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Functions and Operations Records in the Hadassah Archives

Identifier: I-578/RG 15

Scope and Content Note

The Operations and Functions record group documents the growth and structural changes within Hadassah in the United States from the 1920s up to 2011. The majority of the materials in this record group consist of correspondence, biographical files of speakers, leadership training manuals and other materials, press and publicity materials, educational pamphlets and study guides, fact sheets designed to educate membership about Hadassah's political stances, campaign and programming materials for local and national meetings, and fundraising ephemera. Hadassah's main function within the United States was to provide services and aids to chapters and regions to drive membership and fundraising for Israel. Fundraising efforts often included life membership campaigns, bequests, naming rights, events, and public grants. Many fundraising and educational programs were designed at the national level, and distributed to local chapters for their own events. Materials relating to fundraising can mostly be found in Subgroup 4.

Besides fundraising, Hadassah's other function in the United States was to support its membership base. Subgroup 5 represents membership and community services, which were often produced by the Organization Department, and helped chapters grow as well as aid in restructuring when necessary. The Organization Department provided manuals and kits to teach chapters how to structure their leadership, which mirrored the national structure. To maintain membership, Hadassah provided resources to educate members on Judaism, women's health, Zionism, and other issues concerning World Jewry, such as the Soviet Jewry movement in the 1980s. These materials can be found in Subgroup 3. Subgroup 2 also presents ways Hadassah maintained and grew their membership, by producing materials that highlight Hadassah achievements in their fundraising efforts, as well as publicity materials for national and local news outlets.

In addition to publicity, materials in this record group also represent the different ways Hadassah attempted to increase membership. The executive and administrative branches of Hadassah, found in Subgroup 1, provided research and development services of programming as well as strategic planning to boost membership. Other ways include direct mailing campaigns, restructuring efforts, research and evaluation of different programs and campaigns, life membership campaigns, creative services to create ephemera to attract members and attendees to events, efforts to increase membership outside of the United States (Hadassah International, which can be found in Subgroup 6), and campaigns to reach out to special interest groups, including different ethnic groups, professional groups, youth, seniors, and singles. Subgroup 7 contains various other ways supported their members, including mission trips to Israel and other departmental material.

This record group demonstrates the scope of Hadassah's work in the United States and how the national leadership interacted with its local chapters. Although Hadassah's main goal was to fundraise for projects in Israel, Hadassah also functioned as a social and communal network for Jewish women in the United States. The documents in this record group demonstrate Hadassah's efforts to meet the needs of its membership base, by providing programing and political outreach that directly spoke these women.


  • Creation: 1920-2011


Language of Materials

The collection is in English, with some Hebrew, German, French, Russian, and Spanish.

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 privacy concerns.

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 <extptr actuate="onload" altrender="Page from the 1956-1957 Hadassah Annual Report" href="" show="embed" title="Page from the 1956-1957 Hadassah Annual Report"/>

Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America was founded in 1912 by Henrietta Szold as a Zionist study group. In its first year the organization only had 700 members, but by 1927, it had increased to over 34,000. National committees were established as early as 1928 to manage Hadassah functions, beginning with committees on Finance, Organization, Membership, Cultural Work, Fundraising, Publicity and Publications, Speakers’ Bureau, the Jewish National Fund, Relations with other organizations, Zionist Inter-relations, and Palestine. Likely due to the Great Depression, membership stagnated and decreased throughout the late 1920s and early 1930s.

Membership began to increase again with the rise of Nazism and World War II; by 1947, rising to almost 200,000. This boom in membership led to the creation of robust, autonomous departments under the national operations of Hadassah, including the Education, Organization, Membership, Promotion, and Publicity Departments.

By 1973, Hadassah moved away from autonomous department structure to hierarchical structure with three divisions—Organizational Activities and Education Services (which held the Organization, Program, Speakers Bureau, and Education departments); Promotion and Information Services (which held the Press, Promotion, Hadassah Magazine, and Tourism departments); and Fundraising and Other Services. By 1975, membership had grown to 340,000.

Around 1980, Hadassah restructured into divisions—Communications, Education, Executive, Administration, Finance, Fundraising, and Services Divisions. By the mid-1980s, Hadassah had reached a peak membership of 370,000.

