Irene Eber gift of the Yedidya Geminder Memorial Collection of Sino-Judaica
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Irene Eber was the daughter of Yedidya and Helene Geminder. She was born in 1929 in Halle, Germany. She, her parents, and her sister, Lore, were expelled to Mielec, Poland in 1938; and in September, 1939, the city was subject to a pogrom. Months later, the Jewish men of the community were sent to labor camps and on March 9, 1942, "the Jews were driven out of their homes and rounded up in the marketplace; the old and feeble were shot on the equivalent of a death march. The survivors waited in a hangar in the aircraft factory without food or water and were herded into cattle cars a few days later" (Melammed, page 43). Irene "fled, digging a hole under a fence," and spent the rest of the war hiding on top of a Polish family's chicken coop. Her father was killed, but Helene and Lore were on "Schindler's list," with Helene serving as one of Schindler's typists. Helene, Lore, and Irene were reunited at the end of the war, and lived in several Displace Persons Camps. In search of educational opportunities, Irene moved to New York where she learned English.
Eber moved to California where she continued her education, earning her BA from Pomona College (California) in 1955 in Asian Studies; her MA from the State University of California, Sacramento, in 1961 in History; and her Ph.D. in 1966 from Claremont Graduate University, in Asian Studies.
She began her career as an assistant professor of history at Whittier College, from 1966 to 1968; had a fellowship with the Social Science Research Council from 1968 to 1969; and then worked as a visiting professor at University of Michigan in 1974 and at Wesleyan University from 1979 to 1980. She was a visiting scholar at Harvard from 1985 to 1986, from 1991 to 1992, and from 1996 to 1997; at Andover Newton Theological School from 1996 to 1997; and at Claremont Graduate University from 2002 to 2003. For the bulk of her career, from 1969 to 1999, she worked as a professor in the Department of East Asian Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
During the course of her career, she spoke at numerous conferences, led workshops, translated works, and was the author of articles, reviews of others' works, introductions and post scripts, as well as full length books. Her books include Voices from Afar: Modern Chinese Writers on Oppressed Peoples and their Literature (1980), The Jewish Bishop and the Chinese Bible, S.I.J. Schereschewsky, 1831-1906 (1999), and Chinese and Jews, Encounters Between Cultures (2002). She also served as editor and co-editor of multiple works, including Jewish Refugees in Shanghai, 1933-1947: A Selection of Documents (2018) and Martin Buber's Chinese Studies in His Collected Works.
She wrote her memoirs, The Choice, Poland, 1939-1945, in 2004. She married and had two children, Jonathan (Framingham, Massachusetts) and Miriam (Brewster, Massachusetts). She was grandmother to Tiffany, Brandon, and Daniel Adams. She died on April 10, 2019.
This collection documents the research and academic life of Irene Eber; especially her research into Chinese intellectual life and the lives of the Jewish community in China. The material consists almost entirely of photocopies of her research, and is a resource for researchers interested in the Bible in China; Chinese and Yiddish literature and poetry; Jewish refugees in China, and specifically Shanghai; and the Jewish community in China before, during, and after World War II. In addition to Eber's research, there is a fairly robust grouping of her writings, although not all are complete. The collection, named by Eber in memory of her father, Yedidya Geminder who was murdered by the Nazis, contains no information about Geminder.
This collection is arranged in seven series: I. Personal and professional material; II. Writings by Eber; III. The Bible translated into Chinese; IV. Research; V. Photographs; VI. Computer media; and VII. Audio/Video material.
Series I. Personal and professional material, is largely professional, containing correspondence, library cards, university membership cards, passports, and teaching lectures and outlines. The only truly personal material contained within this series is a partial school report, likely from the 1940s or 1950s and written in German. For the most part, the correspondence relates to her work and should be used in conjunction with her writings and her research. There are a few articles written about Eber that provide some context to her life and work.
Series II. Writings by Eber includes material A. Authored or co-authored by Eber and B. Edited by Eber. Material authored or co-authored by Eber includes a few outlines and drafts (usually in typescript form, but occasionally in handwritten from) and photocopies of articles from the journal or book in which they were published. The writings are alphabetized by title; but it is important to note that there are several titles that are very similar and because Eber dated material sparingly, it is often difficult to determine if these works were drafts that were renamed or are completely separate works. As a result, the title of the folder in the finding aid reflects the title recorded on the work. There is occasionally correspondence relating to a publication and/or reviews of Eber's work; and when those items exist, they are filed with Eber's drafts, typescripts, and final published work. Both works that are known to have been B. Edited by Eber contain handwritten notes and drafts. Additional writings by Eber can be found in Series VI./Sub-Series B. as computer files.
Series III. The Bible translated into Chinese contains a number of different translations of the Bible; for the most part the Old Testament. These items are photocopies and were largely identified by Eber by the book within the Bible. Researchers should be aware that not all the books are present within these photocopies. Translations of the Bible into Chinese, the methodology, and the final translations, appear to have been of great interest to Eber there is significant related research in Series IV. Research as well as articles and books found in Series II. Writings by Eber.
