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Joseph Jablonower Papers

Identifier: LP000403

Scope and Content

Part I: Series 1: Correspondence, reports, clippings, speeches and other items concerning Mr. Jablonower's union, professional and personal activities. The union materials, which cover a period from 1912 to 1961, relate to the formation of the Teachers Union, the trial of three DeWitt Clinton teachers 1917-1918, the Teachers Guild Associates 1950-1961 and the United Federation of Teachers New York strike in 1960. Some of the Ethical Culture Society speeches deal with that organization and its founder Felix Adler. The 1942 Dies Committee report and correspondence concern the case of a New York teacher who was a former Communist. Other materials concern the Board of Examiners 1941-1959, World War II refugees 1938-1941, the Henry Linville Award 1954-1959 and progressive education.

Series 2: Correspondence, court papers, documents, clippings and other materials related to Joseph Jablonower's civil service examination for a vacant position on the Board of Examiners of the New York City school system, his appointment, to the post in 1938, court challenges to his appointment, and a second civil service examination that confirmed his appointment in 1940. Most of the congratulatory materials are numbered and the senders are identified in a key found in file 4-5. The bulk of the materials used as court evidence consist of professional articles and reviews written by Mr. Jablonower for Ethical Culture Society pub-lications such as The Standard, School and Home, as well as a textbook, Intro-ducing Geometry, and articles in Mathmatics Teacher. Letters of recommendation and transcripts are also included. A complete list of the evidence will be found in folder 5-1.

Series 3: Diaries kept by Mr. Jablonower spanning the period from 1941 to 1966. The diaries consist of eleven bound books, one loose leaf notebook, several collections of notecards and key that explains abbreviations and identifies certain people mentioned in the diaries. The diaries cover Mr. Jablonower's personal social as well as his professional life. His daily activities as an Examiner are covered in most detail, but Ethical Culture Society and union activities are also covered. While the entries for some years are fairly complete, some years are not covered at all and for other years the entries are very limited.
Part II: Series 4: Transcript of an oral history interview of Mr. Jablonower done by Columbia University between March and June 1965. In the interview, conducted by Thomas F. Hogan of the Oral History Research Office at Columbia, Jablonower talks about his childhood in Austria; life on the Lower East Side of New York City; teachers unions in the 1910s through the late 1950s; the Ethical Culture movement; his views on World War I; communist influence on teachers unions; teacher selection, salary, and governance; economically disadvantaged neighborhoods; strikes and collective bargaining; the progressive education movement; and his impressions of important educators and social reformers. An index of important names is included at the end of the interview.


  • 1936 - 1968


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.


Collection is open for research.


Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials.

RESTRICTIONS: Due to the personal nature of oral history, the Library prohibits use of the material in any way that infringes on individual right to privacy, or results in libelous statements or slander, in accordance with U.S. law.

Permission to cite, quote, or reproduce the Jablonower oral history interview must be obtained from Columbia University Libraries.


Joseph Jablonower, who was born in Wizniz, Austria September 15, 1888, came to the United States in 1896. He graduated from the City College of New York in 1910 and began teaching in the New York Public school system the same year.

Mr. Jablonower was a charter member of the Teachers Union which formed in New York in 1916. He was involved in the 1917 DeWitt Clinton High School labor dispute that resulted in the trial of three New York teachers (1917-18). Mr. Jablonower left the New York public school system in 1919 to teach mathematics in the Ethical Culture schools in New York. In 1935 he was one of approximately 800 union members who formed the Teachers Guild in response to left-wing activity in the Teachers Union.

Mr. Jablonower worked on the Conference Board of the Teachers Guild Associates, and auxiliary to the Guild, until the Guild became part of the United Federation of Teachers and the TGA disbanded in 1961. He died September 2, 1971.

Joseph Jablonower also served as Director of the Evening School of the Young Men's Hebrew Association (1914-1916), member of the Board of Governors of the Ethical Culture Schools (1944-1950), Vice President of the Society for Ethical Culture of New York, member of the Mathematics Committee of the Thayer Commission on Secondary School Curriculum (1933-1938) and a member of the Committee at large of the Liberal Party.


4 Linear Feet (8 MB)


Mr. Jablonower began teaching in the New York Public School System in 1910. The trial of three New York teachers (1917-18) led Mr. Jablonower to join other teachers founding the New York City Teachers Union, associated with the New York Teachers Guild and the American Federation of Teachers. His papers include correspondence, speeches, clippings, and other materials on his appointment to the Board of Examiners (1938); the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture; his aid to European refugees, and his receiving the Linville Award (1959). Other important subjects covered include communism in teachers' unions, DeWitt Clinton case, 1960 New York teachers strike, progressive education, and the United Federation of Teachers. Among the correspondents are Charles Cogen, Jacob Greenberg, and Arthur Levitt. The collection includes an oral history interview with Mr. Jablonower conducted in 1965 by Columbia University.


Part 1: Arranged in 3 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-3), Series 2 (Boxes 4-5), and Series 3 (Boxes 6-7). Folders in Series 1 are arranged alphabetically by topic, while folders in Series 2 are chronologically by topic, and 3 are arranged chronologically.
Part 2: Arranged in 1 series – Series 4 (Box 8). Folders are in order of the oral history transcript.


The original Jablonower oral history interview is in the holdings of Columbia University Libraries.


Approximately 15 photographs related to Joseph Jablonower, the Board of Examiners and Henry Linville are available in the Archives' Audiovisual Collections.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library. Finding aid revised to include oral history materials by Rebecca Bizonet on July 29, 2016.


Joseph Jablonower Papers
Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library; revised by Rebecca Bizonet.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description made possible by funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA