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Israel Chanin diary and translation

Collection ID

MSS 113

Related Subject(s)

Collecting Area(s)


Chanin, Israel

Materials in Yiddish and English.

Biographical Note
Israel Chanin, the second of four sons of Levick and Sara Chanin, was born in the town of Vishtinetz (Vistytis), Lithuania either on April 2, 1907 or May 5, 1908. Israel’s mother, Sara and three brothers, Kusiel, Joseph, and Abraham immigrated to the United States via the ship Stockholm and arrived at Ellis Island on January 12, 1921. The family joined Levick, who had immigrated to the United States earlier via San Francisco after working in China for nearly eight years as a brush maker. The family settled in the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood of Philadelphia where they operated a candy store. Israel attended Central High School and then Temple University before traveling to Vienna in 1931 to study medicine at the University of Vienna. In the mid-1930s, Israel left Vienna due to the rise of Nazi power within the government and went to Switzerland to study at the Faculte de Medecine de L'Universite de Lausanne. He returned to the United States with his medical degree and Dutch born wife, Johanna, and settled in Jersey City, NJ, where he practiced medicine until his death on April 10, 1983.

Collection Overview
The Israel Chanin diary and translation, 1924 March 13–1929 September 25; 2004, consists of unbound pages of a diary written in Yiddish as well as xerographic copies of the original, and a bound English translation in three parts. The diary chronicles thoughts, observations, and experiences of an adolescent Jewish immigrant, from approximately age 16 to 21 who writes in his native tongue in an effort to document the daily happenings of his life. The diary provides insight in to the relationships amongst the members of the Chanin family, school life at Central High School and the antisemitism preached by some of its teachers, social activities and entertainment including the Yiddish theater plays of the day and their stars, and Israel’s foray into college life at Temple University as a pre-med student.

Restrictions on Access
Collection is open for research.

Acquisition Information
Diary purchased by the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center in 2001 with funding provided by Audrey Stein Merves. Original diary translated by Dr. Khane-Faygl Turteltaub. Funding for translation provided by the Smukler-Lasch Charitable Foundation and the Tuttleman Family Foundation.

Processing Information
Finding aid prepared according to contemporary archival standards in 2012 by Jessica M. Lydon, Project Archivist.

Preferred Citation
[Description and date of item], [Box/folder number], Israel Chanin diary and translation, 1924 March 13–1929 September 25; 2004, MSS 113, Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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

Personal Name(s)
Chanin, Israel
Turtletaub, Khane-Faygl.

Jews--United States--Diaries
Central High School (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Strawberry Mansion (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Temple University
Theater, Yiddish

Form/Genre Term(s)
Translations (documents)
Xerographic copies

Collection Inventory

Box  Folder  Description

1         1       Diary pages, 1924
1         2       Diary pages, 1925
1         3       Diary pages, 1926
1         4       Diary pages, 1927
1         5       Diary pages, 1928
1         6       Diary pages, 1929 

2         1       Xerox diary pages, 1924
2         2       Xerox diary pages, 1925
2         3       Xerox diary pages, 1926
2         4       Xerox diary pages, 1927
2         5       Xerox diary pages, 1928
2         6       Xerox diary pages, 1929

3         1       English translation part 1, 2004
3         2       English translation part 2, 2004
3         3       English translation part 3, 2004