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Shirley T. Joseph Papers

Identifier: P-932

Scope and Content Note

This collection documents the community activism, political advocacy, and volunteer work of Shirley T. Joseph. Formats include clippings, correspondence, meeting minutes, memos, newsletters, notes, reports, printed matter, memorabilia, and audiovisual materials. Women’s rights and anti-Semitism were Joseph’s main focus, but other issues included here are poverty, hunger, and early childhood education. Topics of particular interest are anti-Semitism in the women’s movement and the intersection of feminist and Jewish perspectives.


  • 1972-1998


Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers, except items that may be restricted due to their fragility, or privacy.

Use Restrictions

No permission is required to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection, as long as the usage is scholarly, educational, and non-commercial. For inquiries about other usage, please contact the Director of Collections and Engagement at

For reference questions, please email:

Biographical Note

Shirley Troyan Joseph was a native and lifelong resident of Erie County, New York. Little is known of her personal life, but she had three sons with husband Norman C. Joseph, an accountant. According to her resume, she attended the University of Michigan, where she studied Political Science, and Vanderbilt University’s Graduate School of Management. In 1972, she was appointed to the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO, eventually serving as vice-chair of its Executive Committee. Beginning in 1975, Joseph took on various leadership roles within the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) at the local, district, and national levels. She attended the 1977 National Women’s Conference in Houston, Texas, and worked as a board member for the National Women’s Conference Committee. She chaired several committees and task forces for the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council (NJCRAC) in the 1980s and 1990s. Through her participation in the UN World Conferences on Women, she was connected to an international network of Jewish women’s organizations, but her activities in the late 1990s seem to have become more locally focused, with Joseph employed in local government as Executive Director of the Erie County Commission on the Status of Women.


10.3 Linear Feet (19 manuscript boxes, 1 half manuscript box, 1 media box, 1 oversized folder (OS1))

Language of Materials



Shirley T. Joseph was a feminist Jewish activist involved in a number of advocacy groups and community organizations working locally (in Buffalo, New York), nationally, and internationally. She attended three of the United Nations’ World Conferences on Women (in 1980, 1985, and 1995), and the bulk of the collection documents these events in the records of various planning committees, personal correspondence, official UN documentation, collections of news clippings, and Joseph’s own notes, speeches, and articles.


The collection is arranged in five topical series with a final series of separated formats. The original order of the collection was not entirely clear, since many file labels had fallen off or otherwise contradicted the contents of their folders and a number of items were loose. In addition, Joseph had weeded personal items and rearranged the collection before donating it to AJHS. Her subject groupings and folder titles were maintained as much as possible, with materials generally arranged by organization, sub-committee, and year, except in the case of the World Conferences (Series IV), where Joseph represented multiple organizations simultaneously. For this series, the archivist separated the three events into subseries, arranged chronologically.

Physical Location

Located in AJHS New York, NY

Acquisition Information

Shirley T. Joseph donated her papers to AJHS in four accessions between 1996 and 1998, numbered 1996.015, 1997.007, 1998.001, and 1998.028.

Guide to the Shirley T. Joseph Papers, 1972-1998 P-932
Processed by Alyssa Carver
© 2012
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Made possible by the Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives Grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources through The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support "Illuminating Hidden Collections at the Center for Jewish History"

Revision Statements

  • 2015-11-25: Updated with AVC box number for audiovisual materials. KS
  • November 2020: RJohnstone: post-ASpace migration cleanup.

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States