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Harold I. Siegel Papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MS-0200-0025

Scope and Contents

The papers of Harold I. Siegel illustrate research interests developed over thirty years in area of Buffalo Jewish history, and general Jewish history, including the Holocaust. Series I extends an understanding of the East Side during the 1920s and 1930s through research using a variety of resources including the city directories. William Street was regarded as the hub of Jewish life on the East Side from the 1890s to the 1930s. Harold Siegel’s maps include a listing of each business, organization and residence along the entire stretch of the road around 1930. This provides not only a record of Jewish community life at this particular period of time, but also a record of other ethnic and community business, some of which are places referenced in recollections of the area. Four separate maps chart locations of Jewish organizations over time within the East Side, West Side and North Buffalo. The juxtaposition of different Jewish synagogue and Jewish fraternal cemeteries is illustrated in a separate map.

Series II includes materials relating to the screening of a film about Polish Jewish leader Chaim Rumkowski who was appointed by Nazi occupation authorities in 1939 as the head of the Judenrat of the Łódź Ghetto, Poland during the occupation of Poland from 1939. It includes a series of screenings and educational informational sessions developed to contextualize the period and the history of the ghetto, as well as the fate of Polish Jews under Nazism. Series III includes an image of Harold Siegel at his bar mitzvah in 1935 illustrating the changing ways in which bar mitzvah has been observed in the United States. This image is part of an online collection made available through the New York Heritage digital portal. This section also holds materials relating to a long running annual Passover program led by Harold Siegel and an example of a book series program that he created for local groups.


  • 1972-2006
  • Majority of material found within 1972-1980


Language of Materials

Collection material in English.

Terms of Access and Use

The personal papers of Harold I. Siegel, 1972-2014 (bulk 1972-1980) are open for research. There are no restrictions regarding access to or use of this collection.


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 the materials in the collection. Most papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures unless otherwise specified.

Biographical Note

Harold I. Siegel (May 21, 1922-February 9, 2014) was born in Buffalo and grew up on the East Side at 327 Hickory Street in the heart of the old Jewish community around the William Street and Jefferson thoroughfares. Herman Siegel was in the scrap business (Siegel and Son) where Harold's brother was also active in his father's business. Like many Jewish families, his family eventually moved out to North Buffalo to 157 Saranac where they were part of a community around the Saranac Shul and his father, Herman (Hebrew name: Hyman) Siegel, was involved in the lay leadership. Herman Siegel subsequently became involved in the founding of Ahavas Achim Lubavitz on Tacoma, also in North Buffalo. Harold Siegel attended Hutch-Tech School graduating with drafting skills. He was active in an array of sports at school including football and baseball teams and the Niagara Association for Amateur Athletics Union, as well as the Jewish Community Building Wrestling Club. In a 1940 wrestling match held at the YMCA, he placed third in the city. He graduated high school in 1940 at the age of 17 and worked in various drafting jobs. Drafted into the US Army Air Force in 1943 at the age of 21, he eventually became a corporal and was stationed at Watton, Norfolk in England from April 8, 1944 as part of the 654th Bombers Squadron of the 25th Bombardment (Reconnaissance). There he worked in an intelligence squad drafting flight patterns that supplied target location strikes for American soldiers flying from the base in British planes. He returned to America on July 28, 1945 on the Queen Mary and was honorably discharged on August 6, 1945 with a knee injury.

He started working at Bethlehem Steel at the Woodlawn, New York building, on November 2, 1945 as a mechanical engineer using his drafting skills. After studying at Erie County Community College at night while working at Bethlehem Steel, he qualified as an electrical engineer. Living in Kenmore from 1954, he had a thirty-year career at the company, only retiring in 1982, when Bethlehem Steel was in decline. While a respected electrical engineer, Harold Siegel was also heavily involved in gardening and the musical arts. Through the Kenmore Homeowners Association he was recognized as an award winning gardener. As an offshoot of his daughter's interest in dance, he was also president of the Ballet Guild of Buffalo during the 1960s. Part of a community of those interested in ballet, the Siegels came to meet and provide hospitality for many rising ballerinas and ballet stars visiting Buffalo to perform or work at Kleinhans, including Arthur Mitchell, the first African American ballet star in America, and founder of Dance Theatre of Harlem.

After his career at Bethlehem Steel, he became a substitute vocational teacher in several public high schools in Buffalo, including Seneca and Burgard, teaching the Industrial Arts. In the late 1980s and onwards, in his full retirement, he started researching and recording local history particularly the East Side and the North Side making maps, and became a popular presenter to the High School of Jewish Studies, and local temple sisterhoods. In 1999, he moved from Kenmore to Amherst, and from 2001, he and his wife were residents at the Weinberg Campus.

Harold Siegel died in 2014 at the age of 92.


2 Linear Feet (1 half manuscript box, 1 oversize flat box)


Personal papers consist of research materials and maps documenting Jewish businesses and organizations that were located on the East Side of Buffalo during the 1930s. Also includes programming relating to Holocaust education. Programs, photographs, notes and newspaper clippings are included on other aspects of Jewish practice and history.


This collection is arranged in three series as follows:

  1. Jewish Buffalo Research
  2. Holocaust Programming
  3. Other Activities

Acquisition Information

Harold Siegel donated his personal papers in 2012. The papers were initially arranged in November 2014, and March 2016. It was deposited at the University Archives, Special Collections by the Jewish Buffalo Archives Project in March 2016.

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 Harold I. Siegel Papers was made possible by funding obtained through the Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies.

Accruals and Additions

Accruals are expected to this collection.

Related Resources

Processing Information

Collection was processed by Chana Revell Kotzin in November 2014 and March 2016. Finding aid created by Archives staff, April 2016.


Finding Aid for the Harold I. Siegel Papers
Finding aid was finalized by Chana Revell Kotzin.
March 2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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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)