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Ruby Diamond Family Papers

 Collection — Box: Folder3
Identifier: MSS 2007-037

Scope and Contents

The Ruby Diamond Family Papers includes primarily photographs of the Diamond and Williams families, as well as the Hirschberg family, her cousins. In addition, there is correspondence, mostly between cousins and friends of Ruby Diamond, news clippings about the Diamond family; genealogical materials; Ruby Diamond's eulogy, and a late 19th Century scrapbook containing news of family businesses, marriages, and obituaries. There are also papers of the Hirschberg family, Ruby Diamond's cousins, which include correspondence with Mena Hirschberg from family and friends, and with Morton Robert Hirschberg (Mena's son); publicity about Ruby Diamond's contributions to Florida State University; and a small watercolor painting on paper.

Subjects include Florida State University's 1950 acquisition of Sydney Diamond's personal library of books and pamphlets; family heirlooms; Florida Governor Albert Gilchrist's speech at the presentation ceremonies for the silver service to the U.S.S. Florida (1911); Ruby Diamond's brother and mother; and Ruby Diamond's family tree. Individuals documented in the papers and photographs include Albert Gilchrist; Ruby Diamond; Sydney Diamond; and her cousins Jerome R. Wolfe and family, Mena Hirschberg, Morton Robert Hirschberg, Fay Landau, and Abraham, Isaac, and Simon Rosenbaum.

The papers consist of seven series: Correspondence; Biographical, Hirschberg Family Papers, Family Photographs, Photographs of Other Individuals, Photographs of Other Subjects, and Memorabilia. Folders in each series are arranged alphabetically.

These materials have significant value to researchers examining the life and contributions of an active 20th Century Florida philanthropist, as well the history of Tallahassee and Florida State University.

Additional collections documenting the lives of Ruby Diamond and her family may be found in this repository. For access to these materials, please refer to the library catalog and finding aids in the Special Collections Department.


  • Created: 1860-1994


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to all researchers.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright has not been transferred to the Florida State University Libraries. All requests for permission to quote, publish, broadcast or otherwise reproduce from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Associate Dean for Special Collections & Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Florida State University Libraries as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.

Biographical or Historical Information

Ruby Diamond's grandparents came from Prussian Jewish stock. Her great-grandfather, Abraham Samuel Dzialynski, came to the United States and died in the yellow fever epidemic in Jacksonville, 1857. Her great uncles Jacob and Henry also died of the epidemic. Her great-grandmother, Rosalie Diamond Dzialynski, died in New York City in 1853 and was a native of Prussia, as was her husband, Robert S. Williams (1824-1889) born in Wreschen. Williams was a participant in the California Gold Rush in 1849. His wife, Helena Dzialynski, was born in 1836 in Posen, Prussia. They were married in New York City January 21, 1854. That year they came to Florida and settled in Hamilton County, where their daughter Rachelle was born. According to Rabbi Stanley Garfein of Tallahassee, Rachelle was the first Jewish child born in Florida. They spent the Civil War years in Savannah (GA) and experienced General William Tecumseh Sherman's occupation. After the war, they returned to Tallahassee.

Upon settling in Tallahassee, Robert S. Williams inaugurated the city's first street lighting, by placing kerosene lamps on street posts. Another Williams daughter, Henrietta, married Julius Diamond, a merchant and owner of cotton plantations. Born March 10, 1853 in Germany, Diamond served as chairman of the Leon County Board of Commissioners from 1889 to 1899. He died in 1914. Julius and Henrietta Williams Diamond had two children - Sydney, who became an attorney, and Ruby.

Ruby Diamond, daughter of Julius and Henrietta Williams Diamond, was born on September 1, 1886, in Tallahassee, Florida. According to Rabbi Garfein, she formed a "link between the dwindling Jewish community of the late 1800s, and the families who moved in after the turn of the century." One of 13 members of Florida State College's (now, Florida State University) 1905 graduating class, Diamond received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Chemistry from that institution.

When the family home was sold in the 1930s to make way for Tallahassee's first service station, Diamond began living in hotel rooms. She lived most of her life in her own room at the Floridan Hotel. When the Floridan was closed in 1977, Diamond moved into the Hilton, and was the hotel's only full-time resident until her death, on March 8, 1982.

Preferring that her wealth should help those lacking basic necessities, Diamond contributed to many charities in Tallahassee and across Florida. She was a generous donor to more than 37 organizations, including the Tallahassee-Leon County Humane Society, the Tallahassee Women's Club, and the Florida Heritage Foundation. One of her oldest and least publicized projects, begun by her father, was the "Diamond Vegetable Basket," which entitled needy Tallahassee residents to $1 worth of vegetable seeds and 50 pounds of fertilizer. She and her brother Sydney joined with other members of the Jewish community in founding Temple Israel in 1937.

One of Florida State University (FSU)'s most generous benefactors, Diamond established two scholarship funds for disadvantaged scholars. In 1962, she funded a $2500 scholarship with the Southern Scholarship Foundation. She also supported the Alumni Association, and the Department of Educational Research, Development, and Foundations. When her brother Sydney died in 1946, she established in 1948, and continued to contribute to, the Sydney Hamilton Diamond Library Philosophy Fund, dedicated to her late brother. Diamond remained an annual contributor to the fund. She gave his personal library of approximately 6500 books and 900 pamphlets in philosophy to the Florida State University Library in 1950. In 1964, she also gave a collection of letters to the Library between her father Julius, a Confederate Army captain as well as a local merchant, and Captain Hugh Black. For these and many other contributions, FSU in 1970 expressed its appreciation to Diamond by naming its largest auditorium, located inside the Westcott Building, in her honor. In 1971, she donated property in Tallahassee worth $100,000 to the university, and at age 95 in 1981, she donated downtown property assessed at more than $100,000 to partially fund an endowed chair of "national excellence" in the College of Education.

Diamond was also a political activist who fought for lower taxes and racial equality. Friends and acquaintances noted that she organized a nursery school for African-American children in Tallahassee before integration and helped organize the Miracle Hill Nursing Home in the African-American community.

Ruby Diamond neither married nor had any children. She died on March 8, 1982 and was buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Jacksonville, FL by the graves of her brother, parents, and grandparents.


3.00 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Correspondence, genealogical materials, newspaper clippings, photographs, and memorabilia pertaining to Ruby Diamond and the related Hirschberg and Williams families.

Custodial History

Paul Eugen Camp, University of South Florida Library, Special Collections Librarian believes that the Diamond Papers were most likely donated by Ruby Diamond's distant cousin Daniel Rosenbaum of Tampa about 1988.

Method of Acquisition

Acquired from the University of South Florida Tampa Library, Special Collections Department

Existence and Location of Originals

Portions of collection available online?: No

Processing Information

Processed by Burt Altman

Ruby Diamond Family Papers
Burt Altman
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the FSU Special Collections & Archives Repository

116 Honors Way
PO Box 3062047
Tallahassee FL 32306-2047 US