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ARC MS3 - Charles and Mary Cohen Collection

ARC MS3 - Charles and Mary Cohen Collection
Charles and Mary Cohen Collection
Finding Aid

Prepared by Arthur Kiron
Manuscripts Curator and Assistant Archivist

September, 1991

Charles and Mary Cohen Collection
Finding Aid

Title of the collection: Charles and Mary Cohen Collection
Sample citation: Library at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, University of Pennsylvania. Charles and Mary Cohen Collection, Box 1, File Folder (FF) 1.
Provenance: Donated by Charles J. Cohen (Dropsie College Board of Governors Minutes, Library Report, May 26-September 21, 1920); Additional gift of Mrs. Albert M. Cohen,November 2, 1960.
Statistics: 4 linear feet.
5 Document cases.
Languages: English, Hebrew, Gaelic (Irish), French.
Related collections: Sabato Morais Collection.
Processor: Arthur Kiron
Manuscripts Curator and Assistant Archivist.
Date: September, 1991.

Charles Joseph Cohen was born on September 21, 1847 in Philadelphia into a prosperous family and died in Atlantic City, New Jersey, September 17, 1927. He was a prominent member of a number of Philadelphia Jewish and other civic and charitable organizations. Rebecca Gratz, the famous Philadelphia Jewish leader, was Charles' godmother.

Mary M. Cohen was born in Philadelphia February 26, 1854 and died in Atlantic City, New Jersey on July 2, 1911. She was a leading exponent of Jewish and women's causes, a journalist, writer, and poet. She was active in numerous civic organizations, and was among the founders of the National Council of Jewish Women and the founder and life-time honorary President of the Browning Society.
Their father, Henry Cohen, arrived in Philadelphia from London in 1843 and established a successful business manufacturing envelopes. Henry Cohen married Mathilda Samuel (of the prominent Samuel family of Liverpool) in 1844. The Cohen family maintained close relations with important London Jewish families, including the Aguilars. Charles and Mary had one younger sister named Katherine who also attained prominence, as an artist and sculptress. She studied art in Philadelphia, New York, Paris and Italy, and was renowned for her many artistic productions, including the busts of several famous individuals, such as Judge Mayer Sulzberger and Lucien Moss.

Charles was educated in Philadelphia and abroad, and later married Clothilde Florence Cohen, in 1880, with whom he had three children, Henry, Albert, and Eleanor. Mary was similarly educated in elite private schools in America and Europe. She never married.

According to Cyrus Alder, in his necrology of Charles Cohen published in Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society, vol. 31, p. 255-56, among the many organizations in which Charles was active were: Synagogue Mikveh Israel (vice-president) and (president,1879-1881, 1903-1907 ); Gratz College (board of trustees); Young Men's Hebrew Association (president, 1879); Hebrew Education Society (board of officers,1877-1880); American Jewish Historical Association (executive council).

Charles was also a member of many Philadelphia civic groups and private clubs, including the Committee of 100, the PhiloBiblon Club and the New Century Club. He was the president of the Numismatics and Antiquarian Society of Philadelphia (1898-1913), president of the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce (1913-1916); trustee of the Fairmount Park Art Association (1877), president of the Association from 1916); president of the Philadelphia Fountain Association (1923).

The published works of Charles Cohen include "Sabato Morais: A Memoir and Portrait" as well as several histories of Philadelphia institutions the Faires Classical Institute, the Penn Club, as well as the Rittenhouse Square area of Philadelphia.

According to the American Jewish Year Book (1905-06), pages 48-49, Mary M. Cohen was a member of the Central Executive Board and Chairman Central Committee on Reciprocity, Council of Jewish Women; president of the Mikveh Israel Association; Superintendent of the Mikveh Israel religious school; manager of the Hebrew Benevolent Society; vice-president and chairman, section on Literature and Art, New Century Club; manager of the Hebrew Benevolent Society; president of the Hebrew Sunday School Society; corresponding secretary of the Jewish Publication Society of America; superintendent of the Southern Hebrew Sunday School; founder of the National Council of Jewish Women.

She was also a member of the Philadelphia Committee for the Columbus Exposition of 1893; member of the executive committee of the Philadelphia Contemporary Club; Director of the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art. She belonged to the Women's New Century Club and was "the first woman to read (an) original paper before the Philadelphia Social Science Association."

Mary was a prolific contributor to local newspapers and published, often under the pseudonym "Coralie," many literary works. She was outspoken in her many public defenses of Judaism and the Jewish people, and was called by Henry Morais in his book on Philadelphia Jewry "unwavering in her attachment to historical Judaism."