Series IV. Research is arranged in alphabetical order by topic. The material within this series is almost entirely photocopies of scholarly articles by experts in the topic, photocopies of primary source material, photocopies of clippings from newspapers or journals, and handwritten or typed notes. Nearly every topic also contains material in a mix of English, German, Yiddish, Chinese, and occasionally Russian. The topic names were largely assigned by Eber—the processor has made every effort to retain the order in which Eber probably used the material. It seems that Eber created and maintained these research files, using them for multiple articles, books, lectures, etc. It seems that on occasion the material may have been returned to a "new" topic file or not re-filed into the existing group of material. When it appear that the material was simply not refiled, the processor did so. There is significant overlap of topics … researchers interested in any topic, should read through file list within this series to see if other areas may prove useful. For example, the bulk of material relating to Jewish refugees to Shanghai is connected the material in the folders titled "Holocaust and aftermath."
Of note in this series are the oral histories that Eber recorded to document the lives of people within Jewish community in China. There is a mix of transcripts and recordings (restricted). These materials are the most unique materials in the series (and possibly within the collection).
This series provides an excellent secondary source grouping of materials used by Eber in her own research and is indicative of Eber's research methodology. Researchers should be aware that there is significant primary source material within the collection—but it is all photocopied, and Eber's documentation of the creators, recipients, and the holding repositories of those primary source material is not always present or particularly clear. Originals of primary source material were generally created anywhere from the 1840s to the 1940s. Eber was quite sparse with dating … for the most part the processor assigned a range of dates that surround the dates of publications in which she probably used the material.
Series V. Photographs includes photographs of Eber's family (used in her memoir), slides from her trips to India and her homeland of Mielec, Poland, and material found in the Diaspora Museum in Tel Aviv. There are also some professional images in the form of slides that were apparently purchased from museums and prints of photographs of S.I. J. Schereschewsky and Chinese scholars that had been framed and were possibly hung in Eber's offices.
Series VI. Computer media and files includes A. Computer media; and B. Computer files. Computer media includes floppy disks, flash drives, optical disks, and DVDs. The use of these computer media are restricted. However, the computer files originally stored on the flash drives, optical disks, and DVDs have been processed. Computer files from the floppy disks remain unprocessed at this time. The processed computer files largely consist of Eber's writings, photographs, and research material, including the contents of a Shanghai Jewish Refugee database originally hosted by Hebrew University of Jerusalem. There is also video from the Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive. Computer files described as "born-digital" were mostly created by Eber, while those described as "digitized" were mostly created by others and scanned, presumably by Eber, for research purposes.
Series VII. Audio/Video includes audiocassettes and videocassettes (VHS, U-Matic, and broadcast). There are a number of oral history recordings which provide first-hand accounts of members of the Jewish community in China, some of which were transcribed and are present in the collection. The bulk of the remaining recordings are of commercial programs, which Eber probably used in her research. However, "Shanghai Ghetto" features Eber.
Access to original audio/visual materials and computer files is restricted. The Kislak Center will provide access to the information on these materials from duplicate master files. If the original does not already have a copy, it will be sent to an outside vendor for copying. Patrons are financially responsible for the cost. The turnaround time from request to delivery of digital items is about two weeks for up to five items and three to seven weeks for more than five items. Please contact Reprographic Services (firstname.lastname@example.org) for cost estimates and ordering. Once digital items are received, researchers will have access to the files on a dedicated computer in the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center. Researchers should be aware of specifics of copyright law and act accordingly.
Gift of Irene Eber, 2018
- World War, 1939-1945
- Jewish refugees
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Refugees
- Holocaust survivors
- Jews -- Social life and customs
- Bible -- Study and teaching
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Holly Mengel
- Finding Aid Date
- 2021 August 30
- Access Restrictions
The bulk of this collection is open for research use, however, use of the computer media in Series VI./Sub-Series A. (Box 11, Folders 1-7) is restricted. The computer files originally stored on this computer media have been processed and are available for research use in Series VI./Sub-Series B. (see items described as "Digital Content (Reading Room Access Only)" along the right-hand side in the Collection Inventory). However, the computer files stored on the floppy disks in Box 11, Folder 1 are unprocessed at this time. Processed computer files are reading-room access only on a dedicated computer in the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library.
Additionally, use of audiovisual media in Series VII. (Box 12, Folder 7; Box 13, Folders 1-13) is restricted. If the original does not already have a copy, it may be sent to an outside vendor for copying. Patrons are financially responsible for the cost. The turnaround time from request to delivery of digital items will depend on the nature of the material and is subject to review for condition. Please contact the Kislak Center (email@example.com) for cost estimates and ordering. Researchers should be aware of specifics of copyright law and act accordingly.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.