Guide to the Papers of Adolphus Simeon Solomons (1826-1910), undated, 1841-1966

*P-28

Processed by Marvin Rusinek

American Jewish Historical Society

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 294-6160

Fax: (212) 294-6161

Email: reference@ajhs.org

URL: http://www.ajhs.org

© 2014, American Jewish Historical Society, Boston, MA and New York, NY. All Rights Reserved.
Finding aid was encoded by Marvin Rusinek on June 15, 2009. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator:Adolphus Simeon Solomons (1826-1910)
Title:Adolphus Simeon Solomons, papers
Dates:undated, 1841-1966
Abstract:Included in this collection are papers which reflect Solomon's personal life and his involvement in communal and civic affairs. Approximately half of the collection consists of correspondence with Clara Barton and others relating to the organization and activities of the American Red Cross, and Solomons' role in its initial organization. Various cards, ribbons, and other American Red Cross memorabilia are included. Among his personal papers are school documents and family correspondence; of special interest is an engraving of a photograph of Abraham Lincoln taken at Philp & Solomons Metropolitan Gallery shortly before his death (1865), and a letter from Josephine Phillips to Solomons describing the reaction of New Yorkers to the death of Abraham Lincoln and this engraving (1865), and two tickets of admission to the impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson printed by the firm of Philp & Solomons (1868). Also included are typed copies of sermonettes given by Solomons to his family (1876-96). Of interest in his general papers is a letter to Dr. Wheeler regarding memorial services in Congress for Samuel F.B. Morse (1872); correspondence with several dictionary editors regarding the definition of "Jew" (1872-1874); and a letter from John Davis of the U.S. State Department regarding American Jews in Jerusalem. Clippings of newspaper articles by Solomons, tributes, memorial notices, and memorial sermons in honor or memory of Solomons are also included (1870-1910).
Languages:The collection is in English.
Quantity: 3.7 linear feet (4 manuscript boxes, 1 oversized box, 1 oversized folder)
Identification:P-28
Repository: American Jewish Historical Society
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Biographical Note

Adolphus S. Solomons, an American communal worker and leader in U.S. social welfare programs, was born on October 26, 1826 in New York City to John Solomons (a native of London) and Julia, daughter of Simeon Levy. The Solomons were members of a long-established Sephardic family. In 1851, Adolphus married Rachel Seixas Phillips, a descendant of colonial patriot families and together they had eight daughters and a son.

Solomons attended the University of the City of New York. Upon graduation, he began working at a firm of wholesale importers of stationery and fancy goods. Within two years, he became its head book-keeper.

At 14 years of age, Solomons enlisted in the Third Regiment Washington Greys of the New York State Militia and was discharged on May 11, 1847. In 1851, he was appointed the "Special Bearer of Dispatches to Berlin" by secretary of state Daniel Webster. While traveling through Germany, he visited a Jewish hospital ward located in Frankfort-on-the-Main and decided to found a similar institution in New York. On his trip home, he joined a committee of young men who had arranged a charity at Niblo's Garden in New York City. The group raised the sum of $1,034 and donated the money to help establish Jew's Hospital, now Mt. Sinai Hospital.

In 1859, Solomons set up the publishing-house of Philp & Solomons in Washington, D.C. His company held the U.S. government's printing contracts for several years and he also managed a bookstore and maintained a photographic gallery. The book department became the literary headquarters of General Ulysses E. Grant, Supreme Court Justice Salmon Portland Chase and other dignitaries. His photographic gallery featured prominent individuals, including the last photograph of Abraham Lincoln. As a publisher, Solomons was held in such high esteem, that when Vice President Schuyler Colfax could not appear at the dedication of the Young Men's Christian Association building in the capital, Solomons was asked to substitute for him.

Solomons was very active in helping people. He assembled the first training school for nurses in Washington and the Washington Night Lodging-House Association, which provided homeless men with lodging. He was an officer of the Provident Aid Society, the Emergency Hospital of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and many other worthwhile causes. In 1871, Solomons was elected to Washington, D.C.'s House of Delegates and served as chairman of the committee on ways and means.

