American Jewish Historical Society

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The American Jewish Historical Society's holdings include a significant number of archival collections with information useful for family history researchers.

Orphanage records:

Records in these collections include admission and discharge ledgers.

Please note that orphanage records are restricted for 75 years due to privacy laws.

Immigrant aid organizations:

The agency funded many immigrant assistance programs and provided grants and training in agriculture and the trades. The collection is comprised of six different parts: administration of the Fund, information about Jewish farming colonies, the Jewish Agricultural Society, Woodbine Colony (an agricultural colony), the Woodbine Agricultural School, and the Baron de Hirsch Trade School. Records include loan applications, student records and ledgers, aid applications, lists of farmers, records of property holders and companies at the Colony, and class photographs. See Research Guide at the Center for Jewish History Website.

JIIB was the branch of the Industrial Removal Office responsible for receiving immigrants in Galveston and relocating them in communities across the U.S. Between 1907-1914, 10,000 immigrants traveled through Galveston. Records in the collection include ship passenger lists and correspondence about specific immigrants. See Research Guide and Searchable Database at the Center for Jewish History Website.

The IRO, largely funded by the Baron de Hirsch Fund, aided immigrants in moving from eastern cities to less populated areas in the U.S. Records include lists of people departing from New York City, records of resettlement, and detailed correspondence about individual immigrants. See Research Guide and Searchable Database at the Center for Jewish History Website.

Records include data cards with arrival information and individual case files.

Military records:

These records include questionnaires filled out by WWI soldiers detailing their military careers and other biographical information. Electronic name indices exist for this collection. See Research Guide and Searchable Database at the Center for Jewish History Website.

Records include thousands of data cards on individual soldiers. The collection contains name cards and geographic cards for most who served, except that in big cities, such as NY, Boston and Los Angeles, a sampling technique was used and there is not a card for every person who served. The case files are only for casualties and awards: wounded, killed, prisoners, and those who received honors and awards. Currently, there is no database for these records.

Records include biographical questionnaires completed by chaplains.

The Mordecai Sheftall Papers WPA Index of Names - American Revolution contains names found within the American Revolution-era papers of Mordecai Sheftall. This family history database transcribes Part II of the Works Progress Administration Guide (pages 150-259), Analytical Indexes to the Sheftall Papers and may be viewed here. The index contains very helpful lists of personal names appearing within the indexed portion of the collection. The Persons Index lists persons mentioned in the Sheftall Papers as well as codes linking them to bibliographic sources of American Revolution soldier and participant rolls. According to the introduction to this section, "This alphabetical list contains all of the names, with their variants, found in the Sheftall papers; those in capital letters will be found in the transcriptions and abstracts in Part I of this book." Please note that this database only lists those selected provision returns transcribed in the WPA guide. You may find additional documents by on

Court records:

Copies of ca. 500 Declarations of Intent to Become a Citizen.

Consists of legal filings made by Jewish-related, not-for-profit organizations incorporated in New York County, including fraternal societies, political clubs, professional associations, synagogues, landsmanshaftn, benevolent organizations, social clubs, burial societies, charities and neighborhood facilities. The filings are very similar to modern corporate filings and include original certificates of incorporation, consolidation or change of corporate name. Each certificate of incorporation is approximately 3-5 pages and generally includes the name of the organization, the purposes or objectives for which it was formed, the principal office or territory of principal operation, the names and addresses of the initial directors or trustees or officers, and the names of the incorporators.

School records:

The Baron de Hirsch Fund Records (collection #I-80) document the organization's involvement in the planning of Jewish agricultural communities, and agricultural and trade schools across the United States; the establishment of the Jewish Agricultural Society; and the business records of the Fund itself. This particular genealogy database records students who attended classes 7 through 66 at the Baron de Hirsch Trade School from 1897-1928. The information is taken directly from Pupil Record Books used for admission purposes to the school.

Other collections:

Center for Jewish History Genealogy Institute

The Center for Jewish History Genealogy Institute's web site offers suggestions to help you with your family history research. The Genealogy Institute serves the partners of the Center for Jewish History: the American Jewish Historical Society, the American Sephardi Federation, the Leo Baeck Institute, the Yeshiva University Museum, and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research - by responding to questions about family history research. The web page includes PDF files of all fact sheets (click on "Fact Sheets"). There is also a complete list of the holdings of the reference collection, as well as FAQs that explain how to do genealogical research at the Center. For further questions, please contact the Genealogy Institute directly at or visit their website.



    Center for Jewish History

    15 West 16th St.
    New York, NY 10011
    Tel: 212-294-6160
    Fax: 212-294-6161

    99-101 Newbury Street
    Boston, MA 02116-3062
    Tel: 617-226-1245
    Fax: 617-226-1248
This section was last updated on September 17, 2014
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