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Jonah J. Goldstein Papers

Identifier: P-61

Scope and Content Note

This collection primarily reflects Goldstein’s professional life and organizational affiliations. In addition to providing a general cross-section of the social, political, and legal landscape of New York in the first half of the 20th century, this collection covers such subjects as New York City court reform in the 1930s, female and juvenile offender laws, 1950s and 1960s drug legislation, Jewish education, and local charities engaged in outreach to Jewish youth.

A substantial portion of the material was generated via celebrations of Goldstein; events thrown by the organizations he supported. Many of the plaques, poems, songs, and scrapbooks in the collection were dedicated or gifted to him in connection with these celebratory events.


  • Creation: 1890-1967

Language of Materials

The collection is in English, with a small amount of material in Yiddish.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers, except items that may be restricted due to their fragility, or privacy.

Use Restrictions

No permission is required to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection, as long as the usage is scholarly, educational, and non-commercial. For inquiries about other usage, please contact the Director of Collections and Engagement at

For reference questions, please email:

Biographical Note

Jonah Jamison Goldstein was born April 6, 1886 in Ontario, Canada to Abraham Getzel and Chaia (Jamison) Goldstein. His family moved to Madison Street on New York’s Lower East Side in 1891. Between 1905 and 1910, young Goldstein became a leader in the Educational Alliance, the Jewish Big Brother Movement, and the East Side Neighborhood Association. In 1907, Goldstein graduated from the New York University Law School, and opened a legal practice with his brother, and other lawyers. Goldstein claims that his law firm was one of the first in New York City to extend employment to African-American lawyers in 1919, and female lawyers in 1921.

In 1931, Goldstein was appointed to the bench of the New York City Magistrates’ Court. While in that position, he authored The Family in Court (1936), which advocated for the extraction of domestic relations cases from the criminal court system. In 1939, he was elected Judge of the New York County Court of General Sessions and would be the judge presiding over the controversial Morris U. Schappes case of 1941.

During his tenure as judge, he successfully pushed for reforms in the city court’s handling of domestic relations, women, and youthful offenders. After his 1956 retirement from the Court of General Sessions, he remained active in legal affairs.

Judge Goldstein ran for New York City Mayor in 1945 on the Republican-Liberal-City Fusion ticket, losing to William O’Dwyer.

Goldstein was actively involved in such organizations as the Grand Street Boys’ Association, the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York, the New York Jewish Committee of the Boy Scouts of America, the Jewish Education Association, and the University Settlement.

In 1920, Goldstein married Harriet B. Lowenstein: a lawyer, advisor to Felix Warburg, and comptroller of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Harriet Goldstein died in 1961, and Jonah, six years later in July 1967.


American Jewish Yearbook (Necrology, p. 608), 1968. Accessed August 2, 2010:

Biographical Materials, 1940-1967; Jonah J. Goldstein Papers; P-61; Box 1; Folder 2; American Jewish Historical Society, Boston, MA and New York, NY.


12 Linear Feet (7 manuscript boxes, 1 half-sized manuscript box, 4 oversized boxes (3 OS1, 1 OS2), 2 card file boxes, 1 MAP-1 folder)


The Jonah J. Goldstein Papers chronicle Goldstein’s roles as a New York City judge (1931-1956) as he pushed for court reform in the 1930s; as he lead and founded local organizations, especially those devoted to the prevention of juvenile delinquency in the Jewish community; as the New York City mayoral candidate on the Liberal-Republican-City Fusion ticket in 1945; and as a voice for drug law reform in the 1950s and 1960s.

Materials include correspondence, speeches, scrapbooks, photographs, awards, campaign posters, audiotapes and clippings.


The collection is arranged into six series. The first two, Personal and Legal, represent the two topical categories into which the collection loosely breaks down. The last four series are dictated by format.

Acquisition Information

These papers were donated to AJHS by Beatrice (Jonah Goldstein's daughter) and Jules Gordon in 1968.

Related Material

AJHS Archives

Grand Street Boys' Association Records; I-312; AJHS.

In 1961 Goldstein donated to AJHS his wife's papers, the Harriet B. Lowenstein Goldstein Papers (P-31), which document relief activities of American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in Europe in 1919.

For materials related to the Morris Schappes Case over which Goldstein presided as judge, see Subgroup I of the Morris U. Schappes Papers (P-57) at AJHS.

For Detective Abraham Shoenfeld’s oral history, in which he gives anecdotes about Goldstein, see Box 5A, Folders 10 and 11, of the Abraham Shoenfeld Papers (P-884) at AJHS.

AJHS Library

Goldstein, Jonah J. The Family in Court. New York: Clark Boardman, 1934. [Call Number HQ536.G5]

Other Collections

Jonah J. Goldstein Papers (MS-380). [0.4 linear feet] American Jewish Archives. Cincinnati, OH.

Jonah J. Goldstein Photographs (PC-1541). [1 folder] American Jewish Archives. Cincinnati, OH.

Reminiscences of Jonah J. Goldstein; 1966; Columbia University Oral History Collection. New York, NY.

Jonah J. Goldstein Papers
Processed by Rachel Miller as part of the Leon Levy Archival Processing Initiative, made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation.
© 2010
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from JonahGoldstein.xml

Revision Statements

  • April, June 2020: EHyman: post-ASpace migration cleanup.

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States