Guide to the Judith Isaacson papers, 1912-1996 | MC053

Summary Information

Repository
Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library
Creator
Isaacson, Judith Magyar, 1925-
Title
Judith Isaacson papers
ID
MC053
Date
1912-1996
Extent
5.5 Linear feet
Language
English
Abstract
Judith (Jutka) Magyar Isaacson was born in Kaposvar, Hungary in 1925. A member of a Jewish family that was persecuted during World War II, Isaacson survived the Holocaust after spending time at both Auschwitz and Birkenau. She met her husband, Irving Isaacson, shortly after her liberation, and moved to Lewiston, Maine, his hometown. She received a degree in mathematics from Bates College (Class of 1965), and a master's degree from Bowdoin College. From 1969 to 1977 she served as first Dean of Women and then Dean of Students at Bates. The collection consists of her family papers, including letters written prior to and after World War II. Many of the letters are between Judith, her aunt, Magda, and her mother, Rose, and some are in Hungarian and German. There are also numerous family documents and material related to Isaacson's memoir, Seed of Sarah.

Preferred Citation

Judith Isaacson papers, Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library, Bates College.

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Historical Note

Judith (Jutka) Magyar Isaacson was born in 1925 in Kaposvar, Hungary. She lived through four years of Nazi occupation. In August, 1944, Judith, her mother Rose, her aunt Magda, and her grandmothers were deported to Auschwitz/Birkenau. Her grandmothers were separated and gassed at Auschwitz. In late August, Judith, Rose, and Magda were taken to Lichtenau. In April 1945 they were taken by train to Tekla--a camp near Leipzig. They were liberated by the U.S. Army in April 1945.

Her father, Jeno, was sent to a labor camp in Hungary--Salank--and then taken to Buchenwald. He died at the end of the war at Muhldorf Lager.

Judith Magyar was engaged to Irving Issacson in July 1945 and they were married shortly thereafter. She and Irving settled in Lewiston, Maine, Irving's hometown.

Isaacson later attended Bates College, graduating in 1965 with a degree in mathematics and taught math for three years at Lewiston High School. She served as chair of the high school math department.

She received a Master's Degree from Bowdoin College in 1969. She was hired as Dean of Women at Bates College in 1969. In 1975 she was appointed Dean of Students.

In 1976, Isaacson was invited to speak at Bowdoin College after a showing of Night and Fog, a film on the Holocaust. This proved to be a cathartic experience for her, as the next day she began writing what would become Seed of Sarah: Memoirs of a Survivor, published in 1990 by the University of Illinois Press. She retired from Bates in 1977.

Isaacson received an honorary degree from Bates College in 1994, and the Hargraves Freedom Prize from Bowdoin College in 1996. Seed of Sarah has been translated into several languages including Hungarian and German.

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of family letters written prior to World War II and resuming after the war. Many of these letters are in Hungarian. Extensive communications between Judith, her aunt Magda, and her mother Rose span the years 1946 to 1996.

There are also numerous family documents, including: birth certificates; death certificates; marriage certificates; travel orders; certificates of naturalization; A.E.F. D.P. registration cards; and Ausweiss certificates; and extensive correspondence with the United Restitution Organization (1957-1971).

Also included are materials gathered in her research for the book Seed of Sarah, which was published in 1990. Additional material related to her writing was given to the Maine Women Writers Collection at the University of New England, Westbrook College Campus, with permission of the donor.

Organization and Arrangement

Organized into ten series: I. Family Letters to Francis Magyar; II. Family Letters; III. Letters from Magda; IV. Letters from Rose; V. Materials related to Rose; VI. Letters from Jutka; VII. Family Documents; VIII. Material related to the publication of Seed of Sarah; IX. Research Material; and X. Videorecordings. .

All series are arranged in chronological order.

Administrative Information

Publication Information

 Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library

70 Campus Avenue
Lewiston, Maine, 04240
207-786-6354
muskie@bates.edu

Access Restrictions

One folder of materials related to Isaacson's work as Dean of Students at Bates College is restricted. Permission for access to the oral history interview with Fred Erdman must be made to former Bates professor Steven Hochstadt.

Use Restrictions

The collection is the physical property of Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library. Bates College holds literary rights only for material created by College personnel working on official behalf of the College, or for material which was given to the College with such rights specifically assigned. For all other material, literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. Researchers are responsible for obtaining permission from rights holders for publication or other purposes that exceed fair use.

