The Uses of Traditional Crafts in Girls’ Technical Education in Lwów 

Opened in 1915, the Handicrafts Workshops for Jewish Girls Warsztaty Rękodzielnicze dla Dziewcząt Żydowskich we Lwowie) was directed by Cecylia Klaftenowa (or Klaften), who also taught at the school. Klaftenowa was also involved in the creation of a Jewish Museum in Lwów; in fact, she was the only educator involved in the project, which had work with youth as one of its stated goals. At the Workshops, Klaftenowa implemented a program of education in folk crafts, in addition to skills that would be necessary for her pupils’ future roles as domestic workers such as cooking and sewing. Students displayed their work in glass vitrines in the hallway of the school, on view for visitors, school officials, and their fellow students.

The paper is part of a larger article-in-progress focusing on Klaftenowa’s writing and her relationship with other women involved in Jewish ethnography and museums, such as Regina Lilientalowa (Warsaw), and Giza Fränklowa (Lwów). Klaftenowa was murdered in Janowska concentration camp interrupts and apparently no personal papers survive; her educational (and feminist) ideals are visible mainly from articles she published on the importance of women learning a trade, in periodicals such as Przegląd Społeczny.

For the Polish Jewish Studies Workshop, I propose to examine the physical environment of Klaftenowa’s Workshops as the central “text.” The Workshops were a space not only of education, philanthropy, and productive labor, but also of museum-like display and a re-purposing of traditional handicraft, in which orphaned girls were the featured artisans.

The larger project has also sparked a digital mapping project, in which I chart and photograph the home and business addresses of my research subjects. Mapping this information made two themes of my work quite visible: 1) the level of integration of the group of Jews I study with the larger Polish upper classes, and 2) the divisions between my subjects by income and cultural status. In Klaftenowa’s, who appears in limited sources and was widowed at an early age, never remarrying, it becomes easier to determine that while she was by no means left destitute by her husband’s death, her lifestyle was likely rather modest, especially in comparison with the women with whom she sat on the boards of various other social, cultural, and political organizations in Lwów.

5th Annual International
Polish Jewish Studies Workshop

“Centering the Periphery: Polish Jewish Cultural Production Beyond the Capital”

Rutgers University
the State University of New Jersey

March 5-6, 2018
Rutgers University Inn
178 Ryders Lane
New Brunswick, NJ  08901