Papers of Cecilia Razovsky
Scope and Content Note
The papers of Cecelia Razovsky (married name: Davidson) documents the immigration worker's involvement in immigration and refugee relief from the early 1900's through the 1960's. The collection also contains material from her personal life and published works. Among the organizations Razovsky worked with include: the National Council of Jewish Women, the National Refugee Service, the German Jewish Children's Aid, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency, the United Service for New Americans, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society Service, and the Citizen's Committee on Displaced Persons.
Significant correspondents include Jane Addams, Louis Brandeis, Carrie Chapman Catt, Joseph P. Chamberlain, Philip Cowen, Alberto Gonzales Fernandez, Israel Jacobson, Max Kohler, Herbert H. Lehman, Rosa Manus, James G. McDonald, Henry Morgenthau Jr., Frances Perkins, James Rice, Joseph S. Shubow, Edward M. Warburg, and Stephen S. Wise.
The papers are valuable to researchers studying the following aspects of Jewish immigration in the United States: the Eastern European influx of the early 1900's, German refugees during World War II, U.S. detention camps and resettlement of World War II refugees, and local resettlement efforts for World War II refugees in the Southwest. The collection also pertains to the study of relief work conducted in displaced persons camps in France and Germany; and evaluations of countries for resettlement, particularly in the West Indies, Central America, and South America. Of interest is material relating to Razovsky's efforts to organize women's committees in Brazil and other South American countries, and her work with refugee children.
The papers also contain information regarding the SS. St. Louis; the SS. Quanza; the refugee community in Sosua, Dominican Republic; immigration activities in England, Shanghai, Greece, the Philippines, and Switzerland; anti-Semitism among United States Army personnel stationed in Displaced Persons Camps; and the Child Labor Law in 1918.
Types of material include: correspondence, reports, addresses, published articles, booklets, biographical sketches and resumes, case notes, diaries, flyers, legal forms, lists, manuscript drafts, military passes, minutes, news clippings, plays, photographs, press releases, programs, registration certificates, ration cards, telegrams, transcripts, travel authorizations, and trust agreements.
The documents are mostly in English, though there are some materials in Yiddish, German, Russian, Hebrew, Portuguese, and Spanish.
- undated, 1913-1971
- Razovsky, Cecilia, 1886-1968 (Person)
Language of Materials
The collection is in English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Yiddish, and Russian.
The collection is open to all researchers, except items that may be restricted due to their fragility, or privacy.
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 email@example.com.
For reference questions, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Biographical / Historical
Cecilia Razovsky was an immigration and refugee relief worker and advocate whose extraordinary career spanned from the early 1900s through the 1960s. Her life's work began with assisting Eastern European immigrants in the early 1900s. She continued on, assisting German refugees during World War II; working overseas in Displaced Persons Camps; aiding refugees in United States Detention Camps after the War; encouraging Jewish communities in Southwest United States to take refugee families; and organizing resettlement efforts in South America, Central America, and the West Indies. She worked for such major refugee relief organizations as: the National Council of Jewish Women, National Refugee Service, German Jewish Children's Aid, United Service for New Americans, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society Service, and the Citizen's Committee on Displaced Persons. Against resistant administrations, she tirelessly negotiated for admissions of German children into the United States, landing rights for the SS. St. Louis in Cuba and the SS Quanza in Mexico and the United States, and increased immigration opportunities in the Americas and West Indies.
Born on May 4, 1886 to immigrant parents Minna and Jonas Razovsky in St. Louis, MO, Razovsky began working at a factory when she was 12 years old, sewing buttons onto overalls in order to supplement her family's income. She held a variety of jobs after school: salesgirl, waitress, laundress, stenographer, clerk, and secretary, and continued with these jobs until she took up teaching for the Jewish Educational Alliance in St. Louis at age 18. There, she gave evening lessons in English and History to immigrants, and taught Biblical literature and Hebrew to children on Saturdays and Sundays.
In 1911, she became an Attendance Officer for the St. Louis Board of Education, interviewing applicants and issuing employment certificates to children who qualified under the new Child Labor Law. She oversaw the probation of delinquent girls, and studied the street trade situation in St. Louis in 1912. This position led her to become an Inspector for the Child Labor Division, Children's Bureau, in Washington, D.C. in 1917. In this capacity, she inspected mills and factories in Alabama, Eastern Ohio, and Virginia for compliance to the Child Labor Law; she examined the physical and educational development of Southern children; studied the effect of the First World War on child labor and school attendance throughout the United States; and surveyed the administration of the Child Labor Law in the District of Columbia.
At the same time, she attended classes in social work, drama, literature, economics, law, psychology, labor problems, public relations, and Spanish in a variety of schools in St. Louis, Chicago, and New York. In 1918, the Supreme Court declared federal child labor laws to be unconstitutional (child labor reforms were established in the late 1930s), and the Child Labor Division ceased its work.
National Council of Jewish Women, 1921-1934
Razovsky returned to her earlier vocation of helping immigrants, and, in 1921, was appointed Executive Secretary for the National Council of Jewish Women's (NCJW) Department of Immigrant Aid. As she wrotes "I was always interested in the literature about immigrants, living among them in my youth, and the stories in English written about them were to me fascinating and all the authors, like Anzia Yierska [Yezierska] Kahn, were my heroes and heroines..."
Her skills did not go unnoticed, and, one year later, she was appointed Associate Director of the NCJW; she also served as Editor of the NCJW bulletin, The Immigrant, for ten years.
The NCJW worked on legislation, oriented immigrants to their new life in the United States, and established a Bureau of International Case Work to help reunite immigrants with their families overseas. Razovsky traveled throughout the United States, training local NCJW committees on how to organize English and Citizenship classes. She met immigrants arriving at Ellis Island and other ports; and developed international services to immgrants' relatives remaining abroad through agencies in Europe, Asia, and South America. She lectured for students and professional groups, conducting Institutes on Education of the Foreign Born.
In 1922, Razovsky authored her first book: What Every Emigrant Should Know, and she wrote What Every Woman Should Know About Citizenship in 1926. This book addressed the Cable Act of 1922, which required women to apply individually for citizenship, versus making them automatic citizens under their husband's name. Although feminists saw the Act as a victory, it put many immigrant women in danger of being deported, deserted, and denied pensions, medical care, and employment. In 1938, Razovsky updated What Every Woman Should Know About Citizenship with a booklet titled Making Americans. This booklet, directed at the volunteer community, gave instructions on how to set up naturalization committees and bureaus, and provided information on immigration law and procedures.
Razovsky was sent to the First World Congress of Jewish Women in Austria in 1923 as a NCJW delegate. There, she addressed the conference on immigration, and after the conference, she toured European ports, evaluating conditions for refugees. Many refugees prevented from entering the United States by President Harding's 1921 passing of the "Three Per Cent Immigration Law" and the putting into effect of a permanent Immigration Restriction Bill in 1924 were admitted into Cuba. In 1924, Razovsky was stationed there to assist and evaluate the conditions for emigrant Jews; Razovsky served as Secretary of the Jewish Committee for Cuba 1925-1935. In 1931, Razovsky visited Russia to study social service conditions.
During this time, she was highly involved in legislation and policy making, attending major conferences and committees on immigration, and particularly on the German refugee crisis of the 1930s. She served in various capacities for the National Conference of Social Work from 1926-1929, including as Chair of Division X in 1927, and Chair of the Conference on Immigration Policy in 1928. In 1929, Razovsky represented several American organizations at the International Association for the Protection of Migrants, an advisory committee to the League of Nations in Geneva. In 1932, Jane Addams appointed her as a representative at the International Conference for Social Work in Frankfurt, Germany. In the same year, she served as Chair for the National Council on Naturalization and Citizenship, studying increased naturalization fees. In 1933 she chaired an advisory committee on legislation reform for the Ellis Island Committee of Forty Eight that was appointed by Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins. She also served as a chair and secretary for the General Committee of Immigration Aid at Ellis Island and NY Harbor from 1933-1936.
In between Razovsky's whirlwind of activities, she married Dr. Morris Davidson in 1927. Dr. Davidson, a certified ophthalmologist, accompanied Razovsky on her later trips to South America, assisting her with her work, and became an expert in Brazilian culture and history.
National Coordinating Committee, 1934-1939
The pressure on the State Department to admit German refugees escaping the rise of Nazism in Germany did not waive restrictions on immigration quotas until late 1936, when a slight change in wording regarding public charges increased visa issuance, though not to the extent needed to help the increasing wave of refugees. It was clear a centralized refugee relief agency was needed to assist non-Jewish and Jewish German refugees, one more comprehensive than the extant Joint Clearing Bureau, which operated under the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.
