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Bel Kaufman papers

 Collection
Identifier: SSC-MS-00522

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.

[NOTE: The contents list for this collection is not online. Contact the Sophia Smith Collection if you would like one sent to you.]

Dates

  • 1911-2004

Creator

Language of Materials

English, Russian

Conditions Governing Access

Open with caveat: collection has not been fully processed and therefore may be somewhat difficult to use. Portions of collection are stored offsite; researchers must give 48 hours advance notice. Original AV materials may not be used; research use copies must be made.
  1. The collection is stored offsite; researchers must give 48 hours advance notice.
  2. This collection has not been fully processed and therefore may be difficult to use.

Conditions Governing Access

Until we move into New Neilson in early 2021, collections are stored in multiple locations and may take up to 48 hours to retrieve. Researchers are strongly encouraged to contact Special Collections (specialcollections@smith.edu) at least a week in advance of any planned visits so that boxes may be retrieved for them in a timely manner.

Conditions Governing Use

Bel Kaufman's estate retains copyright ownership for her unpublished writings. Permission must be obtained to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use." Copyright to materials authored by others may be owned by those individuals or their heirs or assigns. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights. Permission to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use" must also be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection as owners of the physical property.

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]

Extent

27 boxes (33.75 linear feet)

Overview

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).

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Bel Kaufman began donating her papers to the Sophia Smith Collection in 2005. Periodic additions are expected.

Accruals

Periodic additions to collection are expected and may not be reflected in this record.

Processing Information

Accessioned by Burd Schlessinger.

Creator

Title
Bel Kaufman papers
Subtitle
Finding Aid
Author
Finding aid prepared by Burd Schlessinger.
Date
2009
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.

Revision Statements

  • 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.

Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

Contact:
Young Library
4 Tyler Drive
Northampton MA 01063