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Morry Helzner Papers

Collection ID

SCRC 73

Related Subject(s)

Collecting Area(s)

Description

 
Collection Summary 
 
Title
Morry Helzner Papers
 
Dates
1922-1992
 
Collection ID
SCRC 73
 
Creator
Helzner, Morry, 1914-1992
 
Quantity
6.17 linear feet (11 boxes and 3 map folders)
 
Repository
Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries
 
Language
Materials in English and Yiddish.
 
 
Detailed Collection Information 
 
Biographical Note
Morry Helzner (1914-1992) was an educator and Yiddish musicologist dedicated to the preservation and performance of traditional Yiddish music.  Born in Russia in 1914, Helzner immigrated with his family to the United States in 1922.  His family eventually settled in Philadelphia, where Helzner attended Central High School before studying music education at Temple University.  He taught social studies at the Walter Biddle Saul High School of Agricultural Sciences for thirty five years, and also ran a successful Nature Study Day Camp.  From 1940 to 1977, Helzner served as the musical director of the I.L. Peretz Workmen’s Circle Schools of Philadelphia, and in 1963, assumed directorship of the Workmen’s Circle Chorus.  Helzner also conducted the Temple University Diamond Band in 1957, and served as a member of the 130th Army Ground Forces Band during World War II.  Morry Helzner was active in Philadelphia’s Jewish music scene for over fifty-six years.
 
Description of Collection 
The Morry Helzner Papers contain correspondence and printed material related to the Philadelphia Workmen’s Circle Chorus, as well as Helzner’s personal correspondence, published news articles, photographs, scrapbook, and ephemera from his lectures and appearances. Helzner’s papers also include his music and theater reference files, as well as collected Yiddish ephemera from the 1920s and 1930s.  
 
Organization and Arrangement 
 
The collection is arranged into 8 series as follows:
 
Series 1: Workmen’s Circle Chorus, 1957-1991
Series 2: Correspondence, 1964-1992
Series 3: Writings by Morry Helzner, 1969-1992
Series 4: Writings about Morry Helzner, 1960-1992
Series 5: Organizations and Special Projects, 1949-1960s
Series 6: Ephemera, Photographs, and Scrapbook, 1933-1992
Series 7: Yiddish Music Reference Materials, 1935-1980s
Series 8: Yiddish Fliers and Ephemera, 1922-1939 
 
Series 1: Workmen’s Circle Chorus, 1957-1991, contains documentation related to Morry Helzner’s role as conductor of the Workmen’s Circle Chorus.  Material includes correspondence related to bookings, as well as news clippings, reviews, and fliers advertising the chorus’ performances.  This series is arranged chronologically, and thereafter alphabetically.  The folder dates also represent the performance season, which generally ran from September-June. 
 
Series 2: Correspondence, 1964-1992, contains correspondence from the later part of Morry Helzner’s life.  Much of the series is composed of letters from Helzner to various organizations and media outlets, publicizing his knowledge of Yiddish music and culture.  There is also some correspondence on the subject of Yiddish music.  This series is arranged chronologically.
 
Series 3: Writings by Morry Helzner, 1969-1992, contains articles written by Helzner on a variety of subjects including Jewish music and culture, Yiddish language, Holocaust music, and Yiddish theater and film.  He also wrote a number of book reviews of works on Yiddish music.  His articles were published in the Jewish Times, the Four Star Review, and the Jewish Post, among other local newspapers.  This series is arranged alphabetically by subject.
 
Series 4: Writings about Morry Helzner, 1960-1992, contains photocopies of news clippings that feature interviews with Helzner.  Most of the articles focus on Helzner’s interest in Yiddish music and culture, though some describe his immigrant experience in America.  This series is arranged chronologically.
 
Series 5: Organizations and Special Projects, 1949-1960s, includes material related to Helzner’s participation in teaching organizations as well as special projects he participated in.  There are correspondence and teaching guides from the Philadelphia Board of Jewish Education, Walter Biddle Saul High School, and Camp Ramah.  This series also contains documentation from Helzner’s participation in the Ellis Island Oral History project, and includes the transcript of his interview.  This series is arranged alphabetically by subject, and thereafter chronologically.
 