In response to a decrease in membership, Hadassah restructured multiple times starting in the 1980s. Systematic reorganization can be traced back to the Projections and Directions Committee in the early 1980s which became the Long Range Committee in the mid 1980s. By the late 1980s, the Strategic Planning Committee had evolved into a department. In 1983, Hadassah also founded Hadassah International, a medical relief organization, which aimed to raise money for the Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO) and establish and develop cooperative relationships and medical exchange programs between HMO and scientific institutions outside of the United States. In 1997, the Blue Ribbon Commission was formed to analyze Hadassah’s decrease in membership, fundraising, and leadership as well as analyze Hadassah chapters across the country to provide governance and structure recommendations. In 1998, National Unit Assessment Teams were formed to assess needs of local units, regions, and chapters under the existing structure and to facilitate area recommendations for restructuring. This led to the most recent restructuring documented in this record group. In 2002, the Membership and Fundraising Division merged.


157.25 Linear Feet (263 manuscript boxes, 17 oversized flat boxes, and 2 oversized folders)


Hadassah Functions and Operations Records represent the bulk of aid and services provided to Hadassah's membership, from the 1920s to 2011. Materials found in the record group include correspondence, clippings, press releases, manuals and kits for chapters and members to implement programming and chapter structure, fundraising campaigns, scripts, study guides, programming for local and national meetings, biographical files, and training documentation. Departments documented in the record group include Public Affairs, Education, Women's Health, American Affairs, Zionist and International Affairs, Speakers Bureau, Fundraising, Program, Organization, Outreach and Tourism Departments. Materials related to the general administration of Hadassah are also in the record group; these materials include research and development of projects, archives department correspondence and other materials, Hadassah House administration, and strategic planning. The record group also documents Hadassah's efforts to expand membership outside of the United States, by the development of Hadassah International.


The arrangement of this record group is based upon the different functions of Hadassah. Hadassah restructured many times over its 100 years existence, and departments were renamed and reshuffled based upon the needs of the organization at the time. The current arrangement is based on the initial arrangement done by Hadassah archivists and on the Hadassah structure in the mid 2000s.

  1. Subgroup 1: Executive and Administration, 1948-2011
  2. Series I: Executive, 1990-2005
  3. Subseries 1: Research and Evaluation, 1993-2002
  4. Subseries 2: Strategic Planning, 1990-2005
  5. Series II: Administration, 1948-2007
  6. Series III: Archives, 1958-2011
  7. Series IV: Finance and Treasury, 1949-2011
  8. Subgroup 2: Marketing and Communications, 1928-2010
  9. Series I: Marketing, 1984-2006
  10. Series II: Public Affairs, 1928-2009
  11. Subseries 1: Correspondence, 1929-2007
  12. Subseries 2: Reporters Writings, 1935-1968
  13. Subseries 3: Articles, Bulletins and Clippings, 1928-2009
  14. Subseries 4: National Board Member Files, 1945-1999
  15. Subseries 5: Press and Publicity Kits, 1946-1999
  16. Subseries 6: Press Releases, 1930-2001
  17. Subsubseries A: Philip and Hadassah Gillon, 1962-1996
  18. Subsubseries B: Hadassah News Press Releases, 1930-1995
  19. Subsubseries C: Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of American, Inc. (HWZOA), 1938-2001
  20. Subsubseries D: Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO), 1956-2001
  21. Subseries 7: Conventions, 1973-2007
  22. Subsubseries A: Annual National Conventions, 1977-2007
  23. Subsubseries B: Midwinter Conventions, 1973-1997
  24. Series III: Creative Services, 1992-2008
  25. Series IV: Hadassah Magazine, 1946-2010
  26. Subgroup 3: Education and Advocacy, 1934-2010
  27. Series I: American Affairs Department, 1942-2010
  28. Series II: Israel, Zionist, and International Affairs Department, 1945-2008
  29. Subseries 1: Administration, 1945-2008
  30. Subseries 2: Department Head Subject Files, 1974-1997
  31. Subseries 3: Department of Soviet Jewry, 1970-1990
  32. Series III: Women's Health Department, 1993-2010
  33. Series IV: Education Department, 1934-2008
  34. Subseries 1: Study Guides and Publications, 1934-2004
  35. Subseries 2: Program Files, 1945-2008
  36. Series V: Leadership Development Department, 1940-2007
  37. Subgroup 4: Fundraising, 1949-2010
  38. Series I: Fundraising Division, 1957-2010
  39. Series II: Agency for International Development, 1949-1993
  40. Subgroup 5: Membership and Community Development, 1920-2011
  41. Series I: Guides and Services, 1920-2011
  42. Series II: Organization Department, 1927-2009
  43. Series III: Outreach Department
  44. Subseries 1: Administration, 1986-2005
  45. Subseries 2: Nurses Councils, 1966-2010
  46. Subseries 3: Other Special Interest Groups, 1939-2011
  47. Series IV: Program Department, 1941-2007
  48. Series V: Speakers Bureau, 1945-2009
  49. Subgroup 6: Hadassah International, 1982-2009
  50. Subgroup 7: Other Departments, 1944-2005

