Jewish Free University records

Collection ID: 
MSS 56
2 linear feet (5 boxes)

Jewish Free University (Philadelphia, Pa.)

Materials in English.
Historical Note
The Jewish Free University, an informal forum for Jewish learning, operated between 1970 and 1975 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Modeled after the Free University movement of the 1960s, the Jewish Free University was a project spearheaded by the American Jewish Committee to reach out to Jewish students in the Philadelphia area who would not otherwise have been involved with the Jewish community. The goal of the Jewish Free University was to organize and make freely available collegiate level, unstructured seminars led by qualified volunteer faculty who shaped a course of study around the needs of participating students. This grass roots approach to Jewish learning enabled students to engage in critical inquiry of Judaism in a non–traditional way. Enrollees in the Jewish Free University included students from Temple University, University of Pennsylvania, and Drexel University, but also included nonaffiliated students and non–Jews. Faculty members were typically instructors at Philadelphia–area universities, although not exclusively. The administration of Jewish Free University, overseen by Murray Friedman, Director of the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), was initially led by the Academic Consultant to the AJC, Stephen R. Goldstein. Goldstein was succeeded by Norman T. Adler in June 1970, who served as Co–Chairman of the University for the duration of its operation. Adler worked with other local organizations such as the Philadelphia Union of Jewish Students to advertise courses and recruit students. Classes were held at locations around Philadelphia including area campuses, Hillel foundations, and, at times, in the homes of faculty members. Initially, funding for administrative costs and public relations were provided by foundation grants and the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. In the spring of 1975, Jewish Free University became a constituent agency of the Jewish Campus Activities Board resulting in a change in financial support, but also a redirection of services that only included university affiliated students. Reduced funding and declining enrollment eventually led to the close of Jewish Free University at the end of the fall 1975 semester.

Collection Overview
The Jewish Free University records, 1969–1976, document the creation of this free educational institution from initial proposal to its ultimate dissolution. The records reflect all aspects of University operations including course offerings, student demographics, marketing, student and faculty satisfaction, and funding. Materials in the collection include correspondence, course catalogs, mailing lists, progress reports, questionnaires, and newspaper clippings.

Organization and Arrangement
The records are arranged in eight series, two of which have been further arranged in subseries. The series and subseries arrangement is as follows:

           Subseries 1: Registration forms, 1970
           Subseries 2: Class lists, 1970–1975
           Subseries 1: Notices, 1970–1975
           Subseries 2: Publicity, 1970–1975

Series Descriptions
Series I: Correspondence, 1970–1975
This series is arranged chronologically and consists primarily of correspondence among the members of the administrative body of Jewish Free University. Correspondents include Stephen R. Goldstein, organizing member of the subcommittee to establish the Jewish Free University; Co–Chairman of JFU, Norman T. Adler; and Faculty Advisor, Richard L. Coren.

Series II: Course catalogs, 1970–1975
This series is comprised of manuscripts of the course catalogs including handwritten notations and edits as well as the finished course catalog printings.  

Series III: Enrollment records, 1970–1975
This series is divided into two subseries. Subseries 1 consists of registration forms, arranged alphabetically, for the first academic year beginning in the fall of 1970. Subseries 2 is comprised of lists, arranged chronologically, containing the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of individuals attending each class offered.  There is some overlap of these lists with those found in Series V.

Series IV: Financial records, 1969–1975
This series is arranged chronologically and consists primarily of correspondence regarding the procurement of funds for administrative costs from the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and the Jewish Campus Activities Board.

Series V: Mailing lists, 1970–1975
This series is arranged chronologically and consists solely of lists of names and organizations with addresses and related contact information for the purposes of mailing notices, course catalogs and other communications. There is some overlap of these lists with those found in Series III.

Series VI: Subject files, 1969–1976
This series consists of two folders of assorted brochures, pamphlets and article clippings related to free and Jewish educational programs and institutions.

Series VII: Public relations, 1970–1975
Subseries 1 includes communications from the Jewish Free University administration to students, faculty and interested parties regarding course offerings, registration, and promotion of the University. Subseries 2 consists of press releases and newspaper clippings about programming offered.

Series VIII: Questionnaires, 1970–1976
This series is arranged chronologically and is comprised of questionnaires issued to both students and faculty soliciting their opinions and perceptions regarding the success of the University and the courses offered. The student questionnaires are restricted for 75 years from latest date of materials. This series also contains progress reports written by the administrative body based on statistical data culled from the questionnaires.

