Karamu House was founded in 1915 in Cleveland, Ohio, by Russell W. and Rowena Woodham Jelliffe, in conjunction with the Second Presbyterian Church Men's Club, as the Neighborhood Association (later as the Playhouse Settlement), a settlement house promoting interracial activities and cooperation through the performing arts. The Jelliffes saw a need to provide activities and social services for the city's growing African American population, in order to assist in their transition from rural Southern life to an urban setting. The Playhouse Settlement was renamed Karamu Theater in 1927. By 1941, the entire settlement had taken the name Karamu House. The Dumas Dramatic Club was created to support and encourage interest and activities in the performing arts. In 1922, the theater troupe's name was changed to The Gilpin Players in honor of noted African American actor Charles Gilpin. During the 1920s and 1930s, works by many accomplished playwrights were produced at Karamu, including those of Zora Neale Hurston, Eugene O'Neill, and Langston Hughes, whose career was launched at Karamu. In 1939, the house was destroyed by fire. Rebuilding was not completed until 1949. The Jelliffes' mission of an interracial institution continued until the late 1960s, when, under the leadership of new director Kenneth Snipes, Karamu's mission became one of promoting African-American theater and plays specifically about the African-American experience. During this time a professional troupe of actors was formed. In 1982, Karamu formally returned to its original mission as an interracial organization. The collection consists of individual and group portraits of Karamu House founders Russell and Rowena Jelliffe, administrators and staff, actors and performers, and community figures. Group portraits and views depict activities at Karamu, including classes, art exhibits, meetings, ceremonies, choral groups, clubs, and sports teams. Views of Karamu House facilities, buildings, and grounds, including photographs of the original buildings of the Playhouse Settlement, are included, as are views of plays performed. Notable individuals depicted include Garrett E. Morgan, Charles Gilpin, Al Fann, Dr. Ralph Bunche, Ida B. Wells, Eubie Blake, Noble Sissle, Harry E. Davis, James Weldon Johnson, Perry Como, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Ruby Dee, Raymond St. Jacques, Archibald MacLeish, Judge Charles White, Rev. Earl Preston, Charles Sallee, Carl Stokes, Louis Stokes, Jane Addams, Emily Laster, Wilhelmina Roberson, Dakota Staton, Harriet Tubman, and Julian Mayfield. Groups depicted include the Keystone Club, Golden Age Club, Cheerio Circle, the Karamu Dancers, Camp Karamu, and the Karamu Nursery School.
Judah Rubinstein was an archivist, historian, author and research associate for the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland, and a well-known authority on Cleveland Jewish history. He helped to establish the Cleveland Jewish Archives at the Western Reserve Historical Society in 1976. He provided research for a number of books on Cleveland Jewish history and co-authored the book "Merging traditions: Jewish life in Cleveland." The collection consists of 4000 black and white images presented as prints, slides, contact sheets, and negatives, all relating to Cleveland, Ohio, Jewish history. Of note are businesses, public and religious schools, synagogues, theaters, and communal activities in the 19th and first half of the 20th century, particularly in the Woodland, Glenville, and Kinsman neighborhoods. Images of Jewish holiday and life cycle celebrations are also found here. Also of note are portraits of prominent individuals and families, including Moses Alsbacher, Alfred A. Benesch, Aaron and Moses Halle, Maurice Maschke, David N. Myers, Samuel Rocker, Dr. Marcus Rosenwasser, Sigmund Schlesinger, Rose Pastor Stokes, Simson Thorman, Leo Weidenthal, Leon Wiesenthal, and Martha Wolfenstein. Rabbis and cantors represented in this collection include Gustavos Cohen, Jacob Frommer, Benjamin Gittelsohn, Samuel Goldman, Isadore Kalisch, Arthur J. Lelyveld, David Leby, Abba Hillel Silver, Daniel Jeremy Silver, and Samuel Wohl. While some of the photographs here can also be found in PG. 186, Jewish Heritage Exhibit photographs, and in "Merging traditions : Jewish life in Cleveland" (1978 ed.), the contact sheets and negatives contain many images that are new.
Jack Russell (1915-1979) was a Cleveland, Ohio, councilman, 1943-1971, council president, 1955-1963, and Democratic majority leader who was born Paul Ruschak, but changed his name in the 1930s. Russell was raised in the Hungarian-American community of Cleveland's Buckeye Road neighborhood and published newspapers in that area, including the Buckeye Press. He was councilman from the 16th ward from 1943 to 1971 and operated several businesses, including the Ohio Fire Protection Systems. Russell began the Night in Budapest celebration in 1957, which commemorated the Hungarian Freedom Fighters of 1956 and highlighted Hungarian culture and Hungarian-Americans. The collection consists of photographs, slides, negatives, and films pertaining to the political career of Jack P. Russell. Included are photographs of Cleveland City Council, both individual portraits and views and including the City Council softball team, ca. 1940s-1960s; local Cleveland politicians, including Thomas A. Burke, Anthony Celebrezze, Ray T. Miller, and Carl Stokes, often pictured with Russell; national political figures, usually taken during campaign events in Cleveland, including Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Harry S. Truman, Adlai Stevenson, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson; Cleveland Ward 16 political events; Democratic Party events, including rallies, picnics, dinners, and campaign photographs; city of Cleveland events, including park and playground dedications and ribbon cuttings, including several of the Port of Cleveland; friends, family, and associates of Russell; travel photographs to Hungary and other destinations; exteriors of the Ohio Fire Protection Systems office and Russell's campaign headquarters; and many photographs depicting the Night in Budapest event.