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Interview with Fred Joseph, February 3, 2017

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries


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00:00:00 - Family background

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Partial Transcript: Ready?

Segment Synopsis: Fred Joseph discusses his family's background, specifically how they came to the United States of America in the late 1850s. His father Alfred S. Joseph, Jr's family came to Shelbyville, Kentucky in 1858 from Württemberg, Germany. This family came from the German Liberal (Jewish) movement. Fred Joseph's mother's family came to Cincinnati, Ohio in the 1850s from near Hanover, Germany. His mother's name was originally Dorothy Cohn, but changed her name after marriage to Dorothy Joseph. Dorothy Cohn's side of the family also spent time living in New Albany, Ohio as well as Little Rock, Arkansas. Fred Joseph also had a great great great grandmother who was the daughter of a Polish Orthodox rabbi from Poland who moved to Copenhagen. His great great grandmother (on his mother's side) had two brothers in Denmark who became disaffected with the Jewish religion and founded the Baptist Church in Germany. He wrote a hymnal in German, the hymns of which are used worldwide.There is a reference made to the brothers on the church windows at Highland Baptist Church on Grinstead Drive in Louisville, Kentucky.

Keywords: 1850s; 1858; Alfred S. Joseph, Jr.; Arkansas; Baptist churches; Cincinnati, Ohio; Copenhagen, Denmark; Denmark; Dorothy Joseph; Grinstead Drive; Hanover, Germany; Highland Baptist Church; Indiana; Liberal Movement; Louisville, Kentucky; New Albany, Ohio; Orthodox Judaism; Shelbyville, Kentucky; Württemberg, Germany

Subjects: Cincinnati (Ohio); Copenhagen (Denmark); Emigration and immigration.; Families.; Genealogy; Hanover (Germany); Louisville (Ky.); New Albany (Ohio); Shelbyville (Ky.); Württemberg (Germany)

GPS: Württemberg (Germany)
Map Coordinates: 49.001, 9.5845
00:05:06 - Maternal family history

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Partial Transcript: So when your family arrived in America, you talked about some of the places that they lived. What kind of professions were they following? What, what kind of work?

Segment Synopsis: When Joseph's maternal side of the family first moved to America, they moved around a lot, living in Cincinnati, Augusta, and Little Rock. His great great grandfather was a friend of Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise in Cincinnati. Joseph’s great grandfather, Mathius Cohn, published a newspaper, studied law, was asked to be on the first board of trustees at the University of Arkansas, and eventually became the first Jew elected to the Arkansas legislature. Mathius Cohn passed a bill that allowed "Jewish preachers" to perform wedding ceremonies that were recognized by the state. In addition, he was also the Arkansas representative to found both the American Bar Association and the American Jewish Committee. He and Isaac Bernheim served on together on AJC committees. Joseph's mother's matriarchal side was the Ottenheimer family, important in the Little Rock business community, education and library developments. Her maternal grandfather was a merchant, member of Little Rock city council, and the bank board. His mother's family's lives were part of the Southern, early German immigration.

Keywords: Alfred Joseph Jr.; American Bar Association; American Jewish Committee; Arkansas; Augusta, Arkansas; Belvedere; Bible; Cincinnati, Ohio; Cohen family; Dallas, Texas; Dorothy Cohn; Driving Miss Daisy; Fayetteville, Arkansas; France; Georgia; Isaac Bernheim; Isaac Mayer Wise; Jewish; Judaism; Kentucky; Little Rock, Arkansas; Mathius Cohn; Miami, Florida; New Albany; Ottenheimer family; University of Arkansas

Subjects: Augusta (Ark.); Cincinnati (Ohio); Dallas (Tex.); Families.; Fayetteville (Ark.); Genealogy; Little Rock (Ark.); Miami (Fla.)

GPS: Little Rock (Ark.)
Map Coordinates: 34.746, -92.28959
00:10:50 - Paternal family history

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Partial Transcript: My, uh, father's family came to Kentucky in the late 1850s, and again, for reasons I can't trace, um, on, on his mother's side...

Segment Synopsis: Fred Joseph’s father’s family came to Kentucky in the late 1850s, where they owned a hemp farm on Hempridge Road. One of Fred Joseph's great uncles was the captain of the Shelby militia during the Civil War and a very highly regarded soldier. The group, known as the Mt. Eaton Sharpshooters, was known as a highly skilled group of marksmen in the Kentucky Militia. Shelbyville had a substantial Jewish population at the time, though people went to Adath Israel Synagogue in Louisville with Rabbi Enlow. Fred Joseph's father, Alfred Joseph Jr. rode the interurban railroad track between Louisville and Shelbyville, Kentucky. The interurban railroad track was faster to take than driving on Highway 64. Grandfather Captain Abe moved to Sixth Street, Louisville and put his grandmother in Louisville school. The other side of his family was occupied with stock trading and lived near the stockyards.

