Guide to the Marshall T. Meyer Papers, 1902-2004 and undated, bulk 1984-1993
Marshall T. Meyer was an activist rabbi who worked in Argentina during the period of the Dirty War (mid 1970s to mid 1980s). The papers of Marshall T. Meyer span the years 1919-2004. The collection contains personal and professional correspondence from throughout Meyer's career as a religious leader and human rights activist; his published and unpublished writings and speeches; printed material collected by Meyer; Meyer's working and research files organized by geography, organizations, people, and subject; personal files, including appointment books, biographical material, papers from Meyer's school days, photographs, memorabilia, and material documenting his numerous engagements; audio tapes and cassettes of Meyer's services, interviews, lectures, and other events; and Betacam and VHS videocassette recordings of interviews and other public appearances by Meyer.
- Collection Number
- Marshall T. Meyer papers
- 1902-2004 and undated, bulk 1984-1993
- Meyer, Marshall T.
- 63.8 Linear Feet, Approx. 48,900 Items
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Material in English, Spanish, and Hebrew
- Correspondence Series, 1943-1994 and undated
- Writings and Speeches Series, 1946-2004 and undated
- Research Files Series, 1902-1993 and undated, bulk 1985-1993
- Printed Material Series, 1919-2001 and undated
- Teaching Material Series, 1965-1997
- Personal Files Series, 1949-1993 and undated
- Audiovisual Material Series, 1988-1993 and undated
- Condolences Series, 1993-1994
- Electronic Files Series, 1952-1995 and undated
- Oversize Material, 1944-1993 and undated
- Accession (2011-0005), 1973-1996
The papers of Marshall T. Meyer span the years 1919-2004. The collection contains personal and professional correspondence from throughout Meyer's career as a religious leader and human rights activist; his published and unpublished writings and speeches; printed material collected by Meyer; Meyer's working and research files organized by geography, organizations, people, and subject; personal files, including appointment books, biographical material, papers from Meyer's school days, photographs, memorabilia, and material documenting his numerous engagements; audio tapes and cassettes of Meyer's services, interviews, lectures, and other events; and Betacam and VHS videocassette recordings of interviews and other public appearances by Meyer.
The collection contains extensive evidence of Meyer's activities and interests, especially those he engaged in during his tenure at Comunidad Bet el in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and then at B'nai Jeshurun in New York City. The files document Meyer's professional activities, including his often over-lapping roles as religious leader, scholar, and human rights activist. Much of the material in the collection reflects Meyer's devotion and commitment to a socially and politically engaged Conservative Judaism and his involvement with Jewish communities around the world. Meyer was particularly involved in calling attention to human rights violations and working with the victims of violent political oppression in South and Central America in the 1970s and 1980s and then in Palestine, Israel, and the Middle East in the 1990s. Meyer's extensive involvement and leadership in national and international religious, peace, and human rights organizations such as the World Council of Churches are also well-represented, as is his life-long association with his alma maters, Dartmouth College and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.
The Correspondence Series contains letters in English and Spanish written and received by Meyer (additional correspondence is also contained in Meyer's research files and electronic files). Significant correspondents include Louis Finkelstein, Abraham Joshua Heschel, and Shalom Spiegel.
The Writings and Speeches Series holds Meyer's original compositions in English, Spanish, and Hebrew. These compositions include various literary genres (op-eds, newspaper articles, essays) as well as speeches, addresses, and sermons.
The Research Files Series is subdivided into four categories: Geographic, Organizations, People, and Subject. These files may contain correspondence, notes, printed material, writings, and ephemera. The most common themes that run through this series include human rights, Jewish life, rabbinic education, Latin American Jewry, the Middle East, and Argentina's "Disappeared." The Research Files Series displays a deeper level of intellectual involvement by Meyer (e.g. annotations on printed material, categorizing and filing, integration of correspondence)
The Printed Material Series includes newspapers, clippings, monographs, and serials that Meyer collected over the years. Subjects cover similar territory as the research files. Unlike the Research Files, this material is generally not annotated and was less organized.
The Teaching Material Series contains material from classes taught by Meyer.
The Personal Files Series includes material largely outside the scope of Meyer's professional work: photos, memorabilia, schoolwork, and appointment books.
Video and audio recordings of Meyer's engagements are found in the Audiovisual Material Series. These include lectures, speeches, interviews, television appearances, and religious services. Originals of video and audio tape are closed to use. Patrons must request use copies to access the content of the material.
