Lewis, Leon
Three Typed Letters Signed as Secretary of the newly formed Anti-Defamation League, Chicago, 1914-1915 to Lawrence T. Berliner, Corry Pennsylvania

three letters, three pages, Chicago May 11, 1914; December 3, 1914; and May 28, 1915 all addressed to Lawrence T. Berliner, Corry Hide & Fur Co., Corry, Pennsylvania, accompanied by a blank sign-up sheet for “Managers of the Theatres and Motion Picture House” who agreed not to exhibit anti-Semitic movies.

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The first letter concerns the film, "The Missing Diamond", manufactured by the Lubin Company, against which ADL ran a campaign "against the showing of this film in the large cities of the country, with uniformly successful results", the Company President promising "that in the future no pictures would be made which might reflect upon any race or religion." The second letter is about an (unnamed) film Berliner had seen, supposedly produced by Lubin, which Lewis could not locate in the Company's records. The third letter is about the film "Getting Father's Consent", supposedly produced by the Biograph Company, which Berliner had seen in a theater, but which Lewis had failed to find in any records. (IMDB shows a 1912 film, "Getting Mother's Consent" produced by the American Wyrtograph Film Co.; "Getting Father's Consent" was a 1909 film produced in England).  In general, "we have had very little trouble with motion picture films in the past six or eight months. Practically all of the companies realize that there is a wide-spread public opinion against pictures which defame our people or hold them up to ridicule." 

Formed in Chicago in October 1913, under the auspices of B’nai B’rith, “to eradicate the defamation of the Jewish people by appeals to reason, justice and conscience”, the Anti-Defamation League’s first campaign, described in these letters, was against anti-Semitic “portraying of the Jew in motion pictures” – just as Hollywood was about to become the motion picture capital of America. Undertaken, coincidentally, at the same time that the NAACP was protesting racism in D. W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation, the ADL, as Lewis notes here, got immediate results – “practically all of the companies realize that there is a wide-spread public opinion against pictures which defame our people or hold them up to ridicule”. While there is no clear historical link between the Jewish and African-American protests, it may be that the new League’s action indeed contributed to its “ultimate “ goal – “to secure equal justice and fair treatment to all citizens alike, and to put an end forever to unjust discrimination against and ridicule of any sect or body of citizens.”