Jewish Archives in the United States

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Archive Research Centers

The American Jewish Archives (AJA), Cincinnati

Founded in 1947 by Jacob Rader Marcus, the AJA is an archive research center based at the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Read more about the AJA.

The American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS), New York City and Boston

Formed in 1892, the AJHS is one of the earliest ethnic historical societies in the United States. It is today one of the partner institutions of the Center for Jewish History in New York City.

Read more about the AJHS.

Blavatnik Archive, New York City

Founded in 2005, the Blavatnik Archive is dedicated to documenting twentieth-century Jewish history. Collections include Judaica-themed postcards, oral histories, World War I postcards, World War II ephemera, and more. Its total collection comprises over 100,000 items across 15 collections, and the archive has prioritized digital access.

Visit the Blavatnik Archive and read the Blavatnik archive fact sheet from 2020.

The Center for Jewish History (CJH), New York City

Formed in 1995 and opened to the public in 2000, the Center for Jewish History in New York City brought together major partner institutions including the AJHS, the Leo Baeck Institute, YIVO, the American Sephardi Federation, and the Yeshiva University Museum.

Read more about the CJH.

JDC Archives, New York City and Jerusalem

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is a Jewish relief organization formed in 1914 and based in New York City. JDC has archive centers in New York City and also in Jerusalem, relating to the organization’s relief work and activities both in the United States and abroad

The collection comprises over 15,000 linear feet, including over 150,000 photographs. They also offer a number of fellowships to support scholarly research in New York City or Jerusalem.

Jewish Women’s Archive

The Jewish Women’s Archive (JWA) seeks to document the lives and histories of Jewish women, particularly in a contemporary context but also throughout Jewish history. It holds collections and develops exhibits to showcase Jewish women’s history, and develops a multitude of public programs including podcasts courses, and fellowships in order to showcase the role of women in Jewish history.

Visit the JWA’s website.

The Leo Baeck Institute (LBI), New York City

The Leo Baeck Institute is a research institute dedicated to the study of German Jewish history, culture, and its legacy. It was formed in 1954-55 with centers in New York City, London, and Jerusalem. Its New York center holds the main archival collections of the LBI, and it is a partner institute at the Center for Jewish History.

Read more about the LBI.

U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., was established in 1993; in addition to its public mission of Holocaust education, the USHMM holds one of the premier archival collections relating to the Holocaust and European Jewish history. The National Institute for Holocaust Documentation holds both unique materials, as well as digitized collections from other research institutions around the world.

Visitors to the USHMM’s reading room are able to access these digitized collections and even copy them onto an external USB drive in order to bring these files “home” with them for continued research.

YIVO, New York City

YIVO, or the Yiddish Scientific Organization, was initially founded in 1925 with centers in Vilna, Warsaw, Berlin, and elsewhere. In 1940, its New York branch became the headquarters of YIVO under the leadership of Max Weinreich. Today it is one of the premier centers for the study of eastern European Jewry, and is a partner institution at the Center for Jewish History.

Read more about YIVO.

Holocaust Testimony Archives

The Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies at Yale University

The Fortunoff Video Archive is a major archive of video testimonies of Holocaust survivors, based at Yale University. It contains about 4,400 Holocaust testimonies and also produces content including podcasts and annotated testimonies to share these testimonies with a wide audience.

Read more about the Fortunoff Video Archive.

The Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive at USC

The USC Shoah Foundation was established with the aim of documenting tens of thousands of testimonies from survivors of the Holocaust. Since its founding in 1994, they have documented more than 50,000 survivor testimonies, which are available through an online platform as well as at satellite university campuses and museums which offer access to the database. The Shoah Foundation has also utilized its technology to help document other atrocities including the Rwandan Genocide.

Read more about the Shoah Foundation.

Voice/Vision Holocaust Survival Oral History Archive (Dearborn, MI)

In 1981, Dr. Sidney Bokosky of the University of Michigan–Dearborn began interviewing Holocaust survivors and deposited them at the Mardigian Library. The archive has over 180 interviews which are available online (including on YouTube) and is also available at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and other archives.

Visit the Voice/Vision archive.

Regional Archives

Bloom Southwest Jewish Archives

See: University of Arizona, Special Collections

The Jewish Heritage Collection at the College of Charleston

Documents Jewish history in South Carolina and throughout the South from colonial times to the present day. It was formed in 1995 under the auspices of the Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina. Major collections include the papers and Judaica of Rabbi William A. Rosenthal, and over 400 oral history recordings.

