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Guide to Primary Resources on Jewish History in Tucson, Arizona and the Southwest
Special Collections Department
1510 E. University Blvd. C211
P.O. Box 210055
Tucson, AZ 85721-0055
The United States Southwest, encompassing West Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Southern California, reflects the heritage of diverse groups of peoples. From native-born inhabitants to those who chose to settle in this region, each group has contributed to Southwestern culture and society.
U. S. Southwestern history has traditionally focused on the contributions of Native Americans, and people whose ancestral roots are in Mexico and Europe. Until recently, little has been written documenting the pioneer Jewish experience. Visitors to this website learn that Jewish pioneers not only built Jewish communities, but that they also made significant contributions to the development of the U. S. Southwest.
The Bloom Southwest Jewish Archives offers several educational exhibits. The Pioneers exhibit presents the pioneer Jewish experience in West Texas, New Mexico and Arizona through images of photos held in regional archives and museums, electronic texts, articles, newspaper accounts, and biographical information. The Synagogues exhibit reinforces that pioneer Jews placed a priority on maintaining their beliefs, values, and traditions amid the hazards of the nation's frontier. Crypto-Jews focuses on the Crypto-Jewish experience in the U. S. Southwest and is one of the most highly visited areas of the website. The Oral Histories secton features interviews with Tucson's New American community. Its members were invited to participate in recording information about their lives and experiences in the former Soviet Union and now in Tucson. By including their stories, we find similarities between the pioneers of the 19th century and those of the late 20th. Oral Histories includes the story of a 20th (and now 21st) century family whose family odyssey is traced from Europe to the eastern U. S. and then to Tucson. Finding Aids provides web access to the physical collection held in the UA Library's Special Collections.
Collection contains wide-ranging types of material regarding Jewish individuals and institutions in Arizona, principally southern Arizona. This material is especially reflective of the late-nineteenth century and the role of Jews in the Arizona Territory. The files consist primarily of newspaper clippings, scholarly and popular articles and excerpts, obituaries, auto-biographical reminiscences, copies of historical records, and correspondence. The bulk of the collection consists of secondary source material.
This collection contains photographs and negatives, copyprints, photocopies, slides, and contact prints which depict wide-ranging types of subject matter regarding Jewish individuals and institutions. The bulk of the photographs were made in the South west United States, principally Arizona, California, Texas, and New Mexico. These photographs are especially revealing of the role of Jews in the establishment of commercial, religious, and other communal institutions in the American West during the seco nd half of the nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth century. Also present are more contemporary depictions of Jewish individuals and groups which have been prominent in this geographic region.
The collection also contains a few photographs from Michigan, Colorado, Israel, Europe, Latin America, and other locations.
The states listed are Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas. A final category includes photographs from all other locations.
This collection consists of audio cassette tapes which contain either interviews or lectures which are relevant to the history of Jews who settled in the American Southwest or to more general Jewish topics. The bulk of the tapes consists either of interviews with the descendants of pioneer Jewish families in this region or are recordings of accounts of prejudice (especially anti-Semitism) or intolerance which were given at the Anne Frank Exhibit's tolerance talks at Tucson's Jewish Community Center in September of 1995. Major topics of the testimonies given include prejudice against Jews, blacks, and homosexuals.
There are also two tapes with recordings of Sephardic songs and prayers in this collection.
The Bloom Family is well-known for their interests in the business and philanthropic communities of Tucson. David W. Bloom, the patriarch of the family, immigrated from Lithuania to the United States in 1894. David W. and his friend/future business partner, J. Cress Myers, moved to Tucson in 1906. Myers & Bloom Co. opened their doors for business on September 20, 1906. Myers & Bloom specialized in men's clothing, home goods and notions. The business did very well in its early years and acquired a competitor's store in 1911. Myers & Bloom Co. was building a reputation in the community for its quality merchandise. One novel business tactic was to display their merchandise using glass showcases to prevent the merchandise from being soiled.
Both Clara and David raised their children: Herbert, David, Theodore and Elaine, with a strong sense of involvement with the Jewish and non-Jewish communities of Tucson. The Bloom's were involved with Temple Emanu-el; the Tucson Symphony Society, Tucson Chamber of Commerce, University of Arizona Alumni Association and numberous other organization. On occasion, the Bloom business would sponsor an event benefiting a local charity. The Bloom children learned the benefits of helping others. For example, David with his wife, Leona, [26K] established the Bloom Southwest Jewish Archives at The University of Arizona.