Keywords: Adath Israel; Alfred Joseph, Jr.; Arkansas; Captain Abe; Central Park; Civil War; Dorothy Cohn; DuPont Manual High School; Frankfort Avenue; Germany; Hemp farms; Hempridge Road; Jewish community; Kentucky; Kentucky Militia; Lexington, Kentucky; Louisville, Kentucky; Mathius Cohn; Mt. Eaton Sharpshooters; Rabbi Enlow; Rabbi Rowe; Shelby County, Kentucky; Shelby militia; Shelbyville, Kentucky; Sixth street

Subjects: Families.; Genealogy; Lexington (Ky.); Louisville (Ky.); Shelby County (Ky.); Shelbyville (Ky.); United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.

GPS: Hempridge Road in Shelbyville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.163, -85.126
00:15:38 - A family of architects

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Partial Transcript: And, uh, you have some very distinguished architects in your family. How--w--start that story. Where does that begin?

Segment Synopsis: Fred Joseph has several distinguished architects in his family, including his grandfather, Alfred Joseph, Sr. who was with McDonald & Dodd. His brother, Oscar Joseph, also studied architecture, so the two brothers started their own firm, Joseph & Joseph, in 1908. They became involved in many major projects and had a specialty in distillery design, and designed Brown-Forman, National Distillers, Seagram, and Stitzel-Weller, the Jewish Hospital, the Jewish Community Center (JCC), Kneseth, and the United Way Building. Fred Joseph’s father and first cousin also went on to become architects in 1930s after studying at University of Pennsylvania, at which point the firm became Joseph & Joseph & Joseph & Joseph. However, this was during the Great Depression, so Grandpa’s brother and son moved to Los Angeles, California and formed Joseph & Joseph there while the grandpa and dad continued Joseph & Joseph in Louisville, Kentucky. His father was the principal architect for Morehead State University and worked with Frederick Law Olmstead, the designer of Central Park in New York. He also designed schools, a prison, and movie theaters.

Keywords: Alfred Joseph, Sr.; Atherton Hospital; Broadway; Brown-Foreman; Central Park; Eddyville State Prison; Frederick Law Olmstead; Hazelwood Elementary School; Jefferson Community College; Jewish Community Center (JCC); Jewish Hospital; Joseph & Joseph; Lions Club Eye Bank; Los Angeles, California; Louisville, Kentucky; Mary Anderson; McDonald & Dodd; Morehead State University; Morehead, Kentucky; Motor family; National Distillers; New Albany; New York; Oscar Joseph; Presbyterian Seminary; Seagram; Stitzel-Weller; The Great Depression; The United Way building; University of Michigan; University of Pennsylvania; duPont Manual High School

Subjects: Architectural design.; Architecture; Families.; Genealogy; Los Angeles (Calif.); Louisville (Ky.)

GPS: Morehead State University
Map Coordinates: 38.18888, -83.431
00:21:03 - Jewish influences in architecture

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Partial Transcript: Well, they clearly got a lot of important commissions. Do you think that their being Jewish, uh, was a factor at all?

Segment Synopsis: Fred Joseph does not believe that his family experienced any anti-Semitism in the architecture world. However, he does note that Joseph & Joseph did all of the Jewish work in architecture, while Nolan & Nolan did all of the Catholic work. Grandpa was a Shriner for eighty years, and that may have had an influence on his style of architecture, but not necessarily a Jewish influence. Fred Joseph describes it as a Middle Eastern influence. He also designed the Temple and Kneseth Israel synagogue on Taylorsville Road, for which he did a lot of research in order to reflect the interests and ideals of the congregation.

Keywords: Antisemitism; Architecture; Bensinger Building; Broadway; Catholic; Jewish; Jewish Hospital; Joseph & Joseph; Kneseth Israel; Louisville, Kentucky; Main Street; Moorish influence; Nolan & Nolan; Shriners; Standard Country Club; Switow family; Taylorsville Road; United Way Building

Subjects: Anti-Semitism.; Antisemitism.; Architectural design.; Architecture; Families.; Genealogy; Jews--Identity.; Louisville (Ky.); Religion

GPS: Kneseth Israel Congregation
Map Coordinates: 38.244, -85.6748
00:24:52 - Immediate family history

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Partial Transcript: Um, okay. So, let's, uh, switch back to the personal now for a minute, and, uh, your--tell me your parent's names and when and where they were born. Just--

Segment Synopsis: Fred Joseph discusses his immediate family history. His father, Alfred S. Joseph, Jr., was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1912 and was a Reform Jew. His mother, originally Dorothy Cohn, was born in Little Rock and changed her name in 1930 from Cohn to Cone because of anti-Semitism. Alfred Joseph, III, (the interviewee) was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1943 at Baptist Hospital, interestingly, a Joseph & Joseph building design. Fred’s sister, Susan Joseph, was born in 1947. Fred Joseph grew up only a block and a half away from the Baptist seminary on Lexington Road. He believes that this was an important part of his growing up because he went to Clark Elementary School, Barrett Junior High School and Atherton High School. Due to his close proximity to the seminary, he did not have any Jewish classmates until he got to high school. Many of his friends were from families affiliated with the Seminary, while most Jewish families lived in the Highlands.

