Tag Archives: immigration

Digital Exhibition: Leaving Europe: A New Life in America

Cambridge, MA, USA / The Hague, Netherlands, 18 December 2012 - 

To mark the beginning of a unique digital collaboration, the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) and Europeana are pleased to announce the launch of Leaving Europe: A new life in America.

 

The all-new virtual exhibition tells the story of European emigration to the United States during the 19th and 20th centuries. Jointly curated by the two digital libraries, the exhibition uses photographs, manuscripts, broadsheets, paintings, letters, audio, government documents and other unique materials to chart people's journeys across the European continent and their settlement in the United States. The digital items displayed are from U.S. and European libraries, museums and archives and the accompanying narrative has been commissioned specially for the exhibition from U.S. and European experts.  
 
The DPLA and Europeana—guided by a common mission to make the riches of libraries, museums, and archives openly available to everyone in the world—collaborated regularly with curators, content partners, project staff, and others to design and build the exhibition cooperatively. Leaving Europe: A new life in America represents the starting point of a significant long-term relationship between the two digital libraries.

Over 30 million Europeans, from as far north as Scandinavia and as far south as Sicily, set sail to America in the 19th century and the first quarter of the 20th century. The exhibition, organized across seven major themes, describes the experiences that different groups of hopeful immigrants from across Europe faced. The exhibition allows the virtual visitor to accompany them on their often difficult journey from their native region and country, across the Atlantic and into the ports, cities and local communities of the United States.
 

Leaving Europe: A new life in America is presented in French and English and features over 100 rare digitized items, many of which have not been made available before. Europeana's contributing partners to the exhibition include the Bibliothèque nationale de France, the National Gallery of Ireland, the Jewish Museum of London, the Royal Library of the Netherlands, the Saxon State Library and the Norwegian Photo Archives. The DPLA's contributors include the New York Public Library, Harvard University, The (U.S.) National Archives and Records Administration, and the University of Minnesota Immigration History Research Center.
 
Some of the stories told in the exhibit include:
The Homeland of Migrating Groups
Departure and Crossing: Ports of Departure and Shipping Companies
Life in America: Work

Online Resource: JDC Archives online

The Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) has been helping Jews around the world since its inception at the onset of World War I in 1914.  Its archives have long been a resource for scholars researching Jewish immigration, anti-semitism, Jewish aid, geneology, and many other topics.

Now, for the first time, the JDC Archives from 1914-1932 are available online here.

According to the website, "The vast digital collection contains searchable text collections from 1914-1932, a detailed interactive timeline, historically-themed exhibitions, over 45,000 photographs, findings aids, educational resources, relevant archives news and more. The JDC Archives houses one of the most significant collections in the world for the study of modern Jewish history and attests to JDC's relief, rescue and rehabilitation activities from its inception in 1914 to the present."

The archive includes a text-searchable document database, photographs from over 70 countries, and a timeline of Jewish (and JDC) history by decade.

Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees: The West’s Response to Jewish Emigration

As part of a purchase of a major database collection, Columbia now has access to "Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees: The West’s Response to Jewish Emigration."

According to the site’s description:

The Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees (IGCR) was organized in London in August 1938 as a result of the Evian Conference of July 1938. The Evian Conference was called by President Franklin Roosevelt outside the formal framework of the League of Nations "for the primary purpose of facilitating involuntary emigration from Germany (including Austria)" of "persons who have not already left their country of origin (Germany, including Austria), but who must emigrate on account of their political opinions, religious beliefs or racial origin, and persons who have already left their country of origin and who have not yet established themselves permanently elsewhere."

For the first time, there was discussion on extending protection to would-be refugees inside the country of potential departure, particularly central Europe. The IGCR, however, received little authority and almost no funds or support from its member nations for resettlement of refugees from Europe in countries allowing permanent immigration, and it had little success in opening countries to refugees.

The first director of the IGCR was George Rublee, an American lawyer, who opened negotiations with Hjalmar Schacht, the President of the German Central Bank in December 1938. After Schacht was removed from his post, the negotiations went on with Helmut Wohltat of the Ministry of Economy. As a result of the negotiations they called for the creation of a fund, to be guaranteed by the Jewish property in Germany, and a Coordinating Foundation in order to finance the emigration of 400,000 Jews from Germany. The attempts of the IGCR to find havens for German Jews in different countries largely failed.