Scope and Content
The Charles and Mary Cohen collection provides valuable insight into the workings of the Philadelphia Jewish community and two of its leaders, particularly around the time of the turn of the century. Important events such as the Philadelphia Centennial celebration and the dedication of the new building to house Congregation Mikveh Israel (Charles succeeded his father as president of the Congregation in 1879) are also represented.

A large portion of the collection is composed of newspaper clippings, primarily dealing with Jewish subjects, such as a collection of memoria clippings on the occasion of the death of Sabato Morais. Mr. Cohen avidly collected articles relating to the controversies of his time -- including the question of whether Jews were a race or religion, the Dreyfus Affair, and other articles and book reviews dealing with archeological discoveries in Egypt and the Near East. An unbound scrapbook of articles by Charles Cohen forms part of the collection.

The collection also contains four scrapbooks belonging to Mary M. Cohen -- one unbound and three bound scrapbook volumes of newspaper articles by or of interest to her. These items may prove useful for researching American Jewish women's history and particularly for understanding Mary's activities in Philadelphia civic affairs. Also found in the scrapbooks are letters to Mary Cohen from Cyrus Alder, Gustav Gottheil, A.S. Isaacs, Marcus Jastrow, Nina Morais, Sabato Morais, Ellen Phillips, Mayer Sulzberger, and others.

Of interest to researchers of Jewish life in Latin America is an extensive diary kept by Charles Cohen of his visit to Kingston, Jamaica, Panama, and Costa Rica in 1910, as well as photographic postcards of the cemeteries of Sarajevo and Prague, and the Prague Synagogue, (ca. 1916).

Notably absent from the collection is the correspondence between Charles Cohen and the Aguilars, an influential Jewish family from London. According to the 1938 Guide to Depositories of Manuscripts Collections in the United States and the 1939 Guide to Pennsylvania, the Charles J. Cohen collection "consists mainly of correspondence of the Cohen-Aguilar families concerning social and literary activities in Philadelphia and London. There are 450 items arranged in 71 envelopes (6" x 10"), numbered 1-71." Only a few exchanges of letters between Sarah Aguilar and the Cohen family were found during processing.

Rationale for arrangement
The original order of the collection, including the sequence of the original numbered envelopes (1-69, plus unnumbered envelopes) has been preserved as the basis for its arrangement. While many of the original groupings by subject at first appear quite random, they nevertheless often provide the context and therefore the only clue to a given item's ultimate relevance within the collection or to a dateable identification. In addition, the original titled envelopes may provide the only basis for eventually reconstructing what is missing from the original donation, eg., in those cases where numbered envelopes were discovered during processing to be either missing (eg. nos. 2, 18, 20, 40, 42, 50, 64, 70 and 71) or empty (see Box 3 File Folder (FF) 5.

Cyrus Adler, "Charles J. Cohen," Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society, volume 31 (1928), pp. 255-256.

"Mary M. Cohen," in American Jewish Year Book, 5666 (1905-06), pp. 48-49.

Dropsie College Board of Governors Minutes, "Report of the Dropsie College Library, May 26- Sept. 21, 1920," pp. 394-396.

Guide to the Depositories of Manuscripts in the United States, prepared by The Historical Records Survey Division of Women's and Professional Projects Works Progress Administration (Columbus, Ohio: The Historical Records Survey, 1938).

Guide to the Depositories of Manuscript Collections in Pennsylvania, Bulletin no. 774 (no. 4 of Historical Commission Series), edited by Margaret Sherburne Eliot and Sylvester K. Stevens (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Historical Commission, 1939).

Morais, Henry S.. The Jews of Philadelphia (Philadelphia: 1894).

Stern, Malcolm H.. Americans of Jewish Descent, (Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press, 1960).

Also see the relevant articles on Charles, Mary, and Katherine Cohen found in the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, vol. 3 (NY: 1943).

