Access and Provenance

Biographical Sketch

Scope and Content Note

Box and Folder Listing


A Finding Aid to the

Phineas Smoller Papers

Manuscript Collection No. 108

1886-1953. 8.5 Linear ft.


 The Phineas Smoller Papers were donated to the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives by Mrs. Bonita Smoller, of Joplin, Missouri in 1979 and May 1990.  All literary rights to materials authored by Phineas Smoller are held by the Smoller heirs. Literary rights to materials authored by others are held by the individual author or his/her heirs. Questions concerning rights should be addressed to the Executive Director of the American Jewish Archives. The papers are available to researchers in the reading room of the Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives.


Phineas Smoller was born on October 16, 1903, in Jatamir, Russia, the son of Louis Smoller.  The Smoller family emigrated to the United States in 1905. Phineas, known as "Pete" to his family and friends, earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Johns Hopkins University in 1925.  In 1930 he was ordained as a rabbi at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati.

 From 1930-1936, Smoller served as rabbi of South Fountain Avenue Temple/Oheb Zedukah Congregation, in Springfield, Ohio.  From 1936 to approximately 1944 he ministered to United Hebrew Congregation in Joplin, Missouri.  During World War II Smoller also served as acting chaplain at Camp Crowder in Missouri.

 After World War II Smoller became the first director of the Chicago Federation of Reform Synagogues of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC) and the director of the Midwestern Regional office for the UAHC.  In 1949 he moved to Los Angeles to become director of the Western Regional office of the UAHC, serving there until his death in 1952.

 Smoller was an active participant and leader in communal activities.  He served as treasurer for the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and was a member of the National Council of the Jewish Distribution Committee and United Jewish Appeal.  In Springfield, Ohio, he joined both the B'nai B'rith lodge and the Lions Club.  In Joplin, Missouri, he was president of the Council of Social Agencies in 1944.

 Several of Smoller's activities were aimed at promoting Jewish education.  He was a lecturer for the Jewish Chatauqua Society.  He was the founder and vice president of Avukah (American Student Zionist Federation), founded in 1925. Smoller was a member of the Board of Governors of Hebrew Union College.  And he was a founder of the College of Jewish Studies in Los Angeles.

 Smoller authored two books: What Reform Judaism Means to Me (1942) and High Holy Days' Sermon (1952).

 Smoller married Bonita Smoller.  Phineas Smoller died on December 13, 1952, in Los Angeles, California.


 THE PHINEAS SMOLLER PAPERS describe the life of Phineas Smoller as rabbi, chaplain and communal leader in Reform Judaism.  The collection includes correspondence, a pamphlet collection, scrapbooks, plus memorials and tributes to Smoller.  The collection is divided into three series:

  • SERIES A: Correspondence and Miscellaneous.
  • SERIES B: Pamphlets
  • SERIES C: Scrapbooks and Memorials.
  •  SERIES A. CORRESPONDENCE AND MISCELLANEOUS consists of 3 hollinger boxes (1.2 ft.) of correspondence to and from Smoller concerning: Zionism, the chaplaincy, anti-Semitism, synagogue activities and personal affairs.  The folders in this series are arranged alphabetically and span the years 1919-1953.

     SERIES B. PAMPHLETS consists of 14 hollinger boxes (5.6 ft.) of pamphlets collected by Smoller concerning Jewish issues.  Included in the pamphlets are essays, sermons and speeches; informational essays for Jews in the military (mostly but not exclusively from World War II); and topics including anti-Semitism, brotherhood, peace, Nazis on and other issues of Jewish interest during the 1920's-1940's.  Many of the pamphlets in this series were published by Jewish organizations.  The folders in this series are arranged alphabetically and span the years 1886-1948.