Western States Jewish History Archive at UCLA

See: UCLA Library Special Collections

Community Archives

Buffalo Jewish Archives at SUNY Buffalo

The Jewish Buffalo Archives Project (JBAP) is a collaborative initiative of the Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Buffalo and the University Archives in the University Libraries of the University at Buffalo. Its collection focuses mainly on twentieth-century Jewish communal organizations including the Jewish Federation and related groups.

The Center for Michigan Jewish Heritage (Detroit)

Houston Jewish History Archive at Rice University

Following Hurricane Harvey, which devastated Houston in 2017, Dr. Joshua Furman and colleagues at Rice University began gathering historical materials endangered by the flooding, leading to the creation of the HJHA in 2018. Collections cover Houston and a growing number of South Texas Jewish communities, including Galveston, San Antonio, Wharton, Schulenburg, Beaumont, and more. Most of the collections have been donated by individuals and institutions, but some are acquired.

The Ida Pearl and Joseph Cuba Archives for Southern Jewish History at the Berman Museum (Atlanta)

Originally established in the 1980s as the Jewish Community Archives and stored at the Atlanta Jewish Federation, a growing collection of materials on Jewish life in Atlanta and the broader Southeast is now held at the Berman Museum. In 2015, the collection absorbed the Savannah Jewish Archives.

Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center at Temple University

Established in 1972 by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and the Philadelphia chapter of the American Jewish Committee. In 2009 the files were donated to Temple University Libraries. Records include early Jewish religious schools, the first Alliance Israelite Universelle chapter in the Unite dStates, and records of the Philadelphia Federation, and files of Philadelphia synagogues, rabbis, and other leading Jewish figures.

Other Local Archives and Historical Societies

University Library Special Collections

The University of Arizona

  • Bloom Southwest Jewish Archives: A collection dedicated to Jewish settlers in Arizona, New Mexico, and west Texas; also materials on crypto-Jews. Formed in 1988, and transferred to the University of Arizona in 1998.

Brandeis University, Robert D. Farber University Archives and Special Collections

In addition to Judaica library materials, Brandeis’ archives include notable collections of Venice Jewry; the Consistoire Central Israélite de France; papers relating to the trial of Leo Frank; and the papers of Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, Louis Brandeis, and others. The archives also hold collections relating to the history of Brandeis University and the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies (NEJS) department and its faculty.

Columbia University, Rare Books and Manuscripts Library (RBML)

Columbia’s RBML holds archival materials relating to Jewish studies and Israel studies. Significant collections include the files of Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi and Italian Jewry. They have a significant collection of 1700 manuscripts and 31 incunabula, about half of which were purchased by Salo Baron.

Harvard College — Widener Library, Judaica Division

Established in 1962, Harvard’s Judaica Division develops all Judaica collections and related materials at Harvard. It makes up about 5% of the total Harvard collection. Under the leadership of Charlie Berlin they have created a vertically integrated collecting process where the Judaica Division acquires and catalogues all of material in Harvard’s libraries relating to Jewish history and culture. Key collections include photographs and digital images (over 5.5 million), Israeli theater posters, and the Joseph Buloff Jewish Theater Archive. The Judaica Division seeks to acquire all books and publications produced in Israel.

The Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS), Special Collections

JTS’ library contains special collections including Cairo Genizah fragments (about 43,000), and archival collections relating to American Jewry, the Conservative movement during the twentieth century, and Jewish music.

New York Public Library, Dorot Jewish Division

The Dorot Division of the New York Public Library develops NYPL’s Judaica and Hebraica collections. Primary source materials relate to Jews in the United States, especially in New York City; Yiddish theater; Jews in the land of Israel; Jews in early modern Europe; Christian Hebraism; antisemitism; and nineteenth- and twentieth-century world Jewish newspapers and periodicals. Notable collections include Yizkor (Holocaust memorial books) of 650 eastern European Jewish communities and the American Jewish Committee Oral History Collection, with 156,000 pages of transcripts and 6,000 hours of taped interviews.


