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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 921: T-442

Papers of Kinereth D. Gensler, 1916-2005


Personal, professional, and family papers of poet and teacher Kinereth D. Gensler.


  • Creation: 1916-2005

Language of Materials

Materials in English and Hebrew.

Access Restrictions:

The majority of the collection is open to research.

Access. Any personal correspondence of Kinereth D. Gensler with Daniel Gensler, Gail Gensler, Orin Gensler, Walter Gensler, and Avima Lombard (#2.1-2.3, 4.1-4.4, 4.6-4.7, 4.11, 5.1-5.9, 5.11, 6.4-6.10, 7.1-7.3, 9.6, 11.2-11.3) require the written permission of Daniel Gensler or Gail Gensler. Upon the deaths of both Daniel Gensler and Gail Gensler, written permission for access to restricted material must be sought from Orin Gensler. These restrictions expire upon the deaths of Daniel Gensler, Gail Gensler, and Orin Gensler. These restrictions do not apply to Kinereth D. Gensler's children, daughter-in-law Bonnie Steinberg, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the unpublished papers created by Kinereth D. Gensler is retained by her children: Daniel, Gail, and Orin Gensler. Upon their incompetence or death, copyright will transfer to the children of Daniel Gensler and Bonnie Steinberg: Micah Gensler and Joshua Gensler-Steinberg. Upon their deaths, copyright in the collection will transfer to the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Unrestricted for personal use of unrestricted papers. Permission to photocopy restricted material must be obtained in writing from Daniel Gensler or Gail Gensler. Upon the deaths of both Daniel Gensler and Gail Gensler, written permission for access to restricted material must be sought from Orin Gensler. These restrictions expire upon the deaths of Daniel, Gail, and Orin Gensler. No material may be reproduced on the internet until January 1, 2050.


8.55 linear feet ((19 + 1/2 file boxes, 1 card box) plus 1 oversize folder, 9 photograph folders, 8 audiocassettes)

The papers of Kinereth Gensler include family and professional correspondence, drafts of poems, published writings, notes, genealogical materials and photographs of family, and audiocassettes of readings. These materials document Gensler's writing and teaching careers, her personal life and the lives of her husband and children, sister and parents. Gensler's parents, Alexander and Julia Dushkin, were important figures in Zionism and in the history of Israel, playing roles in education and nutrition in the early years of the state. The collection was not in any clear order when it arrived at the Library and papers were often not filed in labeled folders. There were some folders or binders of papers with original titles by Gensler. Where possible, these original folder titles have been maintained and appear in quotation marks; remaining titles were created by the archivist. A selection of published materials have been transferred to the Schlesinger Library books and printed materials collection and cataloged separately.

Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND FAMILY, 1916-2005 (#1.1-11.9, OD.1), includes Gensler's personal correspondence with family and friends, biographical and family information, and records related to Gensler's education. The bulk of this series consists of correspondence in the form of letters, cards, postcards, and telegrams. For the most part, the content of letters between Dushkin, Gensler, and Lombard family members relate to daily life, as well as education, life events, children's progress, health, work, travel, and relationships. These letters were an important link between different family members living in Israel and the United States. The letters also show the extensive travel of family members between these two countries. Many of the letters had many family members writing and this was mostly captured in the folder titles, although not entirely. For the most part, correspondents are writing with Kinereth or Kinereth and Walter unless otherwise noted on the folder title. In Julia Dushkin's letters, she sometimes refers to her traveling and speaking engagements on behalf of Hadassah but focuses her writing mostly on the family and daily life. Alexander Dushkin sometimes refers to the state of Jewish education in Israel and the United States, including his work with non-Jewish youth in Israel (1968) and his tenure at Hebrew University. He also mentions the Yom Kippur war in 1973 and makes some political references to Israel and Zionism. However, political and cultural comments are not extensive. Of note are Gensler's letters home from college which relate information about college life, living in the dormitory, school work, classes, and activities. There are also letters from Gensler during her stay at Camp Modin in the 1920s and 1930s, where she graduated from camper to counselor. Also of interest are letters home from her children, Daniel, Orin, and Gail, visiting relatives in Israel or from college, and there are many letters from Gail during her summers at Camp Tevya, a Jewish camp in Brookline, New Hampshire. In addition, the series contains genealogical and biographical information of the Dushkin and Gensler families, consisting of clippings related to scholarly achievements and extra-curricular events of Gensler's children, marriage and death notices, and professional milestones and achievements; some correspondence; family charts; notes; and other writings. Any personal correspondence from Daniel Gensler, Gail Gensler, Orin Gensler, Walter Gensler, and Avima Lombard (#2.1-2.3, 4.1-4.4, 4.6-4.7, 4.11, 5.1-5.9, 5.11, 6.4-6.10, 7.1-7.3, 9.6, 11.2-11.3) require written permission. Series is arranged in two sections: correspondence arranged alphabetically by sender's last name followed by family and biographical materials arranged alphabetically by last name.

