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Sam Frank photographs


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

Sam Frank was born in Shanghai, China, in 1920. He immigrated to Israel in 1948 and settled in Tel-Aviv. From the 1950s to the 1970s, he photographed the newly established state of Israel, documenting the people and scenery of Jerusalem, the culture of the state, political activities, and social services. Frank's Hebrew name was Shimon, however, he is occasionally referred to in print as Shmuel Frank.

Frank had an office or studio at 6 Kiryat Sefer Street in Tel-Aviv and used, for at least some of his photography, a Leica M3 camera and a Nikon camera. He won awards for at least two photographs from national photography contests held by the Government Press Office and the American Fund for Israeli Institutions held in 1952. His photograph "Towards a New Life" won first prize.

He died in 2007.

This collection consists of nearly 1500 images documenting the newly established state of Israel from the 1950s to the 1970s. For the most part, these images were organized into binders, frequently without any identification. This order has been maintained during processing and the loose negatives were sleeved in the order in which they were removed from the envelope containing them. Only a portion of the photographs or negatives have captions at all, and those that are in English can be found in the contact prints (box 1, folders 1-3) and the proofs book (box 3, folder 6). Not all the pages have captions and Frank's handwriting is not always easy to read.

Regions and events that were identified include: the city and people of Jerusalem; burials of Herzl (in Jerusalem) and Baron Rothschild (in Israel); and the city of Acre.

The politics and government events documented by Frank in the new state includes the 23rd Zionist Congress held in 1951; the visit to Israel by United States Secretary of State John Foster Dulles in 1953; the tenth Anniversary of the American Fund; Sylvia (the daughter of the Swiss ambassador); demonstrations against the Reparations Agreements and West Germany; the editorial staff of HaAretz; and politicians including Menachem Begin, [Ravben], and President Chaim Weizmann and his wife Vera.

Industry and business was documented through the images of day-to-day life of residents of Israel, factories and workers; Friedman & Sons' Wine Cellar in Petah Tikvah; immigrants learning different trades, chemical and fertilizer trades; and archaeological excavations conducted under the auspices of Dr. Maisler.

Culture in the new state was captured by Frank with images of the "HaBimah" theater at the transit camp of Tira in 1951, the "Ohel" theater, concerts, theater plays, a chess championship, exhibitions, the Tel-Aviv zoo, and car and motorcycle races. There are also contact sheets showing the rehearsals and performance of the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Eugene Ormandy and images of the composer Fershko along with his wife.

There is also documentation of social organizations such as the Bnei Brak Social Welfare Department, Women's International Zionist Organization (WIZO), housing projects, and educational organizations such as an art school in Tel-Aviv, Mikveh Yisrael School (probably the Mikveh Yisrael Agricultural School), and a new kindergarten.

The presence of unrest is documented via images of occupational therapy at the Tel HaShomer military hospital in Tel-Aviv; Israel Defense Force (IDF) soldiers; and immigrant transit camps, including Indian Jews and immigrants of Marahar Tira.

This collection also includes many street photographs that document people of all strata of Israeli society; in addition to select Jewish communities such as the Karaite community of Egypt in Moshav Matzliach and Italian Jews in Alma Village.

While the vast majority of these photographs are by Sam Frank, there are a few images by Rudi Weissenstein (stamped on verso "Tzalmania Pri-Or"), Boris Karmi, and others. Many of the negatives are 2.25 x. 2.; however, there are few that measure 4 x 5 and a few 35 mm negative strips. Contact prints and proofs are largely 2.25 x 2.25 and prints range in size from 2.25 x 2.25 to 12 x 15. Many of the prints contain Sam Frank's stamp on the verso.

Sold by Kedem Auction House (with support from Stephan Loewentheil), 2020.

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Holly Mengel
Finding Aid Date
2023 July 10
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

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.

Collection Inventory

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Certificate, probably citing a commendation for a photograph, undated.
Box 3 Folder 1
Contact prints (removed from binder) (with English captions), 1950-1952.
Box 1 Folder 1-3
Groups of people (untitled prints), undated.
Box 3 Folder 3
Exhibit photographs (includes "Behind the Window," "Tashlich," "Evening Solo," "Reflections," and "A Little Gossip"), undated.
Box 3 Folder 2
Jerusalem, photographs, circa 1950s-1970s.
Box 1 Folder 4
Negatives, circa 1950s-1970s.
Box 1 Folder 5
Photographs mounted on paper, largely street scenes and people's day to day lives (removed from binder), circa 1950s-1970s.
Box 1 Folder 6
Photographs and negatives, largely people and events, with some views of urban areas, rural areas, and industry (removed from binder), circa 1950s-1970s.
Box 2 Folder 1-4
Portraits (includes "Photographer on Boulevard Rothchild" and "Child of the Tribe of Dan," as well as untitled prints), undated.
Box 3 Folder 4
Proofs, Book III, Nos. 101-157, largely concerts, events, and plays, as well as some urban and beach scenes (with English captions), 1959-1960.
Box 3 Folder 6
"Toward a New Life," photograph and certificate, 1952.
Box 2 Folder 5
Urban scenes (untitled prints), undated.
Box 3 Folder 5

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