UCLA’s Sephardic Archive Initiative: Launched in of 2015, the UCLA Sephardic Archive Initiative (SAI) aims to gather materials related to Sephardic heritage and make them available via online open-access exhibits. Major holdings include the Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel, the Moreno and Dagmar Gabay Book Collection, the papers of Al and Rose Fincia, and the Danielle Avidan and Anna Mireille Abitbol Archive. In 2020, the SAI also launched the digital exhibit “100 Years of Sephardic Los Angeles.”

Western States Jewish History Archive: Contains the research files of Dr. Norton Stern and Rabbi William Kramer, the founders of the Western States Jewish History Association. 186 boxes of material, mostly relating to synagogues in California.

Young Research Library, Special Collections: YRL’s Special Collections holds the Sephardic Archive Initiative as well as unique library and archive collections relating to Jewish history including the Western States Jewish History Archive.

University of Florida, Isser and Rae Price Library of Judaica

The archives in the Price Library of Judaica have been collected over the course of forty years, since the library was officially created in 1981. In the past decade, they have developed holdings of Judaica from Florida, Latin America and the Caribbean. Most of the archives either originate from these geographic regions, or they relate in some way to these areas. The majority are archival and manuscript collections that relate to the Jewish experience in north Florida.

Notable collections include:

  • Collections on Jewish organizations in Cuba, including Jewish communal organizations in Havana, such as the umbrella organization Centro Israelita de Cuba (Jewish Center of Cuba), Ajdut Israel (The Orthodox Ashkenazi Jewish Community), Unión Sionista de Cuba (Zionist Union of Cuba), the Women’s International Zionist Organization or WIZO, and the Colegio Hebreo Autónomo del Centro Israelita de Cuba (Autonomous School of the Jewish Center of Cuba)
  • Jose Moskovits Antisemitism Collection, with about 1,000 autograph letters, many of which were penned by world religious leaders, politicians and thinkers, dealing with the subject of antisemitism
  • Jamaican Jewish Archives, including cemetery records from the island.

University of Pennsylvania, Judaica Archives

Judaica collections at the University of Pennsylvania are held at numerous libraries on the campus, totaling between 350-400,000 volumes. The Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, as the successor to Dropsie College, holds about half of the total volumes, 32 incunabula, and 8,000 rare printed works. They also have 600 fragments from the Cairo Genizah. Archival materials include the institutional records of Dropsie College, and the papers of significant Jewish leaders who lived in Philadelphia including Isaac Leeser, Sabato Morais, Mayer Sulzberger, Moses Aaron Dropsie, and Cyrus Adler. Other notable collections include the Lenkin Family Collection of Photography, with 4,000 photographs of nineteenth-century Ottoman Palestine, and the Kaplan Collection of Early American Judaica, with 11,000 items from around the Atlantic world dating from the 16th to 19th centuries.

The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Center

Founded in 1957, the Harry Ransom Center is one of a number of archival centers based at the University of Texas at Austin. The Ransom Center holds a number of significant collections relating to Jewish literature including the files of David Mamet, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Bernard Malamud, Norman Mailer, Leon Uris, and others It also holds the archives of Commentary magazine.

Museums with Archival Collections

The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, University of California, Berkeley

The Magnes museum holds a significant collection of Judaica material culture, including about 20,000 objects and 30,000 images. They also hold archival materials relating to the experience of Jews in California and the American west (now available at the Bancroft Library) and also collections relating to Jewish experience in Europe and the United States more broadly. Notable collections include the correspondence of the nineteenth-century Italian scholar Samuel David Luzzatto (1800-1855, known by the Hebrew acronym ShaDaL), and the notebooks of Koppel Pinson from the Offenbach Archival Depot. Two recently acquired collections include the Taube Family Arthur Szyk Collection, and the Roman Vishniac archives, which contains an extensive set of photograph.

Primarily Digital Collections

Berman Jewish Policy Archive

Contains over 20,000 documents and publications relating to American Jewish life in the twentieth century, the Berman Jewish Policy Archive is a project of Stanford’s School of Education.

The Sephardic Studies Digital Collection at the University of Washington

The Sephardi Studies Digital Collection (SSDC) at the University of Washington is a digital repository of materials relating to the Sephardic Jews of the Mediterranean world and its diaspora. It contains nearly 1,500 digitized documents, books, and audio files from the 1600s to 1950s with locales from Istanbul and Jerusalem to Vienna, Livorno, Amsterdam, and Seattle.