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Guide to the Miriam Sigel Friedlander Papers ALBA.192

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
10th Floor
New York, NY 10012
(212) 998-2630

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Rebecca Russell

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on August 10, 2017
Description is in English.

Historical/Biographical Note

Miriam Sigel was born in Pittsburgh in 1914 to David Sigel and Hannah Lipman. She graduated from New York University in 1935 with a bachelor's degree in education and in 1939 married Mark Friedlander. The couple had a son whom they named Paul, in memory of her brother who died in Spain fighting with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Friedlander forged a career in community politics and between 1973 and 1991 served as city councilwoman for New York's 2nd Council District (Lower East Side).

During the Spanish Civil War Friedlander received letters from her brother Paul, and their mutual friends Ernest Arion, and Harold Malofsky. The three men were acquaintances in New York City before traveling to Spain in 1937. They were all killed in action.

Ernest Arion grew up in the Midwest. He lived in New York in the early 1930s where he was a member of the Young Communist League and was involved in an International Workers Order theater group called the Convulsionaries. In Spain, Arion fought with the Washington Battalion and continued to perform, providing entertainment to troops and the inhabitants of towns that hosted Loyalist training camps. Arion was a Group Leader before he was killed on July 9, 1937.

Harold Malofsky (Melofsky) was a composer, playwright, and comedian. Before he joined the International Brigades, Malofsky lived in New York and was active in the Youth Section of the International Workers Order. Malofsky wrote politically conscious songs and skits and performed with the International Workers Order youth theater group, the Convulsionaries, at meetings and events. In Spain, Malofsky wrote songs for the International Brigades. Malofsky fought at Brunete and Belchite, where he was killed in action on September 5, 1937.

As a student at New York University in the 1930s, Paul Sigel was active in progressive political activities. When he graduated with a degree in engineering in June 1937, he joined the International Brigades and went to Spain to fight in the Spanish Civil War. Sigel worked as an engineer for the MacKenzie-Papineau Battalion, laying and checking communication wires. He was killed at Fuentes del Ebro in the summer of 1938.

Miriam Sigel married and became Miriam Friedlander. She was active in community politics for many years, most notably as a city councilor for New York's 2nd Council District (Lower East Side) between 1973 and 1991.