Skip to main content

Graduate School for Jewish Social Work (New York, N.Y.) Records

Identifier: I-7

Scope and Content Note

The Graduate School for Jewish Social Work Records contains: material from the administration of the school; material relating to various research projects undertaken by both individual students at the school, and by the school as a whole; by-laws; course announcements; library acquisition lists; minutes; reports; studies; scrapbooks; a student register; file lists; notes; thesis abstracts and outlines; rules and procedures for thesis projects; correspondence; a project proposal; research diaries; maps; newspaper articles; pamphlets; and photographs.

The collection does not include copies of students theses; these are available at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries.

The bulk of the collection consists of records of the Lower East Side documentation project undertaken as a school-wide project in 1932. Also of interest is a project embarked upon to compare original letters written to the Men's and Women's Department of Der Tag (a Yiddish newspaper) to letters that were actually published in the newspaper.


  • undated, 1925-1950


Language of Materials

The collection is in English and 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:

Historical Note

The Training School for Jewish Social Work (New York, NY) was founded in 1925. In 1932, the school changed its name to the Graduate School for Jewish Social Work. The school stopped accepting students in 1939, and was open only a few more years until the graduate students were able to finish their work. The GSJSW administered a master's degree in Social Work, and a master's degree in Social Service. The goal of the institution was to train new social workers, give additional training to workers already in the field, and to build a library on Jewish social work and Jewish communities. The master's theses produced at this school addressed a range of issues facing Jews in America.

The GSJSW maintained committees to oversee different functions of the school. The Committee on Research was made up of members of the faculty. The Committee's role was to oversee the research projects the graduate students undertook as a requirement for their degree. The research projects were the basis for the students' master's theses. This Committee also designed rules and procedures for producing graduate level work and functioned as a board to edit the theses.

In 1932, GSJSW began a research project called the East Side Project. This project set out to document Jewish life on the Lower East Side of New York. Between 1932 and 1934, over 300 photographs were taken of the Lower East Side. The inspiration for this project came from J.B. Lightman who had been a student at the school, and later the research librarian. Lightman, a relative newcomer to New York City in 1932, was enthralled by the sights and sounds of Jews in New York. Lightman, "saw the passing of a picture of Jewish communal life, activities and endeavor," and identified the historical importance of recording a community that he perceived to be changing.


  1. Robert S. Goldman, American Jewish Historical Quarterly 59 (1970): 371.
  2. For further information of the fate of the Graduate School for Jewish Social Work, see Training Bureau for Jewish Social Work Records (I-8) also at the American Jewish Historical Society.
  3. GSJSW theses are available at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries.
  4. Der Tag can be found on microfilm at various repositories.
  5. For access to the negatives contact the Photo Archivist.


7.35 Linear Feet (4 manuscript boxes; 1 half manuscript box; 3 20 x 16 x 3 oversized flat boxes)


This collection documents the activities of the Graduate School for Jewish Social Research. It contains many papers concerning various projects undertaken by the School, especially the Lower East Side documentation project, and a project that compared letters sent to Der Tag newspaper. In addition, the collection holds papers having to do with the daily activities of the school.


Original order and original folder titles were retained wherever possible.

The collection is arranged in four series:

  1. Series I: Administration, undated, 1925-1950
  2. Series II: Committee on Research, undated, 1932-1938
  3. Series III: Der Tag Project, undated, 1932-1933
  4. Series IV: East Side Project, undated, 1925-1935
  5. Subseries A: Research Diaries, 1932
  6. Subseries B: Research Materials, undated, 1931-1935
  7. Subseries C: Photographic Study, undated, 1931-1934
  8. Separated Oversized Materials, 1925-1934

Physical Location

Located in AJHS New York, NY


The Society acquired the collection prior to 1968. For more information, please consult the Archivist.

Related Material

Graduate School for Jewish Social Work (New York, NY) Records

Yeshiva University Archives, New York, NY.

Training Bureau for Jewish Social Work Records, I-8

American Jewish Historical Society, Newton Centre, MA and New York, NY.

Guide to the Records of the Graduate School for Jewish Social Work (New York, N.Y.), undated, 1925-1950 I-7
Reprocessed by Rachel A. Wise
© January 2002
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 GrdtSchlJewishSocialWork02.xml

Revision Statements

  • April 2005.: Converted to EAD 2002. Revised as GrdtSchlJewishSocialWork02.xml by Tanya Elder. Removed deprecated elements and attributes, updated repository codes, added language codes, changed doctype declaration, removed boilerplate entities, etc.
  • April 22, 2005.: Photograph of a knish seller, Lower East Side of Manhattan, added by Tanya Elder.
  • January 2006.: Entities removed from EAD finding aid.
  • May, December 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