Manuel F. Lisan Papers
Detailed Collection Information
Manuel F. Lisan was born in Odessa, Russia on December 3, 1882 to Feivel Lisan and Chase Lisan nee Russacoff. At the age of 15, Lisan began to associate himself with the Zionist movement, becoming a member of the Zionist Youth Organization in Odessa. In the face of Jewish persecution in Czarist Russia and at the behest of his parents, Lisan immigrated to Philadelphia in 1900. Shortly after arriving in America, Lisan began work as an apprentice cigar maker, but quickly abandoned the job due to health reasons to become a petticoat salesman for Stein and McLaughlin, a retailer for women’s apparel. He used his position as a traveling salesman to introduce Zionism to his customers and recruit supporters of the movement. Lisan was active in organizations such as the Federation of American Zionists, later reorganized as the Zionists of America (ZOA), and the Jewish National Fund. As a member of the ZOA’s Committee on Propaganda and Organization, Lisan helped to organize Zionist groups in various communities including the Young Workers of Zion, later known as the Maccabean Zion Society and a student Zionist society at the Woodbine National Farm School in Woodbine, NJ. Lisan operated a women’s apparel shop at 6216 Woodland Ave. from 1914 until his retirement in 1955. Manuel F. Lisan died June 25, 1975.
Description of Collection
The Manuel F. Lisan Papers consist primarily of correspondence and a memoir detailing the events of his life from approximately age 16 to 28. The memoir chronicles Lisan’s fifty-three day journey from Odessa to Philadelphia and the challenges he faced fleeing Russia as a young Jewish man. The memoir also recounts Lisan’s foray into the Zionist movement in early twentieth century America, and how he exploited his role as a traveling salesman in the apparel industry to spread the idea of Zionism to Jews and non-Jews alike. The remaining materials in the collection, most notably the correspondence further document the activities of Zionist organizations in Philadelphia and the personalities that occupied their membership.
Organization and Arrangement
The papers are arranged in three series as follows:
Series 1: Correspondence, 1902–1973, undated
Series 2: Writings, 1902, undated
Series 3: Zionist materials, 1903–1952, undated
Series 1 is arranged chronologically. The bulk of the correspondence deals with Lisan’s Zionist activities in Philadelphia. Some of the correspondence are photostats of original communications concerned with the disposition of his papers, a visit to Israel in 1958, as well as correspondence with prominent figures such as President Harry Truman, Chaim Weizmann and Hadassah founder, Henrietta Szold. The first folder in the series includes a partial inventory of the correspondence composed by Lisan
Series 2 consists primarily of a memoir regarding Lisan’s immigration to America and his activities in the Zionist movement in the first decade of the twentieth century. Also in this series is a poem written in Yiddish. Because the dates when Lisan composed his memoir are unknown and the page numbering is substantially inconsistent, the drafts of Lisan’s memoir with the exception of the initial draft have been organized by topic and arranged according to time period covered in the writing. The majority of the memoir is xerographic copies with the exception of the initial draft and a few scattered pages which are original typescript pages.
Series 3 is arranged alphabetically. The Zionist materials consist of a Maccabean Zion Society photograph and broadsides printed in Yiddish with accompanying English translations, a certificate issued by the Jewish National Fund, newspaper clippings, advertisements and other printed materials.
A record for this collection is available in Diamond, Temple University’s online library catalog: [URL]
Restrictions on Access
Collection is open for research.
[Description and date of item], [Box/folder number], Manuel F. Lisan Papers, SCRC 199, Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Donated by Manuel F. Lisan in 1972 and Phillip Lisan in 1976.
Collection processed and finding aid prepared in 1977 by Lee B. Leopold. Finding aid revised according to contemporary archival standards in 2012 by Jessica M. Lydon, Project Archivist. Collection previously administered by the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center, acquired by Temple in June 2009.
The following headings have been used to index the description of this collection in the Temple University Libraries’ electronic catalog.
Box Folder Description