American Jewish Archives Collections in the EHRI Portal
by Adina Babesh
We are honored and would like to extend our appreciation to The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives (AJA), located on the historic Cincinnati campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, for having shared with the EHRI Project archival descriptions from the records of the World Jewish Congress’s New York office, 1918–1982 (MS-361), which were donated to the AJA in 1982. These can be accessed via the EHRI Portal.
The AJA has also made other important Holocaust-related archival descriptions available including the National Council of Jewish Women (Cincinnati, Ohio), Holocaust Survivors Oral History Project, the World Union for Progressive Judaism Records and papers of the American Jewish Committee. It is our hope that an increasing number of researchers will include these important records among their sources.
Established in 1936 and originally headquartered in Europe, the World Jewish Congress’s main office relocated to New York in July 1940 when the Nazis overran most of Europe. Important war-time and postwar subjects are found in this collections including: immigrants and immigration, Jewish displaced persons, Jewish culture, relations with governments and non-governmental organizations (e.g. United Nations, Red Cross), Zionism, reparations and restitution, war crimes, and antisemitism, to name a few. “These are extremely important collections,” says Dr. Veerle Vanden Daelen, responsible for the EHRI portal’s data identification and integration.
“This collection holds information on practically every country one can think of, yet, not all researchers are aware of this very important collection. It is a big thing that EHRI is now actively putting this huge collection on the radar of the researchers. I bet quite a few will be able to find valuable new information in these sources.” Vanden Daelen discovered the collection and the AJA during her own doctoral research in 2003: “I only found out about the archive serendipitously online. So, I organized my research stay in the US in such a way that I was able to include Cincinnati and the American Jewish Archives into the trip. It was an absolute key visit to my research. I found so many documents on Antwerp and Belgium in the immediate post-war period [the topic of Vanden Daelen’s PhD was the return of Jewish life to Antwerp after the liberation of the city, red.]: reports, letters, photos, moreover, I was assisted by the most helpful and knowledgeable staff in the archive. So, it’s really great that we can put this archive and this important archival collection on the EHRI portal!”
For those interested in studying these records in Cincinnati, the AJA has a fellowship program that funds researchers from around the world to spend up to four weeks studying the collections of the AJA. To date, fellowships have been awarded to more than 500 scholars from over 20 countries. For more information, please contact Dr. Dana Herman, Director of Research & Collections (firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit the website. The next round of applications are due in February 2020.