Container List
Box 1
Item | Contents | Date
FF1 Finding Aid. 1991
FF2 Miscellaneous writings of Henry Cohen. 1855-1880
FF3 Newspaper clippings about English caves; water marks; Hebrew language. 1908
FF4 Letters by Mathilda Cohen from Mrs. Carrie Samuel, of Liverpool, England. 1864
FF5 Letter by Henry Cohen to Charles Cohen acknowledging receipt of Charles' catalogue. 1878
FF6 Letter by Judith Cohen to Henry Cohen. 1852
FF7 Bulletins of Congregation Mikveh Israel; Letter addressed to Sir Moses Montefiore from Henry Cohen and Abraham Hart; miscellaneous letters; clippings. 1859-1902
FF8 Letters by Kate Samuel to Mathilda Cohen. 1851-1852
FF9 Letters by Sarah Aguilar to Mathilda Cohen; 1852-1853
Letter by Mayer Sulzberger to Charles Cohen. 1902
FF10 Letters by Anna R. Ropes to Mary M. Cohen. 1853-1873
FF11 Letters by Henry Cohen from the South and from Europe. 1847-1858
FF12 Notes on the translation of Wisdom, Psalms, and Proverbs from Rev. Leon Elmaleh to Charles Cohen. 1909
FF13 Notice of the election of Charles Cohen to the Social Art Club. 1877
FF14 Poem by Mary Cohen to Charles Cohen on the occasion of his birthday. 1879
FF15 Notes on the Wolf fund by Abraham Hart to Charles Cohen. 1879
FF16 Miscellaneous papers relating to Sabato Morais and the Jewish Theological Seminary. 1890-1899
FF17 Clipping about Mikveh Israel. 1908
FF18 Clippings on the "Oldest love letter," "The New Year and the Pentateuch;" poems of Robert Louis Stevenson; notes on the records of the Palestine Exploration Society. 1908
FF19 Notes on the Mortara case. 1908
FF20 Miscellaneous clippings, receipts, and papers on Mikveh Israel; Women's Centennial Committee; Plan of Municipal Improvements Map (1908); Committee of 100. 1862-1908
FF21 Clippings on Hebrew Literature Society; Jewish Philanthropy; Oscar Straus. 1906-1908
FF22 Clippings on Liberal Judaism; Libraries. 1908
FF23 Clippings on Intermarriage; Solomon's Temple; Definition of Jew; Samaritan Joshua. 1908
FF24 Clippings on Synagogues; Purim; Hannukah; Who is a Jew; Dr. Schechter. 1906
FF25 Grace Aguilar and Rebecca Gratz; Philadelphia Sunday School. 1908
FF26 Clippings and notes on the Mortara case; Judge Sulzberger; review of Davidson's Parody; Question of race; the Y.M.H.A.; Jews in Literature; Hebrew printing; S.P.C.A.; Parchment; Jews of Kurdistan; Calendar; Menorah; Wealth of Jews; King Solomon; Hittite records; Discovery of the Garden of Eden; et al.1907-1910
FF27 Clippings of reviews of Schechter's Studies; Jewish proverbs; hygiene; Simon the Just; Spanish Inquisition. 1908
FF28 Clippings and notes on Disraeli; Sidonia; the Jewish Lord Mayor of England. 1908
FF29 Note on the character of Moses. 1908
FF30 Letter of inquiry by Charles Cohen about the discovery of a whalebone inscription by Hugo Winckler. 1907
FF31 Clippings and notes on books on Egypt and the Near East. 1904-1907

Box 2
Item | Contents | Date
FF1 Transactions of the Philobiblon Club and related letters. 1902
FF2 Menu for a dinner party with various signatures, including that of T.J. Sully Darby. 1904
FF3 Clippings and notes on Jews, Jews in literature, and archeological discoveries. 1908
FF4 New Century Club Seal and related materials; Poem to Edith Cohen. 1848-1905
FF5 Notes and directions translated into English concerning the opening of the Ark in a Synagogue. 1898
FF6 Clippings on the Census; Judaism in the Early Christian period; Jewish surnames; Jastrow on Job; Sanitation; et al. 1909
FF7 Information concerning St. Helena and Napoleon, in particular concerning the flag draped over his funeral bier and his chess table, both of which came into the possession of the Cohen family (see below, Box 3 FF2). Useful genealogical information about the Cohen family also is recorded. 1909
FF8 Clippings, letters and notes on the dedication of Mikveh Israel. 1909
FF9 Clippings on the dedication of Gratz College. 1909 FF10 Clippings on the Spanish Inquisition; Jews in Tunis; Review of Hoffman's commentary on Leviticus; the Hebrew Prophets; the Alliance Israelite Universal; the Great Sabbath; et. al. 1909
FF11 Clippings and notes on Mikveh Israel dedication. 1909
FF12 Clippings on various Jewish topics. 1909
FF13 Clippings and miscellaneous notes on Jewish Peerage; Negro-Jew; Talmud; De Sola's Sephardic prayer book; Dr. Herbert Clay on the Old Testament; et. al. 1908
FF14 Clippings on various archeological discoveries and a letter from Dr. Herbert Clay. 1909
FF15 Transcribed copy of a letter from Sabato Morais; Clippings on Sukkahs in New York; Judaism in France; Ezekiel's Temple; Abyssinian manuscripts; Rabbi Akiba; Old Testament criticism. 1909
FF16 Autograph letter of Israel Zangwill to Charles J. Cohen and a clipping of a picture of Zangwill. 1898
FF17 Autograph letter by Arthur Dembitz to Charles Cohen; letters concerning Henry Cohen. 1899
FF18 Clippings and notices for the Committee of 100; three copies of the "Articles of Association, Declaration of Principles, List of Officers, Committees and Members of the Citizens' Committee of One Hundred, By-Laws of the Executive Committee (1882). 1882-1900. Very acidic/fragile clippings on the death of John Hunter. 1910
FF19 Clipping on Passover. 1900
FF20 Clippings on the Citizen's Union. 1901

