American Jewish Historical Society

PLEASE NOTE: The Lillian Goldman Reading Room and Ackman and Ziff Genealogy Institute will be closed for renovations from Wednesday, April 9 through Friday, April 25 (to re-open on Sunday, April 27). For more information, please email

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Genealogically Relevant Collections at AJHS

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. Some of the collections contain student publications, event programs, and annual reports, which provide information about students' daily lives.

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.

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.

Other collections:

Center for Jewish History Genealogy Institute

The Center for Jewish History Genealogy Institute's web site at 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, theYeshiva 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 April 1, 2014
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