At the Anglo-American conference at Bermuda in April 1943, recommendations were made to the Committee and adopted in August 1943 for an extension of its mandate and structure in order to take into account not only immediately urgent situations but also the longer-term problems of the postwar period. After the establishment of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration the Committee’s responsibilities were limited to refugees in areas in which that Administration was not active and to refugees who for one reason or another did not come within the jurisdiction of the Administration, such as stateless refugees.

In July 1944, 37 governments participated in the work of the Committee. Of these, representatives of nine countries, including the United States, served on its Executive Committee. The primary responsibility for determining the policy of the United States with regard to the Committee was that of the Department of State. It ceased to exist in 1947, and its functions and records were transferred to the International Refugee Organization of the United Nations.

This database, part of the Archives Unbound collection, is critical for understanding the governmental response to the "Jewish problem" as Jews (and others) fled Nazi-occupied Europe before and during the war.

The database can be accessed by clicking on the link above, and then clicking "Browse Collections" and clicking on the "Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees: The West’s Response to Jewish Emigration" link.  We are working on making a direct link to the Jewish Immigration site, and I will post an update when the direct link is available.

Update: There is now a direct link to the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees, accessible here: http://www.columbia.edu/cgi-bin/cul/resolve?clio8715812

Columbia Professor Yinon Cohen in Israel Affairs

The latest issue of Israel Affairs (v.17, no. 1) includes an article co-authored by Columbia University Professor Yinon Cohen entitled: "Who went where? Jewish immigration from the Former Soviet Union to Israel, the USA and Germany, 1990-2000" (p.7).  Columbia subscribes to Israel Affairs both in print (call number: DS101 .I873, in Lehman Library) and electronically.

Note, of course, that when clicking through to the link for the electronic version, you must be sure to click on the link that includes coverage "to the present."

New Database: Jewish Life in America, c1654-1954

I am very pleased to announce a new database available at Columbia, Jewish Life in America, c1654-1954

According to their own description:

"Jewish Life in America will enable you to explore the history of Jewish communities in America from the arrival of the first Jews in the 17th century right through to the mid-20th century. This rich collection brings to life the communal and social aspects of Jewish identity and culture, whilst tracing Jewish involvement in the political life of American society as a whole.

"This treasure trove of material provides digital images of collections from the American Jewish Historical Society in New York. All of the typescript and printed material is full-text searchable.

"In addition, Jewish Life in America contains a wealth of materials designed as supplementary resources; these include a chronology, interactive maps (coming soon), essays by leading scholars, a selection of American Jewish Year Book articles, a visual resources gallery, biographies and links to other useful websites"

As far as I know, this is the first resource of its kind available for American Jewish History.  Take a look, play around, and let me know what you think!

Mordecai Kaplan Diaries Digitized and Online

The Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary is pleased to make available the digitized diaries of Mordecai Kaplan. These diaries, written between 1913 and 1972, are a window into the thoughts of this towering figure over the course of most of the twentieth century. Kaplan’s diary reflects, often in intimate detail, on his work, the people he met, the political situation of his day, theology, and Judaism. These personal records are crucial to many areas of study of twentieth-century Judaism, particularly in America.

For example, in his early entries he often speaks about people who came to see him at JTS. Among them were new immigrants, who spoke poor English, often coming with family members who spoke better English, expressing their desire to study at JTS after working in the sweatshops of New York City’s Lower East Side. He also discusses his meetings with Jewish leaders concerning the future of "Judaism with an open mind." His reflections during the Holocaust, on Zionism and the birth of the state of Israel, and on the development and challenges of the Reconstructionist Movement, are all major primary source material that is now open to students, scholars, and the general public.

To access the diaries, go here.

Reminder: JTS is just down the block at 122nd and Broadway, and contains the largest collection of Hebrew and Jewish-related manuscripts in the country!   CU affiliates (faculty, students, and staff) are able to check out books from JTS’s general collections.  (Note that there is a one-time $20 charge to obtain a JTS library card.)

Access hours to JTS’s special collections are below:

Access to the Special Collections is by appointment. We ask that you make an appointment one week in advance to enable us to prepare the materials for you. Please call (212) 678-8077 or email for an appointment to visit during these hours:

Monday–Thursday, Noon–5:00 p.m