Skip to main content

BENJAMIN M. HURWITZ PAPERS

 Collection
Identifier: WH195

SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE

Benjamin Hurwitz was a life long socialist. When the executor of his estate, David Clow, donated Hurwitz’s papers to the Denver Public Library, he wrote that Hurwitz “was recognized both in the socialist movement and in business as an outstanding man of integrity. His council [sic] was sought by people both in the socialist movement as well as people in the business world.” Hurwitz collected publications and kept correspondence written by socialist and labor activist colleagues and organizations including the Industrial Workers of the World and the Socialist Labor Party of America. He and his brother Martin were especially active in the Colorado chapter of the Socialist Labor Party. The papers include over 300 pages of minutes from the Socialist Labor Party, Section Denver, from 1906-1916, kept by organization secretaries Charles Michael, Charles Chase, Albert Wernet and others.

Hurwitz’s business papers shed light on the saloon business in Denver as well as liquor laws in the city in 1912. Pamphlets published by the Anti-Saloon League of Colorado highlight the growing support for prohibition in Colorado. From his ownership of Kramer’s Bookstore in the 1940s, Hurwitz kept a few letters from customers requesting books, and a letter from Meyer Kramer about Kramer's new bookstore in San Diego.

Correspondence Hurwitz received from Socialist Labor Party members record his extensive involvement and influence in the Socialist Labor Party both state and nationwide. Pamphlets and booklets show the breadth of labor organizations he followed.

Hurwitz kept a collection of letters, political ephemera and books that belonged to his colleagues and acquaintances. A group of letters from Private Joe Shidler, a Seventh Day Adventist missionary in the Solomon Islands, thank Hurwitz for his charitable contributions of bibles and school supplies. The correspondence describes Shidler’s impressions of the natives and his missionary work.

Also included are letters sent to Mr. and Mrs. Albert Wernet, from a Soviet engineer whose signature is not legible. The engineer had met the Wernets on a visit to the United States in conjunction with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The correspondence reveals the two men’s socialist sympathies and their long distance friendship as well as insight into collective farming and summer recreation in the Soviet Union in the 1930s when state-directed industry and urbanization began to pervade the U.S.S.R.

SERIES 1 SALOON, BOOKSTORE BUSINESS 1829-1960 BOX 1

This series consists of records from Hurwitz’s saloon and liquor business, and from the bookstore business he ran beginning in the 1940s. Some of the material pertaining to liquor laws in Denver also relates to series 2 Political Correspondence, Organizations, because it documents Hurwitz’s political involvement in Denver as well as a group that represented his business interests. A check for $400 drawn on the Office of Discount and Deposit of the Bank of the United States, New York, is dated 1829.

SERIES 2 POLITICAL CORRESPONDENCE 1878-1915 BOX 1

Correspondence Hurwitz received and letters received by his colleagues and acquaintances comprise this series. The first part consists of items collected from various socialist and labor organizations Hurwitz followed. A variety of items published by the Socialist Labor Party of America comprise a portion of this series, including two medallion badges: one from a conferences and one an award, event programs, tickets and membership cards. Personal letters show the breadth of Hurwitz’s political correspondence with colleagues. A group of items received by colleagues and acquaintances, largely letters, may have been given to Hurwitz. A memorial service program is included.

SERIES 3 PHOTOGRAPHS 1900-1920 BOX 1

Eight black and white photographs comprise the series. Four images depict various Denver Socialist Labor Party members, and four contain unidenified individuals

SERIES 4 AUDIO-VISUAL 1900-1916, 1964 AVENVELOPE 1

Magnetic tape and audio cassette tape copy of a descriptive inventory of the Benjamin Hurwitz Papers, by David Clow, the executor of Benjamin Hurwitz's estate.

SERIES 5 MICROFILM 1900-1916 C MSS Mflm 47 RL 1-2

Original minute book comprised of handwritten minutes of the Socialist Labor Party, Section Denver, submitted by various secretaries between 1900-1916. Describes history of party activities and active members.