     SERIES C. SCRAPBOOKS AND MEMORIALS consists of 1 oversize box (1.58 ft) of scrapbooks containing newspaper clippings.  The clippings document Smoller's activities in California including his work with the United American Hebrew Congregations. Also filed in this series are a tribute and a memorial resolution given by the UAHC to honor Smoller's death in 1953.  The materials in this series span the years 1947-1953.The materials in Series B relate to Tannenwald's work with the American Jewish Committee (AJC) where he served on the Board of Governors and as chair of the Israel Committee. The series consists mostly of correspondence but also includes reports, subject files, and nearprint covering such subjects as the Arab Boycott, the American Jewish community and Israel, the 1967 War, economic ties between Israel and the U.S., U.S. relations in the Middle East, the AJC delegations to South America and Israel, and refugees. Span dates are 1963-1969.


    Box  Folder    Contents
    1       1       A-F, General, 1925-1946
            2       American Emergency Committee for Zionist Affairs, 1942-1943 and n.d.
            3       American Jewish Committee, 1932-1944
            4       American Jewish Conference, 1943-1947
            5       American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, 1940-1942
            6       American Palestine Campaign, 1932-1934
            7       American Red Cross, 1940-1941
            8       American Zionist Emergency Council, 1943-1944 and n.d.
            9       Anti-Defamation League, 1933-1939
            10      Anti-Defamation League, 1940-1943
            11      B'nai B'rith, 1933-1946
            12      Carver, George W. [Memorial], 1943-1944
            13      Cedar Rapids, Iowa - Congregation Judah, 1926-1927
            14      Chaplaincy, 1941-1943
            15      Chaplaincy [correspondence with soldiers], 1941-1944 and n.d.
            16      Chicago Rabbinical Association, 1945-1947 and n.d.
            17      Defense Savings Committee, 1941-1943 and n.d.
            18      Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1940-1941
            19      Grand Rapids, Michigan- Congregation Emanuel, 1936
            20      H-M, General, n.d.
            21      Information and Service Associates, 1934-1935 and n.d.
            22      Joplin (Tri-State) Ministerial Alliance, 1942-1944 and n.d.
            23      Joplin, Missouri- United Hebrew Congregation, 1936-1946 and n.d.
            24      Letters of condolence to Bonita Smoller on death of Phineas, 1953, 
                            NOTE:  includes 1 photograph of a pulpit built in Smoller's honor by children at Camp Saratoga
    2       1       N-R, General, 1932-1948
            2       National Conference for Palestine, 1934-1944
            3       National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, 1930-1936
            4       National Refugee Service, Inc., 1940-1941
            5       Photographs of Smoller's activities in Los Angeles, 1948-1952, including:
                            Dinner honoring Nelson Glueck, D 19, 1948
                            Officers of Southern California UAHC Council, Ag, 1949
                            College of Jewish Studies planning meeting, S 10, 1949 
                            Temple Sinai (Glendale) Founders Day Dinner, Mr 23, 1952
            6       Potlitzer, George and Jennie, 1936-1939 and n.d.
            7       Rabinovitz, Maurice, 1919-1925
            8       Rose, Sam A., 1936-1939
            9       Rosenau, William, 1932-1939 and n.d.
            10      Rosenblum, William F., 1926-1940 and n.d.
            11      S, General, 1928-1947
            12      Salzer, Gus M., 1931-1939
            13      Santa Monica Temple Association, 1939
            14      Shankman, Jacob K., 1926-1944
            15      Shusterman, Abraham, 1937-1944
            16      Snyder, Herman E., 1946-1947
            17      Soloff, Mordecai I., 1924-1948
            18      Strauss, Max, 1931
            19      Sturm, Fred J., 1934-1943
            20      T-V, General, 1941-1947
            21      Tarshish, Allan, 1932-1934
            22      Teeters, Bert A., 1934-1936
            23      Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC), 1930-1934
            24      Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC), 1935-1947
    3       1       United Jewish Appeal, 1939-1945
            2       United Palestine Appeal, 1929-1944
            3       United Service Organizations, 1941-1944 and n.d.
            4       Voorsanger, Elkan C., 1934-1943 and n.d.
