Processing Sherith Israel: Bundles of Fun

Posted by Lara Michels on Wednesday July 27 2011

I have been working on the financial records of Congregation Sherith Israel. The congregation has had a number of secretaries and collectors over the 160 years of its existence. The one that dominates this collection is Alexander Badt, secretary of Sherith Israel for more than three decades. He steered the congregation’s daily operations through the move of the congregation’s cemetery to Colma, the construction and dedication of the new building in 1905, and the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire. He, quite literally, dealt with everything. He managed and paid the congregation’s bills; he represented the Board of Trustees as its main correspondent; he dealt with cemetery concerns; he managed construction projects and building repair projects; he managed the process of hiring Rabbis and Cantors and other staff. I think he was a pretty formidable figure, indeed.

One thing Badt liked to do was to bundle up his records into these tight little bundles.

Bundles of Sherith Israel financial records (before processing)

I love the look of them, but what a physical challenge to process!  And some of them were not so neatly stacked in their containers. For example:

More Sherith Israel financial records (before processing)

These bundles include financial records, reports, correspondence and other items that Badt created or collected during the course of his daily work. I have had to unbundle and unfold the records in 15 or so cartons in order to really know what was there.

Some of Sherith Israel's financial records (after some processing)

Of course, having spent so much time physically processing Alexander Badt’s records means I gleaned lots of information to share with researchers! Almost done with these loose financial records. Now onto the 50 or so large volumes of financial records. And, of course, these have their own challenges!

A few volumes of Sherith Israel's financial records (and Bancroft intern Kendall, who is helping me inventory them this week)

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Filed under: Collections andHistory andRandom Musings

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