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Paul "Pete" Rosenblum Papers, c.1940–2009

Information, Description, and Finding Aid

Collection Information

Reference: MS-ROSENBLUM.1

Dates: 1949–2008

Extent: 0.54 linear ft. across 1 archival box

Finding Aid Information

Creator(s): Steven Payne, Ph.D., Librarian and Archivist

Date created/updated: July 28, 2020

Administrative History

Paul “Pete” Rosenblum (nicknamed “Pete” from “Pete the Tramp” comic strips) was born March 5, 1927, in Brooklyn, New York, to Harry Rosenblum and Rose Prizand, both of whom had emigrated from Poland and were garment workers as well as lifelong members of the I.L.G.W.U.—his father was even shop steward at one point. Together with other like-minded working-class Jews in the needle trades, Harry and Rose, together with Paul, decided to move into the United Workers Cooperative Colony (typically called “The Coops” or “The Allerton Coops”) in 1929, shortly after its second complex was completed. Paul’s brother Herbert was born in 1936.

The Coops, located in The Bronx at 2700 and 2800 Bronx Park East, right along the edge of Bronx Park, was built over the course of two periods, 1926–1927 and 1927–1929, by an organization called the United Workers’ Association. This organization was comprised primarily of recently-arrived Eastern European Jewish immigrants in the needle trades with broadly communist sentiments, like Paul’s parents. It funded and built the Coops to provide affordable, cooperatively-owned housing to its members while forging a tight-knit community through various cooperatively-run services and cultural amenities. When finished, the Coops housed 750 apartments and about 3000 residents. Due to financial woes brought on by the Depression and exacerbated by credit discrimination and internal disagreements, the Coops was forced to become a regular rental complex in 1943. Even so, the community retained its cooperative and politically engaged culture until at least the 1970s.

Paul spent his formative years in the Coops and lived off and on in the community until September 1945, when he began his undergraduate studies at Cornell University, where he earned a B.S. from the School of Industrial Labor Relations in February 1948. He was a member of the Communist Party as a young adult and, among various assignments (in Chicago, Newark, etc.), he was sent to Birmingham, Alabama, to organize workers against segregation after he finished his undergraduate studies at Cornell.

When Paul returned to New York for good from his assignments, he met and married Doris Koppelman of The Bronx in 1956. They had a large wedding reception with over 400 guests attending. Paul eventually found work as a typographer, proofreader, and computer programmer in the Composing Room at the New York Times, a job he held for 31 years until his retirement in 1990. While working at the New York Times, Paul attended Columbia University part-time, where he earned an M.A. in American History and a Ph.D. in African History. After receiving his Ph.D., Paul taught African and African American Studies part-time at City College, Baruch, Columbia University, and other institutions of higher learning in the Great New York City area.

When Paul and Doris first married, they lived in the Lower East Side, though they soon moved to the Upper West Side. In 1967, the Rosenblums were among the first cooperators in a new cooperative on the Upper West Side called Stryker’s Bay Apartments, located at 66 West 94th Street. Paul and Doris had two children, Peter and Beth. Doris, for her part, became the Manhattan Borough Historian and was involved in various activist causes throughout her life, including serving on the Local Community Board, educational reform, and advocacy for cooperative housing through the Mitchell-Lama Program. When Doris died in 1996, the stretch of 94th Street and Columbus Avenue in front of Stryker’s Bay was renamed “Doris Rosenblum Way” in her honor. Throughout their lives, the Rosenblums have been untiring advocates for justice and continued to get together on a regular basis with many of Paul’s friends from the Coops. Indeed, in 2008, Paul had a major role in the documentary At Home In Utopia, in which he spoke at length about the impact of his growing up in The Coops. At 93 years old, Paul remains engaged in history, politics, computer technology, and popular culture.

Description/Scope and Content

The Paul “Pete” Rosenblum Papers are arranged in the following five series:

1) The Coops, which contains material associated with the United Workers Cooperative Colony generated by the residents themselves, including reunion circulars, newsletters, and photographs and negatives (these are of people Paul grew up with in the Coops);

2) Service Men’s Mothers of Allerton Neighborhood, which includes material from the Service Men’s Mothers of Allerton Neighborhood, an organization started by Coopniks to keep track of members of the community who had enlisted during World War II; 

3) Living in the Coops/At Home in Utopia, which documents the making of the 2008 documentary about the Coops and the response of former residents throughout the process; 

4) Research on Cooperative Housing and Jewish Radicalism, which is comprised of research material sent to Paul Rosenblum about cooperative housing and Jewish radicalism in New York City; 

5) Miscellaneous, which includes material on baseball from a former Coopnik, Moe Resner (Morris Reznitsky).

Provenance

The Paul "Pete" Rosenblum papers were donated to The Bronx County Historical Society by Beth Rosenblum, Paul’s daughter, in June 2020, after Dr. Steven Payne, the Society’s Librarian and Archivist, began to corresponded with Paul.

Preferred Citation

[Item name or description,] Paul "Pete" Rosenblum papers, box _, folder _, The Bronx County Archives at The Bronx County Historical Society Research Library.

