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HIAS Collection I-363

"HIAS...Wherever the migrant."

Over the course of a three-year project, generously funded by HIAS in partnership with the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS), archivists at AJHS organized, described and made available to the public more than a thousand boxes of historical administrative files (primarily 1954-2000) from HIAS's New York headquarters. These files document the work of HIAS staff and lay leadership as they fulfilled the HIAS mission to rescue and resettle refugees and migrants. The bulk of the collection contains the files of the Executive Vice-Presidents and other executive staff in United States Operations, Overseas Operations, Government Relations, and Communications departments. They provide an in-depth look at the day-to-day work of HIAS professional staff around the world, with clients and community sponsors, and with other immigrant rescue and resettlement organizations in the United States and overseas.

In addition to the archival processing of HIAS's administrative files, the project included the creation of a HIAS Client Database, made up of clients who registered with HIAS between 1955 and 2000. Through the database, now accessible to the public, former HIAS clients, genealogists and family members will be able to determine whether HIAS holds restricted case files on specific individuals.

The history of HIAS officially begins in 1902, with the first establishment of an organization with the name Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS). Even before adopting their name, HIAS had been hard at work carrying out their mission in any way they could. As a result of their hard work, they have created and maintained an essential, thriving organization for more than 100 years. For an overview of monumental dates in HIAS history, please visit the HIAS Timeline and our project blog ontherescuefront

Since its founding at the turn of the 20th century, HIAS has been the worldwide arm of the American Jewish community for the rescue, relocation, family reunification, and resettlement of refugees and other migrants.1 Guided by Jewish values, the organization rescues those whose lives are in danger for being who they are, regardless of religious beliefs. HIAS protects the most vulnerable, helps families build new lives, advocates for their protection, and assures that displaced people are treated with the dignity all human beings deserve.2 The story of American Jewry cannot be told without HIAS. 


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1. David J. Schnall and Sheldon R. Gelman, “The Jewish Communal-Service Arena”, A Portrait of the American Jewish Community, ed. Norman Linzer, David J. Schnall and Jerome A. Chanes (Westport CT: Praeger Publishers, 1998), 50.

2. https://www.hias.org/mission-and-values, accessed 12/28/16.