Guide to the Atlas Family Papers, 1908-2002

Rauh Jewish Archives

Summary Information

Repository
Detre Library & Archives, Heinz History Center
Title
Atlas Family Papers
Creator
Atlas Family
Collection Number
MSS#397
Date [inclusive]
1908-2002
Extent
2 linear feet Two boxes and one volume
Language of Materials
The material in this collection is in English and Hebrew.
Abstract
Ralph Atlas, born in Warsaw, Poland, in 1908, was a commissioned officer in the British Army of the Middle East, trained Jewish Palestinian volunteers in the Corps of Royal Engineers and participated in the Syrian and North African campaigns. A graduate of Carnegie Institute of Technology, Atlas settled permanently in Pittsburgh after the war, where he worked for Apollo Steel and later for Green Engineering International. These papers include correspondence, newspaper clippings, notebooks, programs, and photocopies of articles, vital records, and obituaries.

Preferred Citation

Atlas Family Papers, 1908-2002, MSS#397, Rauh Jewish Archives, Senator John Heinz History Center

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History

Ralph Atlas was born in Warsaw, Poland, on February 21, 1908. He was one of five children of Moises and Soshana Atlas. During the Russian Revolution, the Atlas family emigrated to Palestine, joining relatives who had settled there in the early twentieth century. Ralph Atlas was educated at the Gymnasium Herzlia and the Haifa Technion before following his brother Noah to the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) in Pittsburgh. A member of Tau Delta Phi fraternity, the rifle team and the boxing team, Ralph Atlas was graduated in 1936 with a degree in mechanical engineering.

After his return to Palestine, Atlas worked with the Haganah, the underground defense organization for Jewish Palestine, training Jewish soldiers in weapons use and translating American military training manuals into Hebrew. During World War II, as a commissioned officer in the British Army of the Middle East, Atlas trained Jewish Palestinian volunteers in the Corps of Royal Engineers and participated in the Syrian and North African campaigns. At the end of the war, assigned to the British Military Mission in Washington, D.C., he worked on a global inventory of Lend-Lease equipment.

After the war, Atlas settled permanently in Pittsburgh, where he worked for Apollo Steel and later for Green Engineering International, from which he retired in 1976. He was married in 1937 to Gertrude Lowenstein of Pittsburgh; she died in 1957. In 1958 he married Paula Skirble. Paula Skirble Atlas later served as executive assistant to the Three Rivers Arts Festival.

After his retirement, Ralph Atlas translated technical and scientific documents into Russian. At the age of 76, he earned a Master’s degree in Russian philology in 1984 from the University of Pittsburgh; at that time he was the oldest person ever to receive a Master’s degree from Pitt. He traveled frequently to Israel and spoke locally on issues related to Israel. Ralph Atlas died on May 8, 1998, after a long illness.

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Scope and Content Notes

The Atlas Family Papers are housed in two archival boxes and one volume and are arranged in three series. Series have been designated for the papers of Ralph Atlas, Paula Atlas, and the Levinson family, who were friends of Bill Skirble, the first husband of Paula Atlas. These papers include correspondence, newspaper clippings, notebooks, programs, and photocopies of articles, vital records, and obituaries. They provide information about members of the Atlas family and about their professional and community activities.

Series I: Ralph Atlas

Materials in this series document the life of Ralph Atlas from his birth in Warsaw in 1908 to his death in 1998. They are arranged alphabetically by subject and include naturalization forms, resumes, newspaper clippings, notes from lectures and oral histories, and programs and memorabilia from class reunions at Carnegie Mellon University. A large binder prepared by Roseanne Skirble, the stepdaughter of Ralph Atlas, contains photocopies of correspondence and papers in English and Hebrew, documenting the Atlas family in Israel and Ralph Atlas’ military service, professional activities, community involvements, and other biographical information.

Series II: Paula Atlas

Materials in this series consist of information about the Business and Professional Women’s Directory and the Three Rivers Arts Festival. There is no personal correspondence or biographical material.

Series III: Aaron Levinson Family

Materials on the Levinson family, who are close friends of the Skirble and Atlas families, include photocopies of newspaper clippings and obituaries and copies of letters from Aaron Levinson, chairman of Levinson Steel Company, to his son Jim at Harvard in 1961-1962 and from Jim Levinson to his family while he was working for U.S.A.I.D. in India in 1964-1967.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Rauh Jewish Archives Senator John Heinz History Center, July 2008

Senator John Heinz History Center
1212 Smallman Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Restrictions on Access

No Restrictions.

Restrictions on Use

Property rights reside with the Senator John Heinz History Center. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact the Library and Archives of the Senator John Heinz History Center.

Acquisition Information

These materials came in three accessions and were combined into one body of papers in 2004. Acc#1995.0327, Acc#2003.0033, and Acc#2003.0140. Gift of Paula Atlas, widow of Ralph Atlas. .

Processing Information

January 7, 2004; Papers arranged and inventory written by  Martha L. Berg.

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Related Materials

Separated Materials

One box (.25 linear feet) of photographs has been separated and described as MSP#397.

One folder containing a poster of the Three Rivers Arts Festival has been separated and described as MSO#397.

Uniform of British Officer, Palestine Unit (World War II), uniform of Red Cross nurse’s aide (World War II), and tartan sash from Carnegie Mellon University have been transferred to the museum.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Apollo Steel--Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • Levinson Steel--Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • Carnegie Mellon University--School of Engineering--Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • Carnegie Institute of Technology--School of Engineering--Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • Three Rivers Arts Festival--Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • Jewish Sports Hall of Fame--Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • Haganah

Geographic Name(s)

  • Palestine
  • Israel

Personal Name(s)

  • Atlas family
  • Atlas, Ralph (1908-1998)
  • Atlas, Paula Skirble
  • Levinson, Aaron (1915-2002)
  • Levinson, F. James

Subject(s)

  • Jews--Pennsylvania --Pittsburgh
  • Engineers--Pennsylvania--Pittsburgh
  • World War--1939-1945

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Collection Inventory

Series I Ralph Atlas Papers  

Scope and Content Notes

Materials in this series document the life of Ralph Atlas from his birth in Warsaw in 1908 to his death in 1998. They are arranged alphabetically by subject and include naturalization forms, resumes, newspaper clippings, notes from lectures and oral histories, and programs and memorabilia from class reunions at Carnegie Mellon University. A large binder prepared by Roseanne Skirble, the stepdaughter of Ralph Atlas, contains photocopies of correspondence and papers in English and Hebrew, documenting the Atlas family in Israel and Ralph Atlas’ military service, professional activities, community involvements, and other biographical information.

  BoxFolder
Biographical materials  11

Section: Carnegie Institute of Technology  

Section: Class of 1935 Reunions 

  Folder

Section: 35th 1970 

2
  Folder

Section: 40th  1975 

3
  Folder

Section: 45th  1980 

4
  Folder

Section: 50th  1985 

4
  Folder
Reunion Committee 5
  Folder
Memorabilia 6
  Folder
Class lists 7
  Folder
Engineering profession 1935-1998 8
  Folder
Jewish Sports Hall of Fame 1991 9
  Folder
Naturalization  1950 10
  Folder
News clippings 1931-2003 11
  Folder
Notebooks 1945-1962 12

Section: Notes 

  Folder
Autobiographical 1987 13
  Folder
AIPAC Conference 1979 14
  Folder
For speeches n.d. 15
  BoxFolder
Resumes 1962-1982 21
  Folder
University of Pittsburgh 1962-1987 2

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Series II Paula Atlas Papers  

Scope and Content Notes

Materials in this series consist of information about the Business and Professional Women’s Directory and the Three Rivers Arts Festival. There is no personal correspondence or biographical material.

  Folder
Business and Professional Women’s Directory  n.d. 3

Section: Three Rivers Arts Festival 

  Folder
Correspondence 1987-1988 4

Section: Programs 

  Folder
 1985-1987 5
  Folder
 1988-1989 6
  Folder
 1993, 1997 7

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Series III Levinson Family  

Scope and Content Notes

Materials on the Levinson family, who are close friends of the Skirble and Atlas families, include photocopies of newspaper clippings and obituaries and copies of letters from Aaron Levinson, chairman of Levinson Steel Company, to his son Jim at Harvard in 1961-1962 and from Jim Levinson to his family while he was working for U.S.A.I.D. in India in 1964-1967.

  Folder
Biographical materials 1994-2002 8
  Folder
Letters from Aaron Levinson 1961-1962 9
  Folder
Letters from Jim Levinson 1964-1967 9

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