Keywords: Alfred S. Joseph, Jr.; Anti-Semitism; Atherton High School; Atlanta, Georgia; Baptist Hospital; Barrett Junior High School; Broadway; Clark School; Dorothy Cone Joseph; Highlands; Jewish; Jewish tradition; Joseph & Joseph; Judaism; Lexington Road; Little Rock, Arkansas; Louisville, Kentucky; Susan Joseph

Subjects: Anti-Semitism; Antisemitism; Atlanta (Ga.); Families.; Genealogy; Jewish families.; Jews--Identity.; Judaism.; Little Rock (Ark.); Louisville (Ky.); Religion

GPS: Baptist Hospital
Map Coordinates: 38.2375, -85.6395
00:27:47 - Growing up Jewish in a Baptist community

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Partial Transcript: Did you find yourself in religious debates with your friends, or--

Segment Synopsis: Fred Joseph discusses growing up in a community that was mostly Christian, especially Baptist, while he was Jewish. He went to Barrett Junior High School, where there were never sock hops so he didn't learn to dance. He experienced Christian influences in school, and would sometimes find himself in religious debates with his peers, but never felt pressured because he was a different religion. Anytime that there was a Jewish holiday, Fred Joseph would be asked to come to the front of the class to explain the meaning and significance of the holiday. Joseph never felt pressured to convert in these circles. Joseph describes it as a “pretty open experience,” but says that that changed when he went to Atherton High School. Social clubs were an important part of life at this time in the community. Even though not all of Joseph’s friends were Jewish, he could not participate in their non-Jewish social clubs. He was a member of the Jewish fraternity Pi Tau Pi and joined the Jewish social clubs. Fred Joseph believes that the Baptist seminary was a much more open place while he was growing up than it is today. He notes that Rabbi Waller got his doctorate in divinity at the Baptist seminary. One of Rabbi Waller's classmates was Monsignor Horrigan, a very prominent Catholic and the first president of Bellarmine University.

Keywords: Atherton High School; BBYO; Baptist Seminary; Baptists; Barrett Junior High School; Bellarmine University; Billy Graham; Catholic; Christmas; Highlands; Jewish; Judaism; Monsignor Horrigan; Pi Tau Pi; Rabbi Waller; Sock hops; holiday

Subjects: Childhood; Education; Holidays.; Jewish children; Jewish families.; Jews--Identity.; Judaism.; Religion

GPS: Barrett Junior High School
Map Coordinates: 38.249, -85.696
00:31:06 - Anti-Semitic experiences

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Partial Transcript: I've heard a lot about the social clubs at the center, and the important role it played in people's lives, but I didn't realize that it was because there were high school clubs that were restricted also in town.

Segment Synopsis: Fred Joseph reflects on some anti-Semitic experiences that he had growing up, such as not being able to be in the same social clubs as his non-Jewish friends. In addition, he recalls a time when he went to the Louisville Country Club’s pool with one of his friends and the lifeguard blew the whistle and told everyone to get out because there was a Jew in the pool. The friend’s family was then asked not to bring Fred Joseph back if they wanted to continue to be members of the country club. As a result, the family withdrew from the country club. However, this was not the only anti-Semitic experience Fred Joseph had in Louisville, Kentucky. When he moved back to Louisville from Washington in 1972, he was told by several major law firms that they don’t interview Jews. While in Louisville, Fred Joseph was a member of a firm that was very active in the Pendennis Club. The Pendennis Club asked Joseph to become a member because they were trying to transition to being less religiously restrictive of their members. In addition, the Louisville neighborhood of Indian Hills was effectively redlined against Jews and African Americans. Many of the deeds in Indian Hills contained anti-Israelite and anti-black language.

Keywords: Anti-Israelite; Anti-Semitism; Anti-black; Bingham family; Glenview; Indian Hills; Jewish; John Yarmuth; Judaism; Louisville Country Club; Louisville, Kentucky; Pendennis Club; Race relations; Racism; Sunday school; Washington

Subjects: Anti-Semitism; Antisemitism; Discrimination.; Louisville (Ky.); Race discrimination--Kentucky

GPS: Louisville Country Club
Map Coordinates: 38.279, -85.677
00:35:08 - Judaism growing up

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Partial Transcript: Well, circling back a little bit, in--growing up in your family, what kind of, um, uh, Jewish education did you have? What kind of Judaism did your parents practice? What, what was your relationship to that?

Segment Synopsis: Fred Joseph grew up in a reform Jewish household, members of the Adath Israel congregation. His family went to synagogue on high holidays and he attended Sunday school. They had a Christmas tree every year. In addition, Fred Joseph was not bar mitzvahed and had never attended a bar mitzvah until after college. Alfred Joseph, Jr. and Dorothy Cohn were close friends with Rabbi and Mrs. Waller and Rabbi and Mrs. Rowe. Fred Joseph also went to a summer camp in Wisconsin that was primarily Jewish but had no Jewish activities.

