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Guide to the A. I. (Abraham Isaac) Shiplacoff Papers and Photographs TAM.102

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
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New York, NY 10012
(212) 998-2630

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Barbara Hawes, 1981 and Edmund Ryder, 1999

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on May 07, 2018
Description is in English. using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Shiplacoff, A. I. (Abraham Isaac), 1877-1936
Source - dnr: Shiplacoff, Lydia Greene
Source - dnr: Shiplacoff, David
Title: Abraham I. Shiplacoff Papers and Photographs
Dates [inclusive]: 1895-1962
Dates [bulk]: 1915-1934
Abstract: Abraham I. Shiplacoff (1877-1934) was born in Russia in 1877 and came to the United States in 1891. In 1914, he became secretary-treasurer of the United Hebrew Trades. Politically active in the Socialist Party, he was the first elected Socialist Assemblyman from New York City in 1915 (serving three terms) and led the Socialist delegation in the Legislature opposing intervention in World War I. He was also involved with the International Pocketbook Workers Union, the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, the Socialist Party and the National Labor Committee for Palestine. The collection includes materials pertaining to these affiliations, including: correspondence with Samuel Gompers that documents the conflict between the American Federation of Labor and the United Hebrew Trades.
Quantity: 4.75 Linear Feet in five manuscript boxes and two oversize flat boxes.
Language: Materials are in English, Yiddish, Hebrew, and Spanish.
Call Phrase: TAM.102

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Historical/Biographical Note

Abraham I. Shiplacoff (1877-1934), sometimes called the Jewish Eugene V. Debs, was born in Chernigov, Russia on December 13, 1877. He came to the United States with his parents at the age of 13 in 1891. For several years he worked long hours in a garment shop and studied at night. During this period he married Henrietta (Yetta) Zwickel, and they eventually had three children, Frederick Engels Shiplacoff, William Morris Shiplacoff, and Lydia Shiplacoff Greene. Beginning in 1905 he taught school at P.S. 84, Brooklyn, served as a clerk in the customs service, was briefly labor editor of the Jewish Daily Forward. In 1914 he became secretary-treasurer of the United Hebrew Trades. Politically active in the Socialist Party, he was elected as the first Socialist Assemblyman from New York City in 1915, re-elected in 1916 and 1917, and led the Socialist delegation in the Legislature in a campaign of strong opposition to World War I. He also supported the dissemination of birth control information, curbs on police power and other controversial causes.

When, as a street-corner orator, he denounced U.S. military intervention in Russia shortly after the Bolshevik Revolution, he was indicted under the wartime Espionage Act; the indictment was later quashed. He was elected to the Board of Aldermen from Brooklyn in 1920, managed the mayoral campaign of Norman Thomas in 1925, chaired the Sacco-Vanzetti Liberation Committee in 1927, and became a vigorous participant in Socialist battles with the Communist Party. During the twenties and early thirties he served as general manager of the Joint Board of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America and the International Pocketbook Workers Union. He had a longstanding interest in Palestine and Zionism, and became national chairmen of the National Labor Committee for Palestine in 1933. He was actively involved in many Jewish philanthropic and cultural organizations, and served as executive director of the Deborah Sanitarium, Browns Mills, NJ. After a long struggle with kidney disease, he died in Israel-Zion Hospital in Brooklyn on February 7, 1934.

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    Scope and Content Note

    The collection consists of correspondence; printed materials including typescripts of articles, pamphlets and leaflets (some from elections), handwritten speeches, essays, and notes, course outlines, New York State Assembly documents, a New York State Assembly clippings scrapbook; family papers, biographical notes, obituaries, and condolence letters; and ephemera, memorabilia, and photographs.

    Materials document Abraham I. Shiplacoff's personal and family life, and professional and political life as Secretary-Treasurer for the United Hebrew Trades in 1914, Socialist Assemblyman from New York City representing Brownsville, Brooklyn for three terms beginning in 1915, and his affiliations with the International Pocketbook Workers Union, Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, Socialist Party of America, and National Labor Committee for Palestine, among other political, labor and cultural groups and causes.

