Hanna Silver Papers

Collection ID: 
Acc. 998
3 linear feet (3 boxes)
Collecting Area: 
Hanna Silver, born Hanna Bornowsky in Berlin in 1910, survived the Holocaust during World War II by depending on the kindness and courage of her Gentile neighbors. After the Allies liberated Berlin in 1945, Hanna was able to secure work as a photographer for the American Red Cross. There she met a GI doctor named George Silver. Though they were not able to socialize openly, due to the United States’ war-time policies, George and Hanna fell in love. Eventually, Hanna and George were able to get married in 1948. Soon after, they left Berlin for the United States.
On December 15, 1948, Hanna arrived in the United States and quickly settled in the Strawberry Mansion area of Philadelphia with George. The neighborhood was rapidly changing due to the changing socio-economic conditions of Philadelphia after the war. By 1958, many of the prominent Jewish families began to leave the area, while many African-American families began to move in, Hanna and George remained in the area and Hanna, determined to help her new neighbors, volunteered her time to neighborhood and civic organizations bent on improving the living conditions for all residents of the Strawberry Mansion area. She worked with many civic organizations in the area including the North City Congress and the Health and Welfare Council. She also actively protested the establishment of taprooms in the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood. Her most notable work, however, was with the Strawberry Mansion Council of Block Associations. She served as the Chairman of the Recreation Committee from 1958 to 1962. In 1963, she served as the first Vice President of the organization. During these years she helped organize summer day camps, helped build a playground for neighborhood children, and worked on several other notable projects.
Later in life, due to her survival of the Holocaust, Hanna wished to celebrate and record the histories of both the Germans who defied Hitler and supported their Jewish neighbors and the German Jewish survivors of the Holocaust. Hanna began to work with the Living History Project at Brandeis University. She recorded and translated many accounts of war survivors for Brandeis. In 1979, she also began to lend her services to the newly formed Gratz College Holocaust Oral History Archive. She worked with both institutions until her death in April of 2003.
The collection consists of one linear foot and covers Hanna Silver’s life from the years 1946 to 2003. The majority of the collection covers Hanna’s volunteer work in the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood from 1958 until 1964, which is mainly focuses on her work with the Strawberry Mansion Council of Block Associations.
This collection is organized into 8 series:
Series I. Biographical, 1946-2003
Series II. Miscellaneous Documents, 1963-2003
Series III. Projects/Organizations, 1955-2001
Series IV. Strawberry Mansion Council of Block Organizations, 1958-2003
Series V. Audio Visual, No Dates
Series VI. North Penn Newspaper, 1958-1960
Series VII. Scrapbook and Drawings, 1958-2003
Series I, Biographical, is arranged alphabetically. The first folder, Autobiography/ Speeches/Notes, contains personal writing by Hanna, all undated. Awards, Certificates, and Plaques contains various award and certificates bestowed on Hanna between 1948-1998. Correspondence covers letters sent to or about Mrs. Silver by organizations and individuals not covered in later series, between the years 1949 and 2003. Folder four, Miscellaneous, contains documents that pertain to Hanna’s life that did not fit into any other category, most of which remains largely undated. In the Obituaries folder, there are a number of obituaries from local papers describing Hanna’s life shortly after her death in 2003. Partial Biography and Notes contains a newspaper article (1989), an incomplete biography, and Eva Abraham-Podietz’s biographical notes about Hanna, all undated. The final folder, Personal Documents, contains ration cards, travel documents, and membership cards dating from 1946 to 1977.
Series II, Miscellaneous Documents, is arranged alphabetically. This series, consisting of one folder, contains documents belonging to Hanna, her husband, George, and Eva that have no clear purpose. This folder has awards, political flyers, and display items that might have been used in an exhibition on Hanna’s life.
Series III, Projects/Organizations, is arranged alphabetically. It contains materials dedicated to the documents and correspondence related to Hanna’s copious amounts volunteer activities. Crime Prevention Association contains member lists, and a hardcopy of a presentation giving to Philadelphia City Council in 1963. Health and Welfare Council contains notes, documents, and correspondence from 1961 to 1963. Miscellaneous contains undated membership cards, notes, and correspondence related to various organizations that Hanna was involved in. The North City Congress folder has a budget, correspondence, reports, membership cards, and programs dated from 1960 to 1976. Oral History Work has articles and publications discussing Hanna and the oral history institutions she volunteered with, 1973-2002.