Keywords: Adath Israel Brith Shalom; Alfred Joseph, Jr.; Assimilation; Christmas; Dorothy Cohn; High holidays; Jewish; Jewish camps; Jewish education; Judaism; Louisville, Kentucky; Passover; Rabbi and Mrs. Rowe; Rabbi and Mrs. Waller; Social norms; Sunday school; Synagogues; Washington; Wisconsin

Subjects: Childhood; Fasts and feasts--Judaism.; Holidays.; Jewish children; Jewish families.; Judaism; Louisville (Ky.); Religion; Worship (Judaism)

GPS: Adath Israel Brith Shalom
Map Coordinates: 38.2919, -85.6295
00:38:19 - Parents' ties to Judaism

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Partial Transcript: And, uh, when you were growing up, did your--was your father involved in the Jewish community? Um, the organized Jewish community, with any groups or?

Segment Synopsis: Fred Joseph’s father, Alfred Joseph, Jr., was not very active in the organized Jewish community but Fred’s mother, Dorothy Joseph, was very active. She was very involved in the National Council of Jewish Women. Dorothy Joseph was influenced to join the National Council of Jewish Women by her mother, Helen Joseph, who had been president of the National Council of Jewish Women in 1920. Dorothy Joseph was very interested in mental illness and was one of the founders and the second president of Bridgehaven, a halfway house in Louisville, Kentucky. Although she never attended college, Dorothy went on to become the director of forensic psychiatry at Central State Hospital and received several national awards for her involvement in mental health.

Keywords: Alfred Joseph, Jr.; Betty Jane Fleischaker; Bridgehaven; Central State Hospital; Dorothy Joseph; Fanny Rose Rosenbaum; Halfway houses; Helen Joseph; Jewish community; Louisville, Kentucky; Mental illness; National Council of Jewish Women; Shelbyville, Kentucky

Subjects: Jewish families.; Judaism; Louisville (Ky.); Mental health; Shelbyville (Ky.)

GPS: Bridgehaven in Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.2396, -85.7548
00:40:51 - Dubby Overstreet--Inspiration for his civil rights work

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Partial Transcript: Was there anybody else as you were growing up that was, uh, an influence on your life later?

Segment Synopsis: Fred Joseph believes that a woman who had a great influence on his life was Dubby Overstreet, the granddaughter of a slave and a longtime employee of the Joseph family. Overstreet worked for Fred Joseph’s grandparents, his parents, and eventually his own family throughout her life, helping out around the house and assisting in raising the children of each household. Although Overstreet was not formally educated, she was clearly very intelligent and determined. She was not afraid to stand up for herself and what she believed in and would not let anyone talk down to her. Fred Joseph attributes an early interest in civil rights to having a strong role model such as Dubby Overstreet in his life from a young age.

Keywords: African American; Alfred Joseph, Jr.; Alfred Joseph, Sr.; Anne Joseph; Civil rights; Dorothy Joseph; Dubby Overstreet; Helen Joseph

Subjects: Childhood; Civil rights; Race discrimination; Race relations; Racism

00:44:24 - Wesleyan University

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Partial Transcript: And, uh, then where did you go to college? What was that decision-making process like?

Segment Synopsis: Fred Joseph stated that all of his camp friends went to Ivy League colleges which had somewhat of an influence on his college decision. He wanted to go east and attend a college that had no Jewish fraternities to avoid his experiences in high school. He chose Wesleyan University due to the recommendation of his Lebanese classmate Fred Kurim. He attended from 1961 to 1965, where he joined a fraternity with men of different races and religions. They took turns making a blessing from their respective traditions at the meal, and he delighted in the ecumenical nature of this. During college, Fred would still attend services during the high holy days at a nearby synagogue but he has no idea if there was a Hillel in the area.

Keywords: Adath Israel; Atherton High School; Black; Catholic; College life; Connecticut; Cornell University; Dartmouth College; Fraternities; Fred Kurim; Harvard University; High holidays; Hillel; Jewish; Judaism; Lebanese; Mormon; Passover; University of Pennsylvania; Wesleyan University; Yale University

Subjects: Education, Higher; Fasts and feasts--Judaism.; Higher education; Holidays.; Religion; Wesleyan University; Worship (Judaism)

GPS: Wesleyan University
Map Coordinates: 41.556, -72.654
00:48:45 - Race relations

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Partial Transcript: So, you were in college during a very pivotal time of change on college campuses.

