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Frances Mazo and Julius Butwin papers

Identifier: Mss 1179

Collection Overview

The papers of Frances Mazo Butwin and Julius Butwin including her writings and diaries, their correspondence, photographs, and copies of their books.

The Mazo Family series contains papers having to do with the lives of Frances and her family. These include publications and manuscripts in Polish and Yiddish, such as Frances's school gradebooks, her mother Sonia's passport, and lists she made of books she read. Other files contain Polish money, an autograph book, postcards, and Mazo family photographs from Warsaw, Charleston, and Saint Paul. There is also a scrapbook from Frances's younger years through her graduation from college, a siddur (prayerbook) in Polish and Yiddish, and a Polish/Yiddish glossary.

A highlight of the series is the single edition of sister Norma Mazo's series of 17 caricatures of Charleston life in pen, pencil, and watercolor under the title 171 King Street and a comparable collection of comic art based on the bookstore in Saint Paul, also named for its address 26 E. 4th.

The second series is composed of Frances's writings. These include school notebooks in Polish, essays in English, and diaries in both Polish and English. There are also a number of short stories, scripts, and articles, some in manuscript form and others in publications. Also included is a picture book entitled José the Alligator, with text by Frances and illustrations by Norma.

The third series consists of the correspondence between Frances and Julius starting from their first letters in 1931 through their entire courtship to marriage in 1933. Several other folders contain letters they wrote to each other when they were separated after their marriage, most often when Frances visited her parents in Charleston.

The final series is made up of books that Frances published either on her own or with her husband Julius or son Joseph. Three of the books are translations from Yiddish by Sholom Aleichem and another is a critical study of the same author. Also included are a poetry collection with a single poem by Frances, and a short history of Jewish Americans for young people.


  • Creation: 1907-2023
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1907-1943


Language of Material

Materials in English, Polish, and Yiddish.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Copyright Notice

The nature of the College of Charleston's archival holdings means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. Special Collections claims only physical ownership of most archival materials.

The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. copyright law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.

Biographical Note

Frances Mazo Butwin (1911-1996) was born Frania Mazo in Warsaw, Poland. Frances parents Shmuel-Gershon (George) Mazo and Sonia Portugal Mazo, brother Earl, and sister Norma immigrated to Charleston, South Carolina, in December 1922. They worked in and lived above a delicatessen at 171 King Street. She graduated from the College of Charleston, where she edited the literary magazine from 1931-1933.

After reading one of her essays published in Young Judean magazine, Julius Butwin (1904-1945), who was born in Lithuania and raised in Saint Paul, Minnesota, wrote to her, igniting a correspondence that lasted from 1931 to 1933. They married in 1933 and moved to Minnesota. In Minnesota, she continued to study literature at the University of Minnesota and continued to write fiction. In addition, she and Julius opened two bookstores, the first in Saint Paul, and the second, Bookhunters, in "Dinkytown" beside the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

They had three children, Miriam (1936-2022), David (b. 1939), and Joseph (b. 1943). Julius died of a heart attack in 1945.

In 1944, the pair began to translate the fiction of Yiddish master Sholom Aleichem whose work was barely known to English readers at that time. The first collection of their translations, The Old Country, appeared in June 1946. After the death of Julius, Frances published a translation of Tevye's Daughters, another collection of Aleichem's short stories, as well as his novel Wandering Star.

She returned to the University of Minnesota where she received a degree in library science. From 1953 to 1973, she worked in the public libraries of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. Later writing included The Jews in America for young readers in 1969 and a critical study of Sholom Aleichem in collaboration with her son Joseph. She died in Saint Paul in 1996.


4.71 linear feet (6 document boxes, 1 slim document box, 2 flat boxes)


The papers of Frances Mazo Butwin and Julius Butwin, the first English translators of the works of Yiddish author Sholom Aleichem. The papers include her writings and diaries, their correspondence, family photographs, and copies of their books.

Collection Arrangement

  1. Mazo family, 1907-1923
  2. Frances's writing, 1918-1955
  3. Frances and Julius correspondence, 1931-1943
  4. Books, 1930-1980

Acquisitions Information

Materials donated in 2023 by Joseph Butwin.

Related Materials

Related materials in Special Collections include John A. Zeigler, Jr. and Julius and Frances Butwin correspondence (Mss 1145).

Processing Information

Processed by Lauren Bickel, October 2023.

Inventory of the Frances Mazo and Julius Butwin Papers, 1907-2023 (bulk 1907-1943)
Processed by: Lauren Bickel; finding aid created by: Lauren Bickel
Description rules
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Special Collections
College of Charleston Libraries
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Charleston South Carolina 29424
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(843) 953-6319 (Fax)