The League of Nations appointed James G. McDonald as High Commissioner for Refugees in 1933. McDonald and Chairman Joseph P. Chamberlain, Professor of Public Law at Columbia University, established the National Coordinating Committee for Aid to Refugees and Emigrants Coming from Germany (NCC), a successor agency to the Joint Clearing Bureau; affiliated with NCC was the German Jewish Children's Aid, an organization headed by Razovsky to negotiate the admission and later placement of German Jewish refugee children. The NCC's plans were based upon a report Razovsky wrote in January 1934, while serving as Secretary for the Joint Clearing Bureau. The NCJW loaned Razovsky to pioneer this new organization, and a small office opened with Razovsky as Executive Director in July 1934. The staff grew to 180 by February 1939, and in June 1939, the NCC merged with two other organizations to form the National Refugee Service (NRS).
The NCC began with approximately 20 non-Jewish and Jewish member organizations, serving as a national clearinghouse and registry. It also dealt with affidavits, quotas, visas, and financial aid. The bureau helped refugees find employment throughout the United States, and evaluated projects designed for refugees with specific occupations. The NCC educated the non-Jewish public on the refugee problem, urged local communities to help refugees resettle outside of New York City, and strengthened local committees to care for refugees throughout the United States. The agency cooperated with government agencies, worked with the League of Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Coming from Germany, and coordinated the work of existing relief organizations throughout the United States and abroad.
The NCC looked for escape avenues for refugees all over the globe. The prospects in Central and South America led Razovsky and her husband to visit São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Buenos Aires in 1937 to evaluate conditions for potential German Jewish refugees. In São Paulo, Razovsky met Dr. Ludwig and Luiza Lorch; Dr. Lorch headed a committee for German refugee relief, and Mrs. Lorch was involved in the women's committee. They would become important friends to the Davidsons, aiding Razovsky in many areas of social work in São Paulo., Brazil.
Biographical / Historical
In the wake of Kristallnacht (November 1938), Razovsky described the atmosphere of her office as "tense and feverish," receiving 1300 callers each day. As the quota only allowed 20 refugee children into the United States per month, Razovsky wrote, "We not only are not taking large groups but we are even slowing up on those whom we have ordered under the auspices of the German-Jewish Children's Aid, because of the long delays in the quota... At the end of the day we are literally in rags-physically and mentally..."
On June 2, 1939, 930 Jewish refugees sailing from Hamburg, Germany on the SS St. Louis arrived in Mexico, and were denied their visas. The ship then sailed to Cuba, and Razovsky, whose previous experience at NCJW included working in Cuba helping refugees, was one of the officials sent to help them. In 1961 she recalled that "When the official word came through that the ship would have to leave with its passengers still on board, we were all thunderstruck and horrified. To this day it is painful to recall the grief and agony on that occasion. When the day and hour arrived for the ship to sail, we were all at the dock. Some of the American newspaper men were so broken by the news that they knelt and prayed and wept aloud; others cursed and raved; we ourselves were too crushed to do anything but weep."
National Refugee Service, 1939-1943
Overwhelmed with work, in June 1939, the National Coordinating Committee merged with two other organizations-the NCC Fund and the Greater New York Coordinating Committee-to form the National Refugee Service (NRS). The NRS centralized and expanded refugee aid efforts, and added additional departments to the organization. Razovsky served as Director of the new Migration Department, and later as Assistant to the Executive Director.
Razovsky was among the members of the Capital Loan Committee, which began operation on October 16, 1939, to evaluate loan applications from refugees, who, holding only visitor visas, were often barred from employment. The funds were dispersed from an inherited NCC fund, the Rosenwald Capital Outlay Fund; each loan was intended as a one time economic adjustment. Within two and a half months, the Loan Committee approved 24 individuals' applications, spanning fifteen communities throughout the United States. Additional donations came from the American Joint Reconstruction Foundation, the Refugee Economic Corporation, outside communities, and other sources.
In autumn 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt convened the Intergovernmental Committee on Political Refugees in Evian-Les-Bains, France. Its purpose: to make a concerted effort to help German refugees. Out of all of the thirty-two nations represented, the United States included, only the representative from the Dominican Republic offered to accept large numbers of Jewish refugees. Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, dictoator of the Dominican Republic who, between October 2-4, 1937, murdered 20,000 poor Haitian workers, all of them black, had motives aside from benevolence: his eugenic desire to make his Republic "white" was coupled with his need to improve his image with the United States. Trujillo hoped to settle 100,000 German and Austrian refugees on 24,000 acres of agricultural property; the first six settlers arrived in Sosua in March 1940. Razovsky worked with James N. Rosenberg, President of the Dominican Republic Settlement Association (DORSA) to implement the plan, however, by 1942, due to the difficulties of wartime and refugee selection, only 472 refugees had settled there.
On September 5, 1940, the National Refugee Service received a telegram from passengers fleeing Nazi Germany aboard the S.S. Quanza, who had been denied entry into Mexico-despite the fact that thirty-five of them only wished to transfer to other ships bound for South and Central America. Razovsky wrote that "The only creature on board the ship, who would have been permitted to land was a little Pekinese dog who carried a certificate of entry which the Mexican Government was prepared to honor."
The S.S. Quanza continued onward to Norfolk, VA, where it was scheduled to drop off coal before heading back to Lisbon. Razovsky, now NRS Assistant to the Executive Director, Evelyn Hersey, Executive Director of the American Committee for Christian Refugees, and several attorneys were among the party who met the ship at port. The attorneys served writs of libel on the ship, preventing the ship from sailing until a hearing could take place. Under pressure from various organizations and relatives, the State Department agreed to admit all children under sixteen, persons with visas for Central or South America, and political refugees. After each case was heard by the Board of Special Inquiry, all eighty three refugees, sixty-six of whom were Jewish, were allowed temporary entry into the United States, under the care of the National Refugee Service and the American Committee for Christian Refugees.
A few months before Pearl Harbor, the U.S. negotiated the seizure of Japanese, Austrians, Germans, and Italians in Panama with the Panamian Government. Jewish refugees in Panama were seized alongside the enemy nationals, and were sent to detention camps in Texas, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. A detainee wrote, "I have been arrested in Panama in the open street by a common police man... without asking me who I am and of what nationality... Neither in Panama nor at any other country, where I lived, I had any kind of political activity or any connection with such matters..." Razovsky appealed to the War and Justice Departments to ease conditions for the refugees in the camps and obtain their release. She wrote "... We were able to have the men at Stringtown [OK] transferred from Camp Blanding, FL where their situation was desperate because they had to be with the Nazis constantly and were mistreated. At Stringtown they have separate sleeping quarters although they are still obliged to eat with the Nazis..." In February 1943, after State Department hearings, the Jewish detainees and their voluntarily detained relatives were transferred to Camp Algiers in New Orleans; by June of that year, approximately sixty were released on parole.
Razovsky, at that point, was resigning from her post with the NRS; changes in the board led to the downgrading of Razovsky's responsibilities, a 30% pay cut, and the title of "Consultant." Her resignation was official Razovsky resigned from the National Refugee Service on June 15, 1943.
United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency/American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, 1944-1948
When the Allies first breached Nazi lines in November 1942, liberating North Africa, the newly formed United Nations already had plans for an international relief organization in the works. While international committees were drafting the new agency's structure, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed New York Governor Herbert Lehman in charge of the Office of Foreign Relief and Rehabilitation Operations. In November 1943, 44 nations signed an agreement to establish the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency (UNRRA), with Lehman as its head. Razovsky applied for a position in Governor Lehman's organization in April 1943. When she did not receive an offer from that body, Razovsky went on to work for the Common Council for American Unity, as Chief of Special Services, and Editor of their publication "Interpreter Releases." The Common Council for American Unity's mission was to battle intolerance for and discrimination against foreigners living in the United States. She arranged to teach for UNRRA's Training Center in July 1944, and in September, UNRRA officially hired her to serve as a Displaced Persons Specialist for the European Missions Reserve.
By then, the Allies had liberated France, and U.S. troops had crossed over the defense system built by Hitler and entered Germany. In April 1945, the Allies liberated Buchenwald. Of this, Sargent Joseph Eaton, wrote that "... The spirit of these men, incarcerated for years or even decades, remains even more striking in my memory. Some, many are wrecked physically and mentally, perhaps for life. But others are preserved, ready to live, ready to inspire those of us, who never had to love life as much as they had to in order to survive..."
The U.S. Army set up Displaced Persons camps as a first step of their war reliefs efforts, placing five to ten soldiers in charge of thousands. Chaplain Aaron Kahan described conditions as "pig stys where a thousand people live in a place unsuitable for one hundred. The food provided is of the same calibre..."
In this period, it was common practice for UNRRA and private agencies to share employees. Thus, when the AJDC Paris office needed emergency staff, UNRRA officers loaned Razovsky-who had recently landed in London-to them. Loaning UNRRA staff to private agencies in France allowed the UNRRA to have a presence where none was permitted; French authorities refused to allow UNRRA to manage Displaced Persons within French borders.