Segment Synopsis: During Fred Joseph’s junior year at Wesleyan, his roommate was an African American named Ron Young. Young was active in Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), including in summer actions in Mississippi and the group that organized the Peace March in Washington. Joseph believes that having an African American roommate made the racial unrest of the 1960s very personal to him. Young accompanied Joseph on the drive back home from college in 1964. They had to make an overnight stop so that they wouldn’t be too tired. The two had to stop at eight different hotels before they were allowed to stay in a room together, at which point Ron Young had to claim that he was African royalty in order to be given a room with a white man. Ron Young is actually from Nigeria, but is not African royalty. His experiences with his black college friends inspired Fred Joseph to do his thesis on black leadership in Louisville, Kentucky. He received a grant to do so from the Falk Foundation in Philadelphia. Joseph wrote about the results of his research in a pamphlet published by the Human Relations Commission, for which he also worked. Fred Joseph also notes that Martin Luther King, Jr. gave the commencement address at Wesleyan in 1976. Fred's grandfather designed the Porter Funeral Home; Woody Porter Sr., who headed University of Louisville's Board of Trustees, helped Fred meet Lyman Johnson and other prominent Black leaders.

Keywords: Africa; African American; African American leadership; Alfred Joseph, Sr.; Civil Rights Movement; Cleveland, Ohio; Dashiki; Falk Fountain; Fellowship of Reconciliation; Frank Stanley, Sr.; James Lawson; John Lewis; Louisville, Kentucky; Lyman Johnson; Martin Luther King, Jr.; Memphis, Tennessee; Mississippi; Mississippi Summer Project; Nigeria; Ohio; Peace marches; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Porter Funeral Home; Racial divide; Ron Young; Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNICC); The North; The South; University of Louisville; University of Michigan; Washington, D.C.; Wesleyan University; West Virginia; Woody Porter, Sr.

Subjects: African American leadership; African Americans--Segregation; Civil rights; Cleveland (Ohio); Louisville (Ky.); Memphis (Tenn.); Philadelphia (Pa.); Race discrimination; Race relations; Racism; Washington (D.C.)

GPS: Wesleyan University
Map Coordinates: 41.556, -72.654
00:55:09 - Picking University of Michigan Law School

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Partial Transcript: So, you decided in the course of this to go to law school?

Segment Synopsis: Fred Joseph decided that when he went to law school, he wanted to get out of the East because he was done with the condescension accompanied with being both a Southerner, a Jew, and a public school graduate. For example, Wesleyan University at the time was about 70% students who had came from, as Fred describes, "snobby prep schools," such as Andover, Exeter and Choate. Therefore, Joseph decided to attend the University of Michigan to get out of the East and to a co-ed university.

Keywords: Andover; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Atherton; Choate; Exeter; Harvard University; Jewish; Judaism; Julliard; Law schools; Lincoln Center; Michigan; New York; Prep schools; Public schools; Social classes; Social life; University of Michigan; Wesleyan University

Subjects: Ann Arbor (Mich.); Discrimination.; Education, Higher; Higher education; University of Michigan

GPS: The University of Michigan
Map Coordinates: 42.278, -83.737
00:57:32 - Meeting his wife, Anne Cohn

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Partial Transcript: And at what point did you meet your wife?

Segment Synopsis: Fred Joseph describes how he met and got married to Anne Joseph. Originally, Joseph was dating Lynn Lewis from eighth grade through college. Lynn Lewis and Anne Joseph, whose maiden name was Webman, were friends at Sophie Newcomb Memorial College. Anne and Fred were introduced to each other, yet they had no romantic interest. Eventually, Lynn Lewis fell in love and married Dr. Ken Silk. Fred and Anne Joseph were both at the wedding, yet were still not romantically interested in each other. Finally, Anne and Fred Joseph individually moved to Washington, D.C. within the same week and began dating. A year later in, 1968, the two were married.

Keywords: Anne Cohn; Anne Joseph; Anne Webman; Boston; Dr. Ken Silk; Louisville, Kentucky; Lynn Lewis; Michigan; Sophie Newcomb Memorial College; Washington, D.C.

Subjects: Louisville (Ky.); Marriage; Washington (D.C.)

GPS: Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.253, -85.758
00:59:12 - Working at the Office of Economic Opportunity

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Partial Transcript: So, um, back to law school.

Segment Synopsis: Fred Joseph explains that from the time he began law school, he knew he never wanted to be a litigator. Rather, he was in urban development law, and very interested in civil rights matters. His father wanted him to join the architecture firm but Fred was more interested in housing access. He worked with Gov. George Romney on the Michigan open housing statute. After graduating law school from the University of Michigan and failing to get a job with the new federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, Joseph accepted a job in the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) in 1967, which was the site of President Lyndon B. Johnson's War on Poverty. Joseph worked in the community action section of the OEO which initiated programs such as Head Start, legal services, foster grandparents, and a variety of manpower programs. The Park DuValle Health Center was funded by the OEO in 1968, and Fred Joseph did the legal sign off on that project. He speaks of working with Sargent Shriver and John Doar.

Keywords: Alfred Joseph, Jr.; Civil rights; Department of Housing and Urban Development; George Romney; Job Corps; John Doar; Law schools; Louisville, Kentucky; Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO); Open housing statutes; Park DuValle Health Center; President Lyndon B. Johnson; Sargent Shriver; University of Michigan; Urban Development Law; War on Poverty; Washington, D.C.; Wesleyan University

Subjects: Civil rights; Housing development; Lawyers; Louisville (Ky.); Washington (D.C.)

