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Harold Silver papers

Identifier: P-149

Scope and Content Note

The Papers of Harold Silver reflect the various organizational and institutional activities in which Harold Silver participated in and managed over through his over 30 years of social work. Though the collection does not preserve the totality of Silver's work, it does demonstrate the welfare and community actions taken under Silver's supervision in the United States and in Israel.

The collection is valuable to researchers studying the activities of Jewish social service workers and agencies in the United States between the 1940s and the 1960s, as well as Israeli social welfare development.

The collection includes: speeches and articles by Silver; reports on social conditions in Israel; newspaper clippings regarding his achievements during his tenure as executive director of the Jewish Family & Children Services in Detroit; correspondence; community service publications; awards given to Silver; and photographs.

The documents are primarily in English, with some letters typed and written in Hebrew.


  • Creation: undated, 1922-1927, 1929-1933, 1935, 1946-1977


Language of Materials

The collection is predominantly in English, with some Hebrew.

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

Harold Silver (b. 1900)

Harold Silver was born on May 18, 1900 to Anchel and Rebecca (Raginsky) Silver in Kliusi, Russia. At the age of 11, Silver was forced to leave school to help support his family. In 1913, the family immigrated to the United States. The experience of having to work as a young boy had a profound impact on Silver. Harold was not only amazed that education in America was not only free, but compulsory. He soon dedicated himself to a life of social work, looking out for the public welfare of poor children, the elderly, and immigrants.

Silver received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1922, and his Masters in Social Service in 1934 from the newly founded Graduate School for Jewish Social Workers. Before receiving his Masters, Silver was very active in social service. He began his career as a staff member of the Bureau of Jewish Social Research in New York in 1926, and by 1927, he had become department head of the Jewish Welfare Society of Philadelphia, and associate editor of the Jewish Social Service Quarterly. In 1930, he began work for the United Jewish Society Agencies in Cincinnati, OH.

After earning his masters degree, Silver became executive director of the Jewish Society Service Bureau (JSSB), a post which he held until he made aliyah in 1963.

Over his 30 years of service in the Detroit area, Silver transformed the JSSB into Jewish Family & Children Services (JFCS), was chairman of the American Association of Social Worker's Detroit chapter (1934-1935), taught at Wayne University in Detroit, helped found the National Association of Social Workers in 1955, and gained an amiable reputation as the "dean of social work." Beginning his work at a time when there was no social security for the elderly or welfare for the poor, he was a pioneer in developing services for children, the aged, and newcomers to the United States.

In 1963, when most people his age were retiring, Silver resigned from the JFCS, settled in Jerusalem, and took up a two-year position as consultant for the Israeli Ministry of Social Welfare, touring the country, advising how the newly founded state could cope with the great influx of Jewish refugees. In 1966, Silver became a faculty member of Hebrew University in Israel.


0.5 Linear Feet (1 manuscript box)


The collection contains personal correspondence, manuscript and printed copies of articles and speeches, photographs, and newspaper clippings pertaining to the education and social welfare activities of Silver. A large part of the correspondence is between Silver and Maurice J. Karpf, Kurt Peiser and I.M. Rubinow concerning Silver's studies at the Training School for Jewish Social Work (1925-1934), and his early work in Cincinnati and Detroit Jewish welfare organizations (1930-1934). Subsequent correspondence pertains to Silver's work for the Israel Ministry of Social Welfare (1961-1966).


The collection consists of a single series arranged by topic.


Harold Silver donated his papers to the American Jewish Historical Society in 1974.

Guide to the Papers of Harold Silver (1900-), undated, 1922-1927, 1929-1933, 1935, 1946-1977   *P-149
Processed by Jason Schechter (January 3, 2002)
© 2006
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.

Revision Statements

  • April, July 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