FF21 Two separate envelopes numbered "57":
1) Clipping of a caricature of an opera n.d. wall-flower;
2) Extensive clippings on Sir Stuart Samuel and Herbert Samuel. 1912-1913
FF22 Minute on the Death of Henry Cohen. 1879
FF23 Letter by E. Mocatta to the Cohens. n.d.
FF24 Clippings of obituary notices for Sabato Morais. 1897
FF25 Notes and clippings on Mikveh Israel and of lecture delivered by Cyrus Adler at Mikveh Israel. 1907
FF26 Letters exchanged between the Birmingham Free Library and Charles Cohen concerning the purchase and donation to the library of editions of Shakespeare's works. 1901.

Box 3
Item | Contents | Date
FF1 Letters, clippings, and memos regarding the Committee of 100. 1912
FF2 Letter from Drexel Institute to Charles Cohen about the Napoleon items deposited there (see above Box 2 FF7). 1912
FF3 Empty envelope titled "General Butler, 1864." 1864
FF4 Photographic postcards of the Prague Jewish Cemetery and Synagogue ca. 1910 and the Sarajevo Jewish Cemetery (1916).
FF5 Empty envelope (perhaps from the wedding of Charles and Chlotilda Cohen). n.d.
FF6 Miscellaneous letters; typewritten manuscript by Max Kohler on Judah Touro. ca. 1900
FF7 Diary of Charles Cohen of his visit to Kingston, Jamaica, Panama, and Costa Rica. 1910
FF8 Constitution of Mikveh Israel Association. n.d.
FF9 Teacher's Roll Book (apparently belonging Leon N. Elmaleh). 1899-1906
FF10 Clippings and notes on Jews in Rome. 1908
FF11 Clipping on a lecture on "Jews and Judaism in the Early Christian Period" and a note on the immortality of the soul. 1909
FF12 Invitation to and map of the Sinjuku Imperial Garden. 1908
FF13 Miscellaneous documents, notes, and receipts, including Charles Cohen's passport. 1846-1882
FF14 Miscellaneous letters. 1864-1877
FF15 Miscellaneous printed matter; certificates; circulares; programs; clippings; tickets; booklets; invitations. 1853-1880
FF16 Miscellaneous printed matter. n.d.
FF17 Miscellaneous printed matter; U.S. Centennial Commission. ca. 1876
F18 Miscellaneous letters and notes, including discussion of Rebecca Gratz and a poem by Mary Cohen dedicated to Charles and Chlotilda on their wedding day. 1862-1914
FF19 Charles J. Cohen, "A Visit to Monte Cassino, Italy, July, 1904" Reprinted from the Proceedings of the Numismatics and Antiquarian Society of Philadelphia. 1910. FF20 Mary M. Cohen, "Woman, Poet, Patriot" reprinted from June-July Poet-Lore (Boston: Lore, 1893) [two copies, one inscribed to 1893 Judge Mayer Sulzberger, the other to: "Charles and Cladie."
FF21 Mary M. Cohen, "An Old Philadelphia Cemetery The Resting Place of Rebecca Gratz" written for the City History Society of Philadelphia and read by her at the meeting of Wednesday, November 14th, 1906. Published in Philadelphia, by the Society, 1920. 1920

Box 4
Item | Contents | Date
FF1 Clipping on "Franklin Before the Privy Council, Whitehall Chapel, London, 1774." n.d.
FF2 Miscellaneous clippings, including the famous "J'accuse" letter of Emile Zola regarding the Dreyfus Affair, translated into English (in the Jewish Exponent) and a Gaelic language newspaper. 1883-1900
FF3 Unbound scrapbook of Charles Cohen's writings.
FF4 Unbound scrapbook of letters and clippings of published articles written by and belonging to Mary M. Cohen; the first page of the scrap book contains writing which is difficult to read, although the words "I love you" can be made out. 1871-1882
Item 1: Bound (black cover) scrapbook (of Mary M. Cohen).

Box 5
Item | Contents
Item 1: Bound (red cover) scrapbook (of Mary M. Cohen).
Item 2: Bound (red and blue cover) scrapbook (of Mary M. Cohen). Removals.
See oversized storage for a photo of a sculpture, signed by Katherine Cohen and dated Paris Salon, 1896.