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Photographs in the Hadassah Archives

Identifier: RG 18

Scope and Content Note

The images in this record group have been arranged into series that largely reflect and refer to other specific record groups within the Hadassah Archives. Descriptions have been created which discuss the content, volume and time frame of each series.


  • 1902-2015
  • Majority of material found within 1950 - 2000


Language of Materials

This collection is in English.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers by permission of the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society, except items that are restricted due to fragility or as required by the agreement between Hadassah and AJHS.

On several occasions, photographs and slides from various series were transferred to other RG 18 series when deemed appropriate.

Use Restrictions

Information concerning the literary rights may be obtained from the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society. Users must apply in writing for permission to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection. For more information contact:

American Jewish Historical Society, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY, 10011


Historical Note

Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, was founded in 1912 by Henrietta Szold. Over the past century, the organization has engaged hundreds of thousands of American Jewish women in the Zionist project. Two nurses sent to Jerusalem in 1913 grew into a network of hospitals, clinics, health stations, public health initiatives and school-based programs that represent key segments of Israel’s health system. In addition to health care, Hadassah has also supported other projects in Palestine and later Israel, primarily focused on education and children.

Photographs in the Hadassah Archives date from the arrival of American nurses in Palestine in 1913 through the projects and events of the 2010s. The images in this record group reflect and compliment the documents in the Hadassah Records, portraying Hadassah’s political, social and philanthropic endeavors in the United States and the programs it administered in Palestine and Israel. They illustrate specific Hadassah programs, such as nutrition and infant care campaigns carried out in Palestine, and serve as evidence to support the organization's principles documented in other record groups by showing, for example, that early medical work in Palestine served both the Arab and the Jewish populations.

The collection's portrayal of women at work—in both typical and less typical working situations for women of the times—exhibits a dichotomy between the types of work Hadassah employees and volunteers performed in the United States and the tasks performed in Palestine. Images of American chapter members participating in philanthropic fundraising activities (luncheons, bond drives, etc.) contrast with images of the paid nursing and educational staff who played an instrumental role in Hadassah's efforts to establish health care and education in Palestine, frequently in the midst of wars.

Adapting aspects of women’s public activities, the chapters focused on women’s health issues, self-education, public speaking and issues related to Zionism. At sewing circles’ meetings, Zionist literature was read aloud in English and Yiddish. Hadassah’s approach to Zionism was distinctly non-ideological and was understood as a movement for renewing Jewish practical idealism. The chapters actively recruited non-Zionists and rejected Zionist policy of creating institutions only for Jews in Palestine.

By the time the United States entered World War I, Hadassah had thirty-four chapters and 2,100 members. Despite an ideological split in the organization’s leadership, between the pacifists and the impassioned supporters of the Allies, the chapters united in their mission to raise thousands of dollars to fund the American Zionist Medical Unit (AZMU), consisting of forty-five physicians, dentists and nurses as well as a large amount of supplies.

Early photographs, such as those showing Henrietta Szold in the desert in bloomers, or seated amongst male politicians in the 1920s, make clear her unusual role in history. The same is true of the many other images showing Hadassah leaders speaking to all-male audiences. Photographs of Hadassah members in America show decade-by-decade details of the activities in which American members participated and reflect changes in societal roles and activities considered appropriate for American women. In 1960, chapter members in Los Angeles held a glamorous fashion show featuring their hand-sewn satin dresses; by 1972, Los Angeles members in pantsuits were loading food into trucks for shipment to Nicaragua.

The extensive selection of photographs taken at youth camps sponsored by Hadassah over the decades offer an insight into the evolution of the Jewish American youth culture through most of the twentieth century.


144 Linear Feet (257 manuscript boxes, 9 oversized boxes, 1 MAP folder)


The materials in this record group document the entirety of Hadassah’s history and work in Israel and the United States in photographs—prints, slides, glass lantern plates, and digital images.


Photographs in the Hadassah Archives are arranged into twelve series as follows:

