History of a Holocaust Survivor: The Life of Steve Berger

History of a Holocaust Survivor: The Life of Steve Berger

History of a Holocaust Survivor: The Life of Steve Berger

Authored by Ashley Walker

Steve Berger, Holocaust Survivor, on the division between races in the United States today.

Steve Berger is a Holocaust survivor that was born and raised in Debrecen, Hungary. In the year 1941, Jews comprised 7.3 percent of the population (Shoah Resource Center n.d.). Growing up as a Jew in Hungary, Berger has always been aware of Antisemitism. The Jewish population was separated from the rest of the population through the numerus clausus. In fact, as Berger points out, Hungary was the first country after WWI to institute the numerus clauses in universities (Berger 2017). The numerus clauses were passed, “limiting the number of Jews in institutions of higher education” (Kenez 2001).  Additionally, Jewish men were removed from the Hungarian army, instead pushed into the labor services. This further separated the Jewish people from the remainder of the population.

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Authored by Katrina Ehrnman-Newton

Image shows a view from above of a table with a panel of speakers and a seated audience. Watermarked with Center for Migration Studies logo.

Screenshot of the panel’s proceedings during this day of the conference.

This video is part of a three day proceedings from June 7-9, 2017 by several groups coming together to discuss their actions and emerging strategies to face the increasing hostility and illegal action being taken against immigrants and others under the emerging Trump presidency. The event was hosted by the Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS), Cabrini Center for Immigrant Legal Assistance of Catholic Charities of Galveston-Houston, the Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative, and the South Texas College of Law Houston (Center for Migrations Studies 2017).  Continue reading

The History of The Mamaroneck Public Library

Authored by Angelia Ferrara

Image of Construction of Mamaroneck Public Library. Nightingale. “Progress Photo of The Mamaroneck Library” – June 15 1927

Image of the Construction of The Mamaroneck Library

The image that is seen here is one of several images that were found undocumented in the archives of the Mamaroneck Public Library. This image, along with the others, will be incorporated into a presentation about the history and the building of The Mamaroneck Public Library and community center that will be posted on their website. This image (circa 1927) shows the construction of the original Mamaroneck Public Library on Prospect Avenue, which was completed by September, 1927. At the time, there were almost 7,000 books in the library. By 1966,a new wing was added, to include the current reading and reference rooms and children’s library (Fulcher 1947). Soon after, The Emelin Theatre and a lower level expansion were added. By 1987, a wing was added to allow The Emelin Theatre to move, and become a separate entity. In both 2008 and 2011, further expansions brought the library to its current size, almost twice its original size. It hosts an amazing 124,000 items, 83,000 of which are books (History of The Mamaroneck Public Library n.d.). It still serves as a major contributor to Mamaroneck as a cultural and community center, keeping the dream from back in the early 1900’s of a resource for all of the citizens of Mamaroneck alive.

The Need for Public Libraries in New York

Before the mid 1800’s, most substantial libraries in the state of New York were privately owned, built by religious organizations, or located in major cities such as Manhattan (The New York Public Library), White Plains, or Albany (The New York State Library). Local municipalities and public schools did not have the funding or the resources for books and materials for use by the general public. Exposure to books, music, art and other cultural and educational materials was limited for people who did not have the resources to access them. Over time, the idea that library resources should be made available free of charge to the general public took hold. People with means began to donate funds and books to help build public libraries (History of NY Public Library, n.d.).

The Village “Not Fit to Live in Without a Library”

The Village of Mamaroneck is one of the older villages in Westchester County. Purchased in 1661, it quickly was established as a trading post for smugglers who were trying to evade the harsh import penalties of the British Crown. While still small in population, and considered “the country” for those who lived in Manhattan, Mamaroneck began to become more concerned with the quality of life of its residents (Lippsett 1997). In 1922, resident Charles M. Baxter would begin his campaign to build a public library in Mamaroneck. Armed with the slogan “Mamaroneck is not a fit place to live in until it has a Library,” and a dedication to the people of Mamaroneck, Baxter would eventually see his dream of a public library come to fruition (LoGiudice 1995).

