Guide to the Kurt K. Field film collection, undated, 1939-1966


Processed by Rachel Kranson

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



© 2018, American Jewish Historical Society, Boston, MA and New York, NY. All Rights Reserved.
Machine-readable finding aid created by Rachel Kranson as MS Word document, February-March 2006. Finding aid was encoded by Marvin Rusinek on December 31, 2009. Finding aid written in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator:Field, Kurt K.
Title:Kurt K. Field film collection
Dates:undated, 1939-1966
Abstract:Films document the leisure activities of an American Jewish family from 1939 to 1966, with a majority of footage dating from the years after World War Two. Their activities included vacations, parades, and other outings. The films include footage of Catskills resorts, offering viewers rare and valuable images of small Jewish hotels from the postwar era. The films have been copied onto videotapes.
Languages:The collection is in English.
Quantity: .25 linear feet (11 reels on 16mm film, transferred to 4 VHS tapes. VHS Tapes stored in 1 half manuscript box. Metal film reels stored in metal case (13 ½ x 7 ½ x 7 ½ )
Repository: American Jewish Historical Society

The collection is unviewable until further notice.

Return to the Top of Page

Historical Note

Kurt K. Field Tapes, 1939-1966

Kurt K. Field filmed the majority of this footage in the years after World War Two. American Jewish life in the post-war era was characterized by prosperity, acceptance, and a decline in anti-Semitism. In fact, historians of American Jewry have referred to this time period as "A Time for Healing," and even "A Golden Age."1

Field's tapes capture a group of Jewish family-members and friends enjoying vacations, parades, and other outings. These activities were typical of middle-class Jewish Americans of the time, who enjoyed unprecedented affluence in the years after the Second World War. New Yorkers of any ethnicity would have shared in some of these activities, such as trips to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade or the Cloisters Museum. Other leisure behaviors filmed by Fields, like the excursions to Jewish resorts of the Catskills, were particular to American Jews.

Field's footage of the Catskills offers viewers rare and valuable images of small Jewish hotels in the years after World War Two. The history of Jewish resorts in the Catskills begins at the turn of the century, when some Jewish immigrants moved to the Catskill Mountains with the intention of becoming farmers. Many of these farmers - barely able to eke out a living on the stony, infertile soil - supplemented their income by taking in borders over the summer. Jews from the Lower East Side made the arduous journey to these farms in order to escape the polluted air of the city, to avoid urban epidemics (or to recover from them), and to eat farm-fresh produce, milk, eggs, and poultry.2

During the prosperous 1920s and even throughout the depression of the 1930s, thousands of Jews vacationed in the Catskills. But it was not until the 1950s, once the depression lifted and the soldiers returned home, that the Catskills hotels reached their peak in both luxury and popularity. About 1000 individual hotels and bungalow colonies catered to guests at any given point between 1950 and 1970. The region offered a variety of vacation choices, from mammoth, luxury resorts like Grossinger's or the Concord to smaller, more intimate, full-service hotels, or mellow, rustic bungalow colonies. Every year during this period, between half a million to a million guests stayed in the Jewish Catskills.3

Field recorded his family's experiences at these hotels, capturing such activities as baseball and volleyball games, rowboating, and sunbathing. His footage provides a window into how many American Jews of the post-war era spent their precious leisure hours.


1 For instance, Lucy Dawidowicz entitles her post-war chapter "The Golden Age in America," On Equal Terms: Jews in America, 1881-1981, New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1982; Arthur Goren, "A 'Golden Decade' for American Jews: 1945-1955," A New Jewry: Studies in Contemporary Jewry VIII, Peter Y. Medding, ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992; Edward Shapiro, A Time for Healing: American Jewry Since World War II. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992

2 Lavender and Steinberg, Jewish Farmers of the Catskills. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1995

3 Phil Brown, "A Movable Community in the Catskills." The Other Promised Land: Vacationing, Identity and the Jewish American Dream. The Jewish Museum of Maryland, 2005

