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From the archives: Coronations past

The 1953 coronation was televised live, an exciting innovation that enthralled world audiences — including ones in Denver.

Even though the United Kingdom has had five monarchs over the years that the Intermountain Jewish News has been publishing, there have only been two coronations — and coming Saturday, May 6, the third.

While coronations of kings and queens isn’t necessarily big news in a Jewish newspaper, there’s no doubt that much like people everywhere today, Colorado Jews in 1937 and 1953 were captivated by the coronations of King George VI on May 12, 1937 and later Queen Elizabeth II on June 2, 1953. In fact, perusing the Shmoos columns from that time, more than one Jewish Denverite enjoyed the 1953 festivities in person! Rae Slatkin, Mr. and Mrs. Myron Neusteter, and Mr. and Mrs. Harris Raphael were all in England for the coronation, and Milton Wittow’s cousin, Mayor A. Moss of Manchester, actually participated in it!

In 1937, local Jewish groups adopted the coronation as a theme for social gatherings, such as for Junior Hadassah’s first meeting of the year, but much of the reporting was woven into reporting on Zionism and the settlement of Jews in Mandatory Palestine. The Arab Supreme Committee boycotted the coronation in protest of immigration certificates for Zionists, while Zionists weren’t thrilled by the low immigration schedule “cast[ing] a damper over the festivities.”

Also for 1937, IJN writer Carl Alpert explored in depth the legend that the coronation stone — beneath the trhone in Westminster Abbey — was the same stone Jacob used as a pillow the night he dreamt about angels and ladders.

Going back to the five kings, two coronations: King Edward VIII, who acceded in January, 1936, was never crowned and abdicated in December of the same year. And while the IJN’s predecessor, The Jewish Outlook, was published during the year 1911, when George V was crowned, no extant copies exist from that year. The newspaper, the unofficial organ of National Jewish Hospital, was published from 1903-1913. Extant copies from 1904-1909 were digitized together with the earliest copies of the IJN as part of “Chronicling America,” facilitated by an IJN grant from History Colorado. If anyone out there can rustle up an Outlook from 1911, not only will be happy to review it for coronation mentions, we’ll make sure it’s added to the Chronicling America collection.

As for current events, King Charles III’s accession and coming coronation were covered in the IJN this year, but you’ll have to stay tuned to see if next week’s IJN will include any post-festivites coverage. And if you know anyone who traveled to London for the coronation, we’d love to share it in next week’s Shmoos!

This online feature explores the IJN’s new digital archive, discovering the news of the week, years ago.

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