Samuel G. Holcenberg was an attorney; (1899-1978); born in New York City; he and his family moved to the West Coast when he was a child; he became the executive director (1926-1939) of the San Francisco-based Jewish Committee for Personal Service (JCPS). This organization considered mentally and physically disabled Jews, as well as Jewish prison inmates, the responsibility of the Jewish community, and it worked with them in California institutions. Under Holcenberg's leadership, the JCPS introduced new ideas into social welfare, including an innovative rehabilitation program for young offenders. In 1940, Holcenberg joined the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds (CJFWF), as a field representative for the western states region. As such, he helped small communities establish Jewish agencies. During years of increasing antisemitism at home and abroad, Holcenberg and the CJFWF helped convince the leadership of the local Jewish community of its responsibility to world Jewry. In 1943, Holcenberg was appointed the executive director of the Seattle Federation Jewish Fund and Council. During this time, he also served as the director of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith for both the city of Seattle and the state of Washington, and he guided the public relations efforts for both organizations. Holcenberg married Miriam Wasserman (1930), who was one of the first psychiatric caseworkers employed by the state of California and who later was associated with San Francisco's Jewish Family Service Agency and its Homewood Terrace.
The collection contains personal and professional correspondence; minutes; speeches; publications and reports; photographs; and newspaper clippings. It also contains legal papers, many of which relate to immigration; correspondence about particular prisoners; and photographs of San Quentin inmates; photographs of San Francisco's Golden Gate Exposition (1939); a menu for Yom Kippur from San Quentin prison (1931); a constitution of B'nai B'rith District Grand Lodge No. 4 (1938); a report from the Grand Lodge Committee of the Council of Lodges; administrative rules of the Anti-Defamation Committee of Lodge No. 4 (1939); bulletins of B'nai B'rith's Peninsula Lodge, No. 1312, San Mateo (1939-1942); the wills of Samuel and Miriam Wasserman Holcenberg (1938); a birth certificate of Moris Schneider; an English-language translation of Elvira Bauer's Bilderbuch (1936), a children's book written by the Nazi Party translated into English; and a script of a debate between Upton Sinclair and Hamilton Fish, Jr.