Frank E. Freedman papers
The Frank E. Freedman personal papers document the personal, social and work life of local politician and lawyer, Frank E. Freedman, between 1896 and 1970. The first series contains personal photographs of Frank as a child at school, as well as a newspaper school clipping of school friend, Jack Yellen.
The second series includes a victory dinner pamphlet, relating to Freedman’s election as a councilor. The pamphlet includes a reception committee list that features a long list of prominent Buffalonians across numerous fields including many contemporary justices, judges, and assemblymen along with Congressmen and Senators.
In the third series, materials relating to both Frank Freedman’s amateur dramatic and writing life, and his interest in show business are found. A photograph dated “May 15 & 22, 1919” with Frank Freedman at center (not in blackface) on stage with a group of JYMA (Jewish Young Men’s Association) blackface performers at the Jewish Community Building (insignia on stage ceiling) was typical of blackface minstrelsy, still popular in the early twentieth century. Jack Yellen served as the director of these shows at the Jewish Community Building (JCB), while a young man, before he became a household name in music. Jack Yellen, born in Poland, emigrated with his family to the United States in the late 1890s and was raised in Buffalo. As an American lyricist and screenwriter, he had many hits including, “Happy Days Are Here Again” and “Ain't She Sweet.” Three autographed photographs from Eddie Cantor, Ben Bernie and Sophie Tucker are also included in this series. Commercial scores include: Hard to Get Gertie (Yellen/Ager) with a photograph of Ray Klein’s Orchestra, Buffalo, NY; Time Will Tell (David Shire, Over the Rainbow (Harold Arlen), Happy Days Are Here Again (Yellen/Ager), I Had A Man (Arlen/Koehler).
- Majority of material found within ( 1927-1969)
- Freedman, Frank E. (Person)
Language of Materials
Terms of Access
.2 Linear Feet (1 half manuscript box)
Frank E. Freedman was born in 1896 and died March 21, 1970 at the age of 74. His father, Louis and mother, Fanny (nee Silberman) were Jewish immigrants from Austria and he had five brothers and a sister (Julius, Abraham known as Abe, Harry, Harris, Nathan and sister Anna). Frank Freedman grew up in East Buffalo and attended school PS32 at a time when over ninety per cent of pupils were Jewish. He attended Masten Park High School, graduating in 1912. He received his law degree from the University of Buffalo, Law School in 1919, and was admitted to the bar in 1920. He was a member of Brith Sholem (Orthodox) synagogue, known as the “Pine Street Shul”, and retained a life long interest in the Hebrew language.
While studying law, he began working as a reporter for the Buffalo Courier under Norman E. Mack. He later worked as a sports editor at the Buffalo Courier, and subsequently worked at the Buffalo Times. In 1921 he ran as a Republican candidate for the Ellicott District seat and won, serving as a member of the Erie County Board of Supervisors from 1921to 1927. He was identified as a “prime mover” in the establishment of the Erie County Park system and the city purchase of land for public parks at Chestnut Ridge, Emery, Como Lake and Ellicott Creek through his service as chairman of the Parks Committee. From 1927 to 1931 he served on the City Council and was instrumental in developing plans for the building of Buffalo City Hall. Between 1941 and 1965, he served as confidential clerk to the Justices Joseph A. Wechter and John V. Maloney, and as confidential secretary, to Supreme Court Justice Regis O’Brien.
Frank Freedman maintained a long personal friendship with Jack Yellen whom he knew from East Buffalo and through whom he became acquainted with other show business people including Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor, George M. Cohan, Ben Bernie, Sophie Tucker and Will Rogers. As an amateur scriptwriter, he wrote political satire. In 1935 he helped found the Erie County Capital Hill Club that lampooned local and national politicians in an annual show. He contributed material to 32 annual shows. Frank Freedman’s political activity in the Republican Party is mentioned (on p. 345) in the classic history of Jewish Buffalo, Selig Adler and Thomas E. Connelly, From Ararat to Suburbia: The History of the Jewish Community of Buffalo, published by Jewish Publication Society of America in 1960. In the same publication, his role as a publicity organizer for Beth El musical productions is also included on p. 272.
- Personal Materials relating to childhood and family
- Career in Politics
- Amateur Show Business involvement and connections.
Robert P. Freedman and Maryann Saccomando Freedman donated the materials in August 2012. Robert P. Freedman, son of Nathan Freedman, is the nephew of Frank Freedman. The papers were arranged and described in November 2012 and the collection was deposited at the University Archives, Special Collections, by the Jewish Buffalo Archives Project in December 2012.
The Jewish Buffalo Archives Project was founded in late 2007 under the auspices of the Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Buffalo with a seed grant from the Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies. The Archives Project collects mainly 20th century documentation relating to the diverse histories, religious traditions and cultures of Jewish communities within the Greater Buffalo area of Western New York, encompassing the geographic areas of Erie and Niagara Counties and partners with the University Archives at the University at Buffalo to make these records accessible.
Accruals and Additions
- Finding Aid for the Frank E. Freedman papers
- Finding aid prepared by Chana Revell Kotzin.
- Description rules
- Language of description
- The arrangement and description of the Frank E. Freedman Papers was made possible by funding obtained through the Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies and the Bureau of Jewish Education.