Access and Provenance

Biographical Sketch

Scope and Content Note

Box and Folder Listing

Subject Tracings

A Finding Aid to the

Morris Newfield Papers

Manuscript Collection No. 45

1868-1940. .8 Linear ft.


The Morris Newfield Papers were donated by Mayer U. Newfield (Birmingham, Alabama) in March, 1978. Property rights are assigned to the American Jewish Archives. Literary rights have been dedicated to the public. Any questions concerning the literary or copyrights should be addressed to the Director of the American Jewish Archives.

The Morris Newfield Papers are open to all users. The original manuscript collection is available in the reading room of the American Jewish Archives.


Morris Newfield, Reform rabbi and social worker, was born in Homanna, Hungary in 1869, the son of Simon Sabbatai and Lena (Klein). He was educated at the Royal Gymnasium, Homanna and Budapest, Hungary; at the Theological College of the University of Budapest where he received his B.D. in 1889 and his M.A. in 1895. He also received his B.A. at the University of Cincinnati and was ordained simultaneously a rabbi at Hebrew Union College in 1895. Newfield also received an honorary doctorate in letters from the University of Alabama in 1921, and a Doctor of Divinity, honorus causis, from Hebrew Union College in 1939.

Rabbi Newfield taught at Hebrew Union College even before his ordination. After his graduated, he took a pulpit at Temple Emanu-El in Birmingham, Alabama, where he stayed until his death in 1940. In 1914, he was also professor of Hebrew and Semitics at Howard College in Birmingham, Alabama.

The rabbi was not only a leader of the Jewish community in Birmingham but also one of Alabama's most renowned citizens. In Birmingham, he founded the first free kindergarten, was on the board of the Court of Domestic Relations and Juvenile Delinquency from 1915-1932, was president of the Alabama Tuberculosis Association (1919-1921), chairman of the Home Service of the Jefferson County Chapter of the American Red Cross (1919-1936), and was one of the most active relief workers in the devestating Mississippi Valley floods of 1937.

Newfield worked very hard to improve relations between the Jewish and Christian communities in Alabama. Together with Presbyterian ministers and Catholic priests, Newfield developed countless interfaith forums to counteract the virus of the Klu Klux Klan Movement.

The rabbi from Birmingham also served as treasurer for the Central Conference of American Rabbis, was president from 1931-1933, served as a member of the Executive Board of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations from 1925-1940, and was also president of the Alumni Association of Hebrew Union College (1907-1908). Newfield was the author of The Book of Ecclesiastes (1895) and of numerous addresses and articles on Jewish subjects, literature, and philosophy.

Morris and Leah (Ullman) Newfield married in 1901 and had six children: Simon U., Emma U., Mayer U., Lena J., Lincoln, and John. Rabbi Newfield died in 1940.


The Morris Newfield Papers (1868-1940), document the career of Morris Newfield, Reform rabbi, author, treasurer, and president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and a member of the Interfaith Council of Birmingham. The collection consists of sermons, addresses, correspondence, newsclippings, and organizational notes of Newfield's various activities. The papers have been organized into two series:
  • A. Sermons and addresses
  • B. Personal correspondence, Newsclippings, and notes.
  • The Series A (1894-1939) consists of one and one-half Hollinger boxes. The dated sermons are arranged chronologically while the undated addresses are arranged in alphabetical order. Access to the more significant subjects may be made through the use of the Subject Tracings and a complete listing of sermons and addresses can be obtained by contacting the Archivist of the American Jewish Archives.

    Series B (1891-1940) consists of one half Hollinger box of correspondence, newspapers clippings, and pamphlets about Rabbi Newfield's activities. The personal correspondence is arranged in chronological order whenever possible.


    Box Folder Contents SERIES A. SERMONS AND ADDRESSES NOTE: The SERMONS AND ADDRESSES series is arranged chronologically by date, and alphabetically when no date is indicated. Selective access to additional topics and individuals in this series may be made through the Subject Tracings at the end of this inventory. Please note that a subject or individual name may appear in the collection more often than indicated in the Subject Tracings. 1 1 1894-1896 Yom Kippur Eve. 2 1896 Yom Kippur Day-1899 3 1900-1907 New Year's Eve. 4 1907 New Year's Morning-1909. 5 1910-1911 March. 6 1911 April-1913 Yom Kippur Morning. 7 1913 Yom Kippur Day-1919 October. 8 1920 January-1928 October. 9 1929-1939. 2 1 Undated (A-F). 2 Undated (G-L). 3 Undated (M-R). 4 Undated (S-Z). SERIES B. PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE, NEWSCLIPPINGS, AND NOTES 5 Certificates 1868, 1894, 1903. 6 Correspondence and Pamphlets, 1892-1937. 7 Programs and Notes, 1915-1937. 8 Newspaper Articles, 1895-1940.


    Note: The following list represents a selective guide to the significant subjects and
    correspondents within the MORRIS NEWFIELD PAPERS. References are to boxes and folders,
    e.g. 2/1=Box 2, Folder 1. This list should be used in conjunction with the Box and 
    Folder List.
    Bankhead, William B.     2/8
    Black, Hugo L.      	 2/5
    Deutsch, Gotthard        2/5
    Hirsch, Emil G.          2/5
    Newfield, Emil      	 2/2, 2/5
    Wise, Isaac Mayer        2/4, 2/5