Suggested Bibliography:
Aron, Cindy. Working At Play: A History of Vacations in the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999
Brown, Phil. Catskill Culture. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998
Diner, Hasia. The Jews of the United States. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004
Richman, Irwin. Borscht Belt Bungalows. Philadelphia, Temple University Press, 1998
Shapiro, Edward. A Time for Healing: American Jewry Since World War II. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992

Return to the Top of Page

Scope and Content Note

The Kurt K. Field Tapes consists of footage pertaining to one family's leisure activities between 1939 and 1966. The bulk of film was shot during the post-war period. The film covers a variety of outings in the New York City Area, such the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, The Staten Island Ferry and Empire State Building, and Central and Van Courtland Parks. Other vacation footage includes trips to Miami Beach, Atlantic City, and Ausable Canyon. Most of the film, however, focuses on time the family spent in small, Jewish hotels in the Catskills region.

This collection is valuable for researchers studying Jewish leisure habits, Jewish American life in the post-war era, vacations, or the Jewish Catskills.

This collection consists of four VHS tapes. Each tape includes a variety of distinct filmed episodes.

Return to the Top of Page

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

Return to the Top of Page

Related Material

Molly Picon Papers (P-38), Jewish Agricultural Society Records within the Baron de Hirsch Fund Records (I-80)

Return to the Top of Page

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:
Identification of item, date (if known); Kurt K. Field film collection; P-805; box number; folder number; American Jewish Historical Society, New York, NY, and Boston, MA.

Return to the Top of Page

Acquisition Note

Donated by Carole H. Polsky to the Catskills Institute for donation to the American Jewish Historical Society in 2000.

Return to the Top of Page

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.


Tape 1, undated, 1940s, 1951, 1957

Folder TitleDate
1Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade1940

Marching band, floats

Counter: 1 - 1:02.02.27
Folder TitleDate
2Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade1945

First post-war Thanksgiving Day Parade, floats, marching band, balloons

Counter: 1:02.02.28 - 1:05.10.09
Folder TitleDate
3Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade1946

Marching band, floats, balloons

Counter: 1:05.10.10 - 1:07.10.06
Folder TitleDate
4First Post-war Saint Patrick's Day Parade1946

Horses, marchers, marching band

Counter: 1:07.10.10 - 1:09.07.07
Folder TitleDate
5Empire State Building?

Views of Empire State Building from the street, views from the top of building

Counter: 1:09.07.10 - 1:11.06.23
Folder TitleDate
6New Years Eve1947

Small party at a private house, celebrants drink, dance, eat, kiss

Counter: 1:11.06.24 - 1:15.00.25
Folder TitleDate
7The Cloisters?

Drive to Cloisters, shots of building, photographing building

Counter: - 1:17.53.02
Folder TitleDate
8Ride on Staten Island Ferry?

Views of New York City from the boat, Pass Statue of Liberty

Counter: 1:17.03.21 - 1:17.53.02
Folder TitleDate
9Air Show?

Fly toy airplanes, then watch real airplanes

Counter: 1:17.53.03 - 1:22.10.16
Folder TitleDate
10Blizzard in New York City1947

Walking and playing on snow-covered streets, pigeons, snow plow, skiing and sledding in Central Park.

Counter: 1:22.10.17 -
Folder TitleDate
11Tamarack Lodgecirca late 1940s

Shots of building, two men in shorts with no shirts and one woman in sundress walk along path in front of building. Man walks up driveway, view of parking lot (about 5 cars parked). Baseball game, players are all men (dressed in shorts). Tennis courts in background (men and women play.) Two women in bathing suits sit on bleachers, play paddleball.

