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Jewish Historical Society of San Diego Small Personal Collection

Identifier: MS-0596

Scope and Contents

The Jewish Historical Society of San Diego Small Personal Collection consists of the personal papers and other materials donated by individuals or their families at different times. They are filed in alphabetical order by last name and range in size from one to five folders per person or family.


  • Creation: 1920 - 2016

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in some or all of these materials have not been transferred to San Diego State University. Copyright resides with the creator(s) of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. The nature of archival collections is such that multiple creators are often applicable and copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine. In any case, the user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, obtaining publication rights and copyright infringement. When requesting images from Special Collections & University Archives for publication, we require a signed agreement waiving San Diego State University of any liability in the event of a copyright violation.

Biographical Note

Marty Altbaum

History: Martin (Marty) Altbaum (1940-2005) came to San Diego in 1949 with his parents, William and Rachel. They owned Altbaum’s Deli on the corner of 48th St and El Cajon Blvd. Marty was an avid coin collector and eventually he started Coin Mart Jewelry in North Park and later moved the store to Chula Vista. He had several other businesses and was very active in the community, starting his own cable company to bring cable TV to the South Bay.

Provenance, Scope & Content: He donated the photo at his oral interview in 2003. His collection includes a transcription of his oral interview, a photo of Altbaum’s Deli, and his obituary.

Lillian Altman

History: Lillian Altman was a charter member of the Jewish Historical Society of San Diego. She moved to San Diego after living with her husband Hal in the Bay Area for many years. Both were active in the movement to preserve pioneer Jewish cemeteries of the Gold Rush.

Provenance, Scope & Content: The materials in this collection were donated to the Jewish Historical Society of San Diego by the estate of Lillian Altman in 2001. The contents of the collection consist of correspondence and articles regarding Jews in the West and the preservation of pioneer Jewish cemeteries.

Alan Douglas

History: Alan Douglas grew up in San Diego. His father Morris owned Douglas Tire Company at 1046 Market St. downtown. Morris Douglas was very active the Jewish Federation, B'nai B'rith, Congregation Beth Israel and the JCC.

Provenance, Scope & Content: Alan Douglas donated these materials in 2003. The contents include copies of programs, news articles, brochures, photos pertaining to Congregation Beth Israel and B'nai B'rith. Newspaper clippings about the 54th St JCC Dedication, all of which involved his father, Morris Douglas. A few copied pages from "The Bulletin" Jewish community newspaper from the 1940's.

Louis Goldich

History: Louis Goldich is an art registrar, having worked at the San Diego Museum of Art for over 25 years.

Provenance, Scope & Content: Goldich donated these materials. They in include the program, service, correspondence & an article regarding the Hadassah Sabbath Service aboard the USS Ronald Reagan in 2008.

Vernon Kahn

History: Vernon Kahn (1923-2013) was born in Germany. After escaping with his family just before WWII, Kahn made the long and difficult journey to San Diego. Having trained as a cook’s apprentice in Germany, he worked as a cook at the Park Manor Hotel and was trained as a baker, which became his specialty. After serving in the US Army during WWII, he and his parents opened Vernon’s Delicatessen which moved to North Park in 1948, where he supplied most of the major hotels and the Jewish community with catering and baked goods. Later he owned the North Park Bakery on 30th St.

Provenance, Scope & Content: The materials in this collection were donated to the Jewish Historical Society of San Diego by Vernon Kahn in 2004. The collection consists of copies of photographs, personal documents and an autobiography. Most are copies of originals which are in the possession of the Kahn Family.

Rose Slayen Kraft

History: Rose Slayen Kraft was born in Winnipeg Canada in 1918. Her family moved to Los Angeles in 1922 and then to San Diego in 1934.

Provenance, Scope & Content: This folder contains the biographical questionnaire for her 2004 oral interview which is in the JHSSD Oral History Collection.

