Item 19.99-09 - Sam Rothstein

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Sam Rothstein

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CA JMABC A.1971.001-19.99-09

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  • June 16, 1999 (Creation)

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2 audio cassette: 97 minutes

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Oral history interview with Sam Rothstein who was born in Russia, 1921. His family left Russia due to anti-semitism and post-revolution fallout, despite his father’s success in the lumber business. His father was Yisrael Leib and his mother was Elka Raisel. They settled in Vancouver because that’s where the rest of his family had chosen to live when they had arrived years before. He attended UBC for undergraduate studies and did a joined honours program in French and English and completed his masters there in French and English. He did his PhD at Berkeley and then got a teaching fellowship at the University of Washington in 1942 as a French teacher. He was drafted into the Canadian military during WWII. He served in counterintelligence. He was shipped to England in June, 1944 and then to Italy, Belgium and then stopped in Holland. While finishing his service, he came across a Librarianship pamphlet. He had money for the first time in his life and felt it was time for a change as he felt distance from the idea of being a French professor. He was invited to the faculty of the University of Manitoba as a French Professor but decided to go to Berkeley instead to become a Librarian, doing his PhD in Illinois. UBC offered him a job while he was briefly on return to Vancouver. He met his wife Miriam in 1948/49 through youth group activities at the JCC, they wed and then moved to Illinois to do his PhD, which he received in 1954 while Miriam worked as the dietician for the men’s residence. In 1961, he became the acting director of the UBC libraries. He also started the library school at UBC that same fall. Their daughter Linda was born in 1955 and Sharon was born in 1957. They were members of Beth Israel and Miriam was active in Hadassah. Sam served as an advisor to Hillel and joined the board at the JCC and eventually became president from 1970-1972. He served as one of the vice presidents of Jewish Congress.

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Interview has a summary but no transcript. Original audio cassettes; digital copy also available (digitized in 2010).

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Interviewer: Jean Gerber

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