Points of Access

  • Allerton -- Bronx Park -- Service Men's Mothers of Allerton Neighborhood -- United Workers Cooperative Colony (The Coops), 2700 Bronx Park East
  • Communism
  • Ethnic groups -- Jews
  • Films -- At Home in Utopia (2008)
  • Housing -- cooperatives
  • Individuals -- Gold, Beatrice (Bea) -- Resner, Moe (Morris Reznitsky) -- Rosenblum, Paul (Pete) -- Rubman, George -- Wallman, Harriet -- Wallman, Jennie -- Wallman, Sonya
  • Pelham Parkway -- B’nai B’rith, Bernard Mogilesky Lodge -- Bronx House -- Jewish Community Council of Pelham Parkway -- Pelham Parkway Jewish Center -- Rainbow School for Child Development
  • World War II -- Service Men's Mothers of Allerton Neighborhood

Related Collections

  1. At Home in Utopia collection. The Bronx County Archives at The Bronx County Historical Society Research Library.
  2. The Bronx African American History Project Digital Collection of Oral Histories. Fordham University Library.
  3. The Bronx African American History Project. The Bronx County Archives at The Bronx County Historical Society Research Library.
  4. Murray Lerner papers. The Bronx County Archives at The Bronx County Historical Society Research Library.
  5. Pelham Parkway Jewish Center papers. The Bronx County Archives at The Bronx County Historical Society Research Library.
  6. Esther Dobkin Vishner papers. The Bronx County Archives at The Bronx County Historical Society Research Library.
  7. Alexandra Vozick Hans papers. The Bronx County Archives at The Bronx County Historical Society Research Library.

Series

Series Title Box Folders
1 The Coops, 2700 Bronx Park East 1 2–9
2 Service Men's Mothers of Allerton Neighborhood 1 10–12
3 Living in the Coops/At Home in Utopia 1 13–20
4 Research on the Coops and Jewish Radicalism 1 21–28
5 Miscellaneous 1 29

Container List

Series 1: The Coops, 2700 Bronx Park East

Box

Folder

Contents

Date

1

2

PH-ROSENBLUM.1: Jennie, Sonya, and Harriet Wallman in Bronx Park June 1939

1

2

PH-ROSENBLUM.2:Sonya Wallman and Beatrice "Bea" Gold February 20, 1943

1

2

PH-ROSENBLUM.3:Beatrice "Bea" Gold February 20, 1943

1

2

PH-ROSENBLUM.4:Sonya Wallman, Beatrice "Bea" Gold, George Rubman, and others in Bronx Park March 1943

1

2

PH-ROSENBLUM.5:Beatrice "Bea" Gold and two other girls on Yom Kippur n.d.

1

2

PH-ROSENBLUM.6:Harriet Wallman's 5th Birthday Party, shot 1 June 1939

1

2

PH-ROSENBLUM.7: Harriet Wallman's 5th Birthday Party, shot 2 June 1939

1

2

PH-ROSENBLUM.8:Beatrice "Bea" Gold and George Rubman October 1944

1

2

PH-ROSENBLUM.9:Five unidentified children September 1962

1

3

PH-ROSENBLUM-NEG.1–51: Unidentified photographic negatives of Coops residents, mostly around Bronx Park n.d.

1

4

Coops Semi-Centennial mailer 1976

1

5

Newspaper clippings: The Coops Reunion 1977

1

6

Worker Cooperative Colony Day City Council resolution 1977

1

7

Friends of the Coops newsletter (1 edition) 1978

1

8

Coops Reunion 1994 mailer 1994

1

9

Kulkowitz, Harry: Annual Coops get-together 2001

Series 2: Service Men's Mothers of Allerton Neighborhood

Box

Folder

Contents

Date

1

10

Service Men's Mothers of Allerton Neighborhood, Bulletin, full run 1943–1945 (repr. 2001)

1

11

Service Men's Mothers of Allerton Neighborhood, Index 2001

1

12

Service Men's Mothers of Allerton Neighborhood, Requestees 2002

Series 3: Living in the Coops/At Home in Utopia

Box

Folder

Contents

Date

1

13

Filmmakers Collaborative, Living in the Coops, NEH Application 2000

1

14

Puffin Foundation, Living in the Coops, solicitation of interest, rough draft 2000

1

15

Puffing Foundation, Living in the Coops, solicitation of interest 2000

1

16

Filmmakers Collaborative, Living the Coops update 2001

1

17

Filmmakers Collaborative, Living in the Coops update 2002

1

18

Museum of the City of New York, Living in the Coops exhibit 2003

1

19

18th Annual New York Jewish Film Festival, Screening, At Home in Utopia 2009

1

20

Directors' contact information n.d.

Series 4: Research on the Coops and Jewish Radicalism

Box

Folder

Contents

Date

1

21

Epstein, "The Jew and Communism" 1959

1

22

Schwartz, "The Colony" (dissertation), title page 1969

1

23

Pluntz, A History of Housing in New York City 1990

1

24

Noah London research and oral history, Tamiment Library 1999

1

25

Correspondence: Andrew Hazelton 1999

1

26

Hazelton, Three Bronx Utopias exhibit 1999

1

27

Hazelton, "Garden Courts to Tower Blocks" 2000

1

28

Puffin Foundation, Three Bronx Utopias excerpts 2008

Series 5: Miscellaneous

Box

Folder

Contents

Date

1

29

Resner, Moe, baseball materials 1994