            5       W-Y, General, n.d.
            6       Wice, David H., 1931-1947 and n.d.
            7       Zionist Organization of America, 1932-1947
            8       Unidentified Correspondence, 1926-1930 and n.d.
            9       Speeches/Sermons, A-Z, n.d.
            10      Four Lectures on the Principle of Liberal Judaism, January 1948
            11      Miscellaneous, 1948-1952 and n.d.
    4       1       American Civil Liberties Union, 1931-1948
            2       American Citizenship/Democracy, 1920-1948
    5       1       American Jewish Committee, 1939-1948;
                    American Jewish Conference, 1946;
                    American Jewish Congress, 1916-1946 
            2       American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, 1940-1948
            3       American Unitarian Association, 1930-1936
            4       Anti-semitism #1, 1886-1939
    6       1       Anti-semitism #2, 1940-1948 and n.d.
            2       Art, 1942-1943
            3       B'nai B'rith/Anti-Defamation League, 1933-1948 and  n.d.
            4       Boy Scouts, 1937-1943
            5       Brotherhood, 1918-1947
    7       1       Central Conference of American Rabbis, 1911-1948
            2       Christianity/Catholicism, 1929-1948 and n.d.
            3       The Church Federation, 1943-1945
            4       Common Ground, 1940-1941
            5       Committee for the Marshall Plan, 1947
            6       Community Leadership, n.d.
            7       Congregation Beth Israel- Houston, Texas, 1944
            8       Contemporary Jewish Record, 1939-1943
    8       1       Communism/USSR, 1930-1939 and n.d.
            2       Darrow, Clarence, 1924 and n.d.
            3       Education, 1918-1948
            4       Foreign Policy, 1943-1944
            5       Freehof, Solomon- Sermons, 1939-1940
    9       1       Germany/Nazis #1, 1922-1934
            2       Germany/Nazis #2, 1935-1945
    10      1       Germany/Nazis #3, n.d.
            2       Great Britain, 1941-1945
            3       Happiness, n.d.
            4       Health, 1943-1948
            5       Jewish Affairs, 1946-1948
            6       Jewish Calendars and Prayerbooks, 1935-1945, n.d.
    11      1       Jewish History, 1935-1949 and n.d.
            2       Jewish Music, 1924-1948 and n.d.
            3       Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1945-1946
            4       Judaism Information #1, 1886-1933
            5       Judaism Information #2, 1934-1938, n.d.
    12      1       Labor #1, 1920-1931
            2       Labor #2, 1932-1940
    13      1       Labor #3, 1941-1947
            2       Labor #4, n.d.
            3       League of Nations Non-Partisan Association, 1923
            4       Levi, Harry- Sermons, 1930-1931
            5       National Conference of Christians and Jews, 1938-1939, n.d.
    14      1       National Council of Jewish Women, n.d.
            2       National Recreation Association, 1943 and n.d.
            3       Palestine/Zionism #1, 1912-1933
            4       Palestine Zionism #2, 1934-1948
    15      1       Palestine/Zionism #3, n.d.
            2       Peace, 1924-1948 and n.d.
            3       Commission to Study the Organization of Peace, 1945-1948 and n.d.
    16      1       Presidential Candidate Cards, 1920's-1930's
            2       Racism/Civil Rights, 1934-1948 and n.d.
            3       Refugees, 1934-1941 and n.d.
            4       Rosenau, William- Sermons, 1895-1913
            5       Schocken Reader, 1947-1948
    17      1       Soldiers, Informational pamphlets for (re: how to behave during war), 
                            1934-1943 and n.d.
            2       South Shore Temple, n.d.
            3       The Synagogue Section, 1945-1946
            4       The World Union for Progressive Judaism, 1943-1948
            5       World Crisis, 1895-1948 and n.d.
    X-192   1       Scrapbook containing Newspaper Clippings, 1947-1950
            2       Scrapbook containing Newspaper Clippings, 1947-1950
            3       Scrapbook containing Newspaper Clippings, 1948
            4       Scrapbook containing Newspaper Clippings, 1949-1950
            5       Scrapbook containing Newspaper Clippings, 1951
            6       Scrapbook containing Newspaper Clippings, 1951-1952
            7       Tribute from Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1953
            8       Memorial Resolution from Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1953
    Copyright © 2000 Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives