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A Guide to the Sara Gaíl de Farber and Bess de Farber Papers

Finding aid created by Katalin Franciska Rac

University of Florida Smathers Libraries - Special and Area Studies Collections

February 2018

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Gaíl de Farber, Sara, 1918-1984.
Creator: de Farber, Bess G., 1956-
Title: Sara Gaíl de Farber and Bess de Farber Papers
Dates: 1918-2006
Bulk dates: 1950s-1970s
Abstract: This collection holds materials created by Joseph Farber, father, and mother and daughter, Sara Gaíl de Farber and Bess Gaíl de Farber, respectively. The larger part of the collection includes materials that relate to Sara Gaíl's life and work in Argentina and the US. Separate folders hold materials relating to Bess de Farber's performance commemorating her mother's and father's emigration to the US from Poland, and Argentina, respectively, and her family and genealogical research.
Extent: .65 Linear feet. 2 Boxes and 1 Flat Folder.
Identification: MSS 0416
Language(s): Includes materials written in Spanish, English, and Yiddish.

Biographical/Historical Note

Sara Gaíl de Farber, mother of Bess de Farber, grants manager at University of Florida's George A. Smathers Libraries, was born in Banfield, Argentina, a suburb of Buenos Aires, in 1918. She earned degrees in music theory, early childhood education, and medical social work in Buenos Aires. It is also where she met her future husband and second cousin, Joseph Farber, who was born in what today is Bielsk-Podlaski in north-eastern Poland. He arrived in the United States in 1912, at the age of eleven, and travelled to Argentina as an adult to live and work in Buenos Aires near his brother's and cousin's families. Sara joined Joseph when he returned to the United States. They got married in 1955 in New York City. Shortly after they moved to Florida; their daughter "Bessie" was born in Miami Beach the following year. Sara served as one of the first Spanish-speaking medical social workers at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, just as the Cuban immigrants were arriving in 1961. Her work focused on assisting Spanish-speaking family members diagnosed with tuberculosis who needed to be quarantined in A.G. Holley State Hospital, in Lantana, Florida. Bess became a classically trained clarinetist and as such, in 1995, she co-produced a performance piece with composer and pianist Craig Ames, titled Composing A Heart. On stage Bess played a musical score composed especially for this solo performance and narrated family stories about growing up in Miami with Jewish immigrant parents who spoke Spanish in the home. This performance was later revised by Bess de Farber in conjunction with Rebecca Jefferson, curator of the Price Library of Judaica. In its renewed version, Composing A Heart tells immigrant stories from the Price Library as well as that of Bess de Farber's family, which are now included in the Price Library's collections.

Scope and Content

The majority of the collection includes materials related to Sara Gaíl's life and work in Argentina and the US. Regarding her early life and studies in Argentina, there are various identification cards and other official documents, letters from the University of Buenos Aires confirming her training curriculum, and notebooks and a sketchbook that she produced while training in early childhood education National University of La Plata. Additional artwork by Sara Gaíl as well as artwork by Emilio Grande, a cousin by marriage, also is enclosed. In addition, the collection holds Sara's and Joseph's marriage certificate from New York City and certificate of naturalization. Separate folders hold family photographs: the majority, taken by Joseph Farber, depicts Sara Gaíl with her children, while the rest is of her family in Argentina. Some of the photographs are copies. Larger photographs are housed separately in an oversize folder.

In addition, original letters and their photocopies sent to Catalina R. A. de Husson, the director of the early childhood education program where Sara Gaíl was trained, and greeting cards and letters to various family members and friends are also housed in the collection.

Flyers, correspondence, newspaper clippings, and notes from the audience in addition to an undated performance script with both Bess de Farber's and Rebecca Jefferson's comments are collected in one folder. Bess de Farber's genealogical research and her 2002 contribution of her mother's thesis and a photo collage to an exhibit to the Florida Jewish Museum are held in separate folders. A booklet issued by the Florida Jewish Museum to accompany the exhibition is enclosed.The last folder holds two books by Lina Husson; both have the author's handwritten dedication to Bess Farber.


This collection is arranged in chronological and topical order.

Access or Use Restrictions


The collection is open for research.

Related or Separated Material

Bess de Farber donated materials regarding the first bilingual (English-Spanish) curriculum in Miami, held in collection MSS 0491.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Sara Gaíl de Farber and Bess de Farber Papers, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Bess de Farber in 2016.

Contents List

Box Folder
11 ID Cards and official documents. 1918, 1931, 1942, 1951, 1959, undated
12 Poetry notebook. 1944, 1946
13 Correspondence. 1953, 1960-1964, 1971-1973, 1976-1979, 1982, 1996
14 Photographs and newspaper clipping. 1934-1995, 1996
OS33 Oversize photographs. 1957-1959
15 Notebook 1. undated
16 Notebook 2. undated
17 Notebook 3. undated
18 Notebook 4. undated
19 Sketch book. undated
110 Artwork and Origami book. 2003, undated
21 Pictures of two Emilio Grande paintings. undated
22 Address books and an autograph book. undated
23 Genealogical research. undated
24 Jewish Museum of Florida exhibit documents. 2003
25 Composing a heart performance I: notes, research, reviews, and PR. undated, 1989, 1990, 1994, 1996-1998, 2002
26 Composing a heart performance II: reactions. undated, 1998, 2002-2006, 20011, 2013
27 Books by Lina Husson dedicated to Bess de Farber. 1966, 1996

Selected Subjects and Access Terms

Early childhood education -- Curricula.
Emigration and immigration.
Jews -- Migrations.

For further information, please contact: Special Collections Access Services.

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