Series II, RESEARCH AND WRITINGS, 1920s-2005 (#12.1-18.6, 21CB.1), includes drafts of Gensler's poems, manuscripts, notes, essays, translations, and articles and poetry both published and unpublished. This series also contains a set of notebooks with Gensler's notes, including practical information such as names and addresses and lists of purchases; snippets of writing and drafts of poetry and prose; research and workshop and course-related notes; and personal notes. This series contains letters from publishers, publicity and related correspondence regarding Gensler's promotion of her books; correspondence regarding readings; and research and other materials related to her writings. Poetry folders may also include multiple drafts of the same poems, notes, articles and related correspondence, including letters from publishers. In addition, there is one folder relating to a women's poetry writing group, Blue Sox, which Gensler joined in the 1970s. The series is arranged by type of material, beginning with journals/notebooks, writings and research materials, and ending with a file regarding the Blue Sox poetry group.

Series III. TEACHING AND WORK-RELATED, 1939-2003, n.d. (#18.7-20.5), includes correspondence, meeting minutes, and other materials related to Gensler's teaching, her work with Zionist organizations, and her role as president, editor and then historian of the nonprofit publishing group, Alice James Books. Gensler was on the board of several Zionist organizations, including Children to Palestine, Fellowship in Israel for Arab-Jewish Youth, and was president of the Belmont-Watertown chapter of Hadassah, and the files related to these organizations include correspondence, printed materials, and meeting notes. Gensler's working files for Alice James Books include correspondence which relate to the work of the organization, meetings, publicity, and fundraising; as well as printed materials; historical information regarding the organization; mailing lists; clippings and press; etc. Her teaching files relate primarily to her instruction in poetry for her Radcliffe Seminar classes. These files contain class lists, handouts, notes, syllabi, and student evaluations, arranged by semester. Series is arranged chronologically.

Series IV. PHOTOGRAPHS AND AUDIOCASSETTES, 1930s-1997, n.d. (#PD.1v-PD.9, T-442.1-T-442.8), includes photographs of Kinereth Gensler, other family members and friends, at camp, outside and in homes, at a swimming pool, playing music, Kinereth getting her hair done (1952), in Jerusalem and in the Boston area and New York City, etc. (PD.1-PD.2). Among the audiocassettes are six tapes of Gensler reading poetry. Series is arranged with photographs followed by audiocassettes, and chronologically within each group.

Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be digitized and available online.


Poet, editor, and teacher Kinereth (Dushkin) Gensler was born in New York City in 1922, the daughter of Julia Aronson (1895-1975) and Alexander M. Dushkin (1890-1976). Gensler had one sister, Avima (1926-2008). Gensler's mother was a dietitian and her father a professor of education. Julia Dushkin studied at Cornell University where she received her B.S. in nutrition in 1917. A year later, working as a staff dietician for the Red Cross during World War I, she met Henrietta Szold, the founder of the Zionist organization Hadassah, who persuaded her to join Hadassah's newly formed medical unit to Palestine. In 1919 Julia Dushkin traveled with Szold to Palestine and became Hadassah's first trained dietician. Alexander Dushkin studied at Columbia University's Teachers College, receiving a Ph.D. in education in 1919. Like Julia, Alexander Dushkin worked in post-World War I Palestine. He was an inspector of Jewish schools for the British mandatory government. He was also a founder of the Boy Scout movement in Jerusalem. Alexander and Julia were married in Jerusalem in 1921. Soon after, they returned to the United States where Kinereth and Avima were born. The Dushkin family lived first in New York and then for many years in Chicago, Illinois, where Kinereth and Avima spent most of their childhood and where Julia Dushkin worked as a social worker in nutrition and was the education chairman for Chicago Hadassah. In 1935 the Dushkins moved to Jerusalem where Alexander Dushkin worked as a professor of education at Hebrew University until the outbreak of World War II. In 1939, the Dushkins returned to New York City, where Alexander Dushkin served as the director of the Board of Jewish Education and Julia Dushkin worked in the Red Cross nutrition department. After World War II, Alexander and Julia Dushkin revisited Palestine and became permanent residents of Israel. Alexander Dushkin was a professor of education and served as dean of undergraduate studies at Hebrew University, and Julia Dushkin worked for Hadassah. In 1959, she assumed chairmanship of the Hadassah Council in Israel.