    Correspondence includes exchanges with notable New York City labor and Progressive-era figures, including a long exchange with Samuel Gompers in 1915, as the representative of several dissident garment workers unions, that give a detailed account of the disputes between the local bodies and the United Hebrew Trades. Photographs document Shiplacoff's professional and political life and include notable labor and Socialist figures.


    The papers are organized in four series. Series I, III, and IV are arranged alphabetically, and Series II is arranged chronologically. The series arrangement of the records is as follows:

    I. Biographical and Family Papers, 1895-1946
    II. Correspondence, 1904-1934
    III. Subject Files, 1915-1935
    IV: Photographs, Artwork, and Ephemera

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    Access Points

    Subject Names

    • Vladeck, B. (Baruch), 1886-1938
    • Gompers, Samuel, 1850-1924.
    • Shiplacoff, Lydia Greene
    • Shiplacoff, David

    Document Type

    • Photographs.
    • Tintypes (prints)
    • Lecture notes.
    • Pamphlets.
    • Memorabilia.

    Subject Organizations

    • American Federation of Labor
    • Rand School of Social Science
    • National Committee for Labor Palestine
    • Socialist Party (U.S.)
    • International Pocketbook Workers Union
    • Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America
    • United Hebrew Trades
    • New York (State). Legislature. Assembly

    Subject Topics

    • Labor unions -- United States.
    • Jewish socialists -- United States.
    • World War, 1914-1918 -- Public opinion.

    Subject Places

    • New York (N.Y.)

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    Administrative Information

    Conditions Governing Access

    Materials are open without restrictions.

    Conditions Governing Use

    The Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Archives has no information about copyright ownership for this collection and is not authorized to grant permission to publish or reproduce materials from it. Materials in this collection, which were created in 1895-1962, are expected to enter the public domain in 2083.

    Preferred Citation

    Published citations should take the following form:

    Identification of item, date; Abraham I. Shiplacoff Papers and Photographs; TAM 102; box number; folder number;
    Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.

    Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

    Due to the fragility of the original, researchers must use the electronic copy of a New State Assembly clippings scrapbook in Box 6.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Donated by Lydia Shiplacoff Greene, daughter of A. I. Shiplacoff, in 1981; an additional accession was donated in 2007 by A. I. Shiplacoff's grandson, David Shiplacoff. The accession numbers associated with these gifts are 1981.002 and 1981.004.

    Processing Information

    Photographs, artwork and ephemera were separated from this collection during processing and were established as a separate collection, the Abraham Shiplacoff Photograph Collection (PHOTOS 141). In 2013, the photograph, artwork and ephemera collection was reincorporated into the Abraham I. Shiplacoff Papers (TAM 102).

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    Container List

    Series I: Biographical and Family Papers., 1895-1946

    Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
    Box: 1 Folder : 1 Biographical: General
    undated , 1931-1934
    Box: 1 Folder : 2 Biographical Notes (compiled by Elizabeth Memel and Lydia S. Greene)
    Box: 1 Folder : 3 Condolence Letters and Cards
    Box: 1 Folder : 4 Condolence Telegrams
    Box: 1 Folder : 5 Family Correspondence
    Box: 1 Folder : 6 Family Correspondence
    Box: 1 Folder : 7 Funeral/Unveiling
    Box: 1 Folder : 8 Illness: Letters
    Box: 1 Folder : 9 Medical Records
    Box: 1 Folder : 10 Memorial Meetings
    Box: 2 Folder : 1 Obituaries
    Box: 2 Folder : 2 Planting Trees in Palestine
    Box: 2 Folder : 3 Poems, Misc.
    Box: 2 Folder : 4 Shiplacoff Playground
    Box: 2 Folder : 5 Travel Mementos

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    Series II: Correspondence, 1904-1934

    Scope and Content Note

    Series consists of professional and political correspondence. Among the notable correspondents are Helen Keller, Samuel Gompers, John M. Work, Rose Schneiderman, Morris Hillquit, Algernon Lee, Abraham Cahan, B. C. Vladeck, Joseph Schlossberg and many other socialist and labor activists. The long exchange of letters with Samuel Gompers in 1915 give a detailed account of the disputes between the local bodies and the United Hebrew Trades, as the representative of several dissident garment workers unions.

    Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
    Box: 2 Folder : 6 Correspondence
    Box: 2 Folder : 7 Correspondence
    Box: 2 Folder : 8 Correspondence
    Box: 2 Folder : 9 Correspondence
    Box: 2 Folder : 10 Correspondence

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    Series III: Subject Files, 1915-1962

    Scope and Content Note

    Series includes printed material relating to the many political, labor and cultural causes Shiplacoff espoused, New York State Assembly documents and typescripts of articles, as well as manuscript speeches, lecture notes and course outlines in Yiddish and English. An original and a digital copy of a clippings scrapbook (January-April 1918) owned by the Shiplacoff family includes clippings from the Albany, Rochester and Buffalo press, as well as New York City material.

    Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
    Box: 3 Folder : 1 Aidline-Trommer, Elbert (Lazarus)
    Box: 3 Folder : 2 Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (ACWA)
    Box: 3 Folder : 3 Biltmore Conference
    Box: 3 Folder : 4 Brownsville Cooperative Bakery
    Box: 3 Folder : 5 Course on the U.S. for Non-Americans: Outline and Notes
    Box: 3 Folder : 6 Critiques of A.S.
    Box: 3 Folder : 7 Deborah Sanatorium
    Box: 3 Folder : 8 Election Campaign
    Box: 3 Folder : 9 Engagement Diary (mostly notes on union business)
    Box: 3 Folder : 10 Engagement Diary
    Box: 3 Folder : 11 Furriers Reorganization Committee (Checks)
    Box: 3 Folder : 12 Hillquit-Darrow Debate
    Box: 3 Folder : 13 International Pocketbook Workers Union
    Box: 3 Folder : 14 Jewish Regeneration in Palestine (A.I.S.)
    Box: 4 Folder : 1 Labor Zionism (Pamphlets)
    Box: 4 Folder : 2 Manuscript, "The Visit" (Yiddish)
    Box: 4 Folder : 3 National Labor Committee for Palestine
    undated , 1931
    Box: 4 Folder : 4 New York State Assembly [see also Box 6]
    undated , 1916-1918
    Box: 4 Folder : 5 New York State Assembly: Acts
    1916 , 1917
    Box: 4 Folder : 6 New York State Assembly: Transcripts
    Box: 4 Folder : 7 New York State Police
    Box: 4 Folder : 8 Pamphlets and Leaflets (including Election Materials)
    Box: 4 Folder : 9 Pennsylvania State Police
    Box: 4 Folder : 10 Political & Labor Memorabilia (including Membership Cards)
    Box: 4 Folder : 11 Poughkeepsie Meetings
    Box: 4 Folder : 12 Retail Clerks Union: Arbitration Case
    Box: 4 Folder : 13 Sacco and Vanzetti
    Box: 4 Folder : 14 Socialist Party
    1930 , 1962
    Box: 4 Folder : 15 Socialist Party and Russia
    Box: 4 Folder : 16 Socialist Party: Factionalism
    Box: 5 Folder : 1 Speeches, Essays and Notes (English) I.
    Box: 5 Folder : 2 Speeches, Essays and Notes (English) II.
    Box: 5 Folder : 3 Speeches, Essays and Notes (Yiddish)
    Box: 5 Folder : 4 Speeches, Notes: Palestine
    Box: 5 Folder : 5 Student Papers
    Box: 5 Folder : 6 Teaching Materials, Notes I.
    Box: 5 Folder : 7 Teaching Materials, Notes II.
    Box: 5 Folder : 8 Travel Memorabilia
    Box: 5 Folder : 9 United Hebrew Trades, AFL
    Box: 5 Folder : 10 Virovka (ms. story)
    Box: 5 Folder : 11 What Do You Think about Coal? (A.I.S.)
    Box: 5 Folder : 12 Women in the Various Branches of the Jewish Labor Movement (ms., Yiddish, A.I.S.)
    Box: 5 Folder : 13 Young Circle League
    Box: 5 Folder : 14 Zionism/Palestine
    Box: 6 Folder : 1 OVERSIZE: Clippings Scrapbook re: New York State Assembly. Incluldes material from the Albany Journal, Knickerbocker Press, New York Times, New York Post, Volke Zeitung, Rochester Times, and other local Rochester and Buffalo newspapers.
    Jan 1918-Apr 1918
    Box: 6 Folder : 2 Digital copy of scrapbook in 6:1. Researchers should use the digital copy, if possible.