Razovsky worked for AJDC Paris from February 1945 until her return to the United States at the end of June. In Paris, she set up a Central Location Bureau for France, organized a Personal Service division for emergency relief, arranged the reunion of fifty displaced children with their in the United Kingdom, supervised casework for groups of Displaced Persons in various French camps, and arranged transit visas for children traveling through France to embarkation ports in Portugal and Spain. She accompanied the first contingent of children released from Buchenwald into temporary care in France and Switzerland; many of these children later emigrated to Palestine.
By May 1945, Razovsky was suffering from the effects of the poor diet and living conditions in the DP camps, and requested to be sent home. She arrived in New York in July, and spent the next few months speaking on behalf of the UNRRA at a UNRRA luncheon, a Providence Section, NCJW meeting, and for the Margaret McDonald radio show. Still feeling the ill effects of her overseas work, she went on leave from UNRRA for three months, eventually resigning from the agency on February 1946. By then, she had accepted a position with the AJDC Director of Emigration for Germany and Austria.
Conditions in German DP camps remained deplorable, and grew increasingly overcrowded as Jews fleeing anti-Semitism in their homes sought refuge in the American zone. These Jews were not considered displaced by war under the classification made by UNRRA authorities, and care for them fell solely to Jewish organizations. According to Judge Simon H. Rifkind's (advisor to General Dwight D. Eisenhower) report, issued April 1945, there were approximately 100,000 Jews in all of the zones of Germany and Austria. Further, negotiations with military authorities delayed AJDC workers from arriving in Germany and Austria until a month after VE-Day, in June 1945. Once established, the AJDC was able to supplement the DPs' basic needs provided by the UNRRA, shipping clothes, food, medical supplies, and religious and educational supplies. The 80 AJDC staff in Germany and Austria also served as a liaison between the Jews and the occasionally anti-Semitic U.S. Army, UNRRA staff, and local governments. American Jewish Year Book reporter Geraldine Rosenfield wrote that "In this capacity the staff on numerous occasions served as trouble-shooters, thereby alleviating many difficult situations."
Soon after her arrival in Germany, Razovsky was in an automobile accident involving an army truck, and was in the hospital for several weeks. After recovering, she continued to set up emigration offices in Bremen, Hamburg, Munich, Berlin, Frankfurt, and Stuttgart in order to assist DP's immigration under President Harry Truman's directive, issued on December 22, 1945, which reopened immigration to the United States by allowing a maximum of 39,681 refugees and Displaced Persons in American zones, with the highest quota coming from Germany, to enter the UNited States each year. No other country had yet offered the refugees asylum.
Due to shipping, consular personnel shortages, and other technical concerns, the first immigration did not occur until May 1946, when the S.S. Marine Flasher and the S.S. Marine Perch sailed from Bremerhaven with 1,361 refugees and Displaced Persons on board. Razovsky described the sailing preparations: "... After much agitation, including a threatened hunger strike by the passengers, the Army agreed to increase the rations to the American standard of 2300 calories..."
Biographical / Historical
Almost immediately upon her return to New York in September 1946, Razovsky set out once more for Brazil with her husband. Having last visited Brazil in 1937 to evaluate its appropriateness as a destination for German Jewish refugees for the NCC, Razovsky now toured the country with Rabbi Isaiah Rackovsky, speaking on behalf of the AJDC for its annual fundraising campaign. The Comité Auxiliar do Joint, a new Brazilian agency, opened June 1946, was now administering the $250,000 campaign which had previously been managed by the São Paulo Jewish Congregation. Luis Lorch, Vice President of the Comité Auxiliar, remembered Razovsky from her 1937 visit and cabled the AJDC New York, requesting a "powerful popular effective speaker Yiddish masses...preferably [a] woman to address women maybe Razovsky who left excellent impression..."
Jacob B. Lightman, head of the AJDC South American Office, formed 1943 in Buenos Aires, asked Razovsky to extend her stay in Brazil by a few months to help organize a small regional AJDC office that would handle transmigrants en route to other countries, and new Brazilian immigrants. Before leaving for leaving Brazil for New York in December 1946, Razovsky reported that "... Jewish emigration to Brasil was suspended during the war and during the dictatorship. It has now been resumed...up to about six weeks ago, and we can count upon about a thousand Jewish emigrants, new arrivals in Brazil, during 1946, of whom about one third are transits going to other Latin American countries. There has been no Jewish emigration into the Argentine. The democratic forces in these countries are weak, and liberals have very little power to cope with the administrative officials who are often anti-Semitic."
In March 1947, Razovsky began working as a consultant for the Citizen's Committee on Displaced Persons, an organization formed specifically in order to pass bills liberalizing immigration for DPs. Razovsky traveled to various communities, including Michigan and Missouri, addressing the public on the DP issue and meeting with immigration agency representatives. Unfortunately, the Citizen's Committee's lobbying efforts were not fully successful, and the most promising bill, the Stratton bill (H.R. 2910), was not passed. In lieu of the liberalized wording of the Stratton Bill, Congress passed the Displaced Persons Act of 1948, which intensified already existing restrictions concerning race, national origin, and occupation; and increased the waiting and red tape involved in processing applications. The DP Act of 1948, however, represented a new approach to immigration; for the first time, each immigrant needed to have his employment and housing arranged in advance.
A year later, the Davidsons moved to Jackson, Mississippi, where Dr. Davidson worked as an ophthalmologist for the Veterans Administrative Hospital. In between working six months for the Family Service Association-a travelers' aid service-and volunteering for a number of local civic agencies, such as the Community Chest, the Jackson Juvenile Council, and the Veterans Administrative Hospital, Razovsky "retired." At the same time, she arranged to speak throughout the South on behalf of the AJDC, March to April, 1948, for the annual fundraising campaigns. She wrote to Tilly Davis, the AJDC Speakers Bureau representative, that "we are comfortable here, a cute little cottage. I am a busy housewife part of the day; and I must say it is an easy way of life, if one can forget the world."
United Service for New Americans, 1950
Razovsky came out from retirement when she was offered a temporary position as a Field Specialist for the United Service for New Americans (USNA), the result of a 1946 merger between the NRS and the Service to Foreign Born of the NCJW. The USNA national services included port and dock reception, temporary shelter, resettlement, research for locating relatives and friends, financial aid, and vocational guidance and placement. Its affiliate was the European-Jewish Children's Aid, the successor agency to the German-Jewish Children's Aid. Razovsky worked in USNA's Community Relations Department, and was responsible for visiting local Jewish family agencies and civic leaders in the Southwest Region (which comprised of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and most of Texas). As a member of the field staff, Razovsky relayed to local communities information concerning USNA policies, new developments in immigration legislation, advice on improving immigrants' services, assistance with budget planning, and mediation between local communities regarding responsibility for immigrants who made unauthorized moves to the new community. Field representatives also provided significant information regarding the local cities and Jewish communities they visited to USNA headquarters, imparting facts, resources, attitudes, and the immigrants' experiences through field reports.
Razovsky stayed with USNA March-November 1950, when her position was eliminated due to budget cuts following a decrease in immigration. On July 21, 1952, the final shipload of a total of over 400,000 DPs and German expellees arrived in the United States; 16% percent of their number were Jews.
In 1951, Razovsky accepted an invitation by the NCJW to become a member of their National Committee on Overseas Service. In 1954, when the Davidsons visited Israel, and then Brazil for a medical conference, Razovsky reported to the Overseas Committee that "... Unfortunately there has been a decided split in the [Brazilian] community since the establishment of a Jewish State. The Federation of Jewish organizations, composed of perhaps forty agencies, is prhaps [sic] 80% Zionistic in their approach to all social problems of the community, the rest are either indifferent to the needs of Israel, or actually antagonistic..."
The Davidsons lived in New York until February 1956. Razovsky, a long-standing member of Hadassah, having served as Vice President of the Jackson, Mississippi chapter, took the post of assistant editor of the Hadassah Newsletter; she also helped edit Lyman Cromwell White's book, 300,000 New Americans. In 1957, Dr. Davidson retired from the Veterans Administrative Hospital and the couple relocated to Austin, Texas. There, Razovsky assisted the Board of the American Friends of the Hebrew University, researching potential Texas cities that would host a fundraising dinner held in honor of the Jewish Mayor of Dublin, Ireland, Robert Briscoe. She also worked part time as an Executive Secretary for the Jewish Community Council of Austin and continued her speaking engagements on behalf of the UJA, Hadassah, and other organizations.
United Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society Service, 1957-1958
At the age of 70, when many would be enjoying an easy retirement, Razovsky took on the demanding position of Supervisor of Resettlement and Integration of Refugees for Brazil and other countries in Latin America for the United Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society Service (HIAS).
