Seattle Action for Soviet Jewry Records
Scope and Content Note
The Seattle Action for Soviet Jewry records date from 1972-1997 with the bulk in the late 1970s through 1980s. The collection includes administrative files, documents pertaining to various local and national institutions, programs and activities related to the Soviet Jewry movement, reports of trips to visit Jews in the U.S.S.R., information on U.S.-U.S.S.R. trade relations, Soviet laws and Soviet Antisemitism, information on Seattle’s sister city Tashkent. Besides the series with the general materials the collection features a series with files concerning Soviet Jewish Prisoners of Conscience, and Refuseniks and an audio-visual series with photographs of Soviet Jews and local and national coverage of the events related to Soviet Jewry.
- Creation: undated, 1972-1991, 1997
- Seattle Action for Soviet Jewry (Organization)
Language of Materials
The collection is in English and Russian.
The collection is open to all researchers by permission of the Executive Director of the American Jewish Historical Society, except items that are restricted due to their fragility.
Information concerning the literary rights may be obtained from the Executive Director 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
The Records of Seattle Action for Soviet Jewry represent one collection housed within the Archive of the American Soviet Jewry Movement (AASJM). These papers reflect the effort, beginning in the 1960s through the late 1980s, of thousands of American Jews of all denominations and political orientations to stop the persecution and discrimination of Jews in the Soviet Union. The American Soviet Jewry Movement (ASJM) is considered to be the most influential Movements of the American Jewish community in the 20th century. The beginnings of the organized American Soviet Jewry Movement became a model for efforts to aid Soviet Jews in other countries, among them Great Britain, Canada, and France. The movement can be traced to the early 1960s, when the first organizations were created to address the specific problem of the persecution and isolation of Soviet Jews by the government of the Soviet Union.
Seattle Action for Soviet Jewry was formed by Judy Lash Balint in 1974. Upon returning from a trip to the U.S.S.R., where she and her husband visited Refuseniks in Ukraine and Russia Mrs. Bailint felt the need to force the issue of Soviet Jewry onto the Seattle communal agenda. She initiated Seattle Action for Soviet Jewry and with the help of local attorney Leonard Schroeter made contact with other groups interested in the Soviet Jewry issue. In 1975 Seattle Action for Soviet Jewry became formally affiliated with Union of Councils for Soviet Jews. By establishing relationships with congressmen and senators the SASJ focused political pressure which produced significant successes on behalf of individual Refusenik and prisoner cases. For many years Seattle was a center for the Citizen Diplomacy movement which found the city hosting many delegations of visiting Soviet officials and major conferences. In May 1987 Seattle and sister-city Tashkent in Uzbekistan brought the U.S./Soviet Sister Cities Conference to Seattle. In July 1990 a conference on human rights accompanied the Goodwill Games in Seattle. At these events and others, such as the Phil Donahue "Citizens Summit" television exchange with Vladimir Pozner, the SASJ was pivotal in creating a coalition of local groups concerned with the issue of Soviet Jewry, and adherence to the principles of the Helsinki Accords. The vigilance of the SASJ and other local groups made their presence felt at the events mentioned above, as well as many other events, and helped to shape the agendas at these meetings.
6.5 Linear Feet (13 manuscript boxes)
The Seattle Action for Soviet Jewry records documenting the activities of a human rights non-governmental organization on behalf of Soviet Jewry. The records date from 1972-1997 with the bulk in the late 1970s through 1980s. The collection includes administrative files, documents pertaining to various local and national institutions, programs and activities related to the Soviet Jewry movement, reports of trips to visit Jews in the U.S.S.R., information on U.S.-U.S.S.R. trade relations, Soviet laws and Soviet Antisemitism, information on Seattle’s sister city Tashkent. Besides the series with the general materials the collection features a series with files concerning Soviet Jewish Prisoners of Conscience, and Refuseniks and an audio-visual series with photographs of Soviet Jews and local and national coverage of the events related to Soviet Jewry.
The collection is divided into three series as follows:
Located in AJHS New York, NY
The records were donated by the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2007.
In 2014-2015, the USSR travel information and trip reports in box 9 folders 3-8 and box 10 folders 1-4 were digitized in their entirety with the exception of full newspapers and duplicates. The photographs in Series III were digitized in their entirety. Blank versos of photographs were not imaged. All unique, relevant videocassettes in Series III were digitized and made fully accessible in 2016-2017. Videocassettes 2 and 3 are limited to onsite access only due to copyright concerns.
Genre / Form
- clippings (information artifacts)
- Notes (documents)
- publications (documents)
- Guide to the Records of Seattle Action for Soviet Jewry, undated, 1972-1991, 1997 * I-507
- Processed by Andrey Filimonov
- © 2011
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Description is in English.
- Digitization of trip reports and photographs was made possible through a generous grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). Digitization of videocassettes was made possible through the generous support of the Blavatnik Foundation.
- February 2015: dao links added by Eric Fritzler.
- July 2017: dao links for video added, filename simplified, digitization note added, and sponsor statement updated by Leanora Lange.