There are some people who are born with a natural energy to do and to organize. Sophie Udin (1896 – 1960) was just such a woman. She was still a young child when her parents emigrated from Zhinkav, Ukraine, to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As soon as she completed high school, however, Udin moved to New York to enroll in the New York Public Library’s Library School while she also joined their staff. She continued to serve on the New York Public Staff while she earned her BS in education from Columbia’s Teachers College and a Masters from Columbia’s School of Library Science.

Udin chose to pursue a career as a librarian because it was one of the few professions open to women. Little did she know how much that choice would affect that which was her real passion – Zionism. Udin joined the American Poale Zion when she was 14, and in 1918 she helped organize the American Magen David Adom and served as its first national secretary.

In the 1920s, Udin traveled twice to British Mandate Palestine. During her second visit, she worked at the newly formed Jewish National and Hebrew University Library, convincing them to use the Dewey-Decimal system and Anglo-American Cataloguing.

Back in America, Udin married Pinchas Ginguld, who was a fellow activist in Poale Zion. Shortly thereafter, with six other women from the organization, in response to a call for funds from Rachel Ben-Tzvi to help obtain water for trees in a nursery, Udin created the Women’s Organization for Pioneer Women in Palestine, which eventually became Na’amat USA. She also established and organized the Zionist Archives and Library in New York.

In 1949, Udin, along with her son and daughter (Ginguld stayed in New York) made Aliyah. Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion immediately set her to work establishing and organizing the Israel State Archives (now the National Archives). In 1951, Udin was one of the founders of the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel, which helped new immigrants resettle.

Sophie Udin passed away on April 24, 1960.

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