The Condolences Series contains cards and notes expressing sympathy on Meyer's death. Many of these contain testimonials and reminiscences of his role as rabbi and activist.
Finally, the Electronic Files Series contains transcriptions of documents authored by or related to Meyer, many of which overlap with the content of and the Correspondence, Writings and Speeches, Teaching Material, and Audiovisual Materials Series.
Access to the Collection
Collection is open for research.
Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
Originals of video and audiotape are closed to use. Patrons must request use copies to access the content of the material.
All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. There may be a 48-hour delay in obtaining these materials.
Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.
Use & Permissions
The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
How to Cite
[Identification of item], Marshall T. Meyer Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
Contains correspondence relating to the life and work of Marshall Meyer. The series begins with general correspondence, both personal and professional, to Meyer from many different individuals. Next, individuals and groups with whom Meyer corresponded frequently have been arranged alphabetically according to their last name. Some related materials can be found in the Electronic Files Series.
Organized into the following subseries: Speeches and Writings. Folders contain copies of written and oral works produced by Meyer in English, Spanish, and Hebrew. Detailed subseries descriptions follow below.
Documents three types of oral addresses given by Meyer in English, Spanish, and Hebrew: first, speeches given by Meyer (these are often final drafts of addresses to various audiences: commencements, guest lectures, etc); second, transcripts of Meyer's classical music radio show, which he conducted while attending Dartmouth College between 1946-48; third, sermon notes which are rough, handwritten notes Meyer appeared to use while addressing more informal crowds, mainly religious in nature. Many of these sermon notes are for religious services conducted during the Jewish high holidays, and the majority are written in Hebrew. Speeches and sermon notes written on small notecards have been removed from boxes 8-11 and placed in smaller notecard boxes 12-13. Some related materials can be found in the Electronic Files Series.
Contains newspaper and journal articles, essays, and reflections on Meyer's experience in Argentina during the 1970s. Files also house two manuscripts that appear to be collections of written and oral works by Meyer. The 1985 manuscript appears to have been assembled by Meyer before his death, while the undated sample manuscript (often referred to as "The Big Message") was compiled posthumously. Grouped by type then arranged chronologically. Some related materials can be found in the Electronic Files Series.
Organized into the following subseries: Geographic, Organizations, People, and Subject. Files contain articles, essays, correspondence, notes, mailings, and other sources of information regarding Judaism, Latin America, human rights, peace and anti-war activism, NGO's and other areas in which Meyer was heavily involved. Although the material goes as far back as 1902, the bulk of the material is from the mid 1980s to the early 1990s. Files from Meyer's offices in Buenos Aires (up to 1984) and New York City (1984-1993) are present. All subseries are arranged alphabetically by folder title. Detailed subseries descriptions follow below.
Contains files organized according to specific countries or regions. The bulk of the material pertains to Argentina and includes newspaper clippings, correspondence, and files related to the Dirty War and its aftermath. Issues and clippings from the publications Nueva Presencia and La Razón are included, as are a collection of files related to Meyer's work with the Comisión Nacional sobre la Desaparición de Personas (CONADEP). Many of the files in this series concern Jewish life, civil rights, human rights legal cases and proceedings, war and conflict, and current events. Information regarding specific judiciary cases and their relationship to Judaism and human rights is also included in several of these folders. Organized alphabetically. Some newspapers and clippings moved to Oversize Material.
Contains files organized by the name of the organizations Meyer was affiliated with or had interest in. Folders include original and photocopied copies of articles, correspondence to and from organizations, notes, mailings, and conference papers and schedules . Organizations may include churches, human rights non-government organizations (NGO's), Middle East peace organizations, pro-Israeli organizations, welfare and humanitarian organizations, universities and seminaries, and academic and religious conferences. There are extensive files of material on Dartmouth and the (American) Jewish Theological Seminary, Meyer's alma maters.
Contains files organized alphabetically by the names of individuals or social groups. Many of those listed are rabbis or are affiliated with human rights and humanitarian efforts.
Contain articles and other sources of information regarding various subjects of interest or relation to Meyer. Many of these deal with human rights and humanitarian issues, or with Judaism; formats include speeches, newspaper and magazine articles, and lectures regarding the specific subjects. Arranged alphabetically by folder title.
Contains printed material collected by Meyer over the span of his career. Formats include magazines, newspapers, clippings, reports, monographs, and photocopies. Material is in English, Spanish, and Hebrew.