Shuffleboard game: male and female partners, all in bathing suits. The court is next to the pool. Airplane flies overhead. Men and women sunbathe, kiss. Shots of pool. Women puts lotion on man in hammock. Couple kisses on hammock. Outdoor card tables. Men and women play volleyball (mock volleyball injury.) Man in Tamarack staff T-shirt (camp counselor?) talks on megaphone to teenagers. Teenagers blow bubbles out of chewing gum. Shots of pool, surrounded by green, Adirondack-style lounge chairs, Man jumps off diving board. Women play dominoes on shiny, green table. Wear bracelets, nail polish. Men sit near them in green Adirondack lounges.

Counter: 1:25.47.03 - 1:33.40.00
Folder TitleDate
12Atlantic City (Might be Coney Island?)?

Beach, Crowded boardwalk, Shots of Steel Pier and Steeplechase, amusement park rides

Counter: 1:33.40-04 - 1:36.19.08
Folder TitleDate
13City College of NY1947

First frame: 1947 Centennial Seal of CCNY.

Shots of CCNY building, students (mostly male, in slacks and button-down shirts, some ties, blazers, sweaters). Sports stadium, batting practice, football toss.

Counter: 1:36.19.10 - 1:39.44.02
Folder TitleDate
14Columbia University?

Columbia Banner. Low Library and library stairs. Campus shots. Football game in front of Butler Library. Tennis Match. Street sign: Corner of 123rd and Amsterdam Ave. Optometry Laboratory.

Counter: 1:39.44.03 - 1:41.33.17
Folder TitleDate
15Kenmore Lake Hotel1948

Main building, people on lawn and on Adirondack chairs, pool (with peeling paint), man dives, women on lawn, man pours bucket of water on himself, man and woman kiss on the lawn at the side of the pool, woman sticks out tongue, baseball game (men play in shorts, no shirts), horseback riding, adults on swing, golf, adults on see-saw.

Counter: 1:41.33.18 -
16Picnic at Palisades?request_box

City College T-Shirt on Lawn, picnic lunch on lawn, men and women play softball, bonfire, roast hot dogs and marshmallows, play cards.

Counter: 1:45.14.01 - 1:48.08.07
Folder TitleDate
17Atlantic City?

Shots of houses, hotel, beach, boardwalk. People walk out of the Ritz-Carleton Hotel. People on Beach in their coats, kiss, take pictures, wear sun reflectors around their necks. Sunbathing in coats. Horseback riding.

Counter: 1:48.08.09 - 1:51.34.16
Folder TitleDate
18Schroon Crest (Hotel)1957

Lake, swimming, boating. Woman smokes cigarette, puts on lipstick. Woman rowboating. Folk dancing. Sitting on Adirondack chairs. Woman does summersaults on grass.

Counter: 1:51.34.17 -
Folder TitleDate
19Wooden Acres Adult Resort?

British Flag Waving, Parking lot, wooden cabin-like main building, woods, people in bathing suits, stream, lake, people sunning on dock and lawn, women in bathing suits. RESORT CATCHES FIRE, hoses try to fight it. Shots of resort after the fire.

Counter: 1:54.35.27 - 1:58.54.20
Folder TitleDate
20Banner Lodge1951

Calesthenics (men teach, women in the class), man in Banner Lodge T-shirt leads Simon Says, men do a relay race on the lake, rowboating. People watch on sand.

Counter: 1:58.54.20 - 2:02.27.09
Return to the Top of Page

Tape 2, undated, late 1930s, early 1940s, 1953-1954

Folder TitleDate
1Trip to Ausable Canyon?

First Frame: Map to destination. Drive through Canadian Border.

Counter: 33:20 - 2:49:10
Folder TitleDate
2The Chalet1953

Volleyball game (men play). Lake in background. Women sunbathing. Swimming in lake. Tennis game, men vs. women, dressed in bathing suits. People suntanning on the lawn. Women jokingly do the "can can". Man hugs one of them. Couples Kissing. Beauty pageant (women strut in bathing suits.)

