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Finding Aid for the Harriet Rochlin Collection of Photographs of Western Jewish Life, ca. 1845-1991
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
Harriet Rochlin began collecting Western Jewish photographs in the late 1960s to illustrate articles she was writing on Jewish pioneering in the American West. The collection grew significantly when she and her late husband, Fred Rochlin, contracted with Houghton Mifflin to compose an illustrated social history, Pioneer Jews: A New Life in the Far West. The book spans Jewish life in the Spanish, Mexican, and American Far West from 1571 to 1912. The majority of the photographs (2248) and photocopied images (1623) track the Jewish Westward Migration from secret Sephardic Jews in flight from the Mexican Colonial Inquisition, to tens of thousands of openly Jewish families rooted throughout the Far West by 1912, the end of the territorial period. She has continued to collect images for articles, essays, slide narratives, and for a work-in-progress, A Mixed Chorus: Jewish Women in the American West, 1849 to 1924.
Background
Harriet Rochlin, was born and raised in Boyle Heights when that Los Angeles neighborhood housed the largest mixed immigrant- mostly Jewish and Mexican-population in the West. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in Hispanic America, in June, 1947, and a month later married U.C. architectural student, Fred Rochlin, a Jewish native of Nogales, Arizona. Both westerners of an unnamed sub-culture-American, Jewish, Mexican-they expressed their predilections in attachment to their natal landscapes, foods, music, and literature. They also savored the stories of their parents' moves west, and took pride in their Western nativity. Neither sensed that beyond their visceral and cerebral responses to western life and culture lay buried a complex, 400-year-long Jewish history on Western soil. It took the civil rights-inspired ethnic history movement to illuminate that possibility, and a small army of seekers, the Rochlins among them, to bring it about. After Pioneer Jews: A New Life in the Far West was launched, Harriet sought deeper truths in the inner journey from immigrant to westerner in the fictional Desert Dwellers trilogy---The Reformer's Apprentice, The First Lady of Dos Cacahuates, and On Her Way Home. She is currently completing an illustrated documentary history, A Mixed Chorus: Jewish Women in the American West 1849 to 1924. A recognized authority and popular lecturer, Rochlin travels extensively, speaking on various aspects of Western Jewish history and fiction. For more, visit Welcome to the Jewish West .
Extent
2248 photographs and 1623 photocopies in Fourteen boxes. (7 linear feet) Four oversize boxes.
Availability
COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Open for research. Advance notice required for access. Contact the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.