Series 6: Ephemera, Photographs, and Scrapbook, 1933-1992, contains material related to Helzner’s career as a band leader and Yiddish music aficionado.  This series includes fliers, programs, and posters from Helzner’s lectures and appearances, as well as ephemera he saved from award banquets and events in his honor.  There is also a scrapbook that commemorates Helzner’s musical career, spanning his experience as a high school big band leader in the 1930s through his success with the Workmen’s Circle Chorus in the 1970s.  This series is arranged alphabetically.
 
Series 7: Yiddish Music Reference Materials, 1935-1980s, contains guides to Yiddish music, songbooks and sheet music, and reference material related to Yiddish theater.  Some of the sheet music in this series was arranged by Helzner.  This series is arranged alphabetically.  
 
Series 8: Yiddish Fliers and Ephemera, 1922-1939, contains fliers, advertisements, and programs circulated by Yiddish labor organizations, beneficial societies, and Jewish-owned businesses in the 1920s and 1930s.  Though many of the documents were printed in Yiddish, English translations created during the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center's administration of the collection can be found with the original document.  Many of the folder titles are based on these translations.  This series is arranged alphabetically by organization name.  General documents are arranged at the end of the series.
 
 
Patron Information 
 
Alternate Form Available 
A selection of photographs from this collection has been digitized and is available online on the Temple University Digital Collections website https://digital.library.temple.edu/digital/collection/p15037coll15
 
Catalog Record 
A record for this collection is available in Temple University’s online library catalog: http://diamond.temple.edu/record=b5653059~S30 
 
Research Access 
Collection is open for research.
 
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 Morry Helzner Papers are the physical property of the Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries. Temple University holds intellectual property rights only for material donated to the university with such rights specifically assigned. For all other material, 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], Morry Helzner Papers, SCRC 73, Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 
 
Related Material
 
Yiddish Sheet Music Collection, Free Library of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
 
Workmen’s Circle, Philadelphia District Records, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
 
The Robert and Molly Freedman Jewish Music Archive, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
 
 
Administrative Information 
 
Acquisition Information
Donated by Morry Helzner in 1975, 1986, 1988, 1990, and 1992.  Some materials donated by his wife, Isabel Helzner, in 1998.
 
Collection previously administered by the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center, acquired by Temple in June 2009.
 
Processing Information 
Collection processed and finding aid prepared in August 2014 by Jenna Marrone, Project Archivist, Special Collections Research Center. 
 
 
Index Terms
 
The following headings have been used to index the description of this collection in Temple University’s electronic catalog:
 
Personal/Family Names:
Helzner, Morry, 1914-1992
 
Corporate Names: 
Camp Ramah
I.L. Peretz Workmen’s Circle Schools
Temple University
Walter Biddle Saul High School of Agricultural Sciences
Workmen's Circle Chorus
Workmen's Circle (U.S.). Philadelphia District
 
Subjects: 
Ellis Island Oral History Project
Klezmer music
Yiddish folk songs
Yiddish language
 
Places:
Philadelphia (Pa.)
 
Material Types: 
Clippings
Correspondence
Ephemera
Manuscripts
Membership lists
Negatives
Newsletters
Oral histories
Photocopies
Photographs
Posters 
Press releases
Publications
Scores
Scrapbooks
Sheet music
Souvenir programs
 
 
Inventory
 
Series 1: Workmen’s Circle Chorus, 1957-1991, undated
Series 1: Workmen’s Circle Chorus, 1957-1991, contains documentation related to Morry Helzner’s role as conductor of the Workmen’s Circle Chorus.  Material includes correspondence related to bookings, as well as news clippings, reviews, and fliers advertising the chorus’ performances.  This series is arranged chronologically, and thereafter alphabetically.  The folder dates also represent the performance season, which generally ran from September-June. 
 

