Udin, Sophie A.

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UDIN, SOPHIE A. (1896–1960), founder of the Women's Organization for the Pioneer Women of Palestine (*Pioneer Women, subsequently Na'amat U.S.A.). Udin was born in Zhinkov, Ukraine, and emigrated as a child to Pittsburgh, Penn., with her socialist parents. Trained at Columbia University School of Library Science (M.L.S., 1929), she married Pinchas Ginguld, head of the network of secular Yiddish Folk Schools and Teachers Seminary and Po'alei Zion officer in New York (1922). Udin, who served on the staff of New York Public Library (1914–29), specializing in foreign collections, helped organize the American Mogen David Adom (March 13, 1918) and served as its first national secretary (1918–19). In 1921 and 1925–27, she went to Palestine to help organize and build the Jewish National and Hebrew University Library, introducing the Dewey decimal system and Anglo-American cataloguing and American-style library education for the staff. Living in Jerusalem, she became involved in clandestine Haganah work. In 1924 she raised American funds to produce the first Kiryat Sefer, the bibliography of Jewish and Hebrew publications of the National Library. According to the "legend of the well," Udin, with the assistance of six wives of Po'alei Zion members, responded to the plea of Raḥel Yanait *Ben-Zvi to raise money for a well to water trees at a tree nursery near Jerusalem. In 1925 they founded the Women's Organization for the Pioneer Women of Palestine to achieve this immediate goal as well as to support working women in Palestine and to campaign for auto-emancipation for all women. Udin established and directed the Zionist Archives and Library in New York, collecting documentation of the Zionist movement and editing The Palestine Year Book annual (1945–49) and three-volume Palestine and Zionism (1947–48); she published "A List of References Leading to the Establishment of the Jewish State of Israel" in The Journal of Educational Sociology. Leaving her husband to continue his work in New York, Udin made aliyah with her children in 1949 when David Ben-Gurion appointed her to set up and direct the Israel State Archives (now the National Archives) in the government complex in Tel Aviv. When the government moved to Jerusalem, she also moved the archives. She helped organize the Association of Americans and Canadians (aaci) in Israel in 1951 to ease the absorption of American immigrants to Israel; she died in Jerusalem.


T. Keren. Sophie Udin: Portrait of a Pioneer (1984); J.F. Rosen, "Sophie A. Udin," in: P.E. Hyman and D. Dash Moore (eds.), Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, vol. 2 (1997), 1425–26.

[Judith Friedman Rosen (2nd ed.)]