50 Years Of Ruth Steinkraus Cohen

The Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge downtown honors a woman whose life was filled with music and service. She was dedicated to hospitality and the United Nations. Through jUNe Day and other events, she brought tens of thousands of international visitors to Westport.

Every jUNe Day, flags of many United Nations members fly on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Post Road bridge. Cohen established the annual event in 1965.

The basement of Steinkraus Cohen’s Darbrook Road home was filled with paperwork. She never discarded a program, agenda, or the minutes of one of her Wednesday meetings.

Over 60 boxes of Steinkraus Cohen’s papers have been stored at Adams Academy on Morningside Drive North. This month, the United Nations Association of Southwestern Connecticut is tackling them — helped by 4 talented and hard-working Staples High School interns.

Kylie Race, Claire Redmer, Savannah Schaefer and Samuel Zuckerman started the cleanout last week. They wanted this internship to learn about international relations. Now they’re getting a crash course in how Steinkraus Cohen thought globally — and acted locally — for 50 years.

Claire Redmer, Kylie Race and Savannah Schaefer encounter an actual film reel.

The interns sorted through box after box. They found press clippings of Steinkraus Cohen with Eleanor Roosevelt, and letters from George Bush, Bill Clinton and Kofi Annan.

Savannah Schaefer with 50 years of correspondence.

There were hundreds of photographs of 50 years’ worth of jUNe Days, with international visitors enjoying Westport.

With the interns’ help, the UNA SW CT hopes to create a Ruth Steinkraus Collection of papers.

Sam and Savannah are learning about archiving, and will lead the process with Joan Hass. Kylie and Claire are designing and building a new website, with Michaela MacColl. All the interns are creating original content, reflecting their own interests under Marge Neuiwenhuis’ educator’s eye.

The tagline for “06880” is “Where Westport meets the world.” Sounds like a good one for Staples’ internship program too.

Sam Zuckerman knew this was the national flag of Comoros.

11 responses to “50 Years Of Ruth Steinkraus Cohen

  1. I’m wondering if Steinkruas Cohen had any connection with what I think may have been called the World Affairs Council, an office that offered literature on international and often post-colonial events. I recall the office being downtown not far from the Fine Arts theater and visiting the office in the late 1970s..

  2. Rosalie Kaye

    The World Affairs Center was around the corner from the theater, near what is now Tiffanys. Wendy Gailmore (John’s sister) ran it.

  3. jUNe Day is one of my favorite events in Westport. I love seeing so many international visitors in our little town, and the gorgeous flags flying over the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen bridge puts a big lump in my throat every year. We are so lucky!

  4. And I’m thrilled that Mrs. Cohen’s papers are finally being archived. What a great project!

  5. Dorothy Zuckerman

    Proud of my Grandson Sam Zuckerman who is involved in this project. Hope to see the work soon as I will be visiting with Sam and the family in about a week

  6. maryschmerker

    I am delighted to see this post. I had the high honor of attending a musical program at Ruth Steinkraus’ house when I was young. I wish I could remember the exact year. I do remember the program, it was the Von Trapp family long before there was a musical or movie or a Von Trapp family Lodge in Vermont. I did hear their wonderful voices raised in song. It was most likely not long after they arrived in the U.S. I also attended a piano recital in her home. My Grandmother was very active in musical “circles” in Westport and was sure to expose me to so many wonderful events. I am delighted to know that her papers will be archived. She was a wonderful force to be reckoned with and a positive influence in so many areas and so many ways.

  7. Fred Cantor

    Didn’t RSC live in that lovely stone house on Compo?

  8. Caryl Beatus