Box     Folder    Description

1          1          Correspondence, news clippings, and programs          1957-1967
1          2          Programs, fliers, and news clippings          1962-1970
1          3          Activity logs           1964-1967
1          4          Correspondence and bookings          1964-1970
1          5          Financial statements          1966-1990
1          6          Correspondence, news clippings, and programs regarding the Philadelphia Flower Show          1969-1970
1          7          Workmen's Circle 70th Anniversary          1970
1          8          Correspondence and bookings          1970-1971
1          9          Programs, fliers, and news clippings          1970-1971
1          10          Correspondence and bookings          1971-1972
1          11          Programs, fliers, and news clippings          1971-1972
1          12          Correspondence and bookings          1972-1973
2          1          Programs, fliers, and news clippings          1972-1973
2          2          Correspondence and bookings          1973-1974
2          3          Programs, fliers, and news clippings          1973-1974
2          4          Correspondence and bookings          1974-1975
2          5          Programs, fliers, and news clippings          1974-1975
2          6          News clippings regarding Russian broadcast          1975
2          7          Correspondence and bookings          1975-1976
2          8          Programs, fliers, and news clippings          1975-1976
2          9          Correspondence and bookings          1976-1977
2          10          Programs, fliers, and news clippings          1976-1977
M1          D          Poster: Temple University Music Festival with Molly Picon          1977
3          1          Correspondence and bookings          1977-1978
3          2          Programs, fliers, and news clippings          1977-1978
3          3          Correspondence and bookings          1978-1979
3          4          Programs, fliers, and news clippings          1978-1979
3          5          Correspondence and bookings          1979-1980
3          6          Programs, fliers, and news clippings          1979-1980
3          7          Correspondence and bookings          1980-1981
3          8          Programs, fliers, and news clippings          1980-1981
3          9          Correspondence and bookings          1981-1982
3          10          Programs, fliers, and news clippings          1981-1982
3          11          Correspondence and bookings          1982-1983
4          1          Programs, fliers, and news clippings          1982-1983
4          2          Correspondence and bookings          1983-1984
4          3          Programs, fliers, and news clippings          1983-1984
4          4          Correspondence and bookings          1984-1985
4          5          Programs, fliers, and news clippings          1984-1985
4          6          Correspondence and bookings          1985-1986
4          7          Programs, fliers, and news clippings          1985-1986
4          8          Correspondence and bookings          1986-1987
4          9          Programs, fliers, and news clippings          1986-1987
4          10          Correspondence and bookings          1987-1988
4          11          Programs, fliers, and news clippings          1987-1988
4          12          Correspondence and bookings          1988-1989
4          13          Programs, fliers, and news clippings          1988-1989
5          1          Correspondence and bookings          1989-1990
5          2          Programs, fliers, and news clippings          1989-1990
5          3          Programs, fliers, and news clippings          1990-1991
5          4          Programs, fliers, and news clippings          undated
5          5          Sheet music          undated
 
 
Series 2: Correspondence, 1964-1992, undated
Series 2: Correspondence, 1964-1992, contains correspondence from the later part of Morry Helzner’s life.  Much of the series is composed of letters from Helzner to various organizations and media outlets, publicizing his knowledge of Yiddish music and culture.  There is also some correspondence on the subject of Yiddish music.  This series is arranged chronologically.
 

Box     Folder    Description

5          6          General correspondence          1964-1967
5          7          Correspondence regarding summer camp          1965
5          8          Correspondence regarding potential performance at the White House          1972-1981
5          9          General correspondence          1971-1979
          10          Correspondence regarding Yiddish opera in Russia          1978-1990
5          11          General correspondence          1980
5          12          General correspondence          1981
5          13          General correspondence          1983-1984
5          14          Correspondence regarding B'nai B'rith Music Festival          1984
5          15          General correspondence          1985
5          16          General correspondence          1986
5          17          General correspondence          1987
5          18          General correspondence          1988
6          1          General correspondence          1989
6          2          General correspondence          1990
6          3          Correspondence from Prentiss, Charles J.          1990-1991
6          4          General correspondence          1991
6          5          General correspondence          1992
6          6          General correspondence          undated
 
 
Series 3: Writings by Morry Helzner, 1969-1992, undated
Series 3: Writings by Morry Helzner, 1969-1992, contains articles written by Helzner on a variety of subjects including Jewish music and culture, Yiddish language, Holocaust music, and Yiddish theater and film.  He also wrote a number of book reviews of works on Yiddish music.  His articles were published in the Jewish Times, the Four Star Review, and the Jewish Post, among other local newspapers.  This series is arranged alphabetically by subject.
 

Box     Folder    Description

6          7          Book reviews          1984-1990
6          8          Hanukah music          1988
6          9          Holocaust music          1989
6          10          Jewish culture          
6          11          Jewish music          1973-1989, undated
6          12          Jews and space travel          1984
6          13          Molly Picon          1992
6          14          Yiddish language          1988
6          15          Yiddish theater and film          1982-1988
6          16          General          1969, 1989-1991
6          17          General          undated
 
 
Series 4: Writings about Morry Helzner, 1960-1992, undated
Series 4: Writings about Morry Helzner, 1960-1992, contains photocopies of news clippings that feature interviews with Helzner.  Most of the articles focus on Helzner’s interest in Yiddish music and culture, though some describe his immigrant experience in America.  This series is arranged chronologically.
 