Myers and Bloom sold their business to another famous retailing family, the Levy's of Arizona. All was not lost to the business community of Tucson. David W. formed David Bloom Men's Store. The Great Depression of the 1930s made the retailing business very difficult. Yet, David W. continued with his new store. David W. acquired some help in the form of his sons, Herb, Ted, and Dave. By 1940, the business changed its name once again and became known as Dave Bloom and Sons, Inc. With the death of David W., each of the sons assumed greater responsibilities in making the store a success. The clientele at the store included both Tucson residents and visitors from Mexico. Herb, Dave and Ted Bloom continued with the business until 1990. The Bloom brothers made the difficult decision to close Dave Bloom & Sons, Inc. because the next generation of Bloom's had other interests beyond the retailing business.
In 1988, U. S. Congressional representatives Morris K. Udall [PDF] and Bob Stump [PDF] sent congratulatory letters to Herb, Dave and Ted for being honored with the City of Hope National Spirit of Life Award.
The Bloom Family, in November 1995, donated a number of interesting items related to the family business to the Archives. You will notice the transition of the store and merchandise over the years. It's Rodeo Time in Old Tucson [PDF] is an example of Dave Bloom & Sons, Inc.'s involvement in a major community event.
David A. Bloom (born in 1917) and his wife Leona G. Bloom have been active members of Tucson's business, religious, and social service communities for decades, as well as serving as amateur historians for Tucson's Jewish community. David A. Bloom and his brothers operated the successful retail men's clothing store founded in 1906 by his father, David W. Bloom (called Dave Bloom Mens' Store until 1936 and Dave Bloom and Sons thereafter). The store operated in downtown Tucson at Congress and Sixth for years, later moving to the El Con Mall. His grandparents came to the Arizona Territory in 1869. David A. Bloom has served as president of the Arizona Jewish Historical Society's Southern Arizona Chapter, president of the Tucson chapter of the University of Arizona's Alumni Association, and vice president of Temple Emanu-El. He is the benefactor of the Bloom Southwest Jewish Archives.
Leona G. Bloom (1913-1995) was born in New York City, but she resided in Tucson for over 50 years. In addition to being the benefactor of the Bloom Southwest Jewish Archives, she was very active in community activities and service, including those of Temple Emanu-El, the International Friends, the Organization for Rehabilitation through Training (O.R.T.), Tucson literacy programs, the Tucson Zoological Society, and the Arizona Jewish Historical Society's Southern Arizona Chapter.
The files in this collection document the involvement of David A. and Leona G. Bloom in service to both the Jewish and non-Jewish communities of Tucson, Arizona. The collection is a particularly good depiction of the community service work of Leona G. Bloom. For instance, there exist here records of her involvement in the University of Arizona's organization International Friends, the Organization for Rehabilitation through Training (O.R.T.), Tucson adult literacy programs, and the Tucson Zoological Society.
There are also present in this collection records which document the activities of both David A. and Leona G. Bloom in Temple Emanu-El of Tucson, the Arizona Jewish Historical Society's Southern Arizona Chapter, the Bloom Southwest Jewish Archives, and scrapbooks documenting the Dave Bloom and Sons store in Tucson.
This collection was compiled between 1949-1989 by Rabbi Floyd Fierman, Ph.D. (1917-1989), who served Temple Mount Sinai of El Paso, Texas from 1949 to 1979. His leadership in the community extended far beyond the temple. He was actively engaged in combating racism and fighting for civil rights in El Paso. He was also dedicated to interfaith education and communication and to tracking the history of Jews in the binational southwest.
This collection is the result of his interest in the careers and accomplishments of Jewish pioneers who moved west with their families seeking opportunities of various sorts. As these pioneers settled, they built synagogues, business interests, and communities. By 1860 there was a strong Jewish presence in America's western-most reaches.
Although Fierman was not trained as a professional historian, his contributions to the field included several books and monographs on Jews of the southwest, including Guts and Ruts: The Jewish Pioneer on the Trail in the American Southwest (1984), and its sequel Roots and Boots (1988). He also wrote for several scholarly journals including Western States Jewish History, American Jewish Historical Quarterly, American Jewish Archives, and Arizona and the Southwest.
In his search for historically-significant materials, Fierman photocopied documents from many regional repositories, such as the New Mexico State Records Center and Archives. He also maintained close contact with archivists and librarians from all over the country in his quest for materials and documents. He developed a particularly close relationship with the late Rabbi Jacob Marcus, archivist and historian at the American Jewish Archives.
A sizable portion of the material collected is a product of Rabbi Fierman's notes as taken down on whatever material was available to him at the moment, including hotel and airplane stationery. He often recopied these notes several times and compiled elaborate appendixes to the files which are often longer and more complex than the original record.
The material in this collection is organized into two groupings, according to the geographic location of the Jewish individuals, families, or institutions researched. The first four boxes contain materials relevant to New Mexico's Jewish history. The last three boxes contain materials relevant to the Jewish history of western Texas. Folder headings within each grouping are organized alphabetically according to the name of the relevant individual, institution, or the subject matter of the file.
