David Lubin was a Polish immigrant whose contribution to California agriculture and practical application of Jewish ideals of ethical behavior and compassion made him a world figure. He arrived in the United States in the mid-1850s, and worked as a jeweler in San Francisco, a lumberyard worker in Los Angeles, a prospector for gold in Arizona, and a commercial traveler in New York and New Orleans. In 1874, he returned to San Francisco to join his half-brother, Harris Weinstock, and his sister, Jeanette Levy, in the dry goods business. Shortly thereafter, he opened David Lubin’s One Price Store in Sacramento. In time, this became known as the Weinstock-Lubin Company, which was noted for its enlightened employee relations policy. After a visit to Palestine in 1884, he became convinced that that the world’s future lay not in commerce but in cultivating the soil and that the Jews’ future role was to be "a light to the nations" (i.e. the Jews were to have a sacred mission in this regard). He bought a fruit ranch near Sacramento and land for raising wheat in Colusa County. He became instrumental in founding the California Fruit Growers’ Union and applied his knowledge of agriculture to the settlement of Eastern European Jewish refugees. In 1891, he became the director of the International Society for the Colonization of Russian Jews. His son, Simon, helped him develop a proposal for an international chamber of agriculture. In 1896, Lubin moved to Europe to implement this proposal. In 1905, with the sponsorship of the Italian King, Victor Emmanuel III, the International Institute of Agriculture (IIA) opened in Rome. The IIA’s goal was to aid farmers by sharing knowledge, producing agricultural products systematically, establishing a cooperative system of rural credit, and by having farmers control the marketing of their own products.
This collection consists of items created by and relating to David Lubin collected by the Judah L. Magnes Museum staff between 1969 and the early 2000s. It includes original documents and photographs created by David Lubin and his family as well as photocopies of items held by other archives throughout the world. The collection consists of nine series: 1. Personal, 2. Business, 3. Jewish Interests and Issues, 4. International Institute of Agriculture, 5. United States Agriculture, 6. Other Economic and Political Activity, 7. Biography and Legacy, 8. Family Members' Miscellany, and 9. Photographs. Series 1 consists of some genealogy, personal correspondence, family correspondence, and early essays. Series 2 consists mostly of materials relating to Lubin's early California business ventures, especially Weinstock-Lubin. Series 3 consists of Lubin's own writings, correspondence, and addresses on Jewish issues and themes. These materials include files on Zionism and aid to the Jews of Salonica. Series 4 includes materials on the International Institute of Agriculture (history, founding, publications, research materials, dissolution, founding of FAO, and the Lubin Memorial Library in Rome). Series 5 consists of files on agriculture in the United States (primarily in the period from 1880 through 1910). Series 6 consists of a file of materials relating to Lubin's interests in other economic and political issues, such as labor, the election of Woodrow Wilson, and democracy. Series 7 consists of memorial biographies, testimonials, obituaries, and essays on Lubin's legacy published after Lubin's death in 1919. Series 8 consists of materials relating to Lubin's daughter Grace, Lubin's son-in-law, Jacob Finesinger, and George Heller. Series 9 consists of photographs (including photographs of Lubin, Lubin's family, Olivia Agresti, the Weinstock-Lubin Store, President Taft, Villa Lubin, the International Institute of Agriculture, the launching of the SS Lubin, and Jacob Finesinger). The collection also includes a reproduction of the 1910 portrait of David Lubin painted by G. Szoldatics, a copy of the document testifying to Lubin's appointment as the American delegate to the IIA signed by President Theodore Roosevelt, and two scrapbooks (one of letters of introduction for Lubin, 1896-1905 and one of obits and condolence letters on occasion of Lubin's death, 1919).