Acquisition and Custody Information

This collection was given to Bates College in three installments. The first part of the collection was transferred prior to 1997, and consisted of 20 documents, some of which were recovered after the war. The second part of the collection was given to the College in November 1999 and consisted of 34 letters written to Judith's uncle Francis Magyar from family members (1931-1940). Included were translations of the letters done by Katalin Vecsey. An additional 7 cartons of papers was transferred to Bates College in January 2000. Of these, approximately 4 cartons of papers were given to the Maine Women Writers Collection at the University of New England, Westbrook College Campus, with permission of the donor. These three gifts have been processed together as a single collection. Accession No.: xx-48, 99-14, 00-01.

Processing Information

Processed by Laura Cody, September 2000-May 2001.

Final arrangement and description by Kurt Kuss, 2002.

Alternative Formats Available

Transcripts in English of some Hungarian letters are available.

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Related Materials

Separated Materials

Additional material related to Isaacson's book Seed of Sarah was given to the Maine Women Writers Collection at the University of New England, Westbrook College Campus, with permission of the donor.

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Controlled Access Headings

Geographic Name(s)

  • Auschwitz (Concentration camp)
  • Kaposvar (Hungary)--Ethnic relations

Personal Name(s)

  • Isaacson, Judith Magyar, 1925---Archives
  • Isaacson, Judith Magyar, 1925---Correspondence
  • Isaacson, Judith Magyar, 1925---Writings

Subject(s)

  • Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Hungary--Kaposvar--Personal narratives
  • Jews--Hungary--Kaposvar--Persecutions

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General note

Some of the material is in German and Hungarian, and has not been translated into English.

General note

Some of the material is in German and Hungarian, and has not been translated into English.

Collection Inventory

 MC053/01 Family Letters to Feri (Francis) Magyar 1931-1940   34.0 letters

Scope and Content Note

Letters written to Francis Magyar by various members of the Magyar family. Francis, 'Uncle Feri', was living in New York. Mostly conversational, these letters tell of day to day life during those years. Includes, as well, details of the Magyar's attempt to leave Hungary, and some of the 'Jewish laws' passed in Hungary. These letters have all been translated.

Organization and Arrangement

Arranged in chronological order.

General note

Translated into English from the original Hungarian by Katalin Vecsey.

Box

Letters to Feri Magyar. Originals in Hungarian. June 9, 1931 - September 10, 1940   34.0 letters

1

Letters to Feri Magyar. Translations. June 9, 1931-September 10, 1940   34.0 letters

1

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 MC053/02 Family letters 1945-1946   93.0 letters

Scope and Content Note

Contains letters from Irving and Judith introducing her to the Isaacson family prior to their marriage. There is considerable information about the Magyar family and what happened to them during the war. The series also contains eight letters between Francis Magyar and his wife, Ella, in New York and Judith; these are in Hungarian and have not been translated. Also included is group of 29 letters from Judith to Rose and Magda (most in Hungarian, a few in German), that spans the time when Irving and Judith were still in Europe until after they arrived in Lewiston, Maine. Many of these are undated.

In addition, there are 32 letters written from Magda and Rose in Germany to Judith between April and July 1946 and another 24 letters written to Rose and Judith from Magda in Boston between August and October 1946. About a third of these are in Hungarian.

Organization and Arrangement

Arranged in chronological order.

General note

Approximately 55 letters of the 93 letters are in Hungarian or German and not translated.

Box

Letters to Ike's Family from Ike and Jutka. 1945-1946   11.0 letters

1

Letters between Feri and Jutka. 1945-1946   8.0 letters

General note

Letters in Hungarian. Not translated.

1

Letters from Jutka to Rose and Magda. 1946   29.0 letters

General note

Letters are in Hungarian and German. Not translated.

1

Letters from Rose and Magda to Jutka. April - July 1946   32.0 letters

General note

Two (2) letters in Hyngarian; thirty (30) in English.

1

Letters from Magda to Jutka and Rose. August - October 1946   24.0 letters

General note

Twenty four letters -- ten (10) in English; fourteen (14) in Hungarian.

1

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 MC053/03 Letters from Magda 1947-1992   101.0 letters

Scope and Content Note

Letters from Magda to various people. Many of the letters are in Hungarian and have not yet been translated.

Organization and Arrangement

Arranged in chronological order.

General note

Approximately one third of these is in Hungarian and have not been translated.

