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Jewish Free University (Philadelphia, Pa.)

Collection ID

SCRC 200

Related Subject(s)

Collecting Area(s)


Collection Summary 
Jewish Free University (Philadelphia, Pa.) Records
Collection ID
SCRC 200
Jewish Free University (Philadelphia, Pa.)
2 linear feet (5 boxes)
Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries
Materials in English

Detailed Collection Information

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.

Description of Collection
The Jewish Free University (Philadelphia, Pa.) Records 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 as follows:

Series 1: Correspondence, 1970–1975
Series 2: Course catalogs, 1970–1975
Series 3: Enrollment records, 1970–1975
Subseries 3.1: Registration forms, 1970
Subseries 3.2: Class lists, 1970–1975
Series 4: Financial records, 1969–1975
Series 5: Mailing lists, 1970–1975
Series 6: Subject files, 1969–1976
Series 7: Public relations, 1970–1975
Subseries 7.1: Notices, 1970–1975
Subseries 7.2: Publicity, 1970–1975
Series 8: Questionnaires, 1970–1976

Series 1: Correspondence, 1970–1975, 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 2: Course catalogs, 1970–1975, is comprised of manuscripts of the course catalogs including handwritten notations and edits as well as the finished course catalog printings.  

Series 3: Enrollment records, 1970–1975, is divided into two subseries. Subseries 3.1 consists of registration forms, arranged alphabetically, for the first academic year beginning in the fall of 1970. Subseries 3.2 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 5.

Series 4: Financial records, 1969–1975, 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 5: Mailing lists, 1970–1975, 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 3.

Series 6: Subject files, 1969–1976, consists of two folders of assorted brochures, pamphlets and article clippings related to free and Jewish educational programs and institutions.

Series 7: Public relations, 1970–1975, contains two subseries. Subseries 7.1 includes communications from the Jewish Free University administration to students, faculty and interested parties regarding course offerings, registration, and promotion of the University. Subseries 7.2 consists of press releases and newspaper clippings about programming offered at JFU.

Series 8: Questionnaires, 1970–1976, 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. Access to files in this series containing personal identifying information on individual students at Jewish Free University is restricted for 75 years from the date of creation. This series also contains progress reports written by the administrative body based on statistical data culled from the questionnaires.

Patron Information 
Catalog Record 
A record for this collection is available in Temple University’s online library catalog: [URL]
Research Access 
Collection is open for research. Access to files containing personal identifying information on individual students at Jewish Free University is restricted for 75 years from the date of creation. Restrictions, where applicable, are noted at the file level.
Collections Stored Off-Site
This collection may be housed off-site at the Library Depository, and require up to two business days to retrieve. Please review the finding aid and be prepared to identify specific materials to be retrieved. Contact the Special Collections Research Center in advance of your visit, so that materials may be relocated to the reading room for research. 
Publication and Copyright Information
The Jewish Free University (Philadelphia, Pa.) Records are the physical property of the Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries. Intellectual property rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. Researchers are responsible for determining the identity of rights holders and obtaining their permission for publication and for other purposes where stated.
Preferred Citation
[Description and date of item], [Box/folder number], Jewish Free University (Philadelphia, Pa.) Records, SCRC 200, Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

Related Material
Philadelphia Union of Jewish Students Records, 1971–1977, SCRC 88

Administrative Information

Acquisition Information
Donated in 1979 by the American Jewish Committee. Collection previously administered by the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center, acquired by Temple in June 2009

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.

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

Personal Names:
Adler, Norman T.
Coren, Richard L., 1932–
Goldstein, Stephen R., 1938–
Corporate Names:
Jewish Free University (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Jewish college students
Jews –– Education –– Pennsylvania –– Philadelphia
Non–formal education
Philadelphia (Pa.)
Material Types:
Mailing lists
Press releases