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Jewish Camping collection, 1937-1987

Summary Information
Title: Jewish Camping collection
Dates: 1937-1987
Creator: Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest
Extent: 1 box (0.50 cubic feet)
Language: Collection materials in English.
Collection Number: umja0005
This collection brings together materials related to four different Jewish summer camps throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin: Sophie Wirth Camp, Herzl Camp, Council Camp, and Camp Tikvah.

Repository: University of Minnesota Libraries. Nathan and Theresa Berman Upper Midwest Jewish Archives.

Access and Use
Access Restrictions:

Open for use in the Elmer L. Andersen Library reading room.


Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). Requests to publish should be arranged with the Upper Midwest Jewish Archives; please contact the archives for more detailed copyright information.


This collection is divided into series:

Series 1: Sophie Wirth Camp

Series 2: Herzl Camp

Series 3: Various Camps

Historical Note

The experience of summer camp has been an important part of the Jewish community for years. This collection brings together materials related to different summer camps throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin. The first Jewish camp in Minnesota was Sophie Wirth Camp, located in White Bear Lake; it was open from 1911 to 1943 and was sponsored by the St. Paul Council of Jewish Women. As the first kosher camp in the northwest, children were sent to Sophie Wirth for learning the Jewish faith, but also for fun and recreation, and often for their health, as good nutrition was emphasized for underweight children. 16mm film footage from Sophie Wirth Camp in 1937 is hosted on YouTube at Council Camp begain in 1937 during the Depression. As a result of high unemployment rates, the government created the WPA program to build camp sites around the country, including a site in Hinckley, Minnesota. The Jewish Camping Program received permission to use the site on the condition that at least 1/3 of campers were lower income. Base fees had to be "reasonable" as well, and charges ranged from $2.75 to $3.50 a week.

The site lasted for 10 years, after which the goverment lease was terminated and focus was placed upon a site in Aitkin which became Camp Tikvah. Camp Tikvah, located in Aitkin, MN, was opened in 1947 with the assistance of the Minneapolis Jewish Community Center. Known for their sports and canoe trips, the camp served Jewish children until 1983. Herzl Camp in Webster, Wisconsin, was started by Harry Rosenthal and a group of St. Paul Jews in 1946 in an effort to create a Zionist camp that would emphasize Jewish tradition along with the usual summer camp experience. The camp, located on Devil's Lake, is still in existence. For more information regarding the history of Herzl Camp, visit their website at

Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection includes correspondence, bulletins and newsletters from camp administration as well as from campers themselves, photographs, 35mm slides, and research notes on different camps.

Subject Terms
Index Terms
  • This collection is indexed under the following headings in the catalog of the University of Minnesota Libraries. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons or places should search the catalog using these headings.
  • Jewish camps
  • Camps
  • Religious camps
  • Organized camps
  • Summer camps
  • Jews
  • Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest
Contents List
 Location  Title
Series 1: Sophie Wirth Camp, undated, 1937-1940  
Berdie Muscoplat Papers, 1940 
Box 1
issues of "The Daily Wurst" camp newsletter, 1940  Box 1 , Folder 1
Ruth Brin Papers, undated, 1937 
Box 1
Sophie Wirth Camp brochures, undated  Box 1 , Folder 2
Newsclippings and issues of "The Daily Wurst" newsletter, undated, 1937  Box 1 , Folder 3
Photographs, undated  Box 1 , Folder 4
Series 2: Herzl Camp, undated, 1947-1996  
James Smith Papers, undated, 1972-1996 
Box 1
Materials from 50th Anniversary Celebration, 1996  Box 1 , Folder 5
Songster and Camp Brochure, undated, 1972  Box 1 , Folder 6
Herzl Camp Board Minutes and Correspondence, 1990-1994  Box 1 , Folder 7
Typed history of camp and speech made at 1996 reunion, undated, 1996  Box 1 , Folder 8
Naomi Rothenberg Arnold Papers, undated, 1956-1960 
Box 1
Bulletins, newsletters and schedules, undated, 1956-1960  Box 1 , Folder 9
Joan Levey Papers, 1947-1949 
Box 1
Brochures, dedication booklets, songster, and camp newsletter, 1947-1949  Box 1 , Folder 10
Series 3: Various Camps, undated, 1987  
Minnesota Jewish Historical Society Jewish Camping Meeting Collection , undated, 1987 
Box 1
Correspondence, research, and written histories of various Jewish camps, undated, 1987  Box 1 , Folder 11
Correspondence, bulletins and research on various Jewish camps, undated, 1987  Box 1 , Folder 12
35mm slides of various Jewish camps, undated  Box 1 , Folder 13