Box

Letters from Magda. 1947   18.0 letters

General note

Eighteen (18) letters. Sixteen (16) in Hungarian; two (2) in English.

1

Letters from Magda. 1948-1953   28.0 letters

General note

Twenty-eight (28) letters. Eighteen (18) in English; ten (10) in Hungarian.

1

Letters from Magda. 1954-1992   37.0 letters

General note

Thirty-seven (37) letters. All in English.

1

Letters from Magda. undated   18.0 letters

General note

Eighteen (18) letters. Thirteen (13) in Hungarian; five (5) in English.

1

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 MC053/04 Letters from Rose 1964-1996   223.0 letters

Scope and Content Note

Letters written by Rose to Judith and her family.

Organization and Arrangement

Arranged in chronological order.

General note

Nine letters are in Hungarian.

Box

Letters from Rose to Jutka. 1964-1976   60.0 letters

General note

Sixty (60) letters in English.

2

Letters from Rose to Jutka. 1977-1979   46.0 letters

General note

Forty-six (46) letters in English.

2

Letters from Rose to Jutka. 1980-1987   63.0 letters

General note

Sixty-three (63) letters in English.

2

Letters from Rose to Jutka. 1990-1996   32.0 letters

General note

Thirty-two (32) letters in English.

2

Letters from Rose to Jutka. undated   22.0 letters

General note

Twenty-two (22) letters in English, undated.

2

Letters from Rose to Jutka. undated   9.0 letters

General note

Nine (9) letters in Hungarian, undated.

2

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 MC053/05 Materials related to Rose 1963-1995 

Scope and Content Note

This series contains some of Rose's papers. Among these are materials related to the Roma Gift Shop which she owned in Lewiston, Maine, including photographs. There are also copies of Rose's poems and short stories, translations of Hungarian poetry, a brief memoir, and other family related materials.

In addition, included in this series are letters written between Fred Erdman and Rose in 1987, some letters from Fred to Judith, and a copy of the transcript of an oral history interview conducted by Professor Steven Hochstadt in 1990 for Hochstadt's Shanghai Jewish Community Oral History Project. Permission to read this transcript must be granted by Professor Hochstadt

Organization and Arrangement

Arranged in chronological order where possible.

Box

Materials related to the Roma Gift Shop. 1952-1985   1.0 folder

2

Photographs of the Roma Gift Shop. undated   13.0 photographs

2

Photographs. Rose. undated   25.0 photographs

2

A short story by Rose Magyar. undated   1.0 folder

2

Translations by Rose Magyar. undated   1.0 folder

2

Memoir by Rose Magyar. undated   1.0 folder

2

Poems by Rose Magyar. undated   1.0 folder

2

Photographs. Family. undated   1.0 photograph

2

Clippings. Family.   1.0 folder

2

Letters from Fred Erdman. 1987-1994   1.0 folder

3

Letters from Rose to Fred Erdman. 1987   1.0 folder

3

Letters from Fred Erdman to Jutka (Judith). 1987-1995   6.0 letters

3

Fred Erdman, biographical information. 1990   1.0 folder

3

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 MC053/06 Letters from Jutka (Judith) 1956-1994   140.0 letters

Scope and Content Note

Contains letters from Judith to her mother.

Organization and Arrangement

Arranged in chronological order.

General note

Thirty-three letters are written in Hungarian.

Box

Letters from Jutka to Rose. 1956-1966   41.0 letters

General note

Forty-one (41) letters in English.

3

Letters from Jutka to Rose. 1973-1979   36.0 letters

General note

Thirty-six (36) letters in English.

3

Letters from Jutka to Rose. 1980-1994   25.0 letters

General note

Twenty-five (25) letters in English.

3

Letters from Jutka to Rose. undated   15.0 letters

General note

Fifteen (15) letters in English.

3

Letters from Jutka to Rose. undated   33.0 letters

General note

Thirty-three (33) letters in Hungarian.

3

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 MC053/07 Family documents 1912-1972   1.0 manuscript box

Scope and Content Note

Many of these documents were hidden in the cellar of Lajos Vago, Judith's grandfather, in Kaposvar before they were deported, and recovered after the war. This story is related in Seed of Sarah. Among these documents are Simon Klein's birth certificate (Simon Klein was Judith's paternal grandfather); Judith's parents' marriage certificate; Judith's birth certificate; a poem written by Magda to Judith in 1934; and Judith's school transcripts. In addition, there are materials relating to Aushwitz; extensive documentation pertaining to restitution from the United Restitution Organization (1957-71); and other materials.

