Irene Rosenzweig (1903–1997)
Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) native Irene Rosenzweig earned a doctoral degree from Bryn Mawr College in classics, received the Prix de Rome from the American Academy in Rome, and tutored members of the family of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. After a teaching career near Washington DC, Rosenzweig returned to Pine Bluff, where she was a benefactor of Trinity Village Medical Center. A biennial art exhibition named in her honor supports the permanent collection of the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas through an endowment left by Rosenzweig.
Irene Rosenzweig was born in Pine Bluff on July 26, 1903, to Pauline Sarason-Rosenzweig and William M. Rosenzweig. She had one sister. Her father had emigrated from Lithuania, from an area near Kovno in present-day Russia, in 1889, and opened the Good Luck Store, later Rosenzweig’s Department Store, in Pine Bluff, which was Pine Bluff’s largest mercantile and farm supply store. William Rosenzweig served as president of the Temple Anshe Emeth and Jewish Federated Treasuries and was also president of the B’nai B’rith Lodge in Pine Bluff.
Beginning in 1910, the Rosenzweig family lived at 717 West Second Avenue in a Queen Anne Victorian–style home now referred to as the Roth-Rosenzweig-Lambert House, which was sold by Irene Rosenzweig in 1970; the house was added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 12, 1976.
Rosenzweig graduated first in her class at Pine Bluff High School in 1920. She subsequently earned an undergraduate degree in classical studies at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, where she received honors. She was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
Rosenzweig undertook a doctoral degree at Bryn Mawr in Pennsylvania, where she studied under Lily Ross Taylor, the first woman fellow of the American Academy in Rome. Rosenzweig received the 1930 Prix de Rome Fellowship in Classical Studies and Archaeology from the American Academy in Rome. During her time as a fellow in Rome, she advanced research for her dissertation, which was published as Ritual and Cults of Pre-Roman Iguvium: With an Appendix Giving the Text of Iguvine Tablets in 1937. Research for this publication was undertaken in Gubbio, where Rosenzweig consulted excavation reports and various works in Italian libraries.
Rosenzweig tutored members of the family of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (reportedly FDR and Eleanor’s nieces) while the Roosevelts were in the White House. Rosenzweig also taught Latin at the Madeira school, a private preparatory school for girls, in Greenway, Virginia. She remained active with the American Academy in Rome and was fluent in French, German, Spanish, Latin, and Greek.
Rosenzweig was a benefactor for charities in and around Pine Bluff. A biennial juried exhibition funded by an endowment named for her is organized by the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas. The Irene Rosenzweig Endowment Fund, Inc., includes purchase awards for the center’s permanent collection.
Irene Rosenzweig died of cardiac arrest at age ninety-four on October 8, 1997, at Trinity Village Medical Center in Pine Bluff. She was preceded in death by her parents and her sister, Sylvia Schloss. There were no immediate surviving family members, as she never married or had children. Her remains were cremated and distributed in the Jewish Cemetery in Pine Bluff.
For additional information:
Carolyn LeMaster Arkansas Jewish History Collection. Butler Center for Arkansas Studies. Central Arkansas Library System, Little Rock, Arkansas.
LeMaster, Carolyn Gray. A Corner of the Tapestry: A History of the Jewish Experience in Arkansas, 1820s–1990s. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1994.
Obituary of Irene Rosenzweig. Pine Bluff Commercial, October 10, 1997, p. 4A.
Rosenzweig, Irene. Ritual and Cults of Pre-Roman Iguvium: With an Appendix Giving the Text of Iguvine Tablets. Baltimore, MD: Waverly Press, Inc., 1937.
Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas
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Dear Encyclopedia–I read your entry on Irene Rosenzweig with interest. In several places you refer to her (and Lily Ross Taylor’s) winning the Prix de Rome from the American Academy in Rome. The Academy confers the Rome Prize; the Prix de Rome was conferred by the French Academy and there is now a Prix de Rome conferred by the Mondriaan Foundation.