy Without
Walls, Haifa University.
1978-1979 Professor, Empire State College.
1984 Died, December 25, New York City.
Scope and Contents of the Collection

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.

Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

The collection is open for research.

Preferred Citation

Cite as: Leon Shapiro Papers (MS 127). Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

History of the Collection

Acquired from Luba Shapiro, Leon’s wife, via Michael
Wolff and Stanley Radosh, 1986.

Processing Information

Processed by Linda Seidman, December 1986.

Additional Information

Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon

English and

Series Descriptions

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.

Contents List
Series 1. Biographical and Bibliographical
Vita and Biographical articles
Box 1:1
Lists of Publications
Box 1:2
Official Documents: Birth, Marriage
Box 1:3
Official Documents: Citizenship, Travel
Box 1:4
Official Documents: Education, Work
Box 1:5
Box 1:6
Interview: LS interviewed by Rabbi Seligson
on “Message of Israel”, audiotape
Box 1:7
Interview: LS interviewed by Sheila Zucker,
WEVD-FM, audiotape
Box 1:8

Series 2. Correspondence
A – American Committee
Box 1:9
American Jewish Committee – American Jewish
Box 1:10
American ORT Federation
Box 1:11
B – C
Box 1:12
D – G
Box 1:13
H – K
Box 1:14
L – Ma
Box 1:15
Memorial Foundation for Jewish
Box 1:16
Mon – N
Box 1:17
O – Wol
Box 1:18
Women’s American ORT
Box 1:19
World ORT Union
Box 1:20
Wos – Z, unidentified
Box 1:21
75th birthday greetings
Box 1:22

Series 3. Subject files
Academy for Jewish Studies Without Walls
Box 2:23
American Council for Emigres in the
Box 2:24
American Jewish Committee talk, Irving
Box 2:25
American Joint Distribution
Committee–Certificate of Honor
Box 2:26
Association for Jewish Studies
Box 2:27
Brooklyn College
Box 2:28
Columbia University
Box 2:29
Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture
Box 2:30
National Endowment for the Humanities
Box 2:31
New York Association for New Americans
Box 2:32
ORT Jewish Book Fair, Detroit, packet
Box 2:33
ORT: National Rabbinic Scholar Conference
Box 2:34
Pasternak, Boris, clippings
Box 2:34a
Project on 100 Years of Jewish Life in
Russia and USSR
Box 2:35
Queens College
Box 2:36
Rutgers: class handouts
Box 2:37
Rutgers: course materials
Box 2:38
Rutgers: Hebraic Studies Department
Box 2:39
Rutgers: Jews in Eastern Europe, Lecture
Notes and background materials
Box 3:40
Rutgers: Lectures-Eastern European Jews
Box 3:41
Rutgers (and Queens): Modern
Anti-Semitism–Lecture notes and suppl.
Box 3:42
Rutgers: University position–correspondence
and documents
Box 3:43-46
Rutgers: Soviet and East European
Program–memos and correspondence
Box 4:47
Rutgers: Soviet and East European
Program–reports, lists, etc.
Box 4:48
Schwartz (?), Part I, edited ts draft
Box 4:49
Society for Research on Jewish Communities
Box 4:50
Box 4:51
Stalin-Alliluyeva, Svetlana
Box 4:52
Students’ papers
Box 4:53
Students’ papers
Box 4:54
Students’ papers
Box 4:55
Students’ papers
Box 4:56
Students’ papers
Box 5:57
Students’ papers
Box 5:58
Students’ papers
Box 5:59
Students’ papers
Box 5:60
Students’ papers
Box 5:61
Students’ papers
Box 5:62
Synagogue Council of America
Box 5:63
Union of Russian Jews
Box 5:64
World Union of Jewish Studies
Box 5:65
Zipperstein, Steven: “First Years of Jewish
Odessa” 1978
Box 5:66
Unidentified items
Box 5:67

Series 4. Writings
American Jewish Yearbook –ms, typescript,
and printed versions of LS contributions
Box 6:68-80
“L’Influence Juive Chez Marcel Proust” –ms;
also ms or notes on Charles Plisnier
Box 7:81
“Foyer de la Bibliotheque de la Sorbonne”
Box 7:82
Encyclopedia Judaica articles:
correspondence about and typescript
Box 7:83
“Russian Jewry after Stalin”, in Russian
Jewry 1917-1967
Box 7:84
“Passover Restrictions in the Soviet Union”,
Jewish Telegraphic Agency Passover Release No. 9
Box 7:85
History of the Jews in Russia and Polandby
Simon Dubnow, reissued–biog., intro., and outline
history by LS: correspondence., reviews, publicity
Box 7:86
“Soviet Jewry since the Death of Stalin”
–typescript draft and reprint from American Jewish
Yearbook, 1979
Box 7:87
History of ORT
Box 7:88-91
Guide to the Material on ORT’s History
Box 7:92
“Mid-passage–50 Years of ORT: Short
Box 7:93
Speech: ORT Rabbinic/Scholar Conference,
Box 7:94
Speech: “ORT in Jewish Life”
Box 7:95
Speech: “ORT’s Origins”
Box 7:96
Speech: “Jews and Jewish Communities in
Eastern and Central Europe–An Overview”
Box 7:97
Jews Under Tyranny: The Soviet Union
Box 7:98
Additional notes re: USSR
Box 7:99
Jewish Life in Russia and the USSR
–outline, chapter, ms, corresp.
Box 8:100
One Hundred Years of Jewish Life in the
Russian Empire and Under Soviet Rule -outline
Box 8:101
Soviet Russia/Russian Jewry in the 20th
Century–lecture notes (?),writing preparation
Box 8:102
Book reviews
Box 8:103

Series 5. Research Materials
World Jewish Population
Box 9:105-114
Soviet, Russian, and East European
Box 10:115-126
ORT, Gide
Box 11:127-135
Irgun, Haganah, Palestine
Box 12:136

Series 6. Oral Histories
Project documents, Transcripts A-Z, tapes
Box 13-14:137-140

Series 7. Printed Materials
Printed versions of writings by others
Box 15:141


  • Europe, Eastern--Ethnic relations--History--20th century
  • Israel--Emigration and immigration--History
  • Israel--History--1948-1967
  • Jews, Soviet--History--Sources
  • Jews--Europe, Eastern--History--Sources
  • Jews--Migration--History
  • Jews--Population--History
  • Jews--Soviet Union--History--Sources
  • Occupational training for Jews--History--Sources
  • Palestine--History--1929-1948
  • Romania--Emigration and immigration--History
  • Rutgers University--Curricula
  • Rutgers University--Faculty
  • Soviet Union--Ethnic relations--History
  • World ORT Union--History


  • Shapiro, Leon

Types of material

  • Oral histories
  • Photographs


  • Collection areas

Browse collections

[ UMass ]