Archive is open to the public: Tuesday 10AM to 2PM and by appointment.

Oral Histories

Welcome to the JHSFC Oral History Collection

The JHSFC Archives is the repository of over 426 personal histories. This includes audio tapes, video tapes, CDs, DVDs, media and digital files. These personal recollections and reminiscences provide researchers with an intimate understanding of the Jewish experience in Fairfield County. These are a unique collection of unpublished primary source materials that document the Fairfield County Jewish experience and beyond. Sub-collections include the following:

  • Veteran’s History Project in conjunction with the Library of Congress – has personal accounts of Jewish War Veterans.

  • Jews in Politics – contains the richness of our community’s political history.

  • Formation of Congregations at Anniversary milestones – discovery of the necessary steps to building a unique religious organization.

  • Inter-generational teen/grandparent interviews – examine the bonds between grandchildren and grandparents and explores the formation of teen identity through a knowledge of family history.

  • Holocaust experiences – provide witness to the ongoing effects of the holocaust on the individual families and the dangers of intolerance to the community.

  • Personal recollections of critical historical events – provide context for the American Jewish Experience through individual lens.

Featured Oral Histories

Evelyn "Evvy" Fowler Oral History - June 9, 2009

Evvy Fowler's Oral History is part of the Oral History Project initiated by The Jewish Historical Society of Fairfield County to record the life stories and contributions of residents who have enriched the Jewish history of Fairfield County.

Mort Lowenthal Oral History - March 14, 2016

During this national moment of reckoning, do you wonder about the history of racial unrest and race relations in Fairfield County? What is the story in Stamford, and who can tell us about what happened in the sixties? From the JHSFC Archives to you, here is an interview with Mort Lowenthal, who will tell you about the role he played as the first Chair of the Human Rights Commission, set up by Mayor Thomas C. Mayers. Around the time of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., there was unrest and violence all over the county. In Stamford, people were beginning to gather in the streets. The Human Rights Commission came up with an unconventional strategy to prevent riots. Mort Lowenthal tells the story of how the city of Stamford achieved a monumental moment of social justice by insisting on respect and compassion. Do you want to know how they did it? Watch the video and listen as Mort describes one long night that averted a potential catastrophe.

Carl Bennett Oral History - April 17, 2017

Carl Bennett, the founder of Caldor department stores, was an entrepreneur and philanthropist. His legacy includes the Bennett Cancer Center at Stamford Hospital, Bennett Center for Judaic Studies at Fairfield University, Jewish Senior Services (Bridgeport) and contributions to Greenwich Hospital.

Paul Plotkin Oral History - May 23, 2021

Paul Plotkin narrates his WWII active duty military experiences, including surviving the disastrous sinking of the SS Léopoldville, the Compagnie Belge Maritime du Congo passenger liner converted for use as a troopship. On December 24, 1944, while sailing between Southampton and Cherbourg, the ship was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-486. Of the 2,235 US servicemen on board, about 515 are presumed to have gone down with the ship. Another 248 died from injuries, drowning, or hypothermia. An unknown number of British soldiers died. The American soldiers were ordered not to tell anyone about the sinking of the ship and their letters home were censored by the Army during the rest of World War II.

Paul celebrated his 100th birthday on June 19, 2021 and was honored by the Derry, NH VFW. This interview was conducted in conjunction with the Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.

Join Us in Collecting Oral Histories

Oral Histories

Oral Histories

We have the technology to record oral histories today for future generations, and like an extended family where grandparents share their wisdom with the next generations, we want to learn about and share your family's stories.

Your Story

  • Who were the first Jews in your community and what brought them to the area?

  • What were their skills, their accomplishments, and how did they grow?

  • What were, and are today, the movers and shakers in our communities?

  • How did their Jewish presence help shape the landscape?

  • What Jewish institutions were established, and do they still exist today, and in what form?

Work with us to capture your special stories, history, and heritage, so your community, families, individuals, and especially our youth can learn the lessons of the past and be thoughtful about the future.

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