The series has been organized into two sections. Jewish Intellectual Thought (Boxes 49-50) contains publications by such Jewish intellectuals as Louis Finkelstein, Daniel Greenberg, Philip Segal and others. Jewish Life (Boxes 51-53) contains material relating to Latin American Jews, Israel, and Jewish law and ethics. The end of this section (Box 53) contains material about Meyer as well as miscellaneous publications.
Material related to Meyer's lectures and teaching on Jewish theology, Jewish culture, human rights in Argentina, and the "disappeared" (Meyer lectured at various institutions around the world including USA, Israel, and Latin America). Files may contain transcripts or lecture notes, as well as correspondence, printed material, programs, and ephemera. Note: there may be some duplication of material found in the Writings and Speeches Series. Some transcriptions of Meyer's lectures and courses can also be found in the Electronic Files Series.
Meyer's personal files contain early schoolwork, appointment books, memorabilia, and items of biographical interest. See also oversize materials section (Box 84).
Comprises Meyer's schoolwork from Dartmouth and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, organized by course and subject. Files are grouped by institution.
Contains both audio and video recordings of Meyer's public appearances and interviews. Videos (boxes 70-73) consist of various public appearances, sermons, ceremonies, and interviews of Meyer. Also includes a few broadcasts relating to human rights issues. Sound recordings on audio cassettes and micro-cassettes (boxes 70-79) are arranged in three sections: lectures include "the Prophets", "A.J. Heschel", "Gnosticism" and others, dating 1989-1993; religious services include sermons, Yom Kippur, and Rosh Hashana services at B'nai Jeshurn, dating from 1988-1992; and various appearances and addresses include Shabbat with Nelson Mandela, talks on human rights, talks in Argentina, an oral history interview, and others, dating from 1989-1993. Tape-counter numbers and summaries of some of the audio cassettes can be found in Disk 018 of the Electronic Files Series.
DVD use copies are available for the following titles:
- "A Dirty War," n.d.
- "A Dirty War," n.d.
- "Australian 60 Minutes," n.d.
- Doctorado Honoris Causa (UBA) Cena Homenaje 30 Aniversario, n.d.
- "In Love and Friendship," n.d.
- Judaism, Part II - "In Search of Reconciliation," n.d.
- "L'Chayim," n.d.
- "Para Vivir Aqui," Video de Fundacion Memoria Connadep/Enevista, n.d.
- "Race Relations," Charlie Rose, n.d.
- "When Bad Things Happen to Good People," n.d.
- Late Night America, PBS-TV, 1985 Jul. 18
- "Religion and Social Activism," The Open Mind, 1987 Nov. 22
- Rosh Hashanah 5752, 1991
- "Why and How to Be an Activist," 1991 Oct. 17
- Interview with Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer, 1992
- Inteview with Rabbi Marshall Meyer conducted by Jonathan Perlman, 1992 May 29
- "A Conversation on Prayer," Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer and Rabbi Rolando Matalon, 1993 Oct. 15
- WNYC 1994, Oct.
- "A Dirty War," 1994 Dec. 8
- BJ Images, Congegration B'nai Jeshurun Archives, 1994-1995
- Programo Mosaigo, 1996 Mar. 23
- Marshall Meyer Compilation, 1996 Dec.
- Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer, 1997
- "No Right To Be Silent," 1998 Jan. 12
[Originals of video and audiotapes are closed to use. Technical Services staff must arrange to have use copies made.]
Cards and notes expressing sympathy on Meyer's death. Many of these contain testimonials and reminiscences of his role as rabbi and activist.
Includes transcriptions written in English, Spanish, and Hebrew of documents authored by or related to Meyer, as well as an audio recording of Meyer speaking at the 1988 Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy Conference. Principally sermons given for the high holidays, files authored by Meyer also include prayers, memos, lectures, speeches, articles, columns, eulogies, letters to the editor, his 1952 Dartmouth thesis, correspondence, a summary and excerpts from a 1993 class entitled “Jewish Responses to Death” , and excerpts from the Confronting Injustice manuscript. This series also contains articles written about Meyer, transcriptions of published and unpublished interviews, speeches made at a conference about his work, and excerpts from other scholars' publications. RL00895-FL-018_Disk 018 contains the tape-counter numbers and summaries of some of the audio cassettes found in the Audiovisual Materials Series. Many of the files contain overlapping material and some are translations of work written in another language. Some files may be duplicates of documents included in the Correspondence, Writings and Speeches, and Teaching Material Series. Much of the contents of the floppy diskettes RL00895-FL-001 - RL00895-FL-020 are duplicated on RL00895-OP-001.Topics include religion, human rights, ethics, prejudice, personal words of condolence, and current events in Argentina, the U.S., and the Middle East. Arranged in original order as received.
