Skip to Content

Alvin, Sylvia, Elisabeth and Bruce Small Family Papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MS-0200-0010

Scope and Contents

The collection is divided into two series: Personal materials relating to Alvin, Sylvia, Elisabeth and Bruce Small, and a second series consisting of Temple Beth Zion related materials.

In the first series, a number of clippings and photographs are included that document Alvin and Sylvia Small’s community involvements and interests. Alvin Small was very active in local operetta and dramatic productions. He saved many of the playbills and some of these are the only existing copies of the productions (folder 1.2). From Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado, and The Gondoliers and other operettas in which he appeared or directed, to plays such as The World of Sholem Aleichem and The Tenth Man as well as comedic and lighter fare including See My Lawyer, these playbills demonstrate the range of clubs and societies present during the 1930s through the 1960s. The JCC Operetta Club, the Dramatics and Music Workshop, the Center Little Theater and the Young People’s League of TBZ are just a few of the voluntary organizations that enabled participants to perform for the local community (Jewish and non-Jewish). The range of venues utilized is shown, ranging from auditoriums at Temple Beth Zion and the Knights of Columbus, to stages at the Jewish Community Building and Kleinhans Music Hall. Some music and lyrics were composed and created by local artists such as Irving Shire and Bernard Simon. Some of the shows were held for fundraising purposes that varied greatly, for example, the show A Slight Case of Murder benefited the British Allied Relief whereas other supported Hadassah and other organizations.

“Project Big” (folders 1.12-1.14) was a significant undertaking by Temple Beth Zion, to support a trip for Alvin and Sylvia Small to Israel, for their long years of service to Temple Youth. A large number of letters were sent on their retirement and still more were received after the event. The impact of the Smalls at the Temple is apparent from the content of these letters, most of which are bound in a book created for this purpose and found in folder 1.14.


  • 1935-985
  • Majority of material found within 1938-1967


Language of Materials

Collection material in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The personal papers of Alvin, Sylvia, Elisabeth and Bruce Small Family, 1935-1985, are open for research. There are no restrictions regarding access to or use of this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright of papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright and the University Archives before publishing quotations from materials in the collection. Most papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures unless otherwise specified.

Biographical / Historical

Alvin Small worked as an Erie County probation officer, and was a member of Temple Beth Zion, particularly involved in Brotherhood and youth activities. He was also highly active in numerous local dramatic productions, in which he starred or directed, ranging from comedy, operetta, light and classic drama as well as new productions. Sylvia Small was a former Group Activities Director of Temple Beth Zion and director of Youth Activities for the Young Peoples’ Society. For her work with youth she was awarded an honorary life membership in the National Federation of Temple Youth. At various times she was also Director of the Jewish Center Day Trailer Camp, President of the PTA for Public School No. 22, a past Board Co-President of the Bennett High School Community Association, Chairman of the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods Youth Committee for Western New York State, and an advisor to North Eastern Lakes Federation of Temple Youth (NELFTY). As Director of Adult Services Department at the Jewish Community Center in the 1970s, she oversaw the development of the Jewish Book Fair, Cultural Arts, Military Information Services, Israel Information Service, and a variety of classes.


0.5 Linear Feet (1 standard manuscript box and 1 triangular tube)


Personal Papers documenting aspects of the Small family in Buffalo, N.Y. Encompasses Alvin and Sylvia Small’s involvement in Temple Beth Zion and Alvin Small’s participation in local theatre for a number of different theater troops. Supplemented by Temple Beth Zion religious educational records relating to their children: Elisabeth and Bruce Small.


This collection is arranged in two series as follows:

  1. Personal materials relating to Alvin, Sylvia, Elisabeth and Bruce Small
  2. Temple Beth Zion, Buffalo, NY

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Elisabeth Ann Small donated her family materials in November 2009. The papers were arranged and described in September 2015 and were deposited at the University Archives, Special Collections by the Jewish Buffalo Archives Project in October 2015. 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. The arrangement and description of the Alvin, Sylvia, Elisabeth and Bruce Small Family Papers, 1935-1985, were made possible by funding obtained through the Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies and the Bureau of Jewish Education.


Accruals are not expected to this collection.

Related Materials

MS 206, American Jewish Committee Buffalo/Niagara Chapter, 1977-2008 (bulk 1985-2007)
 MS 203, Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Buffalo, 1933-2009
 MS 9, David Diamond Papers, 1925-1998
 MS 150.1, Jewish Archives of Greater Buffalo, Records of the Jewish Federation of Greater Buffalo, 1902-1979 MS 150.2, Jewish Archives of Greater Buffalo, Selig Adler Papers, 1932-1988
 MS 150.3, Jewish Archives of Greater Buffalo, Local Jewish Community Records, 1844-1976 MS 150.4, Jewish Archives of Greater Buffalo, Papers of Prominent Local Jews, 1912-1988 MS 150.5, Jewish Archives of Greater Buffalo, Synagogue Records, 1884-1986
 MS 225, Jewish Federation of Greater Buffalo, circa 1970-2009
MS 202 , Jewish Federation of Niagara Falls, circa 1930-2001 (bulk 1935-1994)
 MS 106, Joseph Manch Papers, 1922-1988
 MS 209, Kadimah School of Buffalo, 1958-2009
 MS 149, Rabbi Isaac Klein Papers, 1925-1979
 22/6F/204, Selig Adler Papers, Part I, 1909-1984
 22/6F/358, Selig Adler Papers, Part II, 1928-1985
 MS 201, Westwood Country Club Records, 1945-1995

Adler, Selig and Thomas E. Connelly. From Ararat to Suburbia: The History of the Jewish Community of Buffalo. Philadelphia, Jewish Publication Society of America, 1960. Available in Lockwood Library and the University Archives (non-circulating), F129 B8 A38

Archives 9/7/00-3, Jewish Life (Buffalo, N.Y.), University Archives Periodical Collection

Related Online Resources
 Jewish Buffalo Image Collection, New York Heritage Digital Collections

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Chana Revell Kotzin in September 2015. Finding aid encoded by Archives Staff, January 2016.


Finding Aid for the Alvin, Sylvia, Elisabeth and Bruce Small Family Papers
Finding aid was written by Chana Revell Kotzin.
October 2015
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives Repository

420 Capen Hall
Buffalo New York 14260-1674 US
716-645-3714 (Fax)