Organization and Arrangement

Arranged in chronological order.

Box

Poems. Jutka. undated   1.0 folder

4

Letters. undated   1.0 folder

4

Simon Klein's birth certificate. 1912   1.0 folder

4

Jutka's parents' marriage certificate. 1924   1.0 folder

4

Jutka (Judith) Magyar's birth certificate. 1925   1.0 folder

4

Poem. Magda. 1934   1.0 folder

4

Registration certificate for emigration. 1942   1.0 folder

4

School record. Jutka. 1943   1.0 folder

4

Letter from Uncle Laci Simon. 1945   1.0 folder

General note

Letter is written in Hungarian.

4

Documents. Jutka. 1945-1958   14.0 documents

4

Documents. Ike. 1945   1.0 folder

4

Telegrams. 1946   1.0 folder

4

Documents. Other.   1.0 folder

4

Documents. Rose. 1946   1.0 folder

4

Documents. German Consulate. 1956-1966   1.0 folder

4

Documents. United Restitution Organization. 1957-1971   1.0 folder

4

Documents. German Banks. 1958-1971   1.0 folder

4

German Pension. Rose. undated   1.0 folder

4

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 MC053/08 Materials related to the publication of Seed of Sarah 1975-1994   1.0 manuscript box

Scope and Content Note

This series includes early drafts of sections of Seed of Sarah; comments on the manuscript by Eva Balogh; the transcript of an interview with Judith Isaacson by the Holocaust Human Rights Center of Maine Oral History Project; a copy of a Bates Honors Thesis written by Karen Meg Schwartz pertaining to women's memoirs; a copy of a PhD dissertation about Seed of Sarah written by Anja Siebert (in German); a copy of the Yale Review Spring 1984 issue with a piece by Isaacson; and copies of the Hungarian translation of Seed of Sarah.

In addition, there are materials pertaining to book talks and book signings after the publication of Seed of Sarah; press releases and flyers; book reviews; materials pertaining to conferences, talks, speeches, and interviews; material pertaining to her receiving an honorary degree from Bates College (1994) and the Hargraves Freedom Prize from Bowdoin (1996); correspondence and articles by Dieter Vaupel; and correspondence pertaining directly to the writing and publication of Seed of Sarah, 1977-1996.

Organization and Arrangement

Arranged in chronological order where possible.

Box

 Isaacson, Judith Magyar, 1925- Early drafts. 1977   1.0 folder

5

 Isaacson, Judith Magyar, 1925- "Nineteen Like Me." Early draft. 1976, 1985   1.0 folder

5

 Isaacson, Judith Magyar, 1925- Photocopies of family letters. 1945   1.0 folder

5

 Isaacson, Judith Magyar, 1925- Comments on the manuscript of Seed of Sarah by Eva Balogh.   

Transcript of an interview with Judith Isaacson by Norma Eule and Paula Marcus Platz. 1988   1.0 folder

5

"Humanizing the Holocaust in History: A Study of Women's Memoirs by Karen Meg Schwartz. 1993   1.0 thesis

5

"Die autobiographische Erzahlung "Seed of Sarah: Memoirs of a Survivor" von Judith Magyar Isaacson im Englischunterricht der Sekundarstufe II," von Anja Siebert. 1993   1.0 manuscript

5

Yale Review. Vol. 73, No. 3. 1984   1.0 publication

5

"Seed of Sarah." Hungarian translation. 1993   1.0 book

5

"Seed of Sarah." Hungarian translation, photocopy. 1993   1.0 book

5

Text of speech made before the College Club, Bates College. 1975   1.0 folder

5

An article and a paper about Judith Isaacson. 1982, 1996   1.0 folder

5

A photocopy of a selection from "Seed of Sarah" reprinted in "Religious Autobigraphies" by Gary Comstock. undated   1.0 folder

5

Papers on the holocaust and literature. 1996   1.0 folder

5

Letters. Dieter Vaupel. 1987-1990   18.0 letters

5

Writings. Dieter Vaupel. 1984-1987   1.0 folder

5

Material relating to the International Conference on the Holocaust held at Dartmouth College (N.H.) October 22-24, 1994 which Isaacson attended. Includes correspondence. 1994   1.0 folder

