Jewish Publication Society
Henrietta Szold, 1860 - 1945
In 1888, Szold was elected as the only female member of the publication committee of the newly founded Jewish Publication Society. JPS sought to provide substantive works of Jewish culture to an American audience. Szold's early contributions included writing, with Cyrus Adler, a concluding chapter on American Jewish history for JPS's first volume, Outlines of Jewish History by Lady Katie Magnes, and revising a problematic British translation of Heinrich Graetz's five-volume History of the Jews.
In 1893, Szold was asked to become the Society's secretary and first paid employee. She withdrew from her other roles and moved to Philadelphia to take up this role, but brought her JPS work back with her to Baltimore when her father fell gravely ill in 1895, and then to New York after his death in 1903.
Szold's work for the society was monumental. Although she worked under the title and salary of secretary, she served as translator, indexer, fact checker, proofreader, statistician, administrator, and editor, overseeing the publication of 87 books during her tenure. Szold's clear mind, exhaustive dedication, and meticulous attention to detail enabled the Society to offer a remarkable literary and scholarly array. Many of the translations and original works published by JPS during this time still inform contemporary American Jewish culture and scholarship. A new Bible translation and the series of American Jewish Year Books that commenced publication in 1900 began to define the contours of a distinctive American Jewish intellectual world.
After twenty-two years, Szold withdrew from JPS work in 1916 when a group of Zionists offered to provide her with an annuity in order to support her work for Hadassah.