Respondent
Caplan, Louis
Interview Date
June 1976
Abstract
[T1S1]Caplan, Louis, a lawyer and philanthropist who served as the first president, United Jewish Fund and national vice president of the American Jewish Committee; year of birth, 1886; June, 1892, parents die in flood; three of four brothers go to Gusky Hebrew Orphanage on the North Side in Pittsburgh; origins of Gusky Orphanage; Trustee, Rodef Shalom Temple; history of reformed Jews in Pittsburgh; family, immigrants from Russia; life at Gusky Orphanage; two years at Allegheny High School; history of brothers' lives; religious services at Gusky Orphanage; serving as chaplain for orphanage; first job at age fifteen for Weiler Brothers on First Avenue; decentralization of religious community through the Union of American Hebrew Congregations; one of founding board members, Temple Sinai; personal opinions on foster homes role in closing Jewish orphanages; honorary president, Gusky Orphanage; closing of Gusky Orphanage; transfer of funds for Gusky to Jewish Family and Children Services; influence in decision to become a lawyer, Judge Josiah Cohen; some personal history of Josiah Cohen, first Jewish judge in Allegheny County;
[T1S2] boarding with the Isay family after high school on the lower North Side; first job selling liquor to saloon keepers in Pennsylvania for Weiler Brothers; later employment as assistant to general sales manager for Wire and Steel Company; selling embossed stationery for a lithography company; correspondence course in literature from the University of Pittsburgh; preparation for preliminary bar exam and entrance to University of Pittsburgh Law School, 1909; apprenticeship in the office of Skandard and Barnett; changes in law practice; employment with George E. Reynolds after law school; 1918, enlistment with the U. S. Army; experiences at Camp Jackson, SC, and Brooklyn Naval Yard; commission as First Lieutenant; return to Pittsburgh in 1919; association with Charles H. Sachs in corporate law; Sachs' death in 1945; expansion of practice; appointment to Department of Justice alien enemy hearing offices by the Attorney General of the United States during WWII; function of the alien enemy hearing offices; election as first president, United Jewish Fund; merger of United Jewish Fund with Federation of Jewish Philanthropies to form United Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh (UJF); functions of UJF; organizer and president of American Jewish Committee (AJC) Pittsburgh; national vice president and chairman, national executive board of AJC; interim national president, AJC; meeting with John F. Kennedy at the White House while serving as president, AJC; description of Kennedy; political affiliation and viewpoints;
[T2S3] anti-Semitism at the corporate level over the years; opening of private clubs to Jews; reason for joining the Duquesne Club; corporate discrimination at the time of interview; law practice after death of Charles Sachs; practicing with Thorpe, Reed and Armstrong; unsuccessful marriage at age thirty; opinions of intermarriage, being a Jewish lawyer, life after death; opinions about American-Israeli relationships; future of the Jewish people; his role in the Dominican Republic Resettlement Association; recreational activities; opinions on young people, the role of rabbis; Mitchell Krause's reflection on Caplan; reflections on having lived through the twentieth century.
Subjects
American Jewish Committee; Antisemitism; Cohen, Josiah; Ford Foundation; J.M. Gusky Hebrew Orphanage Home (Pittsburgh (Pa.).); Israel; Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963; Lawyers; Law; North Side (Pittsburgh (Pa.).); Pittsburgh (Pa.); Politics; United Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh
Birth Date
1886
City
Oil City, PA
Profession
Attorney/philanthropist
Occupation (father)
Kosher Butcher
Length (hours)
1.5
Interviewer1
Krauss, Mitchell
Indexer
Reynolds, Jacqueline
Collateral Materials
Box 100 FF 43
Identifier
ais196440.067
Rights
All rights reserved. University of Pittsburgh