5

Facing History and Ourselves Foundation, correspondence. 1991-1997   1.0 folder

6

Bates related materials. 1978-1999   1.0 folder

6

Bowdoin College related materials. 1995-1996   1.0 folder

6

Correspondence with former Bates students. 1981-1998   5.0 letters

6

Miscellaneous correspondence. 1995-1996   3.0 letters

6

Seed of Sarah correspondence, family. 1977-1993   13.0 letters

7

Seed of Sarah correspondence, general. 1978-1995   27.0 letters

7

Seed of Sarah correspondence, Bates. 1984-1996   23.0 letters

7

Seed of Sarah correspondence in Hungarian. 1984-1997   7.0 letters

7

Seed of Sarah correspondence, no reference to religion. 1989-1992   22.0 letters

7

Seed of Sarah correspondence, reference to Judaism. 1990-1996   20.0 letters

7

Seed of Sarah correspondence, no reference to Judaism. 1990-1996   14.0 letters

7

Seed of Sarah correspondence, Eva Baik. 1993   8.0 letters

7

Seed of Sarah correspondence, Levertov, MacLeish, Wiesel. 1984-1990   7.0 letters

7

Seed of Sarah, press release. undated   1.0 folder

7

Seed of Sarah, book reviews. 1990-1993   1.0 folder

7

Seed of Sarah, newsclippings. 1989-1995   1.0 folder

7

Seed of Sarah, flyers. 1990-1996   1.0 folder

7

Seed of Sarah, book signings. 1990-1993   1.0 folder

7

Seed of Sarah, audioscript. 1996   1.0 folder

7

Seed of Sarah, contract University of Illinois. 1988-1991   1.0 folder

7

Seed of Sarah, contract Intersection Associates. 1992   1.0 folder

7

Seed of Sarah, photocopies of photographs not used in the book. undated   1.0 folder

7

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 MC053/09 Research materials 1946-1958   2.0 manuscript boxes

Scope and Content Note

This series contains materials used in conducting research for Seed of Sarah. Included are the following publications: Feher Kenyer/White Bread by Sasdi Sandor (photocopy in Hungarian); The Black Book of the Hungarian Jewry (3 vols.) by Eugene Levai (two photocopies in English); Feher Konyv by Levai Jeno (photocopy in Hungarian); Vadirat a Nacizmus Ellen (2 vols.) (2 photocopies in Hungarian); Sarga Konyv by Vihar Bela; Das Aussenkonnando Hess. Lichtenau des Konzentrationslagers Buchenwald 1944/45 by Dieter Vaupel.

Organization and Arrangement

Itemized.

Box

"Report from Dachau," article. 1992   1.0 folder

8

"Feher Kenyer" (White Bread), book. 1946   1.0 folder

8

"Black Book on the Martyrdom of the Hungarian Jewry," book. 1948   2.0 copies

8

"Feher Konyv," book. [1946?]   1.0 copy

9

"Vadirat a Nacizmus Ellen: Dokumentumok a magyarorszagi zsidouldozes tortenetehez," book. 1958   1.0 copy

9

"Karga Konyv: Adatok a Magyar Zsidosag Haborus Szenvedeseibol, 1941-1945," book. [1946?]   1.0 book

9

Material relating to the persecution of Jews in Norway. 1982-1993   1.0 folder

9

"Das Assenkommando Hess. Lichtenau des Konzentrationslagers Buchenwald 1944/45" by Dieter Vaupel. 1984   1.0 publication

9

Research, Kaposvar. undated   1.0 folder

9

Research, Red Cross training service. 1993   1.0 folder

9

Research, Vad Vashem. 1988   1.0 folder

9

Research, Lichtenau. Includes correspondence. 1988-1989   1.0 folder

1

Research. Auschwitz. 1944   1.0 folder

9

Biographical information. 1997   1.0 folder

9

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 MC053/10 Video recordings 1988-1992   26.0 vhs videocassette

Scope and Content Note

These videorecordings have not yet been fully processed. The information is taken from the tape labels.

This series includes interviews and talks and classroom discussions given by Isaacson. Among these are a Mainewatch program 1988-89 with Governor Angus King; an exchange on Hungary recorded at the Lakes Region High School; interview with the Christian Science Monitor; excerpts from a class discussion at Phillips Andover Academy in 1992; and a three part interview entitles Holocaust. Also there are home videos of Rose and Francis Magyar.

Organization and Arrangement

Unprocessed.

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