Physical Location

Located in AJHS New York, NY

Previous Finding Aids and Concordance

This finding aid is derived from twenty-four Word document and PDF container lists created by Hadassah archivists. Each document represents a series or subseries in the record group. The concordance links the former record group, series, box, and folder for RG 15 from the original container lists to the current box and folder numbers in the 2016 finding aid. The concordance is provided for reference and can be used to track previous citations of material. The concordance can be found here:

The original finding aids for RG 15 series were never made publically available. AJHS can provide a copy if needed.

Acquisition Information

The Hadassah Archives, of which the Hadassah Operation and Functions Records (RG 15) are a part, are on long-term deposit at the American Jewish Historical Society.


The Hadassah Archives include a record group comprised of microfilm (RG 19).Series III contains reels related to Hadassah Magazine. Membership Division and Organization department reels can be found in Series I, Subseries 7.

Related Material

The Guide to the Hadassah Archives on Long-term Deposit at the American Jewish Historical Society, which describes the entire collection, can found here:

Within the Hadassah Archives materials related to Operations and Functions can be found in the following record groups: RG 1—Youth Aliyah, RG 2—Hadassah Medical Organization, RG 3—Annual and Midwinter National Conventions, RG 5—Hadassah Council in Israel and the Hadassah Youth Services, RG 8—Young Judaea, RG 9—Jewish National Fund, RG 12—Corporate Governance and Other Committees, RG 13—Executive Functions, RG 17—Printed Materials; RG 18—Photographs; RG 21—Architectural Materials; RG 22—Artifacts and Memorabilia; RG 24—Chapters; and RG 25—Audio and Moving Images Materials. Specific related materials are described on the appropriate subgroup/series/subseries level.

Separated Material

Fifty-three 3.5" floppy disks were imaged and separated to the AJHS audiovisual collection. Images were put on AJHS secure server space.

Processing Information

Throughout the 2000s, Susan Woodland and other archivists processed and created inventories of portions of this record group. RG 15 was broken down into a number of series and subseries, which can be found at the following link: Also during this time, portions of this record group were transferred from RG 11 (General) to RG 15.

In 2014, under a new agreement between Hadassah and AJHS, the Hadassah Archives were placed on long-term deposit at AJHS.

In 2015-2016, the collection was reprocessed and intellectually rearranged. The arrangement of this record group is based upon the different functions of Hadassah. Hadassah restructured many times over its 100 years existence, and departments were renamed and reshuffled based upon the needs of the organization at the time. The current arrangement is based on the initial arrangement done by Hadassah archivists and Hadassah structure in the mid 2000s. In 2016, materials generated by Chapters, Regions, Co-ops, and Junior Hadassah were separated and made into their own record group (RG 24). Previous RG 14 was incorporated into the record group as Series IV in Subgroup 1. For a full accounting of the record groups, see the main finding aid for the collection:

Boxes were consolidated to save space. Container lists from the previous guides and inventories were reused and incorporated into the 2016 finding aid as much as possible. All collection, series, and subseries level description was written in 2016. Boxes and folder numbers were renumbered to create uniform numbering across the entire record group. Some boxes were replaced and nonarchival folders were also replaced. Plastic clips and deteriorating plastic sleeves were removed. In general, folder titles were not rewritten, and reflect the original arrangement and description of the record group. Duplicates were discarded. Approximately 80 linear feet of materials in this record group were unprocessed; those materials were arranged, described, put into archival housing, and incorporated into the appropriate series or subseries. A concordance documenting the transfer of materials into the record group and their original box numbers (if known) can be found here:

Guide to the Functions and Operations Records in the Hadassah Archives 1920-2011 I-578/RG 15
The finding aid was prepared by Nicole Greenhouse in 2016
© 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