Shirley Lichtman

History: Shirley Lichtman (1917-2008) was a well-known artist who came to San Diego in 1968. As a sculptor and Judaica artist she primarily worked in metal, but also worked in stone, ceramic, enamel and was a graphic artist as well. She completed commissions around the country, but primarily in Southern California. Her San Diego works include the ark for Tifereth Israel Synagogue. She is most known for the large Holocaust Memorial which stood in front of the East County Jewish Community Center on 54th St. for many years. Commissioned by the New Life Club, it is now located at the Jewish Federation building on Murphy Canyon Rd.

Provenance, Scope & Content: Her daughter Myla Lichtman Fields donated this collection in 2013. The collection consists of brochures, newspaper clippings, digital images and scrapbook, medals struck in honor of her Holocaust Memorial and a DVD about her life, “The World Through Her Hands”. There are also biographical materials about her husband S. W. Lichtman, an electrical engineer who worked with the military in developing guided missiles during WWII and later developed high altitude rockets for research.

Elias and Frances Margolin

History: Elias and Frances Margolin moved to San Diego from Dayton, Ohio in 1955. Elias was an engineer who worked in the aerospace industry and on the Apollo Moon Project. Frances was a psychologist, who became the first woman appointed as counselor to the Superior Court. The materials in this collection were donated to the Jewish Historical Society of San Diego by the Margolins in 2003.

Provenance, Scope & Content: The contents of the collection consist of personal biographical information, a newspaper clipping and digital early 20th century photographs of the Margolin Family.

Natalie Witt Morrison

History: This collection was compiled by Natalie Witt Morrison, one of three daughters of Eli and Goldie Witt. They owned Witt’s Kosher Meats on Monroe Ave in North Park from 1948 to 1987, for many years the only kosher meat market in San Diego. Just after World War II, the Witts owned a ranch in Rose Canyon where they started to raise their family. Martin Morrison, husband of Natalie opened the Kosher Konnection on El Cajon Blvd. in 1987. The other daughters are Cynthia Harvey and Francine Smith.

Provenance, Scope & Content: The materials in this collection were donated to the Jewish Historical Society of San Diego by Natalie Witt Morrison in 2006. The contents of the collection consist of photographs and newspaper articles. An audio recording from a talk about their parents, given by the three Witt daughters at a JHSSD meeting in 2005 is in the JHSSD Oral History Collection.

Sylvia Naliboff

History: A native San Diegan, Sylvia Horowitz Naliboff grew up in Chula Vista, attending Sweetwater High School. Her father Mr. Horowitz owned a general store in San Ysidro with his partner R. W. Smith. Her career was secretarial and in later years she became a very active community volunteer. She was on the board of the JHSSD and volunteered at the Archives.

Provenance, Scope & Content: The folder contains a tribute to her and two photos of Jewish groups from the 1930s.

Edie Press Greenberg and Ben Press

History: Edith (Edie) Press Greenberg and Ben Press (1924-2016) grew up in North Park. Freda Nestor was Ben’s late wife’s mother. Their families were very active in the Jewish community. Edie Greenberg is an exceptional chef who taught cooking and wrote a Jewish cooking column in the “San Diego Jewish Times” for many years.

Ben Press “Mr. Tennis” was a well-known tennis pro at many hotels and resorts in San Diego including the Hotel del Coronado and the Balboa Park Tennis Club where he coached professional and amateur tennis players, including visiting celebrities and tennis champion, Maureen Connolly. His book “100 Years of Tennis at the Hotel del Coronado” is included in this collection. The Press Family Pavilion at the Balboa Park Tennis Club honors Edie and Ben’s parents Pauline and Charles Press.

Provenance, Scope & Content: Edie Greenberg donated her materials in 2015. The family of Ben Press donated his materials in 2017. The collection includes digital images of scrapbooks containing his tennis columns in the “San Diego Union”, his publications and newspaper clippings. Edie included reproductions and digital images of photos from her childhood and young adult years. Much of the Press and Nestor Family memorabilia and history is held by photographer Paul Nestor in his personal family archives.