Solomons was a member of the central committee of the Alliance Israélite Universelle. As a representative of the central committee of the Alliance Israélite Universelle, Solomons advocated for the creation of the Montefiore Home for Chronic Invalids (now the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx) in order to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of England's great Jewish philanthropist, Sir Moses Montefiore. Solomons was founder of the Jewish Protectory and Aid Society, and of the Russian Jews Immigration Aid Society.

Solomons, a religious Jew, was influential in initiating a successful restructuring of finances for the Jewish Theological Seminary Association of New York. In 1891, Solomons became general agent and director of the international philanthropic organization, the Baron de Hirsch Fund in America. He championed new immigrants from Eastern Europe, particularly as famine swept the Russian empire in 1892.

Solomons helped Clara Barton establish the American Red Cross in 1881. When Barton was absent from Washington in 1883, he conducted the young organization's affairs from its Washington headquarters. Solomons held many meetings in his home planning and preparing for the American Red Cross to join the International Red Cross. During this planning stage, the Association of the American Red Cross was incorporated. Along with Clara Barton, Solomons was appointed to be a representative of the U.S. government in the International Congress of the Red Cross, held at Geneva, Switzerland in 1884. Solomons was eventually elected vice-president of the International Congress. For seventeen years, Solomons was a member of the National Association of the Red Cross, as well as one of its two vice-presidents. Solomons was one of the five original members of the New York executive board of the Red Cross Relief Committee; its board was in session during the Spanish-American War and was comprised of twenty-five members presided over by Bishop Potter. During the Spanish-American War, he was still a member of the executive board of the American Red Cross, which provided important services to U.S. troops in combat.

A schism developed between Solomons and Clara Barton because of his experience with Russia's treatment of its impoverished Jews. Solomons advised against American Red Cross efforts toward overall Russian relief. He was concerned that the Russian Red Cross would be in charge of distributing the relief funds. Solomons feared that the czarist regime would divert humanitarian aid away from those who needed it, especially impoverished Jews. Barton insisted that American aid pass through official Russian channels. Solomons publicly questioned her judgment. In 1903, he was relieved of active work and was named honorary general agent.

Solomons was treasurer of the Columbia Hospital and Living-in Asylum in Washington D.C. as well as its director for twenty years and was associated with nearly all the prominent charities in Washington. Solomons played an active part in inauguration ceremonies from Lincoln's to McKinley's. In 1892, Solomons helped found the American Jewish Historical Society.

Adolphus Simeon Solomons died in 1910, leaving behind a legacy of charity, helping the sick and needy, and working with and organizing Jewish organizations that helped people. He was best known for helping to establish hospitals, public health programs and agencies for relief of the poor. His greatest accomplishment was his contribution in helping to create the American Red Cross.

References:
Solomons, Adolphus Simeon. http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=956&letter=S&search=solomons
Solomons, Adolphus Simeon. Encyclopaedia Judaica, Second Edition, Volume 18
"Adolphus Simeon Solomons: Helped Organize Tbe Red Cross." http://www.fau.edu/library/brody37.htm
"The Red Cross's Jewish Star" http://www.ajhs.org/publications/chapters/chapter.cfm?documentID=238

