New Database: Jewish Life in America c1654-1954

Jewish Life in America c1654-1954: Sources from the American Jewish Historical Society provides full online access to 24 collections of personal papers, and partial access to the papers and archives of six organizations.  Collections span 300 years, and are especially strong in material relating to Jewish life in New York.  Included are letters, diaries, photographs and images, legal documents, minutes, and other records. 

Organizational records include:

  • Papers of the Industrial Removal Office (1899-1922). The IRO helped Jewish immigrants to assimilate into American society both culturally and economically. Travelling agents investigated and identified potential employment opportunities for individuals and groups across America.
  • Papers of the Jewish Immigration Information Bureau (1901-1920). The records document the reception of Jewish immigrants through the port of Galveston, Texas rather than New York City, and efforts to resettle the immigrants in communities throughout the United States.

Personal records include:

  • Seixas Family Papers: includes papers relating to Gershom Mendes Seixas (1746-1816), who was named Hazzan of the Congregation Shearith Israel in 1768, served on the state Board of  Regents, and served as a Columbia College trustee from 1784-1814.  
  • Louis Marshall Papers (1905-1933). Marshall (1856-1929) was a lawyer and community leader.  This collection focuses 1907-1928, the period when the United States Congress debated and passed increasingly restrictive immigration legislation.
  • Marion E. Kenworthy Papers: Contains correspondence, newsletters and minutes of meetings of the Non-Sectarian Committee for German Refugee Children, which was established in 1938 to lobby the U.S. government to allow immigration for refugee children.

See the complete list of collections.

Jewish Life in America includes ‘My Archive’ and ‘My Lightbox’, special features that allow you to store searches and save documents and images across sessions.

Looking for additional online  manuscripts and archives?  The Center for Jewish History offers access to digital collections from the American Jewish Historical Society, the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research, the Leo Baeck Institute, and the Yeshiva University Museum.