Ratner Family

History: Isaac and Millie Ratner moved to San Diego in 1921. Millie’s father was Rabbi Jacob Zimmerman of Tifereth Israel Synagogue. Her brother was the famous sculptor, Marco Zim who had been in San Diego working at the Panama California Exposition in 1915. Ratner started a cap manufacturing business with his sons Abraham and Nathaniel which grew into Ratner Manufacturing Company with the "Hang Ten" label. Their brother Marco Ratner started Ratner Electric. Most of the family members were/are leaders and philanthropists in the Jewish and secular communities. Some other sir names in the family are Foster, Bersin, Hazan and Silberman.

Provenance, Scope & Content: Included in the folders are the transcript of an oral interview with Abraham, donated by his wife Anne; newspaper clippings and the newsletter of Ratner Manufacturing, “The Ratner Reporter”, (1968-1982), donated by Paul Schraer, a lifetime employee of the company.

Florence Gibbs Switzer

History: Florence Gibbs Switzer (1915, Chicago – 1995, Calgary, Canada) was a concert pianist who spent her senior year in San Diego and graduated from San Diego High School in 1933. Her parents, Meyer and Carrie Gibbs had a clothing store on 5th Ave in San Diego.

Provenance, Scope & Content: The materials in this collection were donated by Switzer’s son, Eric Switzer in 2018. Her collection includes: two photos, one of her senior play, the other of her seated at the piano and a program from the Winter Concert of the San Diego High School Orchestra, featuring Miss Gibbs as a piano soloist, with newspaper clippings regarding the concert. There is also a copy of a page of the San Diego City Directory (1933), listing Florence and her parents and her 1933 Yearbook (Los Anos) from San Diego High School plus the 1931 yearbook, (Round-Up) from Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, containing many inscriptions from her classmates.

Frieda Judd Towns

History: Frieda Judd (Judelowitz) Townes (1906-2012) came to San Diego from Denver with her mother, Lena and five sisters in 1912, following their father, Joseph. Her mother ran a boarding house and the first Jewish Kosher Restaurant in San Diego. One of her sisters worked for Holzwasser’s Department Store (later Walker Scott) for 49 years and three other sisters worked for Showley Brothers Candy Co. Townes worked for Grable Francisco-Bleifuss, a land development company, then married Harry Townes in 1932 and became a homemaker.

Provenance, Scope & Content: Townes donated materials over several years and in 2010 they were made into a collection. It consists of copies of photographs, personal documents, an autobiography and newspaper articles about her grandmother, Mary Rothschild’s notorious kidnapping and murder in Denver, in 1909.

Dr. Sydney P. Wiener

History: Dr. Sydney P. Wiener was born in 1918. After serving in WWII and attaining the rank of captain in the US Army, Dr. Sydney P. Wiener had a career as a dentist in New York and was one of the first to research and publish regarding the relationship between dental disease and heart disease. After moving to El Cajon in 1967, he became active in community affairs. He was elected to the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District governing board in 1973 and by 1978 was chairman of the Board of Trustees, Grossmont College District. He held many other civic posts and was active on the state level. Wiener played a key role in the development of the East County Performing Arts Center. He was a member of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Squadron having flown search and rescue missions for the squadron and the Mexican Government. Dr. Wiener had a great interest in intolerance and hate crimes and he helped to influence legislation and curricula on this topic.

Provenance, Scope & Content: The materials were donated to the Jewish Historical Society of San Diego by Mrs. Charlotte Wiener in 2001 after Wiener’s death. The collection consists of copies of photographs, correspondence, scrapbook clippings, articles written by Dr. Wiener and campaign materials. The originals remain with the Wiener Family.


1 Linear Feet (One records carton)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

Jewish Historical Society of San Diego (JHSSD #2022.01)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Jewish Historical Society of San Diego transferred this collection to Special Collections & University Archives in 2022.



Related Materials

Jewish Historical Society of San Diego Oral History Archive, MS-0590

Jewish Historical Society of San Diego Small Personal Collection
Jewish Historical Society of San Diego staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections & University Archives Repository

5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
San Diego CA 92182-8050 US