Hyman Capin (nee Kapinski), was born in Ponevezh, Lithuania, in 1874. In 1892, when he was 18, Hyman emigrated to the United States and settled in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. In 1906, the Capin family, now numbering seven, moved to Tucson, Arizona. Here Hyman worked as a tailor and eventually operated a dry cleaning establishment.
Troubles on the United States and Mexico border brought military troops into Texas and New Mexico. In 1913, the Capin family moved to El Paso, Texas, to take advantage of Hyman's expertise as a military tailor. In 1916 Pancho Villa raided Columbus, New Mexico and President Woodrow Wilson sent General Pershing and his soldiers in pursuit. As Columbus increased in size, Hyman took advantage of the activity there. In 1918 he opened a branch tailoring and clothing store and placed his son-in-law, Harry Chernin, in charge.
In 1919 the Capin family moved to Nogales, Arizona where there was another military camp. He and his prospering young family opened a tailoring business where he employed forty tailors. As exclusive tailor for Camp Stephen D. Little, Hyman Capin designed a basic uniform pattern that could be adjusted to fit all sizes. One hundred people were then employed by Capin to take care of handmade work.
The Capins bought their first retail store, S. Leeker Dry Goods, in Nogales, Arizona in 1922, which was later renamed Capin's Department Store. In 1924, they purchased a second store in Nogales called La Ville de Paris from Charles Dumazert. In 1925, Hyman Capin, three sons, and two sons-in-law purchased a retail location in El Paso, Texas, from Stolaroff Dry Goods. This became the Boston Store. In 1934, the family purchased I. Schwarz Department Store in Texarkana, Texas. Both of the Texas stores were closed in the 1930s during the Depression. Hyman Capin retired in 1931, and died four years later in Tucson.
His family continued to manage the business affairs, and Capin's Department Stores incorporated in 1949, as the Capin Mercantile Corporation. In 1960, Capin's expanded their retail business in Nogales, with an additional store, the Parisian. In 1967 they purchased Robinson's Hardware Store in Nogales, and in 1968 the family opened the Duty Free Warehouse. The duty free business was expanded in 1969 by opening another store in San Luis, Arizona. In 1971 the Capin family continued their retail expansion by opening a Capin's store in Douglas, Arizona. They also built and opened the Americana Motor Hotel in Nogales. In 1973, another Parisian store opened in Douglas, and a new location was opened in Nogales called Capin's Annex. In 1975, a Capin's Annex was opened in Douglas as well.
A major devaluation of the Mexican peso occurred in 1976 and the Capins expanded into other markets. In the late 1970s the Capins diversified by adding two stores in Phoenix, Arizona, one of which eventually became the Factory 2-U divisions. In 1982 another major peso devaluation negatively impacted border merchants. At this time, Factory 2-U was growing rapidly, with over thirty outlets throughout Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. To accommodate its expansion, a 220,000 square foot corporate office and distribution center was built in Nogales, at a cost of approximately 7 million dollars. In 1995, amidst another peso devaluation and the effects of NAFTA, the Capin Mercantile Corporation sold their Factory 2-U stores to Family Bargain Corporation for $1.8 million.
Records, 1895-1995, of the Capin family business enterprises consisting of business records, ephemera, photographs (some framed), paste-ups and advertising, and newspaper articles relating to the Capin family, the Capin Mercantile Corporation, and its predecessors.
L.M. Jacobs and Company, formerly M.I. Jacobs and Company, was a family business serving the mining camps and military establishments in Arizona during the 1870s. Their money exchange business grew significantly by 1871; gold coin from San Francisco was exchanged for paper money in Tucson. The brothers gave up the mercantile part of the business in 1880 to concentrate on banking.
The banks went through several changes over the years. Pima County Bank became Consolidated Bank of Tucson in 1887 with Merrill P. Freeman as the cashier in 1887. He resigned and established the Santa Cruz Valley Bank. In 1890, the Jacobs brothers sold their ownership of Consolidated Bank of Tucson, purchased the Santa Cruz Valley Bank, and changed its name to the Arizona National Bank.
Lionel and Barron were active in Tucson social life and resided for a time at the Owl's Club, a bachelor's residence for prominent businessmen. They were active in forming the Tucson Literary Society in 1873. Lionel was appointed to the Pima County Board of Supervisors in 1871, was Treasurer of the Territorial Legislature in 1873, and also served on the Tucson City Council. He married Bertha Frank (1865-1955) of San Francisco. He died February 7, 1922 in San Francisco. Barron served as Treasurer of the Territorial Legislature for the two months prior to Lionel. He married Henrietta (Yetta) and they had one daughter, Hilda. Barron died on November 15, 1936 in Washington, D.C., where his daughter resided.
