Guide to the Alexander Turney Collection
circa 1920s-2011

AR 25475

Processed by Leanora Lange

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 744-6400

Fax: (212) 988-1305

Email: http://www.lbi.org/ask

URL: http://www.lbi.org

© 2013  Leo Baeck Institute
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Leanora Lange in April 2013. Description is in English.
April 02, 2015  dao links added by Emily Andresini.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Turney, Alexander
Title: Alexander Turney Collection
Dates:1920-2011
Abstract: This collection documents the personal experience of Alexander Turney with a particular emphasis on his childhood in Berlin, his emigration to the United States, and his activities as a tango dancer later in life. Materials include photographs, correspondence, clippings, programs, limited materials on family history, and an oral history interview transcript.
Languages: The collection is in English, German, and French.
Quantity: 0.25 linear feet
Identification: AR 25475
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Biographical Note

Alexander Turney was born Alexander Teitelbaum on October 30, 1918 in Suwalki (Poland) to Fanny Alexandrovicz (born May 19, 1896) and her husband Joseph Teitelbaum. The couple divorced a few years later, and Alexander and his mother moved to Berlin. While his mother worked, he attended Baruch-Auerbachsche Waisenerziehungsanstalt, a children’s home run by the Berlin Jewish community that took in children from single-parent households. Alexander immigrated to the United States in 1935 and settled in New York, where he changed his last name to Turney. His mother Fanny followed him two years later.

As a young man, Alexander attended City College and eventually settled on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He and his wife Jean (1924-2005) danced together extensively throughout their lives, performing both on stage and as the stars of the short film Tango octogenario (2004).

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Scope and Content Note

This collection documents the personal experience of Alexander Turney with a particular emphasis on his childhood in Berlin, his emigration to the United States, and his activities as a tango dancer later in life. Materials include a large amount of photographs, limited correspondence, clippings and programs related to tango dancing, limited materials on family history, and an oral history interview transcript.

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Arrangement

The collection is arranged in rough chronological order.

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

This collection is open to researchers.

Access Information

Collection is digitized. Follow the links in the Container List to access the digitized materials.

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Access Points

Click on a subject to search that term in the Center's catalog. Return to the Top of Page

Related Material

The oral history interview of Alexander Turney is available online.

The book Yiddishland by Gérard Silvain and Henri Minczeles includes a photograph of Alexander Turney’s mother Fanny. This book is available at the LBI Library.

Alexander and Jean Turney’s tango dancing activities were covered by the New York Times in an article by Anemona Hartocollis from January 4, 2004: "Coping: After 55 Years, Still Dancing Cheek to Cheek."

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Separated Material

Two video recordings on DVDs were donated as part of this collection: a copy of Tango octogenario and a collection of videos of Alexander Turney. These were both removed to the LBI Audiovisual Collection.

A copy of a 1949 Street Guide to Brooklyn created by Alexander Turney’s uncle Jacob Barkan was also removed, as well as a clipping from Jewish Week published May 24, 1996 about Turney’s childhood friend Rabbi Gunther W. Plaut.

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Alexander Turney Collection; AR 25475; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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Processing Information

Duplicates were removed. The photographs in folder 1 were removed from their original album and placed in archival photograph envelopes. The original photo album was removed because the binding was broken, but the pages with original notes related to the photographs were retained.

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Container List

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

Follow the links to access the digitized materials.

 

Alexander Turney Collection, 1920-2011

In English, German, and French.
0.25 linear feet
Arrangement:

Materials are arranged in a rough chronological order, with the exception of keeping the copies of the photographs next to the original photographs.

Scope and Content:

This collection documents the personal experience of Alexander Turney with a particular emphasis on his childhood in Berlin, his emigration to the United States, and his activities as a tango dancer later in life. Materials include photographs, correspondence, clippings, programs, limited materials on family history, and an oral history interview transcript.

The photographs included in folders 1 depict children of the Baruch-Auerbach orphanage in Berlin; the few photographs from 1979 show former attendees of the orphanage later in life. The captions written for the photographs from 1920s-1930s in their original photo album can be found in folder 2. These photographs were copied around 2011 and further notes were added to them, which can also be found in folder 2. The photographs, original captions, and the annotated copies of the photographs all have corresponding numbers.

The correspondence from the 1930s is limited but supplements the more extensive oral history interview and memoir about the Baruch-Auerbach orphanage that he attended as a child in Berlin.

The Kahane family whose history can be found in the French-language manuscript in folder 6 is related to Alexander Turney through his uncle Moritz Rafelson. Alexander attempted to uncover the fate of this uncle along with other Rafelson and Teiltelbaum family members in 2011; evidence of this is found in folder 9.

Alexander Turney and his wife Jean were featured in the short film Tango octogenario made in 2004 and screened in many festivals throughout the world. Clippings and correspondence regarding this film and other activities related to tango-dancing are found in folder 5.

BoxFolderTitleDate
11Photographs circa 1920s-1930s, 1970s
12Photographs: Original notes from photo album pages and copies of photographs with notes undated circa 2011
13Personal correspondence 1935-1937
14Tango dancing: Clippings, programs, and correspondence 1988-2012
15Baruch-Auerbach orphanage: Correspondence, memoir, poem undated, 1993-1995
16History of the Kahane family: "Mes parents et leurs familles; la vie pendant la guerre" 1994
17Oral history interview with Alexander Turney 2011
  

The interview was conducted on February 17, 2011 and March 15, 2011.

 
 Interview
 Transcript
18Attempts to trace Teitelbaum and Rafelson family members 2011
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