Counter: 2:49:12 - 7:44:10
Folder TitleDate
3Tamarack Lodge1954

Shots of Main Building (1950s motel style). Title reads "Tamarack Athletics", camera pans to people in bathing suits lounging on plastic and aluminum lounge chairs. Woman dances on cobblestone path. Man plays basketball on court. Title reads "Riding Academy". Shots of horses in stable. Men ride horses. Full parking lot. People drive away.

Counter: 7:44:11 - 10:57:05
Folder TitleDate
4Green Mansions ?

Car drives up path, see people walking and sitting under large, multicolored sun umbrellas. Stone cottages, wooden bridge, manicured lawns. People go to the lake, dock, boats, post in front of wooden cabins, shots of speed boat on the lake. Ping pong tournament (ten tables set up next to each other). Volleyball and handball courts. Women play handball. Men and women play racket-ball. People sunbathing on the lawn.

Counter: 10:57:06 - 14:36:25
Folder TitleDate
5Bits of Older Footage (black and white)early 1940s?

Ice Skating women. City College building. Swimming seals. Parade. 1940 World's Fair Flag, policeman in clown make-up, boy in a monkey cage, parachute jump, sledding, skiing, snowball fight, small dog and pigeons. Boy and a ventriloquist "dummy", boy and older man (grandfather?) dance in Central Park.

Counter: 14:36:26 - 21:21:25
Folder TitleDate
6Field Day1941

Young people stand in front of flag, races.

Counter: 21:21:25 - 22:25:09
Folder TitleDate
7NYU vs. CCNY Football Gameearly 1940s

NYU:45, CCNY:0. Men in Army Uniforms watch the game.

Folder TitleDate
8Beach and Boardwalk (where? Atlantic City?)?

Watering grass, tanning on beach, swim in ocean, roses.

Counter: 28:29:17 - 30:14:22
Folder TitleDate
9Nature Friends Campearly 1940s

Women on swings, swimming in pool, sing-along with guitar and accordion, women and men play volleyball, calisthenics, woods, sunbathing on lawn.

Counter: 30:40:06 - 32:29:20
Folder TitleDate
10Picnic at Van Cortlandt Parkearly 1940s?

Playful wrestling, soccer, sandwiches. Girl does split.

Counter: 32:29:21 - 36:03:08
Folder TitleDate
11Riis Park Beachearly 1940s?

People in bathing suits on beach. Sunbathing, gymnastics, "chicken fights."

Counter: 36:03:10 - 37:46:10
Folder TitleDate
12A Few Pictures of Central Parkearly 1940s

Kids riding on fallen tree, horse and buggy rides alongside a car, footbridge, squirrel, someone ignores "keep off" sign and sets up camera, men in army uniform, Rowboats on lake.

Folder TitleDate
13Vacationing at Sacks Farm1943

Main Building and Lawn. Children run around flowers. Woman picks wildflowers. Sunning on lawn in bathing suits. Adirondack chairs. Baby in playpen on lawn. Men and Women play volleyball. Working in vegetable garden. Chickens, Horseback riding in a cemetery, playing in the cemetery.

Counter: 40:11:20 - 43:20:14
Folder TitleDate
14Bits of Older Footagelate 1930s, early 1940s

1939 World's Fair, Italian Pavilion, feeding pigeons and dogs, Central Park, roller skating, Central Park Zoo (cheetah, bear, monkey zebra), horseback riding, school classroom.

Counter: 43:20:15 - 46:35:19
Folder TitleDate
15“The Boisterous Butler” – A Silent film
  Counter: 46:35:20 - 50:42:22 
Folder TitleDate
16Beginning of Mickey Mouse Cartoon
Return to the Top of Page

Tape 3, undated, 1945-1946, 1950s

Folder TitleDate
1Mickey Mouse Cartoon: “Mickey and Pluto the Heroes”
  Counter: 0:21:20 - 3:04:24 
Folder TitleDate
2“Dog Catches a Thief” (Buster Keaton?)
  Counter: 3:04:25 - 5:08:10 
Folder TitleDate
3Charlie Chaplain’s “Charlie’s Adventure”
  Counter: 5:08:11 - 06:58:23 
Folder TitleDate
4Footage of Zoo (Bronx Zoo? Central Park Zoo?)