Restrictions on Access
Access to files containing personal identifying information on individual students at Jewish Free University is restricted for 75 years from latest date of the materials in those files. Restrictions, where applicable, are noted at the file level.

Acquisition Information
Donated by the American Jewish Committee via Murray Freidman, Director of the Philadelphia Chapter of the AJC, in 1979 and Joram Borenstein in 1994.

Processing Information
Collection processed and finding aid prepared in 1980 by Harold J. Kravitz. Finding aid revised according to contemporary archival standards in 2012 by Jessica Lydon, Project Archivist.

Preferred Citation
[Description and date of item], [Box/folder number], Jewish Free University records, 1969–1976, MSS 56, Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Related Material
Philadelphia Union of Jewish Students records, 1971–1977, MSS 63

Separated Material
The following work was removed from the collection and cataloged separately:
Borenstein, Joram. “Philadelphia Jewish Free University, 1970–1976: a Case Study Analysis of Education Reform, Campus Activism & American Jewish life.” Senior honors thesis, University of Pennsylvania, 1994.

Access Points
The following headings have been used to index the description of this collection in the Temple University Libraries’ electronic catalog.

Corporate Name(s)
Jewish Free University (Philadelphia, Pa.)

Personal Name(s)
Adler, Norman T.
Coren, Richard L., 1932–
Goldstein, Stephen R., 1938–

Jewish college students
Non–formal education

Form/Genre Term(s)
Clippings (information artifacts)
Mailing lists
Press releases

Collection Inventory

Box  Folder  Description

                   SERIES I: CORRESPONDENCE, 1970–1975

1        1       1970 January–June      
1        2       1970 July–December
1        3       1971 January–June
1        4       1971 July–December
1        5       1972 January–June
1        6       1972 July–December
1        7       1973 January–June
1        8       1973 July–December
1        9       1974 January–June
1        10     1974 July–December
1        11     1975
                   SERIES II: COURSE CATALOGS, 1970–1975
1        12     Published catalogs, 1970–1975
1        13     Catalog manuscripts, 1970–1975

                   SERIES III: ENROLLMENT, 1970–1975

                   Subseries 1: Registration forms, 1970

2       1        A–I
2       2        J–Z                                                       

                   Subseries 2: Class lists, 1970–1975

2       3        1970–1971
2       4        1971–1972
2       5        High School Division, 1971–1972                          
2       6        Fall, 1972
2       7        Spring, 1973
2       8        Fall, 1973
2       9        Spring, 1974
2       10      Fall, 1974
2       11      Spring, 1975
2       12      Fall, 1975                 

                   SERIES IV: FINANCIAL RECORDS, 1971–1975

3       1        Bills, 1971–1972
3       2        Expenses, 1972–1974
3       3        Expenses, 1974–1975                                                   
3       4        Correspondence, 1969–1971
3       5        Correspondence, 1972
3       6        Correspondence, 1973
3       7        Correspondence, 1974–1975                                                   

                   SERIES V: MAILING LISTS, 1970–1975

3       8        1970
3       9        1971
3       10      1972
3       11      1973
3       12      1974
3       13      1975
3       14      Undated

                   SERIES VI: SUBJECT FILES, 1969–1976

3       15      Articles, clippings and brochures on free education, 1969–1971, 1976
3       16      Background materials on Jewish education and medical ethics, 1975, undated
                   SERIES VII: PUBLIC RELATIONS, 1970–1975

                   Subseries 1: Notices, 1970–1975

4       1        1970–1971
4       2        1972
4       3        1973
4       4        1974
4       5        1975
4       6        1974–1975                   

                   Subseries 2: Publicity, 1970–1975

4       7        1970
4       8        1971
4       9        1972
4       10      1973
4       11      1974
4       12      1975

                   SERIES VIII: QUESTIONAIRES, 1970–1976

5       1        Student #3–98, 1970–1971 RESTRICTED
5       2        Student #101–212, 1970–1971 RESTRICTED
5       3        Tabulation, 1970–1971
5       4        Initial proposal and progress reports, 1970–1976
5       5        Student participation, 1971 RESTRICTED
5       6        Student, 1972–1973 RESTRICTED
5       7        Student, 1972–1973 RESTRICTED
5       8        Tabulation, 1972–1973
5       9        Faculty, 1972–1973
5       10      Student #1–148, 1974 Spring RESTRICTED
5       11      Student #152–335, 1974 Spring RESTRICTED               


Please enter public comments in the space below.
If you want to request materials or ask a question, please email or call 215 204-8257.