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Hadassah Archives on Long-term Deposit at the American Jewish Historical Society

 Collection
Identifier: I-578

Scope and Content Note

The Hadassah Archives documents the activities of Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America. Founded in 1912, the organization engaged hundreds of thousands of American Jewish women in the Zionist project.

The collection includes extensive records of Hadassah's social welfare projects in Palestine and later Israel. The Files of Youth Aliyah (RG 1) document Hadassah's work with multiple international organizations to rescue Jewish children from continental Europe to Palestine from 1933-1945. The collection also documents Hadassah's involvement with Youth Aliyah since 1946 in providing residential, educational, vocational, rehabilitative and therapeutic care for displaced and at-risk youth from around the world. The Hadassah Medical Organization Papers (RG 2) document Hadassah's work in providing health care resources in Palestine since 1918. The activities documented revolved around the development of the Hadassah Hospital, health centers, dental centers, occupational and rehabilitative services, medical, nursing, dental and pharmacy schools as well as myriad educative and preventive projects, especially those aimed at infant care. The documents also reflect the history of the Palestine and the establishment of the State of Israel from a unique perspective. Similar documents are found in Zionist Political History (RG 4). Other documented projects included Hadassah Council in Israel and the Hadassah Youth Services Records (RG 5) and Young Judaea (RG 8).

Administrative records document the organization's governance, operations, and functions (RG 12, RG 15). The collection also includes the papers of Hadassah founder Henrietta Szold, as well as the organization's national presidents, executive directors (RG 13), and other important individuals (RG 7). Additional materials also document Hadassah's organizational activity in the United States, such as annual and midwinter conventions (RG 3) and the dozens of active local chapters from all over the United States (RG 24). Hadassah maintained an active publishing schedule, and the records include hundreds of published newsletters, flyers, and magazines (RG 17). Other materials include thousands of photographs and extensive audiovisual material (RG 18), as well as hundreds of artifacts (RG 22).

The collection contains many different types of records, such as correspondence, reports, minutes, publicity and fund-raising related materials, newspaper clippings and articles, printed material, personal accounts, financial records, statistical reports, photographs, audio recordings, and artifacts.

Dates

  • undated, 1875, 1877, 1894, 1910-2015
  • bulk 1920-2010

Creator

Language of Materials

The Hadassah Archives are primarily in English, with small amounts of German and Hebrew. Other European languages appear very infrequently.

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 mmeyers@ajhs.org.

For reference questions, please email: inquiries@cjh.org

Historical Note

Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, was founded in 1912 by Henrietta Szold. Born in 1860, the eldest of five daughters of a Baltimore rabbi, Szold began teaching and writing after her graduation from high school in 1878. She became the secretary and editor of the Jewish Publication Society of America in Philadelphia, and held this position for many years. Eventually Szold moved to New York to study at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Throughout her studies she also led a small women’s Zionist study group that gradually grew in membership over time. After her first trip to Palestine in 1909, she saw an urgent need for modern, western health care in Palestine, and set about transforming her study group into a fundraising group that also valued learning and Zionism. Hadassah’s work focused on five major projects in Israel, the Hadassah Medical Organization, Youth Aliyah, Education and Vocational Training in Israel, Young Judaea, and the Jewish National Fund. Besides its efforts in Israel, Hadassah also had the mandate “to foster Zionist ideals in America” and developed programming to meet this goal and the needs of Jewish American women.

Hadassah’s primary activities can be broken down into six major parts: the Hadassah Medical Organization, Youth Aliyah, Educational and Vocational Training in Israel, Jewish National Fund, Young Judaea, Hadassah in the United States.

Hadassah Medical Organization

Materials related to the HMO can be found primarily in RG 2.

In its first year, Hadassah had 700 members but had managed to raise enough by 1913 to send two American nurses to Jerusalem, Rachel (Rae) Landy and Rose Kaplan. After Landy and Kaplan returned to the United States, Hadassah assisted in the fundraising effort to send the American Zionist Medical Unit (AZMU) to Palestine in 1918. In 1921, the AZMU became known as the Hadassah Medical Organization. The HMO grew into a network of hospitals, clinics, health stations, public health initiatives, and school-based programs that represented key segments of Israel's health care system.