"Tractor Train" ride, feeding antelopes and kangaroos, see lion, cheetah, etc, dunk pond, pelican, swan.

Counter: 6:58:24 - 10:06:02
Folder TitleDate
5“Saratoga Victory Express”1945

Footage of model railroad large enough to ride. Those who bought liberty bonds could ride the train.

Counter: 10:06:05 - 11:01:28
Folder TitleDate
6“Tragedy in Toyland”

Someone puts on a show with a marionette. Toy train and toy truck crash, and marionette cries.

Counter: 11;02:00 - 13:00:10
Folder TitleDate
7Mother’s Day1946

Footage of toddler and parents.

Counter: 13:01:00 - 14:54:04
Folder TitleDate
8An Afternoon at Van Cortland Park1946

Toddler and parents in Park in winter.

Counter: 14:54:05 - 17:02:22
Folder TitleDate
9An Afternoon at Bear Mountains?

Skiing, sled runs, ski jumps.

Counter: 17:02:22 - 18:17:07
Folder TitleDate
10A weekend at the Flagler?

Footage of mission-style main building. Skiing, sledding, ice skating on a frozen stream.

Counter: 18:17:08 - 21:04:07
Folder TitleDate
11NY Municipal Airport (La Guardia)?
  Counter: 21:06:02 - 22:27:25 
Folder TitleDate
12A Week at Laurel’s Country Club1946

Women in front of main gate, multicolored picnic tables. Lake, men and women row boats. Fishing. Shots of another building built on the lake. People on Adirondack chairs on the lawn. Tudor-style buildings. Men and women cuddle in the sun. Playing cards for change. Paddle ball. Baseball game. Men and women in bathing suits play tennis. Bicycling. Play horseshoes in front of cabins. Kids on swing-set, then adults play on swing-set. Manicured lawn overlooks lake. Other hotel buildings. People playing some kind of indoor table game (knock hockey?). Basketball game, men play, men and women look on. Exercise class, man teaches and women exercise. Bar in the boat house (building overlooking the lake). Dance on boathouse deck. Instructor wears Laurel's T-shirt.

Counter: 22:27:26 - 36:22:18
Folder TitleDate
13Thanksgiving Day Parade (Repeated)1946
  Counter: 36:23:16 - 38:23:14 
Folder TitleDate
14White Roe1953

People sunbathe on towels on lawn next to the lake. Dive off board into the lake. Row boating. Women play pattycake on lawn. People dance the hora. Lie on grass and smoke cigarettes. Ping pong, Archery, children do potato-sack races.

Counter: 38:23:17 - 42:27:04
Folder TitleDate
15Camp Log Tavern1955

Car Drives into the camp, shots of the grounds (trees, lake, cabins). Basketball courts, volleyball game (mostly men, one woman), archery (men and women), lake, people sunbathe on lawn, do gymnastics. Folk dancing.

Counter: 42:27:24 - 46:08:10
Folder TitleDate
16The Tamiment Hotel1950s?

Close-up of main building and "Tamiment" welcome mat. It's a wood building with picture windows. Large group plays game (charades), led by man in Tamiment T-shirt (The Tummler?). Man plays guitar near the lake. Starts to rain, people leave. Rain at Tamiment. Paths soaked with puddles, slick tennis courts and handball courts. Rain-filled boats.

Counter: 46:09:01 - 49:47:14
Folder TitleDate
17Labor Day at Pocmont1956

Shot of main stairway leading to stucco building. Take Rowboat out on lake. Man pretends to row with no oars. Woman does exercises on boat. Women playing basketball. Man and woman play one-on-one game of volleyball. Women take off shoes. Man and two women lounge in Adirondack chairs. Woman dives off diving board into pool, man follows her. Nature walk - footage of vegetation, cave, cliff. People climb cliff.