Brazil, which had absorbed more post-war Jewish immigrants than any other Latin American country, was experiencing a sudden influx of Hungarian and Egyptian Jewish refugees. The Hungarian Revolt of 1956 led to the flight of 13% percent of the Hungarian Jewish population. The Revolt lasted until January 1957, when it was crushed by massive Soviet armed intervention. Meanwhile, in Egypt, rising nationalism and growing support of Communist policies led to a strengthening of ties between the Egyptian-Syrian-Saudi Arabian Defense Pact and the Soviet Bloc. Egypt's growing support of Communist regimes caused the United States to withdrawal its offer of financial support in building Egypt's Aswan Dam. Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser retaliated by nationalizing the Suez Canal. Coupled with these events were rising tensions between Israel and its Arab neighbors. On October 30, 1956, Israel invaded the Sinai desert; Great Britain and France soon joined on Israel's side, demanding an international status for the Suez Canal. Pressure from the United Nations led to troop withdrawal from Egypt in January 1957. Egyptian Jews, the largest Jewish community in any Arab State, were being banned from employment, and threatened with arrest, detention, and exile. By September 1957, more than half of Egypt's 50,000 Jews had fled.
In 1956, HIAS, Brazil's sole Jewish immigration agency, sponsored 311 Jewish immigrants. This figure rose to approximately 3000 in 1957. In a letter to Read Lewis, Executive Director of Common Council for American Unity, Razovsky wrote that "... this to me is the most important characteristic of Brazil their acceptance of people regardless of race or color is most admirable, and a solace to persons like us who so keenly felt the attitudes of the Mississippians and Texans regarding Negroes and Mexicans..."
The Davidsons lived in São Paulo, Brazil for eleven months. Razovsky's main duty was to supervise the Conselho de Assistencia Social, the local agency subsidized by HIAS. This task included supervising social workers, improving work efficiency, training volunteers, representing HIAS at other organizational meetings, and establishing a clearing bureau. As the large established Jewish communities in São Paulo and Rio Janeiro became overwhelmed with incoming immigrants, HIAS looked for additional, smaller Jewish Brazilian communities to direct the refugees, and Razovsky determined case distribution. In July and August 1957, Razovsky assisted in opening HIAS offices in Porte Alegre and Belo Horizonte. Immigration work was additionally conducted in Curitiba, under the auspices of the Porto Alegre office. Dr. Davidson, as an Honorary Representative, assisted Razovsky with researching settlement opportunities and reporting the information through HIAS country profile reports.
In 1957, Brazil was experiencing an economic crisis; its rapid industrialization gave rise to rapid inflation, low wages, and a high cost of living. Despite the economic uncertainty, Jewish refugees were generally able to find work. Egyptian Jews, who were generally upper-class, well educated, and skilled, inegrated easily into Brazil's large Middle Eastern population. The Hungarian Jews, whaving lost their country, jobs, and lost loved ones, had a more difficult time acclimating to their new lives in Brazil. However, as Razovsky wrote to friends, "... the Hungarian women take jobs at once, or make jobs, sewing gloves, or baking pastries and peddling them in office buildings, whereas the Egyptian women, upper middle class, never worked in their lives, (some actually never washed a dish or a pair of stockings,) find it hard to believe that it is now necessary for them to put their shoulder to the wheel..."
In 1957, approximately 1000 Hungarian and Egyptian Jewish refugees were admitted to other Latin American countries. Argentina, home to the largest Jewish community in Latin America, became a haven for Nazis in hiding, such as Adolf Eichmann, under the dictatorship of Juan Peron. The 1955 overthrow of Peron's government and the resulting democracy opened Argentina up to Jewish immigration, but limited settlement to areas outside of Buenos Aires and other large cities. In 1957, 300 Jews with permanent visas-mainly Egyptians, Hungarians, and North Africans-arrived in Argentina under the auspices of HIAS and Soprotimis (Sociedad de Protección a los Immigrantes Israelitas).
Lima, Perú, home to 90% of that country's 3000-4000 Jews, assisted in the immigration of fifty Jewish families in 1957. The Davidsons visited Lima in early 1958 to set up a HIAS office under the auspices the local Jewish Federation, the Associacon de Sociedades Israelitas del Peru, which linked the Sephardic, Ashkenazi and German Societies. Peru's then liberal government, under President Manuel Prado, was nonetheless indifferent to promoting immigration. Further, the country's severe economic depression limited potential resettlement to family reunion cases. Razovsky reported that "... the entire Jewish community is sensitive to Peruvian reaction towards possible immigration, claiming there is much anti-Semitism here. Some are fearful that if many immigrants come, there will be more open anti-Semitism displayed."
Colombia, also suffering from a poor economy, and having recently elected a Liberal Party President after four years of military rule, was not interested in opening itself up immigration. The little immigration permitted leaned towards Catholic immigrants, due to the country's deep Catholic culture and heritage, and the Conservative Party's alliance with the Church. In 1957, Colombia allowed fourteen Hungarian, Egyptian, and Polish Jewish immigrants to enter; all but one couple being family reunion cases. Colombia's total Jewish population numbered approximately 9,000; more than half of which were located in Bogotá. The Davidsons visited Bogotá in February, 1958, gleaning information for the country's profile and soliciting funds for HIAS. However, they had difficulty persuading the separate factions of Jewish groups to raise funds for any other purpose besides Israel. Among the leaders Razovsky met with during her short time there was Ambassador Alberto Gonzalez Fernandez, who served as the Latin American representative for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.
The Davidsons returned to Lima, Peru for six days, trying to secure an allocation check, and then continued onward to Santiago, Chile, where they stayed from February through March, 1958. Chile, geographically isolated, and one of the smallest countries in South America, had few immigrants until 1910, when the Transandean Railroad and later the Panama Canal were completed. Jews began arriving in large numbers after World War I. In 1956, the Jewish Chilean community celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. Consisting of approximately 30,000 people, with 27,000 Jews living in Santiago, the Jewish community's focus on Zionism was, according to Razovsky, "so strong that 90% of the Jews have contributed continually to Israel since 1918, even though... many of the Jews have to be reminded to close their shops on Yom Kippur." Despite Chile's high cost of living and low wages, Razovsky did not have difficulty obtaining financial support for HIAS; the 300 Hungarian Jews, out of the total 450 Hungarians that had arrived in 1957, had relied strongly on HIAS services. Razovsky writes, "The Hungarians who come here are mainly former High School teachers, professional, a few merchants, practically all intellectuals who had been accustomed to a high standard of living. An altogether different group from those who had come to São Paulo..." Few Egyptian Jews arrived in Chile, primarily due to the preferences for certain types of skilled workers required under Chile's immigration policy. Although Chile's immigration law contained no quotas or racial or religious discrimination, preferences existed for immigrants coming from Spain, Italy, Germany, France, and Holland.
Following their visit to Chile, the Davidsons made arrangements to travel to Bolivia, where their adopted daughter lived. Their daughter, whose name remains unknown, warned them of an impending Bolivian revolution, and informed them that many Jews were leaving the country. The Davidsons thus went on to visit Asunción, Paraguay, where they stayed for one week to gether information for the country's HIAS profile. In 1958, Asunción was home to the country's 1500 Jews, many of whom were either World War I immigrants, or DPs who had fled to Paraguay's open borders and stayed. Thousands of other DPs went through Paraguay on towards Argentina or Brazil, where there were better wages and organized Jewish communities. The Asunción Jewish community, with no Rabbi or shochet (ritual slaughterer), traveled a thousand miles to Buenos Aires for High Holiday services and kosher meat. Unable to subscribe funds for HIAS, the community was willing to take immigrants and pleaded for "a family -Polish or East European-where the head of the family could act as their religious leader (schochet, cantor, etc.)..." The extreme poverty in Paraguay, the result of geographic and cultural isolation, dictatorships, wars, revolutions, nonetheless contained a kind, friendly, and warm society where, as Razovsky described, "This is the first county where we were not warned to lock our doors at the hotel, or to beware of pickpockets to prevent thievery. The newspapers carried no stories of murder or violence such as we encountered in Colombia, and to a certain extent, in Perú and Chile."
Biographical / Historical
The Davidsons then returned to São Paulo, where they stayed March-April, 1958. They revisited Lima, Peru, where Razovsky discovered that "the Jewish Community had undergone a revolution. The entire Zionist Organization blew up, whether by spontaneous combustion or how, no one knows..." The completely new group of leaders however, fortunately recognized the Jewish community's former HIAS pledge.
They left Lima on April 11, 1958, and arrived in Quito, Ecuador, where they stayed for two days. Quito, one of the oldest cities in South America, was home to 1,000 Jews, a remnant of the 3,000 DPs that had escaped to Ecuador's open borders from Germany in the 1930s. Razovsky reported that "... Many of them send their children to the United States to be educated so there are very few adolescents and only about 100 children below the age of 14 left in Quito..." In 1957, eight immigrants, four from Israel, emigrated to Quito to join relatives. Since the Jewish Federation in Quito, the Beneficiencia Israelita, had already doubled each member's monthly contribution for the year in order to complete a Jewish Community Center, the Federation's President postponed funding for HIAS. The community, wishing to grow, was particularly interested in receiving Egyptian immigrants, whose language and other skills would be highly useful to employers.