GPS: Park DuValle Health Center
Map Coordinates: 38.227, -85.807
01:04:37 - Living in Washington, D.C.

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Partial Transcript: So when you lived in Washington--and what years were you in Washington?

Segment Synopsis: Fred Joseph lived in Washington, D.C. from summer 1967 through 1972 in Georgetown, working in Dupont Circle. After marrying Anne Joseph in 1968, they moved to southeast D.C., four blocks behind the Library of Congress. At the time, the Capitol Hill area was becoming gentrified. Everyone in the neighborhood got to know each other generally well, yet there was a high crime rate. In fact, there was no house that had not been burglarized in the year and a half that the Josephs had lived there, including their own home. Fred and Anne Joseph were a part of the Jewish community in Washington D.C. Because there was no synagogue on Capitol Hill, they joined a synagogue in Maryland called Temple Sinai, where the couple married.

Keywords: American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU); Anne Cohn; Anne Joseph; Capital Hill; Gentrification; Georgetown; Jewish; Jewish community; Judaism; Library of Congress; Maryland; Rabbis; Rock Week Parkway; Synagogues; Temple Sinai; Washington, D.C.; duPont Circle

Subjects: Religion; Washington (D.C.); Worship (Judaism)

01:07:42 - Civil rights counsel for the House Judiciary

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Partial Transcript: So, s--at some point something brought you back to Louisville.

Segment Synopsis: Fred Joseph explains that he had always wanted to return to Louisville, Kentucky, so in 1972 it came as no surprise when he and his wife, Anne Joseph moved back from Washington, D.C. While in D.C., Fred Joseph worked as a civil rights counsel for the House Judiciary. He was primarily involved with the enforcement of the Voting Rights Act because President Richard Nixon and John Mitchell were doing everything possible to not enforce the act. Nixon and Mitchell were doing so because Southern states were their primary voting base, but if they followed the Voting Rights Act their numbers in the polls could go down due to an increase in African American voters. Fred Joseph’s job required him to spend a lot of time in Mississippi, where he was not allowed to travel without FBI protection. Joseph shares a story of the antisemitism he experienced after being invited over to dinner at the Hinds County registrar’s house. Fred was very aware of the Jewish aspects of civil rights work in the OEO: Hy Buchbinder (eventually with American Jewish Committee) and Joseph (Joe) Rauh, chairman of the Leadership Council on Civil Rights. In the South, many people thought every Jew was a civil rights person and a communist.

Keywords: African Americans; American Jewish Committee; Arctic Circle; Civil Rights; Civil Rights Act of 1964; Coahoma County, Mississippi; Columbia Law School; FBI; Havana, Cuba; Hinds County, Mississippi; House Judiciary; Hy Bookbinder; Jackson, Mississippi; Jews; John Mitchell; Joseph Rauh; Judaism; Kosher; Leadership Conference on Civil Rights; Louisville, Kentucky; Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO); Poverty; President Nixon; Sahara desert; South; Southern tradition; Voting Rights Act; Voting Rights Act of 1965; Washington; Wife

Subjects: Anti-Semitism; Antisemitism; Civil rights; Coahoma County (Miss.); Discrimination.; Havana (Cuba); Hinds County (Miss.); Jackson (Miss.); Jews--Identity.; Judaism.; Louisville (Ky.); Race relations; Racism

GPS: Hinds County (Miss.)
Map Coordinates: 32.2648, -90.3748
01:14:23 - Integration of Jefferson County Public Schools

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Partial Transcript: Uh, back to Louisville, there were some, uh, people working on civil rights issues and open housing issues, uh, at that point, or was that more earlier than when you came back?

Segment Synopsis: When Fred Joseph returned home to live in Louisville, Kentucky in 1973, he was chairman of the Legal Aid Society, which was the principal counsel of the plaintiffs in the busing issue in Louisville. The ‘busing issue’ that Joseph referred to is the racial integration of Jefferson County Public Schools. Before the integration, the old city of Louisville school system consisted of city schools (Atherton, Shawnee, Male, Central and duPont Manual High School), and county schools such as Waggener, Seneca and Iroquois High Schools. The city school system went bankrupt, which caused the merger of the two Louisville school systems. With the school merger and the court-ordered desegregation of schools, students of different races were bused to schools across the city, racially integrating schools in a way that they had not been before. This caused controversy across Louisville. Fred Joseph notes that this caused much of the Louisville Jewish community to move from old Louisville to the suburbs. However, he states that the Jewish community was quite divided on the issue. Many Jewish families supported busing, but others opposed it and sent their kids to private schools in order to avoid it. Fred Joseph explains that he sent his daughters to private school until high school because the school they would have been sent to was one of the worst in the city, not because of racial fears.