Counter: 49:47:15 - 54:58:08
Folder TitleDate

Pack car, go to waterfall.

Counter: 54:58:09 - 58:03:24
Folder TitleDate
19Hotel Beauty Pageant (Which hotel?)1950s?

Women in bathing suits pose on ledge over the lake. Man takes their photographs. People watch from the lawn.

Counter: 58:03:25 - 1:00:41:05
Folder TitleDate
20A Hot Summer Day at the Palisades?

Banner for "Palisades Sun and Surf Club". Large pool, people swim. Amusement park ride with water scooters, toy cars. Buy ice cream cone. Other amusement park rides (airplane, etc).

1:00:41:06 -
Return to the Top of Page

Tape 4, undated, 1940s, 1958, 1966

Folder TitleDate
1Continuation of Summer Day at the Palisades
  Counter: 1:03:05:02 - 1:06:08:02 
Folder TitleDate
2NBC Coverage of Gemini 12 Launch
  Counter: 1:06:08:03 - 1:07:57:26 
Folder TitleDate
3Tante Jenni1940s

Tante Jenni in the park, smoking, doing laundry, near the River.

Counter: 1:07:57:27 - 1:09:15:18
Folder TitleDate
4Miami Beach1958

First Shot: Brochure saying "Lets Go Miami Beach - Here We Come! 1958" Pictures of swimming, romantic couples.

Air port, luggage, walk onto plane (outdoor stairs), takeoff, clouds/sky, land in Miami, cab, streets of Miami beach filled with Hotels (Del Parc, Atlas, Seville, Lakeside Apts). They stay at Nautilus (1950s style, boxy with windows). Pool, Lounge, umbrellas, ocean, palm trees. People play catch in and out of pool, swim in ocean. Sunbathe on beach, swim in pool. Women in bathing suits. More shots of hotels (Crown). Shots of the Fontainebleau Hotel: flags out front, garden maze. Camera Pans the curved main building, fountain. Go sightseeing on glass-bottomed boat. Shots of Lincoln Road (older hotels, shops). Street sign: Collins Ave and Lincoln Road. Dubrow's Cafeteria. Night shot of "Shore Club's" neon sign. Shelbourne Hotel's neon sign. Nautilus' neon sign.

Counter: 1:09:15:19 - 1:19:53:19
Folder TitleDate

Road Map to destination. Loading cars on ferry. Wharf, landscape artist, boats. Nantucket streets, Eagle Cottage from 1789 and other clapboard cottages. Bicycling. Surfing. 1746 lighthouse.

Counter: 1:19:53:20 - 1:27:04:10
Folder TitleDate
6Castle Films newsreel of Japan’s Surrender

Includes A-bomb footage.

Counter: 1:27:04:12 - 01:35:31:01
Return to the Top of Page

Reels, undated, 1939-1940, 1945-1946, 1948, 1951, 1953, 1958, 1966

7 Reels.
Scope and Content:

Reel TitleDate
2 NY Worlds Fair, 1939; NY Central Park Zoo; Boisterous Butler; Mickey and Pluto the Heroes; Dog Catches Thief; Charley's Adventureundated, 1939
Reel TitleDate
5 A Week at Laurel's Country Club1946
Reel TitleDate
6 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, 1940; First Post War Thanksgiving Day Parade, 1945; Thanksgiving Day Parade, 1946; First Post War Saint Patrick's Day Parade; Empire State Building; Happy New Year; The Cloisters; A Ferry Rideundated, 1940, 1945-1946
Reel TitleDate
9 Picnic at Palisades1948
Reel TitleDate
10 Banner Lodger1951
Reel TitleDate
12 White Rose1953
Reel TitleDate
14 Miami Beach, 1958; Nantucket, 19661958, 1966
Return to the Top of Page