Samuel Cohen

A Glimpse Through the Samuel Cohen Archival Collection

Samuel Cohen was the first Executive Director of the JGH, a job which he began at the young age of 33 and stayed in until his retirement in 1967. He was born in New York and quickly distinguished himself as a hospital administrator, becoming the Assistant Director to Beth Israel in Manhattan in his early 30s. Allan Bronfman hired him for this position due to his admirable record and because of his strong commitment to Jewish values and his community.

A glimpse through Cohen’s boxes provides a fascinating look back at the history of the JGH. He kept records which provide both an administrative and intimate picture of the hospital’s history, from before it opened, through the difficult years of the Second World War, to the growing pains of the 1950s and 1960s. Cohen kept everything from early blueprints of the hospital, to receipts from coal and gas suppliers, as well as letters from women seeking to adopt babies and personal letters of thanks from family members whose relatives had received treatment at the Hospital.

Among many of the fascinating records which he kept are the ones that related to the Hospital’s role before and during the Second World War. Cohen was responsible for hiring hospital personnel and in 1933 he discussed with Allan Bronfman the possibility of hiring German Jewish Doctors stating “we might be able to get some outstanding physicians and surgeons who have been exiled from Germany and who were of international repute.” He also kept correspondence regarding Jewish refugees during the war some of whom he hired to work at the hospital. Other wartime records include quotas of oil and sugar, plans for a civil defence strategy and how to run a hospital when much needed supplies such as blood plasma and Penicillin were rationed.

The processing of this collection started in the summer of 2010 by Julia Betts, former Cataloguer and Archives Technician. This year, further cataloging and digitization were conducted to make the collection more accessible online. Not only is the gallery enriched with more digitized material, but the  fonds and series level descriptions are also searchable in the online database and viewable from the Finding Aids & Glossary section of this website.

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