Migration, Memory & Memorial

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This website presents the archive of a radical Jewish family. Spanning almost one hundred years from 1890 to 1989, it includes a diary, letters and photographs. These documents reveal the migrations of the family from Russia to England, to France, and to the USA. Several moving individual stories are woven into the tapestry of these events. These contain unique personal accounts, not only of migration and poverty, but also of the complexities of ancestry, love, betrayal, marriage, divorce, and relationships between parents and children, including the separation of a brother and a sister.

The material was first ‘kept’ by the reclusive bachelor, Leon B. (1916–1987). It related to several generations of his immediate family. After Leon’s death, when the executors of his estate entered his council flat in North Kensington, London, they found it littered with piles of bills and circulars that covered the entire floor. Scattered among these papers was a good deal of the material that now forms this archive. They found more documents tucked away on shelves and packed into corners, and still more hidden in the secret compartment of a bureau made by Leon’s father, the cabinet-maker Abraham B. (1867-1948). The website juxtaposes material from this private archive with documentation of contemporary events in the wider world and in this way, contextualizes the personal stories with society and politics of the period.

We hope you find this website of interest and please do get in touch if you would like any further information about the archive.

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