Keywords: Adath Israel; Anne Braden; Atherton; Board of education; Brith Shalom; Brownsville Road; Bussing; Central High School; Chenoweth Lane; Civil rights; Downtown; East End; Iroquois High School; Jefferson County Public Schools; Jewish Community of Louisville; Jews; Judaism; Keneseth Israel; Klu Klux Klan; Legal Aid Society; Louisville, Kentucky; Male; Old Louisville; Seneca High School; Shawnee; Waggener High School; West End; duPont Manual High School

Subjects: African Americans--Segregation; Busing for school integration; Civil rights; Discrimination.; Jefferson County (Ky.); Jefferson County Public Schools; Jewish children; Jewish families.; Louisville (Ky.); Race relations; Racism; School integration

GPS: duPont Manual Magnet High School
Map Coordinates: 38.222, -85.758
01:19:05 - Children, grandchildren and their Jewish involvement

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Partial Transcript: So, since you brought up your family--so you and Anne were married in Washington.

Segment Synopsis: Fred Joseph and his wife, Anne Joseph, had two daughters, Alix and Amy Joseph in 1974 and 1979, respectively. Alix Joseph has two sons and is currently a lawyer living in Denver, Colorado. Amy Joseph went to her father’s alma mater, Wesleyan University. She is currently working at the Bernheim Arboretum. There are also now two grandsons. Fred Joseph believes that his daughters became so involved in the Louisville Jewish community growing up because they saw how involved both of their parents were. Upon Fred and Anne's return to Louisville, they became very active in the Jewish community. Fred was the chairman of the Community Relations Committee for the Jewish Federation and his wife, Anne, was working with the National Council of Jewish Women and Park DuValle. Alix Joseph was involved with the Junior Counsel of Jewish Women and Amy was in the first class of Kesher Kentucky, a program for Jewish high school youth. Unlike their parents, both Alix and Amy Joseph had bat mitzvahs. Anne's family came to the U.S. in the 1920s, her grandmother came in 1939, and others were killed in the concentration camps in WWII. Her family had big Passover seders so Fred adopted that custom and came to enjoy the tradition, including his non-Jewish friends in their celebrations. He also stopped having a Christmas tree.

Keywords: Ali Center; Alix Joseph; Bar mitzvahs; Bernheim Arboretum; Christmas; Community Relations Committee; Community Relations Council; Concentration camps; D.B. Wylde; Denver, Colorado; Eastern European; German; Handmaker, Weber & Meyer; Hannukah; Holocaust; Jewish Federation; Jewish Hospital; Jewish community; Junior Council; Kentucky Derby; Kentucky Derby Museum; Kesher Kentucky; Legal Aid; National Council of Jewish Women; Park DuValle; Passover; Poland; Rocky Mountain National Park; Russia; Seder; Shelly Weber; Stuart Handmaker; United States of America; Wesleyan University

Subjects: Denver (Colo.); Fasts and feasts--Judaism.; Genealogy; Holidays.; Jewish children; Jewish families.; Jewish leadership--Kentucky; Jews--Identity.; Judaism.

GPS: Denver (Colo.)
Map Coordinates: 39.739, -104.99
01:27:12 - A controversial ACLU case / Dave Armstrong

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Partial Transcript: Um, digressing a little, um, when I came back to Louisville, uh, I was asked by the American Civil Liberties Union to litigate a case...

Segment Synopsis: When Fred Joseph moved back to Louisville, Kentucky from Washington D.C., he was asked by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to litigate a case where a student at the University of Louisville had been arrested because he had a marijuana plant in his window. As part of the Jefferson County Police Department’s search, they seized fifteen psychology textbooks assigned for a psychology of drugs class and determined to burn the texts according to their interpretation of the controlled substances statute. Joseph disagreed with the interpretation, so he took the case to Dave Armstrong, who at the time was running against the then-County Commonwealth Attorney, for advice. Regarding the case, Armstrong stated, “books means books and records. It doesn’t mean textbooks. We are not Nazi Germany.” This experience was the foundation of Fred Joseph’s close friendship with Dave Armstrong. Joseph managed several of Armstrong’s campaigns and the two families would spend holidays, such as Passover and Christmas, together. During Dave Armstrong’s career, he was the Commonwealth Attorney, the Kentucky Attorney General, the county judge, the mayor of Louisville, and then finally the commissioner of the Public Service Commission. Fred Joseph adds that Armstrong was very active in Jewish events; he went to the Soviet Union on behalf of immigration of Soviet Jews.

Keywords: American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU); Christmas; Commonwealth Attorney; Dave Armstrong; Ed Schroering; Jefferson County Police Department; Kentucky; Louisville, Kentucky; Nazi Germany; Nazis; Public Service Commission; Seder; Soviet Jews; Soviet Union; University of Louisville; Washington, D.C.

Subjects: Civil rights; Jefferson County (Ky.); Lawyers--Kentucky--Louisville; Louisville (Ky.); University of Louisville; Washington (D.C.)

