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William F. Rosenblum Papers

Identifier: P-327

Scope and Content Note

The William F. Rosenblum Papers chronicle Rosenblum’s early years in social work and law in the American South, as well as his later years as a rabbi, radio speaker and organizational leader in New York City. Documentation is especially strong for his later years, from the 1940s through the 1960s. Personal materials and general autobiographical and biographical materials are in Series I. His social work and legal school years are represented in Series II. His years as rabbi and organizational leader in New York are covered in Series III and IV. Series V consists of photographs of Rosenblum from the 1910s through the 1960s.

Notably, Series III contains Rosenblum’s correspondence with U.S. Presidents, Secretaries of State, New York State and City politicians, and major figures in the Catholic church, and Series V offers photographic documentation of those relationships.

Document types in the collection include correspondence, scrapbooks, sermons, speeches, notes, radio transcripts, clippings, photographs, audiotapes, and film.


  • Majority of material found in 1876, 1903-1973

Language of Materials

The collection is in English, with a small amount of material in Yiddish, German, French, Italian and Hebrew.

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

William Franklin Rosenblum was born August 10, 1892 to Rita (Feinstein) and Joseph Samuel Rosenblum in Grodno, Poland. In 1897, his family emigrated to New York City. Rosenblum completed his undergraduate degree in economics and sociology at the College of the City of New York in 1910. Starting in 1912, he supervised the Boys’ Work department at the Cleveland Council Educational Alliance. Briefly making a move into the law field, he received a law degree from Tulane University Law School in 1916. He then moved to Chicago, and then Nashville, where he straddled the worlds of social work and business, as well as serving in the U.S. Navy, 1917-1918.

In 1920, while attending a Jewish Chautauqua Society conference as Director of Nashville’s Vine Street Temple Religious School, Rosenblum met Rabbi William Rosenau, who exerted a strong influence on Rosenblum’s decision to become a reform rabbi. Rosenblum went on to be ordained Rabbi at the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, OH in 1926. He would later receive his Doctor of Divinity from Dickinson University in 1949, and a Doctorate in Hebrew Letters from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1956. Following his ordination, Rosenblum began his rabbinical career as Associate Rabbi of the Washington Hebrew Congregation in Washington, D.C., 1926. His long-time tenure as Rabbi of Temple Israel in New York City began in 1930, continuing until 1963, when he became Rabbi Emeritus.

Two focal points of his rabbinical career were military chaplaincy and interfaith relations. He was a military chaplain across multiple conflicts-serving in the U.S. Army Reserves from 1928 to 1933, visiting military bases in Alaska in 1944 and European displaced persons camps in 1948, and conducting Passover services in Saigon in 1967. In 1946, the U.S. War Department awarded him a citation for interfaith work in camps.

Rosenblum’s investment in the amelioration of interfaith relations began in earnest around 1934. He concerned himself most with the relationship between Judaism and Catholicism. As a representative of the Synagogue Council of America and the Anti-Defamation League, he met with Pope Pius XII in December 1948 in order to request that the Vatican revise its teachings surrounding concepts of the Jewish involvement in the death of Jesus and that the Vatican issue a statement labelling anti-Semitism a Cardinal sin. Rosenblum asserted that he was the first person to effectively press this issue with Pope Pius XII. In later years, he also met with Popes John XXIII and Paul VI.

Rosenblum boasted a wide variety of organizational involvements. He became Grand Chaplain of the Grand Masonic Lodge of New York in 1937; was President of the Synagogue Council of America 1947-1948; served twelve years as a member of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO, representing the Synagogue Council of America; was on the National Program Committee of the Anti-Defamation League; participated in the Committee of Religious Leaders of the City of New York’s Committees on Newspapers, Radio and Television and was one of the leaders at their 1964 Conference on Religion and Race; and he was active in the Jewish Chautauqua Society.

Rabbi Rosenblum had a fairly high media presence, especially on the radio. He also had a hand in the creation of “Crossroads,” a 1950s religion television drama series.

He married Julia Fiddleman in 1932, and they had two children. Together with his son, he wrote the children’s book, Eight Lights: The Story of Chanukah, in 1967. Rosenblum died of a heart attack on February 10, 1968.


7.25 Linear Feet (11 manuscript boxes, 1 half-sized manuscript box, 1 oversized box OS3)


Rabbi William F. Rosenblum was head rabbi of the reform congregation at Temple Israel in New York City, 1930-1963. He was also an active leader in a number of Jewish social welfare and religious organizations. In addition to broadly documenting his rabbinical career and organizational activities, the William F. Rosenblum Papers reflect Rosenblum's interests in military chaplaincy, relations between Catholicism and Judaism, the media, race relations, post-WWII Europe, and the Vietnam War. Materials include correspondence, scrapbooks, sermons, speeches, notes, radio transcripts, clippings, photographs, audiotapes, and film.


The collection starts with Rabbi Rosenblum’s personal materials (Series I), followed by his professional materials (Series II and III). Photographs and audiovisual materials have been placed in their own two series based on format (Series IV and V).

Acquisition Information

In 1977 these papers were donated to AJHS by Julia (Fiddleman) Rosenblum, Rabbi Rosenblum's wife.

Related Material

AJHS Archives

Synagogue Council of America Records; I-68; AJHS.

AJHS Library

Rosenblum, William F. and Robert J. Eight Lights: The Story of Chanukah. Doubleday and Company: Garden City, New York, 1967. AJHS call number: BM695.H3 R6

Other Collections

American Pro-Falasha Committee Records. Manuscript Collection No. 61. American Jewish Archives. Cincinnati, Ohio. The collection holds correspondence to and from Rabbi Rosenblum while he was Chairman of the American Pro-Falasha Committee in the 1930s.

Rabbi William Rosenau Papers. MS 44. The Jewish Museum of Maryland. Baltimore, Maryland.

William Rosenau Papers. Manuscript Collection No. 41. American Jewish Archives. Cincinnati, Ohio.

Separated Material

A Masonic apron, embroidered with Rosenblum’s name, was moved to the textile collection by a previous archivist.

Processing Information

This collection was arranged in 1978 by AJHS staff and a box list was created. In 2010, Rachel Miller, an archivist on the Center for Jewish History's Leon Levy Archival Processing Initiative, further arranged the collection and created a new finding aid.

P-327 William F. Rosenblum Papers
Processed by Rachel Miller as part of the Leon Levy Archival Processing Initiative, made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation.
© 2010
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.

Revision Statements

  • July 7, 2017.: Audio visual materials moved from Box 11 to AVC 103. Tanya Elder.
  • June, October 2020: EHyman-post-ASpace migration cleanup

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States