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The Dr. I. Edwin Goldwasser Papers

Identifier: P-1047

Content Description

The Dr. I. Edwin Goldwasser Papers document the professional achievements and personal life of Dr. Goldwasser and his extended family. The bulk of the materials are related to his work as the first Executive Director of Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York, and his subsequent philanthropic activities. The collection also contains a series with genealogical materials related to the larger Goldwasser family, assembled by his descendants. There are drafts and notes on his various writings, both published and unpublished; essays on “Jewish Women of the Bible” and “Jewish Women at the Bar of History” are included in the collection, as is a copy of his published book Method and Methods in the Teaching of English.


  • 1900-2007

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 / Historical

Dr. I. Edwin Goldwasser was born in New York City in 1878, and was an important participant in the Jewish philanthropic and business landscape over his 95 years. His first career was in the New York City public school system, where he excelled as a teacher, principal, and superintendent, receiving the highest score to that date on his teacher’s entrance exam. He graduated from City College in 1897, and eventually received advanced degrees from Teachers College, Columbia University, as well as his doctorate from New York University. Dr. Goldwasser was a lifelong writer and scholar. He wrote two books, “Method and Methods in the Teaching of English,” and, with Joseph Jablonower, “Teaching of English to Foreigners.” Drafts and versions of his various writings are included in the collection.

Despite his success as an educator and scholar, he left teaching to accept the position as the first Executive Director of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York. Felix M. Warburg became the first president of the Federation (he served from 1917-1921, and was succeeded by Arthur Lehman), while Dr. I. Edwin Goldwasser began as Executive Director. Dr. Goldwasser served in this position from 1917-1920. In 1939, the United Jewish Appeal was founded; the two organizations merged in 1986, to become the United Jewish Appeal - Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York, one of the largest and most important Jewish philanthropic organizations in America. Goldwasser was instrumental in welcoming Surprise Lake Camp into Federation, and the camp is now one of the oldest Jewish summer camps in the United States. Dr. Goldwasser served as treasurer and was on the Executive Committee of the JDC (American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee) at many critical junctures, including when the JDC was attempting to free the passengers trapped in Cuba on the S.S. St. Louis. Goldwasser also served in NYANA (New York Association for New Americans), and was active in many other Jewish philanthropic organizations over his lifetime.

After leaving Federation, Dr. Goldwasser subsequently went into business; at the time of his retirement in 1953, he was a vice president of the Commercial Factors Corporation. Goldwasser died in 1974 at Jewish Home and Hospital, New York City. He was 95 years old.

Dr. Goldwasser was married to Edith (Goldstein) Goldwasser. They had a son, Dr. Edwin (Ned) L. Goldwasser, and two 2 daughters, Marjorie Goldwasser Wyler and Joan Goldwasser Schine. Dr. Edwin (Ned) Goldwasser was a physicist and Guggenheim fellow who went to be one of the founders of Fermilab, a United States Department of Energy laboratory specializing in high-energy particle physics. Marjorie Goldwasser Wyler worked at Jewish Theological Seminary of America for more than 50 years as its Director of Public Relations, producing the acclaimed Eternal Light show (both radio and television). Dr. Goldwasser also had 11 grandchildren and 7 great‐grandchildren; one of his grandchildren is former Manhattan Borough President and mayoral candidate Ruth Messenger, whose essay about her grandfather written in 1957 (when she was 17 years old) is included in the collection.


2 Manuscript Boxes

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Ruth Messinger

Related Materials

I-345, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee collection, 1914-1988

I-433, UJA-Federation

P-554, Solender Family Paper

P-877, Philip Bernstein Papers

AR 7196 (LBI) American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, 1929-1949 (bulk 1933-1947.)

The J.D.C. archives:

United Jewish Appeal and Federation merged in 1986; a detailed timeline of the important dates for both organizations is available at, and an interactive map of the “Federation City” is available at The map visually depicts the different sites and organizations created to support New Yorkers, made possible in no small part through Dr. Goldwasser’s efforts and advocacy. While the larger UJA collection sadly does not have general administrative files from Dr. Goldwasser’s time at Federation, some of the earliest budget files in the collection, dated 1917-1925, are from his tenure, and minutes of some of the earliest Board meetings are also from his time as Executive Director. There are also materials in the collection of Cecilia Razovsky (P-290), that discuss the S.S. St. Louis incident; Goldwasser was on the Executive Committee of the J.D.C. (Joint Distribution Committee) and was deeply involved in advocacy for the Jewish immigrants on the ship.

Separated Materials

One item, a black leather document case, has been removed to the museum collection.

The Dr. I. Edwin Goldwasser Papers
AJHS Staff
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States