Bel Kaufman papers
Scope and Contents
Papers consist of files pertaining to Kaufman's activities as a high school teacher, author, lecturer and public speaker; to her travels in Russia, where there has been an abiding interest in her grandfather, the author Sholom Alacheim; and to translations of her books into the Russian language. Materials relating to her written works include manuscripts, correspondence, contracts, and notes on Kaufman's published books Up the Down Staircase (1964) and Love, Etc. (1979), and numerous books and magazines containing essays and articles by Kaufman. Correspondence, contracts and documents pertaining to literary rights regarding the movie Up The Down Staircase (1967). Photographs of Kaufman and biographical materials (including interviews) are also included. Many of the documents pertaining to Russia and to Sholom Alacheim are in Russian.
Dates of Materials
- Creation: 1911 - 2012
- Kaufman, Bel (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.
Conditions Governing Use
To the extent that they own copyright, Bel Kaufman's estate has retained copyright in her works donated to Smith College. Copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For those few instances beyond fair use, or which may regard materials in the collection not created by Bel Kaufman, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.
Biographical / Historical
Belle Kaufman was born in Berlin, Germany on 11 May 1911. She was the daughter of Lala Rabiniwitz and Michael Kaufman, and she the granddaughter of famed Yiddish writer Sholom Aleichem, on whose stories Fiddler on the Roof is based. Kaufman was raised in Odessa and Moscow before emigrating the the U.S. in 1924 at age twelve. Despite knowing no English when she came to the U.S., she graduated from South Side High School (Newark, New Jersey) in 1929, and went on to earn her B.A. magna cum laude from Hunter College (1934), her M.A. from Columbia University in 1936. Kaufman maried Sydney Goldstine in 1940 and they two children, Jonathan Goldstine and Thea Goldstine; the couple later divorced. She taught high school English for many years, was assistant profesor of English at the City University of New York and lecturer at the New School for Social Research, and has taught creative writing seminars and workshops at the University of Florida and the University of Rochester and other institutions. In the 1940s, she changed the spelling of her first name to the more androgynous first name Bel in order to sell a story to Esquire magazine.
Kaufman is best known as the author of Up the Down Staircase (1964), a novel based on her experiences as a New York City high school teacher, which was made into a play and a movie starring Sandy Dennis in 1967. First published by Prentice Hall, her book spent more than a year on the New York Times best-seller list, has sold more than six million copies, been translated into at least 16 languages, and is in its fifty-seventh printing. Kaufman is also the author of Love, Etc. (1979), a novel about coping with the breakup of a marriage, and of many short stories. Kaufman has been a highly sought-after public speaker at education conventions and Jewish organizations throughout the country, and won many honors and awards, including honorary degrees from several colleges and universities. Bel Kaufman died at the age of 103 on July 25, 2014 at her home in Manhattan.
[Source: obituary, NYT July 25, 2014. http://nyti.ms/1t584Q9]
43.708 linear feet (40 containers)
Language of Materials
Author; Teacher; Lyricist. Papers consist of files pertaining to Kaufman's activities as a high school teacher, author, lecturer and public speaker; to her travels in Russia, where there has been an abiding interest in her grandfather, the author Sholom Alacheim; and to translations of her books into the Russian language. Materials relating to her written works include manuscripts, correspondence, contracts, and notes on Kaufman's published books Up the Down Staircase (1964) and Love, Etc. (1979).
This collection has been added to over time in multiple "accessions." An accession is a group of materials received from the same source at approximately the same time.
Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements
As a preservation measure, researchers must use digital copies of audiovisual materials in this collection. Please consult with Special Collections staff or email firstname.lastname@example.org to request the creation of and access to digital copies.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated by Bel Kaufman in 2005 and Thea Goldstine in 2014.
Accessioned by Burd Schlessinger.
The contents of computer media in this collection has been copied to networked storage for preservation and access; the original directory and file structure was retained and file lists were created.
Between September 2022 and February 2023, Smith College Special Collections renumbered many boxes to eliminate duplicate numbers within collections in order to improve researcher experience. The following changes were made in this collection: Accession 2014-S-0070, Boxes 1-13 renumbered as Boxes 27-39
Genre / Form
- Biographical sketches
- Electronic mail
- Financial records
- Legal documents
- lecture notes
- Bel Kaufman papers
- Finding Aid
- Finding aid prepared by Burd Schlessinger.
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (https://github.com/harvard-library/archivesspace-preprocessor)
- 2017-07-26T17:48:20-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
- 2019-04-26: Added accessions 05S-45 and 12S-21.
- 2020-06-16: Description added for born-digital content.
- 2021-06-24: Content description added from accession inventories
Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063