This is part of the Quarterly E-Newsletter publication of the Isser and Rae Price Library of Judaica at the University of Florida.
The Donor’s Story: How We Created the Hyman Walborsky Memorial Collection
The Hyman Walborsky Memorial Collection was donated to the Price Library by Aileen Josephs, daughter of the late Hyman Walborsky. Along with photographs, personal documents, letters, prayer books, and other items related to the history of the Walborsky family and Josephs’ own personal and professional life, she provided written accounts and personal remembrances of her family’s history. It is a story that takes place across three continents over a period of three generations. Her grandfather, Israel Wolborsky (the o was later changed to an a) left Lodz, Poland for New York in 1923. His son, Hyman, travelled to Latin America for his work, and Hyman’s daughter, Aileen, was born in Mexico. After graduating high school, Aileen travelled to the United States to study and work as a successful immigration lawyer and activist. She is the honorary consul of Guatemala in West Palm Beach.
Aileen’s family history illustrates the saliency of global migration in modern Jewish history and, thus, the intricate and dynamic connections between the historical experience of Eastern European, North and Latin-American Jewries. It also lends sensitivity to her work as an immigration lawyer. The legacy of the family history plays an important role in her approach to immigration, civil rights, and the amelioration of the conditions of disadvantaged women and children around the globe.
Josephs’ passion to commemorate her late father inspired the idea of a special digital collection, which also uniquely includes her narration of the visuals. Together we chose photographs from the album to accompany her short vignettes about each one. Josephs’ narration provides information about who or what is in each photo and what the picture meant to her both on a historical and personal level.
Thus, the digital version of the Hyman Walborsky Memorial Collection is akin to a digital exhibition: Josephs’ voice becomes a guide leading from picture to picture, and “the visitor” learns to see the collected pictures through her eyes.
This narrated online collection (soon to be available on the Price Library’s website) contains only a fragment of the full physical Hyman Walborsky Memorial Collection available for patrons at the library. Nonetheless, it is a unique initiative in which the donor becomes a storyteller and participates in the curatorial process of creating a digital collection. We hope this will inspire other similar collections.
We are grateful to Aileen Josephs for her passion and support for our NEH Challenge Grant collecting initiative, and we truly appreciate her willingness to share her family’s history with the Library and, thus, with future researchers and students across the world.