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    Series IV: Photographs, Artwork, and Ephemera

    Scope and Content Note

    The series consists of over one hundred black-and-white photographs of various sizes, two pieces of artwork including a drawing and silhouette of Abraham I. Shiplacoff, and a small amount of ephemera including tickets to Shiplacoff Day celebrations in the late-1930s, part of a 1915 New York State Assembly election poster picturing Shiplacoff, and a handmade card with poem to celebrate his 1915 election to the Assembly. Photographs of Shiplacoff's political activities include group portraits from conventions, possibly Socialist, with B.C. Vladek, Alex Kahn, and Jacob Panken; a group of Socialist Assemblymen from 1918; and a Socialist delegation in Washington including Morris Hillquit, Panken, Jim Maurer, I.I. Hourwich, and Daniel Hoan. Other photographs include Shiplacoff with students as teacher at P.S. 84 in Brownsville, Brooklyn; in office as Labor Editor of the Jewish Daily Forward; at desk at New York State Assembly; as Deputy Collector of the Port at the Customs House; and studio portraits of Shiplacoff from different periods of his life. Approximately fifty photographs document a circa 1931 to trip to Palestine with a delegation on behalf of the National Labor Committee for Palestine.

    Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
    Box: 7 Folder : 1 Artwork
    Box: 7 Folder : 2 Clipping [In Hebrew and English]
    Box: MSOS005 Folder : 1 Ephemera: Certificate of Election, City of New York
    Box: 7 Folder : 3 Ephemera (Miscellaneous) [Includes Tickets for Shiplacoff Day Celebration; Funereal Thank Yous; Poster for Election to Assembly, 1st Term; Portrait of Eugene Debs, Certifcate for Planting Trees in Palestine]
    1915, 1936-1939, undated
    Box: 7 Folder : 4 Family Photographs
    circa 1896, 1900, undated
    Box: 7 Folder : 5 Handmade Card ["To ... At the Celebration of Mr. Shiplacoff's Election to the Assembly Brownsville Labor Lyceum, Thanksgiving Night, 1915. By ..."]
    Nov 25, 1915
    Box: 7 Folder : 6 Photographs (Miscellaneous) [Includes Shiplacoff as Labor Editor of Forward; Teacher at P.S. 84; Gravestone]
    circa 1902, circa 1926, undated
    Box: 7 Folder : 7 Political Life Photographs [Includes Alex Kahn, B.C. Vladeck, Jacob Panken; Socialist Delegation at Washington with Hilquit, Panken, et. al.; Group of Socialist Assemblymen]
    Jan 1918, undated
    Box: 7 Folder : 8 Portraits [Includes Studio Portraits; Tintype; In the Assembly Chamber; As Deputy Collector of the Port in the Customs House; In front of Sign for Jewish People's Relief Committee]
    1915, undated
    Box: 7 Folder : 9 Postcard [In Spanish]
    Dec 7, 1925
    Box: 7 Folder : 10 Trip to Palestine Photographs
    circa 1931
    Box: Shared Tamiment 017 Folder : 9 Group photograph, #269 Dearborn Street, Chicago

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