The building of a “Community Center”

It soon became obvious that the community of Mamaroneck wanted to build a center for their community. A small, store front building on West Post Road was quickly established with private funding and donated resources. Donations as small as fifty cents to thousands of dollars poured in. Baxter soon approached the Hegeman Estate (of the late John Rogers Hegeman of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company) and secured the sizable donation of forty thousand dollars to build the Mamaroneck Public Library on Prospect Avenue. Again, donations large and small from various sources poured in, allowing for the purchase of the property, the design of the architecture, and the building of the Library itself. The slogan “A book given to the Library is a gift to everyone who uses the library” netted thousands of donations of funds and books from citizens of all ages (Fulcher 1947). The new library was becoming a reality. Over time, this Library would serve as a Red Cross Headquarters, supply distribution center, emergency shelter, teen center, and a trusted resource for up-to-date, accurate community information, for people of all walks of life.



Fulcher, William. 1947. The Story of A Dream: The Mamaroneck Free Library: Town of Mamaroneck Publisher.

“History |.” n.d. Accessed March 10, 2018. https://www.nypl.org/help/about-nypl/history.

“History |.” n.d. Accessed March 10, 2018. http://www.mamaronecklibrary.org/history-3/.

Lippsett, Paula B. 1997. Mamaroneck Town: A History of “The Gathering Place”, 1661-1997. Mamaroneck, NY: Town of Mamaroneck Publisher.

LoGiudice, Mary P. 1995. Celebration: Village of Mamaroneck Centennial, 1895-1995. Mamaroneck, NY: Printcraft.


Selah Hulse Land Deed

Authored by Nicole Castellano

Selah Hulse Land Deed to Benjamin Flyde. Two page deed written in 1775.

Selah Hulse Land Deed (April 28, 1775), Brookhaven Land Transaction Between Selah Hulse and Benjamin Flyde, Courtesy Special Collections, Stony Brook University Libraries

Selah Hulse (abt. 1715-1775 or abt. 1757-date unknown) is the owner of the piece of land in Brookhaven, Suffolk County that is being signed away in this land deed, which was written on April 28, 1775. This land was originally owned by Ebenezer Hulse (Hoff 2001, 10), who may be directly related to Selah Hulse, possibly being his father or his uncle (Deitz and Lythgoe 2011). Selah Hulse is giving this land to a man named Benjamin Flyde, who, during the time of the Revolutionary War, was a loyalist (Hull, Hoffer, and Allen 2018). While Selah Hulse himself is not mentioned to be involved with the American Revolution in any way, what is interesting about this land deed is that, while Benjamin Flyde is a loyalist, it is signed by two people who are related to the Culper Spy Ring, which is George Washington’s group of spies that would inform on the British (Bigelow 2018, 2). Continue reading

The Rise in Illegal Immigration in the 1960s

Authored by Elizabeth Paul

This is a hidden compartment meant to smuggle in illegal aliens from Mexico, taken in 1968.

In 1965, the Immigration and Nationality Act, also known as the Hart-Celler Act, was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson (Ball et al 2017). This act ended the quota system started in the 1920s that had been put in place that gave preference to those of European origin, and instead created a system that was meant to reunite immigrant families and attract skilled workers (History.com 2010). This original quota system, however, did not include Mexico (The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress 2015). Because of this, temporary workers from Mexico were often hired to work on farms as part of the Bracero Program (Ball et al 2017). However, even after the end of this program as well as the introduction of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, former workers that were part of the Bracero Program would still cross over the border to work these farm jobs.

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Does the Melting Pot Still Meld in 2018?

Authored by Ocaria DiMango

A copy of the cover of Forbes Magazine, dated October 30, 1978 displaying the Statue of Liberty. This is currently part of the Endres Collection for the Center for Migration Studies.

This artifact is a copy of the October 30, 1978 issue of Forbes magazine, which portrays the Statue of Liberty in all her glory, a symbol of American’s immigrant heritage. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door! (Moreno 2004). However, this sentiment towards new immigrants has changed throughout the life of America. I believe that views towards immigration, over time, have been based on what America was going through in history. It’s important for us to look back on an article like this and see how far we’ve come – so in this case, I wonder, how far have we come since 1978? Continue reading

In Memory

Authored by Amy Del Debbio

A memorial plaque creates a sense of honor and family with a visual reminder of faculty and staff who passed away. This memorial piece, along with other pieces, are found in Wilby High School’s courtyard—which is an extension of the school’s library. During the warmer months, students are encouraged to read or work quietly in the courtyard.

