Posts Tagged ‘Shapell Manuscript Foundation’

Holocaust Memorial Day at the Museum of Jewish Heritage

April 7, 2013 in Culture and History | Comments (0)

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Museum of Jewish Heritage

Museum of Jewish Heritage

This Sunday evening and Monday is Holocaust Memorial Day, an appropriate day to visit the Museum of Jewish Heritage: A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. The museum, which is located at the Edmond J. Safra Plaza, 36 Battery Place will be having special programming in honor of this day, known as “Yom Hashoah” in Hebrew.

Community leaders will join together on Sunday evening, April 7, at Congregation Temple Emanu-El on Fifth Avenue and 65th Street to commemorate Yom Hashoah at the largest and oldest Holocaust remembrance event in New York. Tickets are required and can be ordered by calling 646-437-4227.

On Monday the Museum is open and free of charge, but a donation is suggested. Visitors will learn the history of the Holocaust, the unique political climate that led up to what proved to be the worst calamity in Jewish History, and the events and experiences of individuals that marked this tragic time.

One aspect of the Holocaust visitors can explore is the relationship of the not-yet State of Israel to the events surrounding World War II and the Holocaust. In a noteworthy document which is in the possession of the Shapell Manuscript Foundation, David Ben Gurion expresses his opinion that if the State Israel had been established even as late as 1937, before the advent of World War II, much of the horror of the Holocaust could have been prevented. In the document, a letter written in early 1956 to Professor Hanoch Albeck in Jerusalem, Ben Gurion states:

I received your letter.  All this would be correct if the State had been established not in 1948 but in 1937 – and if millions of Jews in Europe had not been annihilated, the situation of the State of Israel would have been entirely different.  What, after all, are eleven years in the history of our people which stretches back thousands of years?  But so short a time difference is of great and serious significance to our people and the future of Israel.

For more information about a visit to the Museum call 646-437-4202.

The Many Faces of Mark Twain

May 30, 2011 in Culture and History | Comments (0)

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Mark Twain was born in 1835, during a visit by Halley’s Comet, and he died 76 years later, in 1910, during Halley’s next visit. William Falkner said about Twain that he was “the father of American Literature” and others said that Twain was the “greatest American humorist of his age.”

Huckleberry Finn: Great American Novel

Mark Twain was christened Samuel Clemens, but took the pen-name Mark Twain as a nod to his days spent as a steamboat pilot on the great Mississippi River. Mark Twain wrote such famed works as Tom Sawyer, A Connecticut Yankee in King Author’s Court, and what many call the first “Great American Novel,” Huckleberry Finn, hailed as Twain’s masterpiece of storytelling and wit.

If you love Mark Twain as much as I do, then you will probably get a big kick out of perusing some primary sources for Mark Twain memorabilia. One of the best places to find letters, manuscripts and other items penned by one of America’s most beloved humorists, social critic’s and writers is the Shapell Manuscript Foundation collection.

Page from Missing Notebook

One fascinating manuscript is a hand-written in pencil page which was torn from a notebook.  It is believed that the page was torn from Mark Twain’s missing notebook of 1867. The quickly scrawled page is a bare-bones autobiographical sketch.  The words describe a not very well known young man from the west, perhaps to serve as an introduction to a lecture. Within the sketch is Twain’s announcement that he will be travelling soon on the “General Sherman Pleasure Excursion to Europe and the Holy Land, and will set sail on the 8th of June.”

Innocents Abroad Twain’s Big Hit

This trip led to the final and greatest success of Mark Twain’s career, after years of struggle. The book, entitled The Innocents Abroad, is an account of his journey, and that of the 65 others accompanying him on the “Quaker City” and is often quoted as a realistic portrait of the places he visited during the latter half of the 1860s.

Within the Shapell Manuscript Foundation collection are many other fascinating items. There is a description of Clemens’ last day in New York before embarking on his journey to Europe and the Holy Land, describing a day and night of drinking, in large part with other writers. This journey was the first such trip, organized as a ‘pleasure party’ for a transatlantic voyage, and to see in Twain’s own hand his description of his evening before is a thrill.

Another manuscript found in the Shapell Manuscript Foundation collection is a letter to Clemens’ publisher praising Dan Slote, Clemens’ roommate on the “Quaker City,” as an excellent promoter for Innocents Abroad, Twain’s book about his voyage on the “Quaker City.”

There is almost no end to the information and thrill which can be culled from investigating historical figures through their own writing. I recommend a visit to any manuscript collection containing the writings of your own favorite personalities.