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The Workmen’s Circle, Branch 723 and 724 (New Bedford and Fairhaven, Mass.) records

Identifier: MC-070

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of three ledger books and one receipt book, a charter, a photocopy of a 1929 poster, and notes on the organization’s history.


  • 1938-1966

Language of Materials

Materials in English and in Hebrew

Conditions Governing Access


Biographical / Historical

In 1892, a group of clockmakers on New York's Lower East Side formed a mutual aid society, which was formally chartered in 1900 as The Workmen's Circle/Arbeiter Ring. The organization offered mortuary and sick benefits to Jewish immigrant workers and was also known nationally for providing health and educational services among the immigrant community. Beyond this, it declared that its mission was the full "emancipation of workers from oppression and exploitation" and was influential in the rise of two major garment industry unions. The New Bedford chapter of The Workmen’s Circle, known as Branch 723, was probably founded just after the turn of the century, although early records have been lost. Mortuary benefits included a free plot in the branch’s cemetery (the earliest grave appears to date from 1910), and $50 – $75 for burial expenses. In the 1930s, there was disagreement over leadership and the local branch split into two factions, one under the leadership of Alex Lassow (branch 723), the other under Meyer Cohen (branch 724). After the dissolution of the local branch in the 1970s, The Workmen’s Circle turned over their cemetery, along with $10,000 to Tifereth Israel Synagogue in New Bedford, Mass. for perpetual care of the graves.


0.5 Linear Feet (1 manuscript box)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Branch 723 items were a gift of Arnold Lassow in August of 1982; the Fairhaven charter was a gift of Bertha and Irving Feingold; Branch 724 items originally from Meyer Z. Cohen, Accession #H25.5, H25.1/1, 12.01.

The Workmen’s Circle, Branch 723 and 724 (New Bedford and Fairhaven, Mass.) records
Maura McGurk
June 2006
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Claire T. Carney Library Archives and Special Collections, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Repository

285 Old Westport Rd.
N. Dartmouth MA 02747 USA