While visiting the Egyptian pyramids during WWII, Franklin D. Roosevelt remarked that “Man’s desire to be remembered is colossal” (Prasch 2013, 198). While the pyramids may be an appropriate memorial for a pharaoh, a memorial plaque may be more suitable for the average person. Prior to the courtyard being transformed into a memorial garden, the memorial plaque, which was donated by the Class of 2005 and contained in Wilby’s library, was the centerpiece of the cabinet that housed all “In Memory” artifacts.

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Responding to Genocide

Authored by Madeline Sanchez

A group of young Jewish girls from Shtetl, a town in Eiskes pose before being murdered in September 21, 1941 by the Einsatzgruppen, a special task force that was actively hunting and killing Jews

Inhumanity is one of the most cruel and atrocious acts committed by human beings because of personal bias. The disregard of another individual’s life has led to one of the worst events recorded in history, the Genocide. Encompassing the Genocide during World War II into one word; it was savagery. Human lives destroyed due to the Holocaust, violating human rights, and overall eradicating liberty for the Jews.

The group of young Jew girls exhibited in this image was part of Shtetl a small market town in Eastern Europe, Poland (Zollman, n.d.). This image emphasizes the direct contrast of normalcy and the horrors of the Genocide, as well highlights the millions of lives shattered because of racial prejudice.

Eastern Europe, Poland held the largest Jewish population that lived before the war, and was where extermination of the Jewish population of the world collectively took place (Frontline, n.d.). On September 24, 1941, the entire Jewish populations of Ejszyszki was shot in the Jewish cemetery of Ejszyszki by the Einsatzgruppen (Yad Vashem, n.d.). The Einsatzgruppen were a special task force considered mobile killing units that operated in German-occupied Europe. These groups were actively hunting and killing Jews in many other countries occupied by the Nazis (Aktion Reinhard Camps, n.d.).

Deprived of human worth, the Jews imprisoned in concentration camps; shot, starved, gassed and ultimately burned being the many torturous ways they died. 6 million European Jews murdered by the German Nazi regime, considered an inferior race, an overall threat to German racial purity and community (History, n.d.). Germans considered themselves racially superior to Jews (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, n.d.). Based on this catastrophic event among many others that occurred throughout history, it is clear that without laws to protect human rights, those facing discriminatory persecution can suffer grave humiliation and even annihilation as was the case of European Jews.

The Holocaust era was one of the most devastating events that have marked our history. Its everlasting effects will always be remembered as the Holocaust obliterated innumerable of Jewish communities in Eastern Europe. Holocaust survivor’s history can urge elected leaders to unite, take responsibility and strive for social justice, to protect the oppressed and aim to end genocide.



“Einsatzgruppen.” n.d. Accessed March 26, 2018. http://www.deathcamps.org/occupation/einsatzgruppen.html.

“Introduction to the Holocaust.” n.d. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Accessed March 26, 2018. https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005143.

“Shtetl – The Life and Death of a Small Town and the World of Polish Jews – Shtetl.” n.d. FRONTLINE. Accessed March 26, 2018. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shtetl/reflections/.

“The Holocaust – World War II – HISTORY.com.” n.d. Accessed March 26, 2018. https://www.history.com /topics/world-war-ii/the-holocaust.

“The Untold Stories. The Murder Sites of the Jews in the Occupied Territories of the Former USSR.” n.d. Accessed March 26, 2018. http://www.yadvashem.org/untoldstories/database/index.asp?cid=188.

“What Were Shtetls? | My Jewish Learning.” n.d. Accessed March 26, 2018. https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/shtetl-in-jewish-history-and-memory/.



A Herstory on Lesbians

Authored by Nicole Loder

Image of Joan Nestle, Polly Thistlethwaite, and cat. Lesbian HERstoy Archive Collection. 1994.

Pictured are activist and writer, Joan Nestle, current Chief Librarian at the CUNY Graduate Center (Thistlethwaite 2014) Polly Thistlethwaite, and cat at the Lesbian HERstory Archives (LHA) in 1994 taken by the photo collection manager, Saskia Scheffer. I discovered this picture, with the help of an archivist, in a crammed filing cabinet, not too far from where the picture was taken. The cabinet was organized with an eclectic cataloging system, determined by the many archivists over the years. I was searching for content involving cats for an upcoming exhibit when we discovered this artifact. As I held this image, I wondered when the last time someone took notice of this seemingly insignificant photograph.
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