[Records have been migrated to a library server. To request access, please contact Research Services before coming to use this collection.]
Consists of oversize files primarily from the Research Files Series. The bulk of the material comprises newspapers and clippings from or related to Argentina. Most of these chronicle the aftermath of the "Dirty War." In addition to many clippings from Meyer's CONADEP files, articles on Madres de Plaza de Mayo, the trials of Argentina's military rulers in the mid-1980s, and the Catholic Church are included. While some clippings come from non-Argentine sources, most articles are published by domestic publications. In particular, a substantial collection of issues of the Jewish newspaper Nueva Presencia, dated between 1980 and 1987 can be found here. Issues of El Diario del Juicio from 1985 complete the newspapers. Additional material is comprised of photographs, degrees, and other awards given to Meyer. Materials are arranged in date order.
Born in Brooklyn, raised in Norwich, Conn.
Graduated from Dartmouth College
Ordained rabbi at Rabbinical School of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America
Appointed rabbi of Congregacíon Israelita in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Founded Seminario Rabinico Latinoamericano in Buenos Aires
Founded Comunidad Bet El in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Awarded medal of San Martin by Argentine President Raul Alfonsin
Appointed to National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons (CONADEP)
Returned to New York City to head congregation B'nai Jeshurun
Died of cancer in New York City at age 63
Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer was a progressive and activist rabbi who expounded a politically engaged Conservative Judaism. For Meyer, religion was inseparable from his politics, which spanned the breadth of local, national, and international arenas.
Meyer received his education from Dartmouth and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, where he came under the influence of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. After being ordained rabbi in 1958, Meyer and his family moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1959, where they were to stay until 1984. During his tenure as rabbi of Comunidad Bet El, Meyer led the reinvigoration and renaissance of Argentina's Jewish community. He also lived and worked through the political upheavals and turmoil of the 1970s and 1980s, openly speaking out against the human rights abuses perpetrated under the rule of the military junta, and visiting and attempting to secure the release of prisoners ("the disappeared") in clandestine jails. Meyer was instrumental in negotiating the release of Jacobo Timerman, who later dedicated his work, Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a Number to Meyer. After the return of democracy to Argentina in 1983, Argentine President Raul Alfonsin recruited Meyer to serve on CONADEP (National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons), which led a national investigation to establish the extent of the abuses suffered under the military junta.
Meyer returned to the United States in 1984 and took over the helm of congregation B'nai Jeshurun, reviving the decaying New York City synagogue and transforming it into a dynamic center for Judaism in the United States. Meyer advocated for intra-religious dialogue and peace efforts, the plight of marginalized groups within the United States, human rights abuses in Central America (El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala), and for peace and respect for human rights in Israel and Palestine.
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Argentina. Comisión Nacional sobre la Desaparición de Personas
- Dartmouth College -- Alumni and alumnae
- Human Rights Archive (Duke University)
- Jewish Theological Seminary of America
- Meyer, Marshall T.
- Meyer, Marshall T.
- Seminario Rabínico Latinoamericano
- World Council of Churches
- Argentina -- Politics and government -- 20th century
- Conservative Judaism
- Disappeared persons -- Argentina
- Human Rights -- Middle East
- Human Rights -- Palestine
- Human Rights -- Religious aspects -- Judaism
- Human Rights -- South America
- Human Rights -- Argentina
- Human Rights -- Israel
- Human Rights -- Latin America
- Human rights workers
- Judaism and social problems
- Judaism -- 20th century
- Jewish scholars
- Jews -- Argentina
- Restorative justice -- Argentina
- State-sponsored terrorism -- Argentina
- Victims of state-sponsored terrorism -- Argentina
The Marshall T. Meyer Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift in 2004.
Processed by Loren Crippin, Christian Ferney, Maria Perales, and Patrick Stawski, May 2008
Encoded by Loren Crippin, Christian Ferney, Paula Jeannet Mangiafico, Maria Perales, Patrick Stawski, May 2008
Accessions 2004-0336 and 2006-0103 were merged into one collection, described in this finding aid.
Accession 2011-0005 processed and encoded by Jen Snow, 2012
Videotapes processed and encoded by Clare Callahan, July 2012
Electronic records reprocessed by Matthew Farrell, March 2015