GPS: Former Soviet Union
Map Coordinates: 59.8827, 30.269
01:29:52 - Professional career

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Partial Transcript: Uh, I don't want to skip over your adult professional career here.

Segment Synopsis: When Fred Joseph originally began his law practice, he focused on commercial real estate matters. He represented developers doing planning, zoning and contract work. After doing that for about 20 years, he started representing lenders, instead of developers. In the last part of his practice, starting in 1997, he concentrated primarily on public projects with a focus on affordable housing. This stage of Fred Joseph’s law practice is one that he is especially passionate about. He describes transitioning to this stage as “coming back to his roots.” Public projects that he worked on include the Hope VI project such as Park DuValle, Sheppard Square, Russell, and Fourth Street Live. These projects entailed addressing zoning, mixed use, affordability, and people's concerns in new ways. This combines architectural design, social good, law, and meeting people, which is exciting to Fred Joseph.

Keywords: Affordable housing; Architecture; Careers; Community Relations Board; Fourth Street Live; Georgia; HUD; Hope VI Project; Jewish community; Kentucky; Liberty Green; Louisville, Kentucky; Mississippi; Park DuValle; Public housing; Public projects; Residential; Russell; Sheppard Square; UPS; Urban; Zoning

Subjects: Housing; Lawyers--Kentucky--Louisville; Louisville (Ky.)

GPS: Fourth Street Live
Map Coordinates: 38.252, -85.7569
01:35:49 - Archiving the Louisville Jewish Community

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Partial Transcript: And, uh, you've also been involved with studying and recording the history of Louisville's Jewish community.

Segment Synopsis: Fred Joseph is involved with studying and recording the history of Louisville’s Jewish community and the archival project by the Jewish Community in Louisville (JCL). The Jewish community has had a great impact on Louisville from many perspectives, such as medical, professional and business. Joseph chaired the Kentucky Oral History Commission for several years and was on the executive committee of the Kentucky Historical Society. He's working on a family history that's already 900 pages. He is excited about this project because it might cause people to think about how things were a product of their time and how they related to other parts of the community. Fred Joseph was also involved in bringing the Anne Frank Exhibit to the Louisville Free Public Library. He would often go down to the library to sit and watch people wandering through the exhibit. Many of the visitors to the exhibit were not highly educated and had no idea who Anne Frank was, or what the Holocaust was about, but they were clearly moved by the exhibit. This experience inspired Fred Joseph to use the Jewish Community archival project as a way to make the Louisville community aware of the impact that the Jewish community has had in Louisville. The archives can be the basis of programming that impacts community relations. This could involve new volunteers in the way the Heritage Weekends years ago involved Jewish volunteers on the Belvedere.

Keywords: American Jewish Archives; Anne Frank; Belvedere; Cincinnati, Ohio; Holocaust; Jewish; Jews; Judaism; Kentucky Historical Society; Kentucky Oral History Commission; Louisville Board of Education; Louisville Free Public Library; Louisville Jewish Community; Louisville, Kentucky; Rabbi Waller; the Filson Society; the Jewish Federation of Louisville

Subjects: Archival materials.; Archives.; Cincinnati (Ohio); Genealogy; Jewish archives; Jewish families.; Jewish leadership--Kentucky--Louisville; Jews--Identity.; Judaism.; Louisville (Ky.)

01:43:11 - Why Jewish history in Kentucky is important and significant

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Partial Transcript: And what stories would you like to see told, once there's the archives and, and, uh, there's a possibility of doing exhibits or educational programs or outreach?

Segment Synopsis: In this section, Fred Joseph discusses several stories of Jews who had a large impact on Kentucky as a way of showing why Jewish history in Kentucky is important, significant, and should be archived. The Crusade for Children was started by Rabbi Herbert Waller, Monsignor Horrigan, and Duke McCall. Rabbi Waller was extremely influential in beginning the Crusade for Children, was president of the board of education and has a public school named after him. Joseph also explains that major stores in the business history of the community have been Jewish stores. In addition, Jewish Hospital was a premier heart transplant center for years. For a long time, Jews in Louisville could not be serviced by any other hospitals in the area because of their religion. Finally, Joseph discusses Louis Brandeis, the first Jew to have a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court was a Louisvillian. In addition, Louis Brandeis’ cousin, Lewis Dembitz, wrote the first major treatise on Kentucky law.

Keywords: Ben Snider; Bensinger’s; Crusade for Children; Duke McCall; Education; Jewish; Jewish Hospital; Jewish stores; Jews; Kaufman-Straus; Lewis Dembitz; Louis Brandeis; Louisville, Kentucky; Monsignor Horrigan; Rabbi Waller

Subjects: Anti-Semitism; Antisemitism; Discrimination.; Jewish businesspeople; Jewish families.; Jewish leadership--Kentucky--Louisville; Jews--Identity.; Judaism.; Louisville (Ky.)

GPS: Jewish Hospital
Map Coordinates: 38.249, -85.751