In 1939, the HMO opened the Rothschild Hadassah University Hospital (RHUH) and the Henrietta Szold School of Nursing on Mount Scopus. During the 1948 War, a convoy of medical personnel and Hebrew University staff was ambushed on the road leading to the Mount Scopus medical center. In this attack, 77 people were killed, including the director of the hospital Dr. Haim Yassky. Hadassah then lost access to the hospital, nursing school, and unopened Nathan Ratnoff School of Medicine on Mount Scopus.

Eventually, the Mount Scopus hospital was abandoned to United Nations forces, and the hospital, nursing school, and medical school were relocated to five temporary buildings in Jerusalem. In the 1950s, the decision was made to build a new Medical Center on the opposite side of the city from Mount Scopus above the village of Ein Kerem. The Ein Kerem Hospital was opened in 1961.

Mount Scopus was inaccessible until the 6-Day War in 1967, when Israel regained access to Mount Scopus along with East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The Hebrew University decided to resume use of their campus on Mount Scopus, and Hadassah decided to rebuild as well. The hospital on Mount Scopus was rededicated in 1975.

Youth Aliyah

Materials related to Youth Aliyah can be found primarily in RG 1.

Youth Aliyah was founded in 1933 by Recha Freier, and one year later it became a project of Hadassah. Henrietta Szold, then living in Jerusalem, had been asked to be director of Youth Aliyah, at the age of 73, and convinced then Hadassah national president Rose Jacobs to take it on as a fundraising project.

Freier's initial concept was to establish a collaborative of Zionist organizations to pool their resources in order to relocate German Jewish children to Palestine pending resolution of the political situation. However, as the Nazi resolve to eradicate the Jewish population became a systemic function, Youth Aliyah became a full-fledged child rescue effort. From 1933-1945, this "coalition" rescued 11,000 Jewish children relocating them to Palestine. After World War II, Youth Aliyah developed educational, training, and vocational programs, as well as continuing immigration and refugee efforts with children from North Africa, the Middle East, and the Soviet Union.

Educational and Vocational Training in Israel

Materials related to Educational and Vocational Training in Israel can be found primarily in RG 5.

Hadassah's involvement in the area of education grew out of its medical activities in Palestine. From its inception in Palestine in 1913, Hadassah's medical work exhibited an instructional component whereby health workers taught sound hygiene and nutritional practices in Hadassah facilities while staff traveled to underserved communities. Hadassah-funded programs such as School Luncheons and Recreations (which included playgrounds and camping), were designed as pedagogical opportunities as well as for more practical purposes of feeding under-nourished children and offering safe environments in which to play. These programs were managed by the Palestine Council of Hadassah, which later became the Hadassah Youth Services. After the devolution of the Hadassah Youth Services' school luncheon and playgrounds programs in Israel, it changed its name again to the Hadassah Vocational Education Services.

Following the death of Hadassah National President Alice L. Seligsberg in 1940, Hadassah leadership set up an endowment in memory of Seligsberg. This led to the opening of Alice L. Seligsberg Trade School for Girls in 1942, which took up the recently vacated old Rothschild Hospital building. The Seligsberg School shared premises with the already established Judge Julian W. Mack Workshops and School. The compound became known as the Louis D. Brandeis Vocational Center. The Louis D. Brandeis Apprentice Workshops and Hadassah Vocational Guidance Bureau opened in 1944, followed by the Apprentice School of Printing in 1946, the short-lived Hadassah Fashion Institute in 1949, and the Hotel Management Institute in 1950. The Hadassah Community College opened next door to the Seligsberg High School in Jerusalem on November 8, 1970. Hadassah Vocational Education Services (later Hadassah Israel Education Services) managed these institutions until Hadassah dissolved it in 2001.

Jewish National Fund

Materials related to JNF can be found primarily in RG 9.