SERIES 6 OVERSIZE 1906-1915, n.d. OVFF1

Oversized items include political posters about the labor situation in Colorado and nationwide, and a ballot from the 1912 election. The political posters are representative of the items Hurwitz collected.

Dates

  • 1898-1935

ACCESS:

The collection is open for research.

OWNERSHIP:

The Benjamin M. Hurwitz Papers are the physical property of The Denver Public Library.

PUBLICATION RIGHTS:

All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from material in the collection should be discussed with the appropriate librarian or archivist. Permission for publication may be given on behalf of the Denver Public Library as the owner of the physical item. It is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained by the customer. The Library does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or publication rights of the manuscript held by the writer, heirs, donors, or executors. Reproduction restrictions are decided on a case-by-case basis.

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

Benjamin Meir Hurwitz was born in Lithuania on May 28, 1876, and immigrated to the United States in 1881. His brother Martin was born in New York in about 1883. Hurwitz moved with his father Abraham, mother Elizabeth (Libby) and Martin to Colorado in 1898. Abraham and Martin ran a dry goods store at 754 Jason Street in Denver. Benjamin and Martin lived together at various times as adults.

Benjamin Hurwitz was active in the Socialist Labor Party in Colorado. He collected literature, booklets, leaflets and letters pertaining to the state and national Socialist Labor Party and to the labor movement in general. Hurwitz served as a delegate at the Socialist Labor Party 19th National Convention in New York City in 1936. He corresponded with labor activists and leaders throughout Colorado. His collection includes some correspondence and papers belonging to a few of the political activists with whom he was acquainted.

In 1904 when the two bought a saloon at 1501 Larimer Street, Hurwitz partnered with Machael (or Michael) Gassel to form Gassel and Hurwitz. The saloon was purchased from The Tivoli Union Brewing Company using a chattel mortgage. Two years later in 1906, Gassel dissolved the partnership and the following year Hurwitz bought him out. Hurwitz went on to run the business himself. In 1908, Hurwitz bought the Gross & Printz Liquor Company, another saloon, at 1524 Larimer Street.

In about 1908, Hurwitz also ran a clothing and furniture store called Cohen & Hurwitz located at 1704 Larimer Street in Denver, and a branch in Black Hawk. In 1907 and 1908, he was a member of the Improved Order of Red Men in Black Hawk.

In the 1930s Benjamin Hurwitz worked at a second hand bookstore, and in 1942, Hurwitz bought Kramer’s Book Store at 915 14th Street, from Meyer Kramer.

Mr. Hurwitz died at Rose Memorial Hospital in Denver on December 1, 1963. He is buried at Mt. Nebo Cemetery in Aurora, Colorado.

Extent

2 Boxes ; (1 linear ft.)

2 Microfilm Reels

1 oversize folder

Language of Materials

English

PROVENANCE:

The collection was acquired in 1964 as a gift from David Clow, the executor of Benjamin Hurwitz's estate.

RELATED MATERIAL

The Western History/Genealogy Department has additional material on labor issues in Colorado including a statement written by the Socialist Labor Party (Colorado):

Plain statement of industrial and political conditions in Colorado C331.89 S678pL

Physical Description

1

SIZE:

Number of Boxes: 2 (1 linear foot)

Microfilm Reels: 1

AVEnvelope: 1

Oversize: 1 folder

LOCATION:

WH195

PROCESSED AND ENCODED BY:

Abby Hoverstock

January 2006

REVISED AND ENCODED BY:

Dennis Hagen

June 2009

PROJECT MANAGER:

Ellen Zazzarino

Title
FINDING AID FOR THE BENJAMIN M. HURWITZ PAPERS
Date
Revised June 2009
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Denver Public Library, Western History and Genealogy Repository

Contact:
10 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy
Denver CO 80204 United States