Manuel F. Lisan papers

Collection ID: 
MSS 3
Date: 
1902-1973
Footage: 
.42 linear feet (1 box)

Creator(s)
Lisan, Manuel F.

Language
Materials in English and Yiddish

Biographical Note
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.

Collection Overview
The Manuel F. Lisan papers, 1902–1973, 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 I: CORRESPONDENCE, 1902–1973, undated
SERIES II: WRITINGS, 1902, undated
SERIES III: ZIONIST MATERIALS, 1903–1952, undated

Series Descriptions
Series I: Correspondence, 1902–1973, undated
This series 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 II: Writings, 1902, undated
This series 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 III: Zionist materials, 1903–1952, undated
This series 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.

Restrictions on Access
Collection is open for research.

Acquisition Information
Donated by Manuel F. Lisan in 1972 and Phillip Lisan in 1976.

Processing Information
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.

Preferred Citation
[Description and date of item], [Box/folder number], Manuel F. Lisan papers, 1902–1973, MSS 3, Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Separated Material
The “Jewish National Fund land donation certificate, 1912 December 12” from Series III was removed and placed in an oversize box. A separation sheet is located in the original folder.

The following publications were removed from the collection and cataloged separately:
Federation of American Zionists. The Maccabaean magazine: devoted to Zioinsim and all Jewish Interests 22, no. 2 (August 1912).
Maccabean Zion Society. The Star: a journal for Jewish National Literature, 1906–1907.

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)
Federation of American Zionists
Maccabean Zion Society

Personal Name(s)
Lisan, Manuel F.

Geographic Place(s)
Odesa (Ukraine)

Subject(s)
Emigration and immigration
Russia--Description and travel
Transatlantic voyages
Selling--Clothing
Zionism--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia

Form/Genre Term(s)
Broadsides (notices)
Clippings (information artifacts)
Correspondence
Memoirs
Typescripts
Xerographic copies

Collection Inventory

Box  Folder  Description

                   SERIES I: CORRESPONDENCE, 1902–1973, undated

1        1       Correspondence, 1902–1905
1        2       Correspondence, 1907
1        3       Correspondence, 1908–1912
1        4       Correspondence, 1921–1933
1        5       Correspondence, 1948–1958
1        6       Correspondence, 1960–1969
1        7       Correspondence, 1971–1973
1        8       Correspondence, undated

                   SERIES II: WRITINGS, 1902, undated

1        9       Yiddish poem, 1902
1        10     Memoir initial draft (1897–1907), undated
1        11     Immigration from Odessa to Philadelphia (1900), undated
1        12     Career as an apparel salesman (1900–1906), undated
1        13     Zionist activities in Philadelphia (1900–1910), undated
1        14     Naphtali Hertz Imber (1901), undated
1        15     Dr. Joseph Krauskopf episode (1902), undated
1        16     Kishinev pogrom (1903), undated

                   SERIES III: ZIOINIST MATERIALS, 1903–1952, undated

1        17     Jewish National Fund land donation certificate, 1912 December 12
1        18     Maccabean Zion Society broadsides, 1903–1909
1        19     Maccabean Zion Society sixth annual picnic photograph, 1910
1        20     Newspaper clippings, 1952, undated
1        21     Miscellaneous certificates, advertisements, and other materials, 1903–1952, undated