Margolin Family. Papers, 1858-1944 | Illinois History and Lincoln Collections
This collection consists of papers that document the history of the Margolins, a Jewish family who migrated to Danville, Illinois, in the 1930s. Materials include copies of biographies, diary entries, photos and legal documents, and correspondence.
Abraham "Abe" Margolin was born in Ivye (then part of the Russian Empire, now Belarus) in 1886. He immigrated to the United States in 1904 and settled in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania, where worked as a meatpacker. There, he met Bertha Mekel (1886-1962), who immigrated from Bieniakoni (a town roughly thirty miles northwest of Ivye) in 1905. The two married in 1906 and had six children. In 1931, the Margolin family moved to Danville, Illinois, where Abe Margolin founded Margolin Packing Co. Before his death in 1955, Abe Margolin transferred responsibility for the family business to his sons, Edward and Samuel, who co-owned Margolin Packing Co. until its closure in 1970.
The Margolin family maintained an active presence in Danville's Jewish community throughout the 20th century. They were members of Congregation Anshe Knesset Israel and participated in local Jewish organizations like B'nai B'rith and Hadassah. In addition to providing insight into the lives of the Margolins in Mount Pleasant and Danville through the 1940s, these papers document the experiences of the relatives who remained in Ivye before and during its occupation by the Nazis, as well as reflections on the Mekel (Cohen) family.
The collection includes short biographies of the Margolin and Mekel families, copies of photos of family members and notable locations in eastern Europe, copies of legal documents, correspondence about family history, and a copy of Kadya Molodovsky's poem, "Letters from the Ghetto." The collection also includes a copy of "The Extermination of the Jews in Ivye," an edited compilation of diary entries by Shifre (Stotski) Margolin that detail her experience of what the Nazis described as the 1942 "liquidation" of the Ivye Ghetto, which resulted in the death of approximately 2,500 Jewish people.
These materials were donated by Sybil Mervis in 2021.