As a graduate student from Simmons College in the Library and Information Sciences program, I completed a semester long internship at the Claire T. Carney Library Archives and Special Collections. As part of my internship I processed two collections; the Shirley Cohen Family papers and the Senior Citizens of New Bedford records, both part of the Archives of the Center for Jewish Culture. Both of these collections document the family’s focus on working with and improving lives within their community.
Shirley Cohen, daughter of Mrs. A. J. “Bertha” Cohen, was a reference librarian at the New Bedford Public Library. Shirley was an active member of the Junior Hadassah and the Jewish Youth Society. Shirley, as part of the Junior Hadassah, raised money for the Children’s Village of Meier Shfeyah in Palestine. These efforts helped build schools and allowed the village operate in order to protect and educate at risk children. Mrs. A. J. Cohen was extraordinarily active in her community from a young age. She participated in Young Women’s Hebrew Association during WWI and from there was very invested in her community. She became a dedicated member of the New Bedford Chapter of the Senior Hadassah, Hebrew Ladies’ Helping Hand Society, Council of Women’s Organizations of Greater New Bedford, New Bedford Convalescent home, the Jewish Welfare Board, and the USO during World War II. These programs provided ass
istance and awareness to many important features surrounding the community including health, poverty, education, international events, and social events.
Selling raffle tickets and providing refreshments for meetings, Mrs. A. J. Cohen also participated in the Jewish Senior Citizens of New Bedford. The Jewish Senior Citizens of New Bedford was founded in 1972 with the intent to improve the lives of the elderly by decreasing loneliness and caring for their welfare. The Jewish Senior Citizens of New Bedford organized trips, classes, shows, lectures, luncheons, and dinner. Along with that there were lectures on how to keep healthy, blood pressure checks, discount information, and letter writing campaigns to politicians.
– Michelle Bergeron, Simmons College