Box     Folder      Description

6          18          News clippings          1960-1965            
6          19          News clippings          1970-1971          
6          20          News clippings          1972-1973          
6          21          News clippings          1974-1975          
6          22          News clippings          1976-1977          
6          23          News clippings          1978-1979          
6          24          News clippings          1980-1981          
6          25          News clippings          1982-1983          
6          26          News clippings          1984-1985          
6          27          News clippings          1986-1987          
6          28          News clippings          1988-1989          
6          29          News clippings          1990-1992          
6          30          News clippings          undated          
 
 
Series 5: Organizations and Special Projects, 1949-1990s, undated
Series 5: Organizations and Special Projects, 1949-1960s, includes material related to Helzner’s participation in teaching organizations as well as special projects he participated in.  There are correspondence and teaching guides from the Philadelphia Board of Jewish Education, Walter Biddle Saul High School, and Camp Ramah.  This series also contains documentation from Helzner’s participation in the Ellis Island Oral History project, and includes the transcript of his interview.  This series is arranged alphabetically by subject, and thereafter chronologically.
 

Box     Folder    Description

7          1          B'nai B'rith Educators Lodge newsletters          1979-1988
7          2          Board of Jewish Education: correspondence, meeting minutes, and publications          1965
7          3          Board of Jewish Education: correspondence, meeting minutes, and publications          1966
7          4          Board of Jewish Education: correspondence, meeting minutes, and publications          1967
7          5          Board of Jewish Education: correspondence, meeting minutes, and publications          1968
7          6          Board of Jewish Education: correspondence, meeting minutes, and publications          1969
7          7          Board of Jewish Education: correspondence, meeting minutes, and publications          1970
7          8          Board of Jewish Education: outline of holiday material          1967
7          9          Board of Jewish Education: salary scale          1970
7          10          Board of Jewish Education: Teacher Guide and Syllabus for the Book of Isaiah          circa 1976
7          11          Board of Jewish Education: Teacher Guide and Syllabus for the Books of Joshua and Judges          1976
7          12-13          Camp Ramah: correspondence, meeting minutes, and publications          1962-1972
8          1          Ellis Island Oral History Project: articles regarding Helzner          1986-1990
8          2          Ellis Island Oral History Project: articles regarding the re-opening of Ellis Island          1986-1990
8          3          Ellis Island Oral History Project: correspondence and interview transcript           1985
8          4          Ellis Island Oral History Project: photographs of Ellis Island          1990
8          5          Ellis Island Oral History Project: reopening dedication ceremony invitation, tickets, and program          1990
8          6          Holocaust Curriculum Guide          1977
8          7          Membership lists, various organizations          1980s-1990s
8          8          Teaching aids          undated
8          9          Walter Biddle Saul High School: memoranda, news clippings, and programs          1950s-1970s
M1          D          Walter Biddle High School: teaching schedule          1949
 
 
Series 6: Ephemera, Photographs, and Scrapbook, 1933-1992, undated
Series 6: Ephemera, Photographs, and Scrapbook, 1933-1992, contains material related to Helzner’s career as a band leader and Yiddish music aficionado.  This series includes fliers, programs, and posters from Helzner’s lectures and appearances, as well as ephemera he saved from award banquets and events in his honor.  There is also a scrapbook that commemorates Helzner’s musical career, spanning his experience as a high school big band leader in the 1930s through his success with the Workmen’s Circle Chorus in the 1970s.  This series is arranged alphabetically.
 

Box     Folder      Description

8          10          30th anniversary as musical director of the Workmen's Circle Chorus          1970
8          11          Certificates and award nominations          1984-1990
8          12          Collected news clippings, general subjects          circa 1960s-1980s
8          13          Collected programs and newsletters, general, 1988-1990 
8          14          Fliers advertising performances and lectures by Helzner          19601-1990s
8          15          Photographs and negatives          1960s-1980s
8          16          Press releases regarding Helzner          undated
M1          D          Poster: “From the Shtetl to East Boradway,” lecture by Helzner          undated
8          17          Programs from events featuring performances and lectures by Helzner          1972-1992
11          Scrapbook          1933-1970
9          1          Scrapbook: loose material          1937-1957
9          2          Scrapbook: loose material          1958-1964
9          3          Scrapbook: loose material          1967-1970
9          4          Summer camp brochures          circa 1960s-1970s
9          5          Temple University General Alumni Association Founders Dinner: programs and news clippings          1985
9          6          Tribute address in honor of Helzner          undated
9          7          Workmen's Circle testimonial dinner in honor of Helzner: cards, invitations, and programs          1991
 