The collection consists of correspondence, letter books, invoices, financial statements, ledgers, journals, receipts, cancelled checks, debit and credit memos, certificate of deposit stubs, draft registers, collection registers, and remittance registers produced by the daily mercantile and banking business of Lionel and Barron Jacobs.
Correspondence includes letters between Mark Jacobs and his sons, Lionel and Barron, concerning business conditions, needs and decisions. There is also correspondence from family and friends to Lionel and Barron, 1871 to 1876, including a few letters from their nephew, Selim M. Franklin, who later became a prominent Tucson citizen.
Materials documenting the purchase of goods from New York, San Francisco, and Mexico and the shipment of goods to Tucson and other locations in southern Arizona, 1861 to 1879, include invoices, correspondence, receipts, and financial statements.
Mercantile records representing the sale of goods to individuals, companies, and the military include journals, ledgers, invoices, daily sales blotters, inventories, and registers of distilled spirits received and sold, 1867 to 1880.
Banking records consist of journals, ledgers, daily exchange records, certificate of deposit stubs, money order stubs, checks, debit and credit memos, notes and bills receivable, collection registers, remittance registers, draft registers, records of payments for government and other agencies and trial balance sheets.
This collection provides detailed evidence of mercantile and banking practices at the end of the 19th century. Additional highlights include 1875 bankruptcy papers for the mercantile company of Philip Drachman and Isaac Goldberg; agreements to supply goods to military camps; daily sales blotters from as early as 1867 showing customer name, items purchased and price paid for each item; an 1870 Citizens Subscription of Indian Campaign giving names and amount contributed; receipt books that show customer name, items shipped, and where shipped, including many for Camp Grant; Distilled Spirits Received and Sold records which give customer name, place, and number of gallons of whiskey delivered; lists of bank depositors showing names of Tombstone and Tucson citizens with amounts they have on deposit; and other bank transactions for individuals showing what they deposited, borrowed, and paid out.
Fred Rochlin, born to a family of Russian Jewish Immigrants,graduated from Nogales High School and briefly attended the University of Arizona, Tucson. In December, 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps, and was stationed in Italy with 456th Bombardment Group. Fred graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture From UC, Berkley in January 1949. Following graduation in 1949, Rochlin apprenticed in the offices of two renowned architects: Frank Lloyd Wright and Charles Eames. In 1952, he partnered with Berkeley classmate, Ephraim Baran, to form Rochlin & Baran, Architects, Engineers and Planning. During his tenure as founding partner, 1952 to 1986, the firm completed major medical facilities and observatories in California, seventeen other states, and in Iran and Israel.
While professionally engaged, in his spare time he conducted a passionate search for data and images documenting the history of early Jews in the Southwest, with special emphasis on southern Arizona and Arizona-Sonora border. He was also active in historical societies: American Jewish Historical Society, board member; Los Angeles Historical Society, board member; Southern California Jewish Historical Society, president; Southern Arizona Jewish Historical Society, founding member, Pimeria Alta Historical Society, member.
Papers, 1694-2002 (bulk 1880-1930). The Fred Rochlin Papers contain material relating to his research on the southwestern Jewish community. The collection includes material relevant to the history of Jewish individuals, commercial operations, and communal institutions in Arizona, principally southern Arizona.
This collection primarily consists of autobiographical reminiscences, copies of historical records, correspondence, newspaper clippings, interview transcriptions and notes, photographs and postcards, and scholarly and popular articles and excerpts. The bulk of the material is photocopies of primary source material. Be aware that dates listed reflect the subject content of the material.
George Miller (b. 1922) has been active in Tucson's Democratic Party politics since the 1970s. He was elected to the city council on a liberal to libertarian platform in 1977, a position which he occupied until 1991. In 1991 he was elected Tucson's mayor. He served two terms as mayor of Tucson, retiring from public office in 1999. Geroge Miller has the distinction of as Tucson's longest serving public official, serving twenty-two consecutive years in office.
Miller graduated from the University of Arizona and taught social studies at Tucson's Amphitheater High School from 1948 to 1951. He also served in World War II. After his teaching stint, Miller devoted himself to the development of his own paint contracting business (G. and M. Painting Contractors) before entering politics. Miller has long been identified with liberal perspectives, having been investigated by the House Un-American Activities subcommittee in 1954 (he refused to answer their questions about his membership in the communist party), and having served as one of the chief proponents in southern Arizona of George McGovern's 1972 presidential bid.
The files in this collection consist of photocopies of articles from the local Tucson and surrounding area's newspapers which document the political career of George Miller. Box one consists of articles from 1975 to December 1992. Box two consists of articles dated 1993 to October 1997. Miller served as a city council member from 1977 to 1991, and has served as Tucson's mayor from 1991 to 1998.