  1. Series I: Youth Aliyah, 1920s-2003 (bulk 1940s-1970s)
  2. Subseries 1: Events, 1937-2002
  3. Subseries 2: Subjects, circa 1920s-2002
  4. Subseries 3: Villages, Institutions, and Day Centers, circa 1920s-2003
  5. Series II: Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO), 1913-2010 (bulk 1920-1990)
  6. Subseries 1: Buildings, facilities, and sites, circa 1918-2005
  7. Subseries 2: Events, 1918-2010
  8. Subseries 3: People, 1913-2008
  9. Subseries 4: Programs and subjects, circa 1913-1999
  10. Subseries 5: Stories, circa 1969-1995
  11. Subseries 6: Visitors, 1926-2007
  12. Series III: Conventions, 1927-2005
  13. Series IV: Zionist Political History, 1930s-1991
  14. Series V: Hadassah Israel Education Services (HIES), undated, 1920s-2001
  15. Series VI: Jewish National Fund (JNF), undated, 1920s-1998
  16. Series VII: Youth Activities, undated, 1917-2000s
  17. Series VIII: Chapters, undated, 1904-2009
  18. Series IX: People, undated, 1860-2000s
  19. Subseries 1: General, undated, 1899-2004
  20. Subseries 2: Hadassah Council in Israel and the Hadassah Youth Services, undated, 1949-2007
  21. Subseries 3: Hadassah Staff, undated, 1950s-2000s
  22. Subseries 4: National Board Members, undated, 1919-2000s
  23. Subseries 5: National Presidents, undated, 1860s-2007
  24. Subseries 6: Speakers Bureau, 1950s-1990s
  25. Subseries 7: Rivka Volkenstein Ezer, undated, 1918-1962
  26. Series X: Subjects, undated, 1913-2001
  27. Series XI: Operations and Functions, undated, 1897-2000s
  28. Subseries 1: Artists and Artwork, undated, 1931-2002
  29. Subseries 2: Events, undated, 1897-2004
  30. Subseries 3: Devices and Plaques, undated, 1905-2000s
  31. Subseries 4: Exhibits, undated, 1929-1987
  32. Subseries 5: Hadassah House, undated, 1905-2002
  33. Subseries 6: Public Affairs, undated, 1905-2003
  34. Subseries 7: Creative Services, undated, 1905-1997
  35. Subseries 8: Other Departments, undated, 1950s-2000s
  36. Subseries 9: Hadassah Magazine, undated, 1945-1995
  37. Subseries 10: Gabriel D. Hackett Photographs, undated, 1950-1976
  38. Subseries 11: Hadassah Picture Book, undated, 1910s-1970s
  39. Series XII: Negatives, undated, 1940s-1980

Physical Location

Located in AJHS New York, NY

Acquisition Information

The Hadassah Archives, of which the Photographs record group (I-578/RG 18) is a part of, are on long-term deposit at the American Jewish Historical Society.

Due to imperfect accession records, the origins of the photographs and the process by which they arrived at the Hadassah Archives are in many cases unknown. A large number of images arrived from Hadassah departments, mainly Publicity, Public Affairs, Visual Aids and Hadassah Magazine. Thousands of other images originated from Hadassah photographer and member Hazel Greenwald (later, Hazel Berkowitz), whose tenure and documentary contributions spanned four decades (1933-1971). Over the decades, Hadassah hired other professional photographers in Israel and America, whose work appears throughout the collection as well. Many photographs were taken by and obtained from Israeli, Jewish or Zionist organizations and press agencies. Chapter members have donated personal photographs, now located in the Chapters and Youth Activities series. Lastly, the collection contains a number of well-preserved images from the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, whose origins are unknown.

Separated Material

Audio and video materials were removed from RG 18 and placed into RG 25—Audio and Moving Images Materials; RG 24—Chapters, Regions, Co-ops and Junior Hadassah.


Books and other material related to the formation and expansion of Hadassah can be found by searching the catalog of the Center for Jewish History

Processing Information

The record group was partially processed during the 1990s and 2000s by Susan Woodland and other archivists, as part of the Audiovisual Materials record group (RG 18). Word Document box lists were created for the processed materials. In 2016, video and audio materials were separated to form the new RG 25—Audio and Moving Images Materials.

From the mid-2000s to 2016 additional photographs were donated by members, and individual chapters and regions of Hadassah.

In December 1999, Hadassah and the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS) entered into an agreement placing the Hadassah Archives on deposit at AJHS for its safekeeping and maintenance. In November 2000, the Hadassah Archives were moved to AJHS under the management of the Director of the Hadassah Archives, Susan Woodland. In 2014, under a new agreement between Hadassah and AJHS, the Hadassah Archives were placed on long-term deposit at AJHS.

The previously unprocessed materials were housed in acid-free folders and boxes. All boxes and folders were numbered to create uniform numbering across the entire record group. Most of the scrapbooks and albums were unbound and rehoused in acid-free folders and envelopes.

Guide to the Photographs in the Hadassah Archives 1860-2009 I-578/RG 18
The collection was partially processed by Susan Woodland and other Hadassah archivists in the 1990s-2000s. It was re-processed by Janine Veazue, Nicole Greenhouse, Rachel Harrison, Patricia Glowinski and Andrey Filimonov in 2016. The finding aid was prepared by Andrey Filimonov in 2016. It is partially based on a number of Word document box lists prepared by Susan Woodland in 1998-2008.
and#xA9; 2016
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
as part of the Leon Levy Archival Processing Initiative, made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States