Series IV, Strawberry Mansion Council of Block Organizations, is arranged alphabetically. This series documents the different types of documents, correspondence, reports, and publications during Hanna’s tenure as Chairman of the Recreation Committee and as 1st Vice President of the organization, between 1958 and 1964. The first folder, Administrative Papers, contains member directories and lists that are undated. The second folder, Correspondence, contains dated and undated letters drafted by and to Hannah between 1958 and 1963. External Publications holds reports, newspaper clippings, and handbooks about the Strawberry Mansion area from 1958-2002. The Financial Records and Notes folder contains dated and undated material from 1958-1960 and consists largely of receipts, financial reports, and notes. Internal Publications I and II contains booklets, programs, flyers, tickets and newsletters published by the organization from 1958 to 1964. Joseph E. Mander Playground contains correspondence, tickets, and documents pertaining to the creation of the playground from 1960-1961. Maps contains two area undated maps of the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood. The folder, Notes, holds organizational notes written by Hanna. Recreation Committee holds meeting minutes, notes, documents and lists. Reports contains organizational information 1960-1963. Smith Memorial Playground information is dedicated to information on the Recreation Committee’s trips to the playground and contains dated and undated notes, magnets, correspondence, and newspaper articles from 1959-1962.
Series V, Audio Visual, contains two cassette tapes, one dated 12/02, with information about Hanna. The type of information on these tapes is currently unknown.
Series VI, North Penn Newspaper, is arranged chronologically. This series contains copies of the North Penn Newspaper from 1958 and 1960. This newspaper discusses different issues in the greater Northern Philadelphia area and also includes a column written by the Strawberry Mansion Council of Block Organizations.
Series VII, Scrapbook and Drawings, contains a scrapbook of dated and undated photos and drawings made by Hanna. The estimated date range for this series is 1958 to 2003.
Hanna Silver Papers, Accession 998, Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA.
Materials donated to the Urban Archives on December 15, 2003. 
The collection was processed by Drexel Intern, Katie Bray in June 2006.
Four folders of black and white photographs and negatives dated from 1945 to 2003 have been transferred to the Photograph Collection, PC-101.
This collection is open for research.
Geographic Places
Strawberry Mansion (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Personal Names
Abraham-Podietz, Eva
Silver, George
Corporate Names
Crime Prevention Association of Philadelphia (Pa.)
Gratz College (Philadelphia, Pa.). Holocaust Oral History Archive
North City Congress (Philadelphia, Pa.)
North Penn Newspaper (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Strawberry Mansion Council of Block Associations (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Wharton Centre (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Form/Genre Terms
Oral Histories
Series I. Biographical, 1946-2003
1       1 Autobiography/Speeches/Notes, 1948-2003
         2 Awards, Certificates, and Plaques, 1948-1998
         3 Correspondence, 1949-2003
         4 Miscellaneous No Date-2001
         5 Obituaries 2003
         6 Partial Biography and Notes, 1989-2003
         7 Personal Documents, 1946-1977
Series II. Miscellaneous Documents, 1963-2003
        8 Miscellaneous Documents 1963-2003
Series III. Projects/Organizations, 1955-2001
        9 Crime Prevention Association, 1963-1964
      10 Health and Welfare Council, 1961-1963
      11 Miscellaneous, 1962-1965
      12 North City Congress, 1964-1973
      13 Oral History Work, 1973-2001 
      14 Taproom Protests, 1958-1964
      15 Wharton Centre, 1955-1963
Series IV. Strawberry Mansion Council of Block Organizations, 1958-2003
      16 Administrative Papers, No Date
      17 Correspondence, 1958-2002
      18 External Publications, 1958-2002
      19 Financial Records and Notes, 1958-1960
      20-21 Internal Publications, 1959-1964
      22 Joseph E. Mander Playground, 1960-1961
      23 Maps, No Date
      24 Organization Notes, No Dates
      25 Recreation Committee, 1958-1961
      26 Reports, 1960-1963
      27 Smith Memorial Playground, 1959-2003
Series V. Audio-Visual-Oral History Tapes, No Dates
      28 Oral History Tapes, No Dates
Series VI. North Penn Newspaper, 1958-1960
2      1 North Penn Newspaper 1958-1960 
Series VII. Scrapbooks and Drawings, 1958-2003
3      1 Scrapbook of Activities by Hanna Silver, 1958-2003