On Monday, June 5, 1950, a group of conference-goers filed into a room to participate in a session entitled "The Need for a Central Archives." Attendees were in Atlantic City for the Annual Meetings of the National Conference of Jewish Social Welfare, the National Association of Jewish Center Workers, and the National Council for Jewish Education. For five days, Jewish communal workers and educators could sit in on panels and lectures, visit with colleagues at meals, and contribute to committees that were charged with guiding these professional fields. The Conference Program was filled with practical panels like "Dynamics of Inter-Relationships in the Marital Counseling Process," "Characteristics of Youth Programming in the Synagogue-Center," and "Jewish Music Activity in the Center." Professionals could learn how to improve their practices and processes and could gather new ideas for programming--it was all directly applicable to the present. The Conference Program, however, described "The Need for a Central Archives" this way:
This panel was forward-thinking. It pushed Jewish communal workers and educators to consider their legacy. How would future Jewish communal professionals learn from the past and continue to improve the field?
My dissertation could not be written without the foresight of the men (sadly, yes, all men) who led and participated in this conference session. As they went back to their agencies, Federations, and associations, they implemented filing systems (executed by women, their secretarial staff) to save and preserve the history of their work. Their forethought means that historians can now study how these organizations made decisions, big and small, and how those decisions had an impact on the communities they served.