The Davidsons spent one day revisiting Jewish leaders in Bogotá, Columbia, before continuing on to spend two days in Panama. Beno Klein, a HIAS staff member based in Brazil, had previously completed a country profile on Panama in March 1958. He wrote that "Panama is a focal point of Man's migration making it a melting-pot of all races and nations-and an attraction of both adventurous and solid business..." The Jewish community of approximately 1,500 was a mixture of descendants of the old colonial-era Sephardic community (approximately 300-400 people); Eastern European, and German Jewish populations which migrated between World War I and II (approximately 200 people); and Mizrahi Jews from Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Mandate-Palestine, and Iraq (approximately 700-800 people). In addition, Jewish Civilians and U.S. Army personnel based in the Canal-Zone numbered approximately 400. Despite the established Jewish communities, located mainly in Panama City, with other families in Colon and a few smaller towns, and the country's flourishing economy and liberal immigration policies, no influx of Jewish immigrants had occurred beyond a few Egyptian families arriving to join relatives. Klein wrote that "This country has been overlooked as an immigration outlet, presumably, because of her dreaded climate which has a worse reputation than it really deserves..."
After Panama, the Davidsons proceeded to their last stop, Mexico City, where they spent two days. They returned to New York on May 3, 1958. They spent some time in their house on Fire Island, NY before resettling in Austin, TX. In July 1959, the Davidsons revisited Mexico, and were once again called upon by Israel Jacobson to help with HIAS business. Razovsky investigated the condition of the HIAS Representative in Mexico City who was rumored to have suicidal tendencies (she found him capable of performing his duties), and gathered information for Mexico's country profile. She also attended a meeting of voluntary Mexican Agencies regarding programming for World Refugee Year.
Razovsky found that many leaders of the Jewish Mexican community had "an obvious indifference to UHS [HIAS] and its work in Mexico. People who are interested in helping relatives join them go to one or two special attorneys who help them and who charge high fees..." From January through May 1959, an estimated fifty-six Jewish immigrants had been admitted into the country, despite the fact that the political party in control for the past twenty-five years, the Partido Revolucionario Institutional, was "officially" opposed to immigration. Many of the Jewish immigrants came from Syria, and about 12 were Egyptian.
Mexico, poor and with a turbulent political history, had broken away from rigid Church domination with the adoption of its 1917 Constitution, and was in the midst of rapid industrialization. The members of the Jewish community (Razovsky's estimate ranged from 25,000 to 35,000) were given equal status, and were mainly involved in light industry. 90% of the Jewish population lived in Mexico City, with smaller communities in Monterrey, Guadalajara, Taluca, Pachuca, and Puebla. Many of the Jewish leaders in Mexico City agreed with the government's view towards immigration, as Razovsky wrote, "... They live in beautiful homes, as you know, and there does not seem to be that warm intense interest in the situation of Jews elsewhere, which is found amongst Jews in other lands."
The Davidsons returned to Austin in August 1959. They took courses at the University of Texas, and in January 1960, visited Venezuela to attend a medical conference. Razovsky wrote to Israel Jacobson that "We have never been to Venezuela and Morris is especially interested to round out his studies of Latin America...Morris has in mind a book; he has been encouraged to write it by editors of publications to whom he had submitted some of his material." When she returned from Venezuela, Razovsky served on the United Nations Speakers' Services for World Refugee Year, and as Secretary for the Austin Committee for Refugees. The couple planned to return to Brazil in March 1960 to conduct research for Dr. Davidson's book, but it appears they postponed their trip and Dr. Davidson's book may never have been published.
In October 1961, the Davidsons moved to El Paso, TX, as Razovsky wrote, "a frontier town with all the zest and exhilaration of a border city with its exoticism and unexpectedness..." Dr. Davidson opened a free clinic downtown, and Razovsky volunteered first as caseworker, and later as Associate Director, for the Social Service Department of the Jewish Community Council where she convinced its Board to hire a social worker. She also helped create and served as Chairman of the El Paso Committee for Cuban Refugees, in anticipation of an influx of refugees into El Paso; however, immigration officials directed the migration into Brownsville and Houston, rendering her committee inactive.
At the request of an old friend, Read Lewis, Executive Director of the American Council for Nationalities Service (ACNS), Razovsky completed a detailed report on Mexican immigration into El Paso. Between 1933 and 1934, Razovsky had worked for the Common Council for American Unity, a predecessor agency to ACNS, as editor of the Common Council's bulletin Interpreter Releases. Lewis wished to determine if ACNS should open an International Center in El Paso, and, in Razovsky's usual manner, she threw herself full fledged into her work. Despite Razovsky's detailed and lengthy report, and her persistent efforts to arrange free building space in the community, the project may not have been launched.
In 1963, the Davidsons visited South America for what would be Razovsky's last time. They made stops in Mexico City; Lima, Perú; Buenos Aires; São Paulo; Rio de Janeiro; and other cities in Brazil. Beginning their trip in Mexico City, in May, 1963, they revisited old contacts, attended special events, and talked with the local people and professional scholars in order to determine social and political changes. Although Mexico's economy was stable, the peasants were very poor, there was much political corruption, and many young people wished to learn English to obtain jobs in the United States. Among the individuals they visited was the HIAS representative, still in his post, that Razovsky had investigated for his state of health in 1959. The HIAS representative stated that the Mexican government was "loathe" to take Cuban refugees unless they held transit visas for the United States. They also attended a program held at the Institute of International Law of Mexico honoring Israeli Ambassador to Mexico, Mordecai Schneerson, where they heard a "purported Jewish Mexican Indian (he looked Indian) who sang in poorly pronounced Yiddish."
Arriving in Lima on May 12, 1963, they found the city to be quite developed, despite the country's continuing high inflation. Razovsky learned that no new Jewish immigration had occurred recently, and anti-Semitism still existed in rumors such as Jewish domination of the economy. The couple discussed with contacts old and new the poverty among Indians, the differences between the Indian culture and history in Mexico and Peru, and the government's desire to combat illiteracy. They toured a nunnery involved in welfare work, the National Catholic Welfare Office, that handles immigration cases, the National Library, the School of Social Work, and two Indian barrios. Upon seeing Indian women and children clad in rags, and their "wrecked miserable huts," Razovsky wrote that "As we stood outside the priests house... and looked at the children many crying for food-we were heartsick and CR prayed for a Jane Addams- to arouse the women of Lima to try to improve conditions on a national scale..."
On May 26, 1963, the couple arrived in Buenos Aires for a two-week stay. Arengtina was in the midst of a military takeover, accompanied by terrible inflation. Razovsky discovered that many of the Hungarians who had arrived in 1957 had either returned to Hungary, or had immigrated to other Latin American countries. Middle class workers were leaving for Europe and the United States; the Argentine government had not paid its workers in three to four months. The Davidsons attended a seminar held at by the Sociology Congress, where speakers were "freely worrying" about the military takeover, the lack of Argentinian leadership, and the transition to a secular society. The Jewish community was deeply troubled over the neo-Nazism and anti-Semitism in some of the running political parties. Razovsky wrote that "everyone is fearful and wants to get out. Very little music, dancing, cheerfulness. Everyone somber." Razovsky lectured on international social casework and internal migration for the National School of Social Work, writing that "BA [Buenos Aires] know very little about post war experiences in Europe since they did not work with UNRRA." She also spoke to a leadership training class on Jewish international casework at the Jewish center, HEBRAICA.
From June 9 until November 19, 1963, the Davidsons lived in Brazil. For the first two weeks, the couple stayed with their dear friends Ludwig and Luisa Lorch in São Paulo, whom they met in 1937, when Razovsky evaluated conditions for German refugees in Brazil for the NCC. Razovsky's first stop was the HIAS office, where she was welcomed by several former colleagues. She also met with her good friend, Susanna Franks, who asked Razovsky to conduct a volunteer training course for the Liga Feminina (Brazil's NCJW).
The couple then spent two weeks in Rio de Janeiro, where they met with friends, and where Razovsky visited the CIME office, attended lectures at the Academy of Letters and a seminar at the Catholic School of Social Work, and visited another school of social work and the Indian Embassy. They couple then spent nine days touring Bela Horizonte, Ouro Preto, Brasilia, and Salvador da Bahia, before returning to Rio de Janeiro for an additional three-week stay. There, Razovsky attended a Congress held by the International Association of Family Welfare with her friends Susanna Frank and Flora Levine.
On August 13, 1963, they returned to São Paulo for a month's stay. Razovsky visited several welfare agencies, among which was the Confederación Evangelista, which managed immigration port reception and integration. Apparently there was little immigration into Brazil, and the social worker she spoke with was working on a colonization project to settle dispossessed squatters. The Davidsons toured the Albert Einstein Hospital, still in its construction phase, which was "to be a showplace to show Brazilians Jews are grateful for having been given refuge in Brazil." She attended seminars at the School for Social Work, and visited the Conselho de Assistencia Social that she had been in charge of in 1957. The couple spent five weeks in Campos do Jordão, where they heard news of strikes and a threat of martial law occurring in São Paulo. They left Campos do Jordão for São Paulo, relieved that no martial law was instituted, but were welcomed with a taxi strike. Razovsky wrote that "As MD [Dr. Morris Davidson] put it Brazil is having a cold civil war-strikes every day-middle class fighting government and labor." On October 30, 1963, they were forced back to their hotel upon seeing 10,000 strikers marching. They returned to El Paso on November 22, 1963, the day of John F. Kennedy's assassination. Of this, she wrote: "Shall we ever know the whole truth? Except that the organizations preaching hate are to blame!!"
The Davidsons' return to the United States did not signal an end to their travels. Choosing San Diego, CA as a retirement site, the Davidsons moved into a studio apartment close to San Diego State College on November 30, 1963. During this time, Razovsky wrote her manuscript, "Forty Thousand New Brazilians," which tracked the Jewish community's progress in Brazil through Razovsky's visits in 1937, 1946-1947, 1954, 1957-1958, and 1963.
She sent the manuscript to several colleagues, asking for editorial comments and suggestions for possible publishing venues, however, it does not seem that she sent the manuscript out to publishers. In June 1964 the Davidsons attended two welfare conferences in Los Angeles; they then visited San Francisco and lived for a month in Berkeley. Razovsky writes, "We are now trying to decide where to go when we leave Berkeley around the 26th-Dallas? El Paso? San Diego? Wash? Chicago? Montreal? Brazil?" They chose to visit Razovsky's brother Robert in Dallas in September 1964, then flew to El Paso for a week and returned to San Diego on October 22, 1964. They were "too sick and weary" to attend the funeral of Maury, Razovsky's brother, who died on October 25, 1964 in St. Louis. The couple moved out of their studio apartment into a more luxurious apartment in San Diego in December 1964.
Both Razovsky and Dr. Davidson began to suffer from health problems. In April 1965, Razovsky had surgery, perhaps for ovarian cancer, in Los Angeles. Dr. Davidson suffered from two hemorrhages in one of his eyes. Razovsky wrote that "I wish we were in Dallas so family can comfort us..." By January 1966, Dr. Davidson could no longer use his right eye and Razovsky needed to read for him.
Razovsky remained active in immigration affairs. In 1967, she was serving as Chairman of the International Committee for Social Work, formed under the San Diego branch of the National Association of Social Work. In what seems to be her final documented project, Razovsky was trying to construct an agency in San Diego to handle problems of Mexican-Americans and aliens.
After a lifetime of service in social work and immigration relief, Razovsky succumbed to a long illness, and passed away at the age of 81 on September 27, 1968. She was survived by her husband, two brothers (Robert Ross in Dallas, and Julius Razovsky in St. Louis) and her sister Malcka R. Sterns in Tel Aviv. In a poignant obituary, Ralph Segalman from Austin, TX wrote:
"Cecilia's death is a loss to all of us, not because of her Jewishness, which was positive; not because of any extraordinary behavioral science knowledge or social work skill, but because of her heart and her concern for people, which unfortunately are all too hard to find among our professional colleagues... She was one of the last of a fast disappearing breed-namely those who are sincere in their concern for others-not just those in their clinic but those who are 'out there' and need to be helped, and even those who don't know that they can be helped..."
- May 4, 1886
- Born in St. Louis, MO to Minna (Meyerson) and Jonas Razovsky.
- Volunteered as a teacher and a club leader for the Jewish Educational Alliance, St. Louis, MO
- Taught evening classes to foreigners in public school for the St. Louis Board of Education
- Handled cases of delinquent children as an employment attendance and probation officer for St. Louis Board of Education
- April 1918-1920
- Enforced the child labor law as an inspector for the Child Labor Division of the US Children's Bureau in Washington, D.C.
- Hired as Executive Secretary of the National Councilof Jewish Women's (NCJW) Department of Immigrant Aid
- Edited NCJW's The Immigrant
- Appointed Associate Director of NCJW. Publishes What Every Emigrant Should Know .
- Surveyed conditions for Jewish refugees in European ports.
- September 1923
- Appointed as one of NCJW delegates to the First World Congress of Jewish Women in Austria, and chaired its session on migration
- Visited Cuba to study refugee conditions and plan a community center. Her report helped NCJW obtain funding to create a model refugee program in Havana.
- Secretary, Jewish Committee for Cuba
- Published What Every Woman Should Know About Citizenship. Served in different capacities for the National Conference of Social Work: 1926 Vice chairman of Division X, 1927 Chair of Division X, 1928 Chair of Conference on Immigration Policy.
- Reported on Jewish refugees in ports in Juarez, Mexico and Canada.
- Weds Dr. Morris Davidson.
- Served as an official delegate to the International Association for the Protection of Migrants, an advisory committee to the League of Nationsin Geneva, Switzerland.
- Reported on Jewish refugees conditions in ports in Tia Juana, Mexico.
- NCJW Representative for the Joint Legislation Committee of national organizations interested in immigrant legislation.
- Visited Soviet Russia to study socialservices.
- Chairman of committee to study effect of increased fees National Council on Naturalization and Citizenship; author of Handicaps in Naturalization (Congressional Record 1932), published by the National Council on Naturalization and Citizenship) that caused Congress to reduce naturalization fees; Represented NCJW at the World Conference of Jewish Women (Vienna, Austria); Member of Committee on contact with Jewish communal agencies and committee for social work for aliens at the International Conference on Social Work (Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany); appointed by Jane Addams.
- Chaired committee of 12 specialists appointed by Secretary of Labor Perkins to advise Committee of Forty-Eight on Ellis Island and other port conditions.
- Served as Chair on General Committee of Immigrant Aid at Ellis Island and NY Harbor.
- January 1934
- Created a document at NCJW citing the need for a coordinating agency (she calls it "American or Emergency Joint Bureau for German Refugees"). This agency becomes the National Coordinating Committee.
- Loaned to the National Coordinating Committee by NCJW, served as Executive Director. Also served as Executive Secretary of the German-Jewish Children's Aid.
- Accompanied by her husband on trip to various Latin American countries to study immigration possibilities. Reported on port conditions in Brazil and Argentina. Served as Secretary for the General Committee of Immigrant Aid at Ellis Island and NY Harbor.
- Making Americans , published by the National Council of Jewish Women.
- June 1939
- Witnessed the debarking of S.S. St. Louis , a ship holding 930 Jewish Refugees that was denied access to Cuba. Tried to maintain the Refugees' morale and prevent suicide attempts.
- National Refugee Service created, Razovsky served as Director of the Migration Department.
- Participated in the establishment of a refugee haven in Sosua, Dominican Republic.
- August 1940
- Promoted to Assistant to Executive Director of NRS
- September 1940
- Negotiated, with the help of Evelyn Hersey (Executive Director, American Committee for Christian Refugees), the admission of SS Quanza into the United States, after being denied landing rights in Mexico.
- June 15, 1943
- Resigned from NRS following a change in board leadership.
- September 1943-October 1944
- Worked as Chief of Special Services and Editor of Interpreter Releases , Common Council for American Unity, NY.
- October 1944-July 1945
- Appointed as a Displaced Persons Specialist for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA). Loaned by UNRRA to the Paris headquarters of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (AJDC).
- July 1945-September 1945
- Returned to New York and worked as a Consultant for the UNRRA Public Information Division, addressed various groups on behalf of the UNRRA.
- October 1945-February 1946
- Arranged a leave without pay. Resigned from UNRRA on February 14, 1946
- February 1946-September 1946
- Worked as Director of Emigration Operations for Germany and Austria for the ADJC.
- October 1946-December 1946
- Visited Brazil, Argentina, and other South American countries on behalf of AJDC.
- March 1947-1948
- Worked as a Consultant for the Citizens Committee on Displaced Persons.
- Retired to join husband in Jackson, MS, where Dr. Davidson worked as an ophthalmologist at the Veterans Hospital. Spoke on behalf of AJDC annual campaign in the South. Worked temporarily at the Family Service Association and volunteered for local civic agencies such as Community Chest, Jackson Juvenile Council, Veterans Hospital (American Red Cross), and others.
- March-November 1950
- Comes out of retirement to work as a field representative for the United Service for New Americans. Visited six southern states to encourage Jewish communities to accept family refugee quotas and to assist with problem cases.
- Visited Israel and Brazil.
- February-June 1956
- Worked as Assistant Editor for the Hadassah Newsletter in New York.
- Moved to Austin, TX. Worked as a South American Resettlement Supervisor for the United Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society Service. Visited Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, and Peru.
- December 1960
- Studied Cuban Refugees fleeing Castro in Tampa, FL, for the United States Committee for Refugees.
- January 1961
- Attended the conference called by the U.S. government to plan a resettlement program for Cuban refugees fleeing Castro that was held in Miami Beach, FL. Among those refugees she found several families whom she assisted in Cuba in 1924.
- Fall 1961
- Moved to El Paso, Texas, where Dr. Davidson resumed his practice. Volunteered for Social Service Dept. of Jewish Community Council.
- Revisited Latin America, at invitation of friends she had worked with in her previous visits: in Mexico City, Lima, Peru, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, São Paulo, and Brazil. Led training courses in social service for volunteers, and addressed faculty members and graduate students at various schools of social work.
- Moved to San Diego, CA.
- September 27, 1968
- Passed away at age 81.
Biographical / Historical
- American Association of Social Workers
- Charter member, Academy of Social Workers
- American Council for Nationalities Service
- American Immigration and Naturalization Conference
- International Conference of Social Work
- El Paso County National Association of Social Workers
- National Council, U.S. Committee for Refugees
- National Council of Jewish Women
- Board of National Council on Naturalization and Citizenship
- Steering Committee of Overseas Committee of National Council of Jewish Women
- National Committee of American Joint Distribution Committee
- Chairman, Conference on Immigration Policy (1925-1929?)
- Vice President, Capitol B & PW, Jackson, MS
- First Vice President, Hadassah, Jackson, MS
- President, Hadassah, Austin, TX
- Coordinate Women's Organization for Civil Defense, Jackson, MS
- Mississippi Conference of Social Work
- Biographical Sketches and Resumes, Collection of Cecilia Razovsky, P-290, Box 1, Folder 2, Collection of the American Jewish Historical Society, Boston, MA, and New York, NY.
- U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Policy, "Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938: Maximum Struggle for a Minimum Wage."
- Statement, 1964, Collection of Cecilia Razovsky, Box 1, Folder 2.
- Letter from Israel G. Jacobson to Razovsky, November 8, 1960, Collection of Cecilia Razovsky, Box 2, Folder 3.
- Breitman, Richard and Alan M. Kraut. American Refugee Policy and European Jewry, 1933-1945. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987, pp. 49-51.
- White, Lyman Cromwell. 300,000 New Americans: The Epic of a Modern Immigrant-Aid Service. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1957, pp. 33-42, 47.
- Refugee Relief Work-Refugees to South America. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky, Box 3, Folder 5.
- Letter from Razovsky to Armand Wyle, December 23, 1938. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky, Box 3, Folder 4.
- Memo by Razovsky, September 1961. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky, Box 3, Folder 7.
- Report, February 16, 1940. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky, Box 4, Folder 2.
- Schoenhals, Kai. "An Extraordinary Migration: Jews in the Dominican Republic." Caribbean Review, Vol. XIV, No. 4, pg. 17, 41; The Brookings Institution. Refugee Settlement in the Dominican Republic: A Survey Conducted Under the Auspices of the Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C., 1942, pp. 281, 286-287, 296.
- Report by Razovsky, September 16, 1940. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky. Box 5, Folder 1; White, p. 61.
- Friedman, Max Paul. Nazis and Good Neighbors: The United States Campaign against the Germans of Latin America in World War II. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003, pg. 108
- Statement, by Peter Bohm, April 22, 1943. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky. Box 4, Folder 7.
- Monthly Report by Razovsky, June 1942. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky. Box 4, Folder 8.
- Report to Abrahamson by Razovsky, February 4, 1943. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky. Box 4, Folder 8; Friedman, pg. 165.
- Letters between Razovsky and Executive Committee, May 4 and 12, 1943. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky. Box 5, Folder 2.
- Nevins, Allan. Herbert H. Lehman and His Era. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1963, pgs. 221-224, 230-234.
- Letter from Razovsky to A.M. Warren, April 2, 1943, Collection of Cecilia Razovsky. Box 5, Folder 2.
- Letter from Razovksy to C.H. Kramer, September 8, 1944. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky, Box 6, Folder 1; Letter from Hertha Kraus to Razovsky, July 7, 1944, Box 5, Folder 2.
- Report, "the Jews Surviving in the Buchenwald Concentration Camp," April 21, 1945. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky, Box 6, Folder 1.
- Report from Chaplain Aaron Kahan to Chaplain Major Judah Nadich, April 22, 1945. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky, Box 6, Folder 1.
- Collected Notes on Razovsky Lecture, by Sylvia Milrod, July 25, 1945. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky, Box 6, Folder 1.
- Biographical Sketch, undated; Memo from Razovsky to T.T. Scott, February 23, 1945. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky, Box 6, Folder 1.
- American Jewish Committee. American Jewish Yearbook 5707 (1946-47). Philadelphia, Jewish Publication Society of America, 1946, pgs. 205-207, 218-220, 309.
- Resume, undated. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky, Box 1, Folder 2.
- American Jewish Committee, AJYB, 1946-1947, pg. 223; 1947-1948, pg. 212; Address by Rabbi Philip S. Bernstein, October 1, 1946. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky, Box 6, Folder 3.
- Memorandum re sailing of steamers, by Razovsky, May 20, 1946. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky, Box 6, Folder 2.
- American Jewish Committee, AYJB, 1947-1948, p. 277; Cable from Luis Lorch to JDC New York, September 9, 1946. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky, Box 6, Folder 4.
- American Jewish Committee, AYJB, 1945-1946, p. 480; Letter from Lightman to JDC New York, December 2, 1946. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky, Box 6, Folder 4.
- Report by Razovsky, December 9, 1946. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky, Box 6, Folder 4.
- White, pgs. 94, 100; American Jewish Committee, AYJB, 1948-1949, pp. 232-235.
- Letter from Razovsky to Tillie, March 16, 1948. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky. Box 6, Folder 6.
- Letter from Arthur Greenleigh to Razovsky, March 27, 1950. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky. Box 6, Folder 8; White, pp. 78-81, 275-282.
- Letter from Arthur Greenleigh to Razovsky, October 17, 1950. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky. Box 6, Folder 8; White, pp. 94-95.
- Report to the Overseas Committee, August 31, 1954. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky. Box 2, Folder 1. "Forty Thousand New Brazilians," undated. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky, Box 7, Folder 5.
- See Hadassah Newsletter, Hadassah Archives; Biographical Sketch, Dr. Morris Davidson, November 12, 1958. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky. Box 1, Folder 2; Letters between Frederick R. Lachman and Razovsky, February 1957. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky, Box 2, Folder 1.
- American Jewish Committee, AJYB, 1957, pp. 307-308; 1958, pgs. 336-339; 1959, p. 142.
- American Jewish Committee, AJYB, 1957, pp. 393-398; 1958, pgs. 204-205, 395-398; 1959, pg. 252.
- Annual Report, 1957. HIAS Collection, I-363, Box 2, Collection of the American Jewish Historical Society, Boston, MA, and New York, NY; Report on Brazil, 1957. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky, Box 7, Folder 1.
- Letter to Read Lewis from Razovsky, June 23, 1957. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky, Box 7, Folder 2.
- Work evaluation of Razovsky by M. Friedler, June 24, 1957; Letter from Friedler to Horwitz, July 5, 1957; Report by Jacques Diamant, August 9, 1957; Memo from I.G. Jacobson, September 17, 1957; Letter
- Letter from Israel G. Jacobson to Dr. Davidson, September 19, 1957; Report on Brazil, December 14, 1957. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky, Box 7, Folder 2.
- Report on Argentina, undated. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky, Box 7, Folder 2.
- Reports on Lima, Peru, January 18, January 20, and April 10, 1958; Collection of Cecilia Razovsky, Box 7, Folder 18.
- Report on Colombia, undated; report on Bogota, February 10, 1958; memo from Razovsky to I. Jacobson, February 12, 1958. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky, Box 7, Folder 12.
- Report on Santiago, Chile, February 25, 1958; Report on Chile, March 1958. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky, Box 7, Folder 11.
- Memo from Razovsky to Israel G. Jacobson, March 12, 1958. Box 7, Folder 11; Report on Paraguay, March 19, 1958. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky, Box 7, Folder 17.
- Memo from Razovsky to Israel G. Jacobson, April 10, 1958. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky. Box 7, Folder 18.
- Report on Ecuador, April 29, 1958. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky. Box 7, Folder 14.
- Report on Panama, by Beno Klein, March 1958. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky. Box 7, Folder 16.
- Letter from Israel G. Jacobson to Razovsky, July 23, 1959; Letter to Israel Jacobson from Razovsky, September 12, 1959; Report on Mexico, September 1959. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky. Box 7, Folder 15.
- Letter to Israel Jacobson, September 12, 1959. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky. Box 2, Folder 3.
- Memo to Israel Jacobson, September 10, 1959; Letter to Israel Jacobson, September 12, 1959; flyer issued by the Austin Committee for Refugees, circa May 29, 1960; Letter to Mrs. Benjamin Robinson, December 11, 1960. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky. Box 2, Folder 3.
- Letter to Read Lewis, November 1, 1961; Report, "How Do You Like El Paso?," undated; Letters to Read Lewis, March 27 and July 10, 1962. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky. Box 2, Folder 5. Letter to Edward Marks, November 8, 1961. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky. Box 2, Folder 4.
- See letter to Read Lewis, July 10, 1962, and letter from Kenneth Osman to Razovsky, July 12, 1962. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky. Box 2, Folder 5.
- Diary of Trip to South America, 1963. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky, Box 2, Folder 6.
- Letter to Read Lewis, January 18, 1967. Collection of Cecilia Razovsky, Box 2, Folder 4.
- "Fact and Opinion," by Ralph Segalman, undated. Collection of Cecillia Razovsky. Box 1, Folder 2.
3 Linear Feet
The papers consist of correspondence and reports of Cecelia Razovsky (married name: Davidson), noted social worker specializing in immigration and resettlement of refugees. The collection includes information about her work with the National Council of Jewish Women in the 1920s, and with the National Refugee Service (and predecessor organizations) in the 1930s. Information is included about her work as a Resettlement Supervisor in the post-World War II Displaced Persons camps in Europe, and as a field worker in the southwestern U.S. for the United Service for New Americans in 1950. The collection contains reports and correspondence from her trips to South America, primarily Brazil, to explore possibilities of refugee settlement in 1937 and 1946; as a representative for United HIAS Service to aid in settling Egyptian and Hungarian refugees in 1957-1958; and as a pleasure trip and evaluation of the changes in the Jewish community of the country in 1963. Also included in the collection are many of Razovsky's articles, plays, and pamphlets.
The collection has been arranged into nine series:
- Series I: Personal, undated, 1913, 1917-1946, 1951-1971.
- Subseries 1: Early Years, undated, 1913, 1918-1919, 1923-1932
- Subseries 2: Personal Documents and Correspondence, undated, 1920, 1928, 1940-1947, 1953-1967
- Subseries 3: Written Works, undated, 1917, 1920, 1922, 1926, 1929-1940, 1955, 1962
- Subseries 4: Later Years, 1951-1971
- Series II: National Council of Jewish Women, 1924, 1927-1937, 1939.
- Series III: National Coordinating Committee, undated, 1930, 1937-1940, 1961, 1967.
- Series IV: National Refugee Service, undated, 1939-1945.
- Series V: American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee/United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency, undated, 1946-1950.
- Series VI: Citizen's Committee on Displaced Persons, 1947-1948.
- Series VII: United Service for New Americans, 1950.
- Series VIII: United Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society Service, undated, 1955, 1957-1958, 1964-1965.
- Subseries 1: Brazil, undated, 1955, 1957-1959, 1964-1965
- Subseries 2: South America, undated, 1939, 1955, 1957-1959
- Series IX: Photographs, undated, 1953.
Located in AJHS New York, NY
Digitization of the Papers of Cecilia Razovsky (P-290) was supported by a Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). The grant program is made possible by funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
This collection was digitized in its entirety, with the exception of copyrighted published materials dated after 1923. Such materials can be found in Box 1, Folders 1-2 and 5-7; Box 2, Folders 1 and 4; Box 3, Folders 5-7; Box 4, Folder 5; Box 6, Folders 6-7; and Box 7, Folders 4, 6, and 9. The remaining contents of these folders was digitized. Box 3, Folder 8 and oversized materials from Box 1, Folder 7 and Box 3, Folder 7 are comprised entirely of copyrighted material and were not digitized.
BOOKS AND PAMPHLETS
- Handicaps in Naturalization; A Study of the Effect of High Fees Upon the Naturalization of Aliens in the United States. New York, National Council on Naturalization and Citizenship, 1932.
- Making Americans. New York, National Council of Jewish Women, 1938.
- What Every Emigrant Should Know; A Simple Pamphlet for the Guidance and Benefit of Prospective Immigrants to the United States. New York, Department of Immigrant Aid, National Council of Jewish Women, circa 1922. Published in Yiddish and English editions.
- What Every Woman Should Know About Citizenship. New York, Department of Immigrant Aid, National Council of Jewish Women, 1926. Yiddish-English edition.
- "The Council Lends a Hand:" One Act sketch. New York, Department of Immigrant Aid, National Council of Jewish Women, October 9, 1926
- "Three Per Cent" or "At Ellis Island:" A Play in Two Scenes. New York, General Committee of Immigrant Aid at Ellis Island by Home Missions Council, 1922
- "Adult Immigrant Education." The Jewish Center, Vol. IV, no. 3, September 1926, p. 8-13.
- "Deportation of Alien Jews." Jewish Social Service Quarterly, Vol. VIII, No. 2, December 1931, pg. 76
- "Deportation of Aliens From the United States to Europe." Book Review, author Jane Perry Clark. Jewish Social Service Quarterly, Vol. VIII, No. 2, December 1931, pg. 79-80.
- "How The Refugee Reaches This Country." Social Work Today, Vol. VII, No. 3, December 1939, pg. 16-18.
- "How the West Doomed Fleeing Jews." Unknown publication, undated
- "Immigration and the Alien in 1936." Better Times, June 1, 1936.
- "The Jew Re-Discovers America." Jewish Social Service Quarterly, March 1929.
- "Karpf, Maurice J., Jewish Community Organizations in the United States, New York 1939 [Book Review]," Jewish Social Studies; date stamped April 25, 1940.
- "The Operation of the Three Per Cent Law." Foreign Born, a Bulletin of International Service, March 1922, pg. 69-70.
- "The Problem of the German Refugees." The Reform Advocate, December 7, 1934, pg. 329-300.
- "The Season of Love." The Survey. December 22, 1917.
- "The Stranger in Our Midst." Eve, February 1937, pg. 39 and 41
- "These Families Want a Chance." Unknown publication, circa 1924.
- "What About the McCarran Act?" Hadassah Newsletter, Vol. 36, No. 6, February 1956.
- "What is the Cable Act?" Immigrant, October 1922
- Addams, Jane, 1860-1935
- American Council for Nationalities Service
- American Friends of the Hebrew University
- American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
- Brandeis, Louis Dembitz, 1856-1941
- Briscoe, Robert, 1894-1969
- Catt, Carrie Chapman, 1859-1947
- Chamberlain, Joseph P. (Joseph Perkins), 1873-1951
- Child labor
- Citizens Committee on Displaced Persons
- Clippings (information artifacts)
- Comite Auxiliar do Joint
- Conselho de Assistencia Social
- Cowen, Philip, 1853-1943
- Davidson, Morris
- Dominican Republic
- El Paso (Tex.)
- El Paso Committee for Cuban Refugees
- Emigration and immigration
- Fernandez, Alberto Gonzalez
- Fliers (printed matter)
- Frank, Susanna
- German-Jewish Children's Aid (Organization)
- Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society of America
- Jacobson, Israel, 1895-1975
- Kohler, Max J. (Max James), 1871-1934
- Legal documents
- Lehman, Herbert H. (Herbert Henry), 1878-1963
- Lewis, Read, 1887-
- Liga Feminina
- Lorch, Ludwig
- Lorch, Luisa
- Manus, Rosette Suzanne, 1881-1942
- Manuscripts (documents)
- Marine Flasher (Ship)
- Marine Perch (Ship)
- McDonald, James G. (James Grover), 1886-1964
- Military passes
- Minutes (administrative records)
- Morgenthau, Henry, 1891-1967
- National Conference of Social Work (U.S.)
- National Council of Jewish Women
- National Refugee Service (U.S.)
- Perkins, Frances, 1880-1965
- Plays (performing arts compositions)
- Press releases
- Programs (documents)
- Quanza (Ship)
- Rackovsky, Isaiah
- Ration books
- Refugee camps
- Refugee children
- Rice, James P., 1913-1997
- Résumés (personnel records)
- Saint Louis (Mo.)
- Shanghai (China)
- Shubow, Joseph Shalom
- Speeches (documents)
- St. Louis (Ship)
- United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration
- United Service for New Americans
- Warburg, Edward M. M.
- Wise, Stephen S. (Stephen Samuel), 1874-1949
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Refugees
- Guide to the Papers of Cecilia Razovsky (1886-1968), undated, 1913-1971, P-290
- Processed by Felicia Herman (August 1995), Jason Schechter (May 2002), Tina Weiss (May 2003), Adina Anflick (August 2005)
- © 2006
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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- Description is in English.
- 2016: The finding aid was edited to clarify repetitive information by Boni Joi Koelliker.
- January 2019: Item-level description removed by CJH staff.
- March 6, 2019: Dao links added to encoded finding aid by CJH Rosetta Processor.
- May, September 2020: EHyman: post-ASpace migration cleanup.