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Scope and Content Note

Included in this collection are papers which reflect Solomon's personal life and his involvement in communal and civic affairs. Approximately half of the collection consists of correspondence with Clara Barton and others relating to the organization and activities of the American Red Cross, and Solomons' role in its initial organization. Various cards, ribbons, and other American Red Cross memorabilia are included. Among his personal papers are school documents and family correspondence; of special interest is an engraving of a photograph of Abraham Lincoln taken at Philp & Solomons Metropolitan Gallery shortly before his death (1865), and a letter from Josephine Phillips to Solomons describing the reaction of New Yorkers to the death of Abraham Lincoln and this engraving (1865), and two tickets of admission to the impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson printed by the firm of Philp & Solomons (1868). Also included are typed copies of sermonettes given by Solomons to his family (1876-96). Of interest in his general papers is a letter to Dr. Wheeler regarding memorial services in Congress for Samuel F.B. Morse (1872); correspondence with several dictionary editors regarding the definition of "Jew" (1872-1874); and a letter from John Davis of the U.S. State Department regarding American Jews in Jerusalem. Clippings of newspaper articles by Solomons, tributes, memorial notices, and memorial sermons in honor or memory of Solomons are also included (1870-1910).

Four scrapbooks compiled by Solomons on immigration to the United States are also found in the collection. Family photographs and miniatures have been removed and separated into Box 8 of the uncataloged photographs.

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers by permission of the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society, except items that are restricted due to their fragility.

Use Restrictions

Information concerning the literary rights may be obtained from the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society. Users must apply in writing for permission to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection. For more information contact:

American Jewish Historical Society, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011
E-mail: reference@ajhs.org

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:
Identification of item, date (if known); Adolphus Simeon Solomons, papers; P-28; box number; folder number; American Jewish Historical Society, Boston, MA and New York, NY.

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Acquisition Note

Gift, in part, of the Elsie O. and Philip D. Sang Foundation 1979 & 1982

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Note

Note

Four scrapbooks compiled by Solomons on immigration to the United States are also found in the collection. Family photographs and miniatures have been removed and separated into Box 8 of the uncataloged photographs.

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Access Points

Click on a subject to search that term in the Center's catalog. Return to the Top of Page

Container List

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

 

Papers of Adolphus Simeon Solomons, undated, 1841-1966

English.
Boxes 1-5.
BoxFolderTitleDate
1 1 Biography of A.S. Solomons (probably written by N.T. Phillips) undated
1 2 Correspondence in re Red Cross 1883-1903
1 3 Materials relating to articles on A.S. Solomons undated, 1919-1931
1 4 Letters from Clara Barton undated, 1883-1899
1 5 Newspaper clippings and documents relating to Red Cross undated, 1884-1943
BoxFolderTitleDate
2 1 Adolphus Solomons to be filed 1900
2 2 Correspondence to Mrs. N. Taylor Phillips (daughter) and to Miss Solomons 1868-1902
2 3 Correspondence and article in re Solomons' role in founding Red Cross undated, 1942, 1948-1949, 1966
2 4 Personal Correspondence undated, 1841-1902
2 5 Magazine and newspaper clippings about A.S. Solomons undated, 1871-1932
2 6 Obituary notices of Rachel S. Solomons (wife) and Alma (daughter); Tribute to father-in-law N. Phillips 1881-1888
2 7 Correspondence in re definition of "Jew" 1872-1874
2 8 Miscellaneous 1868, 1870-1906
2 9 Articles by A.S. Solomons undated, 1855, 1870-1873, 1877-1878, 1880-1884, 1887, 1893, 1893, 1895-1896
2 10 Citations, felicitations (for 80th birthday); memorial tributes and photographs 1876-1910
2 11 Memorial sermon delivered by Reverend De Sola Mendez 1910
2 12 Tributes and memorial notices 1910-1912
2 13 Solomons, I. 1925
2 14 Papers of Adolphus Solomons 1863-1874
2 15 "Sermonettes" 1876-1896
2 16 Newspaper clippings and eulogies
BoxFolderTitleDate
3 Scrapbooks (2 bound) 1890-1893
BoxFolderTitleDate
4 Scrapbook (1 bound) undated, 1891-1902
4 Partial scrapbook with clippings undated, 1870-1899
BoxFolderTitleDate
5 Scrapbook (1 bound) undated, 1891-1911
BoxFolderTitleDate
OSF1 1 Certificate of honorable discharge from the Third Regiment Artillery Section of New York State May 11, 1847
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