 
Series 7: Yiddish Music and Theater Reference Files, 1935-1980s, undated
Series 7: Yiddish Music Reference Materials, 1935-1980s, contains guides to Yiddish music, songbooks and sheet music, and reference material related to Yiddish theater.  Some of the sheet music in this series was arranged by Helzner.  This series is arranged alphabetically.
 

Box     Folder    Description

9          8          “A Merry Good Purim”          1935, undated
9          9          Bibliography of books and articles on Jewish music          1947
9          10          Klezmer music: article          1981
9          11          Manfred Lemm: biography and poster          undated
9          12          Music books and program resources for Jewish and Israeli music          1950s-1970s
9          13          “Oy Hanukah, Oy Hanukah”          undated
9          14          Passover music           circa 1975
9          15          “Rozhinkes Mit Mandlen”          undated
9          16          Sholom Alaichem's Medina          1960s-1980s
9          17          Songbooks          circa 1940s
9          18          “The Wise Old Owls of Temple U.”          1940
9          19          Yiddish language articles          circa 1980s
9          20          Yiddish music, general          undated
9          21          Yiddish theater: articles and clippings          1980s
9          22          Yiddish theater: photographs of Arch Street Theater and Park Theater (photocopies)          circa 1980
 
 
Series 8: Yiddish Fliers and Ephemera, 1922-1939, undated
Series 8: Yiddish Fliers and Ephemera, 1922-1939, contains fliers, advertisements, and programs circulated by Yiddish labor organizations, beneficial societies, and Jewish-owned businesses in the 1920s and 1930s.  Though many of the documents were printed in Yiddish, English translations were created during the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center's administration of the collection and can be found with the original document.  Many of the folder titles are based on these translations.  This series is arranged alphabetically by organization name.  General documents are arranged at the end of the series.
 

Box     Folder      Description

10          1          Anshei Sode Loven Beneficial Association          1928
10          2          Association for the Benefit of the Rabbi from Makremanitz          1931
10          3          Beran and Gomberg Saving and Loan          1926
10          4          Berezovker Beneficial Association          1923-1926
10          5          Congregation Poale Zedek Sharith Israel Ladies' Auxiliary          1938
10          6          Congregation Shomri Shabbos Unsilach Yishram          1935
10          7          Dubno Voliner Beneficial Association          1927-1929
10          8          House of Zion Mizrachi Branch No. 1          1924
10          9          Incomparable Brotherhood          1939
10          10          Independent Ladies' Social Workers and Free Loan Association          undated
10          11          Independent First Kishineff Ladies' Aid Society          1925-1930
10          12          Independent Order Brith Abraham, Royal Lodge No. 440          1920s
10          13          Kaniver Beneficial Association          1927-1930
10          14          King Solomon Lodge No. 101, I.O.B.S.          1929-1939
10          15          Ladies' Helping Hand Society          circa 1927
10          16          Otic-Mohlever Independent Beneficial Association          1920s
10          17          Philadelphia Business Aid Association           circa 1927
10          18          Philadelphia Mutual Delicatessen and Grocery Association          1926
10          19          Pioneer of South Philadelphia Branch of the Horace Berk Memorial Hospital          1938
10          20          Progressive Beneficial Association          1924-1926
10          21          Roumanian American Oir Chudosh Beneficial Association          1926
10          22          Small Bakery Bosses of Philadelphia          1927
10          23          Somech Noflen Ladies Association          undated
10          24          Squarer Lodge No. 78, I.O.B.S.          1922          
10          25          Umaner Verein of Philadelphia          1925-1927
10          26          Women's Organization of Friends of Rabbi Makremenitz          1931
10          27          General           circa 1930s
10          28          General: advertisements          1920s-1930s
10          29          General: cantors and choirs          1920s-1930s
10          30          General: event menus          1927-1928
10          31          General: event tickets          1920s-1930s
10          32          General: invitations          1920s-1930s
10          33          General: Sesquicentennial memorabilia          1926