The Archives of Temple Emanuel seeks to preserve the historical heritage of Temple Emanuel and the Jewish community of Lakeland and Polk County, FL more generally. To do this, the Archives solicits, collects, arranges, and describes the personal papers, photographs, and ephemera of Temple members, past members, professional staff, and volunteers; Polk County Jewish community members; and the official records of the Temple and related organizations. We are also actively engaged in collecting oral histories from members (past and present) of the Jewish community of Polk County (including Temple Emanuel, Temple Beth Shalom, B’nai B’rith [Lodge 1515], Hadassah, or unaffiliated Jews).
The Electronic Image Archives includes a Temple General Collection as well as individual, and family collections. See below for names and content descriptions. More information, detailed content descriptions and access solicitations can be directed to the TEA archivist or the Temple Office (863/682-8616).
The Oral History Collection includes a wide variety of narrators. Individual narrators are listed in alphabetical order by last name (using married names in most cases, some maiden names are included). Not all transcripts are available at this time—please note that transcript availability is noted by the listing. All requests for transcripts should be made to the TEA archivist or the Temple Office (863/682-8616).
The Archives seeks to document the history of Polk County Jewry from its very beginnings to the present. While the collections include the papers of key families with a long history in the county or the synagogue, we welcome materials from related groups who have interacted with or been involved in Jewish activities in Polk County since its inception.
Recognizing the nature and scope of the Jewish community in a predominantly Christian area, the Archives does not seek to document only the synagogue-active. Those Jews who lived in the farther reaches of the county and practiced in isolation are strongly encouraged to contribute to the collections.
The Archives does not operate alone. Our collections overlap with other important archival organizations, so if you do not find what you are looking for in our listings, please check out any of the national, state and local repositories that are available on-line:
*Special thanks to Florida Southern College for its support of this project, including student workers (through service learning courses and volunteering), administrative, technological, and intellectual contributions. Thanks, too, to the Southern Jewish Historical Society’s generous Scott and Donna Langston Archival Grant (2015-2016) which will make possible at least 18 transcriptions.
Donations to support the Temple Emanuel Archive are gratefully appreciated and valued.