The Jewish National Fund (also known as Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael) has partnered with Hadassah since 1926, and was Hadassah’s second project in Palestine. The JNF was founded in 1901 by Theodor Herzl to secure ownership of land in Palestine for the Jewish people from the Ottoman Empire. The JNF’s goal was to buy land in Palestine and improve it by draining swamps, irrigating desert regions, and making it possible for new immigrants to grow crops. The JNF also supported initiatives to assist displaced persons, to provide respite for children affected by war in the form of summer camps, to improve water conservation efforts through the creation of dams and artificial bodies of water, and to continue to create forests.

Young Judaea

Materials related to Young Judaea can be found primarily in RG 8.

Young Judaea is the oldest Zionist youth organization in the United States. It is non-partisan and non-denominational, embracing and recruiting Jewish youth from all backgrounds. Young Judaea was formed after a call by the Federation of American Zionists to hold a junior Zionist convention to be attended by delegates from the expanded constituency of Zionist youth societies. It was formally established at this convention in New York on June 10th and 11th, 1909. Initially, Young Judaea provided Zionist social clubs for Jewish youth. Over time, this expanded to summer camps, a gap year program in Israel for recent high school graduates, and kibbutzim. Young Judaea’s association with Hadassah began in 1936, when its national convention approved an annual subsidy of $2,500. In 1967, Hadassah took over sole sponsorship of Young Judaea. In 2012, Young Judaea became an independent organization from Hadassah.

Hadassah in the United States

Materials related to Hadassah in the United States can be found primarily in RG 15.

In addition to sponsoring projects in Israel, Hadassah also sought to foster Zionist ideals and worked to promote issues important to women and the Jewish community in the United States. Hadassah established national committees to meet the demands of their membership and chapters, beginning with committees on Finance, Organization, Membership, Cultural Work, Fundraising, Publicity and Publications, a Speakers’ Bureau, the Jewish National Fund, Relations with other organizations, Zionist Inter-relations, and Palestine. By World War II, these committees led to the creation of robust, autonomous departments under the national operations of Hadassah, including the Education, Organization, Membership, Promotion, and Publicity Departments. These departments all served Hadassah membership through educational programs on Zionism and political issues that affected women and World Jewry; provided social activities through speaking tours, fundraising events, and other programming; and sought out ways to maintain and build their membership.

Extent

1246.3 Linear Feet

Overview

The Hadassah Archives documents the activities of Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America. Founded in 1912, the organization engaged hundreds of thousands of American Jewish women in the Zionist project. Materials include extensive records of its social welfare projects in Palestine and later Israel, such as Youth Aliyah and the Hadassah Medical Organization. Administrative records document the organization's governance, operations, and functions. The collection also includes the papers of Hadassah founder Henrietta Szold, as well as the organization's national presidents, executive directors, and other important individuals. Additional materials also document Hadassah's organizational activity in the United States, such as annual and midwinter conventions and the dozens of active local chapters from all over the United States. Hadassah maintained an active publishing schedule, and the records include hundreds of published newsletters, flyers, and magazines. Other materials include thousands of photographs, extensive audiovisual material, and hundreds of artifacts.

Physical Location

Located in AJHS New York, NY

Donations

If you have Hadassah-related materials you would like to donate, please contact reference@ajhs.org.

Related Materials

Hadassah was involved in many aspects of American Jewish life over the last century, and AJHS holds related archival collections. Materials with connections to particular record groups are listed below and in the finding aids for those record groups.

The Hadassah website is periodically captured by the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, and as of 2015 includes snapshots from 1997 to 2015. The snapshots can be viewed here: https://web.archive.org/web/*/hadassah.org. Please note that the Wayback Machine may not render the website exactly as it appeared on the live web at the time, and that AJHS has no control over how often the site was crawled or how it displays now.
Title
Guide to the Hadassah Archives on Long-term Deposit at the American Jewish Historical Society, undated, 1875, 1877, 1894, 1910-2015, bulk 1920-2010 I-578
Status
Completed
Author
2015-2016 processing by Andrey Filimonov, Patricia Glowinski, Nicole Greenhouse, Rachel Harrison, and Janine Veazue. Previous processing and collection management by Susan Woodland and Hadassah staff.
Date
© 2015
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Sponsor
Description and processing made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation.

Revision Statements

  • April 2015: Initial master record posted.
  • December 2020: EHyman, TM: post-ASpace migration cleanup.

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

Contact:
15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States