Gensler's younger sister Avima married Emanuel Lombard in 1955, and had three children: Ethan, Tamar, and John. In the late 1960s, Avima Lombard lived in Jerusalem, Israel, and worked at the National Council of Jewish Women Research Institute for Innovation in Education at Hebrew University. She was the founder of an early education program in Israel called "HIPPY" (Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters). Implemented initially in 1969 as a small pilot study to help parents prepare their young children for school, HIPPY was eventually adopted by the Israeli Ministry of Education as a national program. The program has been replicated in other countries, including the United States. Lombard was also the author of Success Begins at Home: Educational Foundations for Preschoolers (1982) and Success Begins at Home: The Past, Present and Future of the Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters (1994).

Kinereth Gensler grew up in Chicago, Illinois, although from 1935 to 1939 she attended an experimental high school in Jerusalem connected with Hebrew University and where her father was the principal. During the summers Kinereth attended Camp Modin, a Zionist camp at an old summer hotel in Canaan, Maine, founded and directed by her parents in 1922. She graduated from the University of Chicago (B.A. 1943) and Columbia University (M.A. in history, 1946). In 1945 she married Walter Gensler (1917-1987), a professor of chemistry at Boston University. They had three children: Orin (born 1949), Daniel (born 1951), and Gail (born 1953). In 1946 the Gensler family moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Walter was an instructor in chemistry at Harvard University. Around 1954, Walter Gensler joined the Boston University faculty and the Genslers moved to Belmont, Massachusetts. Kinereth Gensler was involved in national Zionist organizations, including Hadassah, and was also a writer and teacher. She taught poetry in workshops for elementary school children in towns around Belmont in a pilot poetry program of the Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities (1971-1975). She was a visiting poet, teaching workshops in the schools in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, and was an instructor in poetry writing for teachers in Somerville, Massachusetts (1975-1976). For many years, Gensler was an instructor of poetry at the Radcliffe Seminars, Radcliffe College (1978-1997). In 1975, Gensler became a member of the Alice James poetry cooperative/Alice James Books and she served as president and then editor of Alice James Books (1976-1999). Founded in 1973, Alice James Books is an independent poetry press that has helped to give women access to publishing and to involve authors in the publishing process. Gensler had residencies at the Ragdale Foundation (1981) and at the MacDowell Colony (1982-1983) and was poet-in-residence at Manhattanville College, Purchase, New York (1984).

Gensler published two books of poetry, Without Roof (1981) and Journey Fruit (1997). She was also one of three contributors in Three Some Poems (1976). Her poems have also appeared in many literary journals and anthologies, including Poetry, Sou'Wester, and in Blood to Remember: American Poets on the Holocaust (1991). She co-authored a textbook, The Poetry Connection: An Anthology of Contemporary Poems with Ideas to Stimulate Children's Writing (1986). Gensler died in 2005.


The collection is arranged in four series:

  1. Series I. Biographical and Family, 1916-2005 (#1.1-11.9, OD.1)
  2. Series II. Research and Writings, 1920s-2005 (#12.1-18.6, 21CB.1)
  3. Series III. Teaching and Work-Related, 1939-2003, n.d. (#18.7-20.5)
  4. Series IV. Photographs and Audiocassettes, 1930s-1997, n.d. (#PD.1v-PD.9, T-442.1-T-442.8)

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 2008-M35

The papers of Kinereth D. Gensler were given to the Schlesinger Library by her son, Daniel Gensler, in February 2008.

Related Material:

There are several collections held by the Hadassah Archives and the American Jewish Historical Society containing papers of Alexander and Julia Dushkin.


Donor: Daniel Gensler

Accession number: 2008-M35

Processed by: Laura Peimer

The following published materials have been transferred to Widener Library, Harvard University:

  1. Lynx, Spring 1976
  2. The Florida Review, Volume XV, #2

The following published materials have been transferred to Houghton Library, Harvard University:

  1. Breathe! An Antismoking Anthology, edited by Shel Horowitz, 1981
  2. Sequoia, Winter 1972
  3. Yarrow, #1, Spring 1981

Processing Information

Processed: December 2017

By: Laura Peimer, with assistance from Margaret Dalton.

Gensler, Kinereth D. Papers of Kinereth D. Gensler, 1916-2005: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
Processing of this collection was made possible by Radcliffe Class of 1956 and the Mary Mitchell Wood Manuscript Processing Fund

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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