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Hebrew National Orphan Home Alumni Association Records

Identifier: I-520

Scope and Content Note

The records of the Hebrew National Orphan Home Alumni Association document the social activities of the former residents of the Hebrew National Orphan Home. The collection is comprised of minutes of the Alumni Association Advisory Board meetings and the Alumni General Meetings, The Alumnus, the official newsletter of the Alumni Association, The Homelite a newsletter published by Hartman-Homecrest Home, and The Recorder, a 1940 newsletter of an offshoot organization called the Harry Lucacher Alumni Society. An index of issues of The Alumnus organized by year and volume number is available in an Excel spreadsheet and can be downloaded here The Alumnus index. The collection also contains newspaper and magazine clippings about the HNOH and its alumni, programs of alumni reunion events, and some correspondence, including a letter to Judge Aaron J. Levy, an early HNOH president, dated 1930 and signed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The collection holds hardcopies of the HNOHAA website developed in 1997, a few photographs of HNOH staff, residents, and facilities and oral histories on audiocassette accompanied by a videocassette, two scrapbooks, writings by former orphans, and baseball and basketball uniforms worn by the HNOH teams.


  • undated, 1925-2014
  • Majority of material found within 1957 - 1997


Language of Materials

The 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 their fragility.

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 title="HNOH Basketball Team, 1952" href="" show="embed" altrender="" actuate="onload"/>

The Hebrew National Orphan Home Alumni Association was established in 1925, almost a decade after the Hebrew National Orphan Home opened its doors. The alumni association was founded to facilitate social contact among men who, as children, had grown up in the home, since co-resident boys were their "family." Extant records contain little evidence of the activities of the alumni association in its early decades. According to Irwin Abrams, who left HNOH in 1925, he and others who had "graduated" from HNOH that year banded together in a social, basketball-playing group that met at the Central Jewish Institute and called themselves the ALYONS (Alumni from Yonkers). He continues: "Later we founded an alumni association consisting of boys who left the home before and after us. At its peak, it numbered about 1000."1 An offshoot of the alumni association, the Harry Lucacher Alumni Society (HLAS) formed officially in 1940 with the alumni association's recognition. HLAS published a newsletter, The Recorder, that same year.

The official alumni association itself commenced publication of an association newsletter, The Alumnus, with a May 17, 1936 issue. The newsletter was the main means by which alumni of the orphan home kept in touch with each other by publishing membership lists, correspondence, reminiscences, photographs, and news (including obituaries), and encouraging participation in alumni reunions which were another important point of contact.

The alumni association also generated a body of literature on what it was like to be an orphan and to grow up in an orphan home. Some of these stories are found in issues of The Alumnus. Two oral history audiocassettes were compiled by alumnus Sam Arcus and were distributed by him in 1997. They were based on interviews with several alumni members to accompany a videotape on life in the HNOH, entitled Our Childhood … Remembered, produced by alumnus Ed Lippman and distributed by him in Fall 1995.2 In the April, 1997 issue of The Alumnus, Ira Greenberg outlined a table of contents for a proposed book that would cover HNOH history and the alumni role in it. A questionnaire about alumni experiences of life in the home was also printed in that issue, and responses were requested and received. In 2001, the book came out, entitled, The Hebrew National Orphan Home: Memories of Orphanage Life, edited by Ira Greenberg with Richard Safran and Sam Arcus. Coincidentally with this effort to develop a concentrated historical record, Marjorie Soloff, daughter-in-law to HNOH orphan alumnus Jacob "Jack" Soloff, developed a website for the HNOH Alumni Association, which included an historical account of the founding of HNOH, reminiscences of the alumni, and photographs of orphanage life.

Since the Alumni Association of the Hebrew National Orphan Home (HNOH) grew out of the development of HNOH itself, a brief chronology of HNOH is included here, to provide context for the account of the alumni association above.


December 12, 1912
HNOH established on New York City's Lower East Side.
October 14, 1913
Initial payment made for premises at 57 East 7th Street by Romanian Jews comprising a Committee of the Bessarabian Verband.
June 7, 1914
HNOH opens officially with space for 50 Jewish boys; a second tenement house at 52 St. Mark's Place & 8th Street also bought.
July 15, 1919
The Tuckahoe Road facility purchased in Yonkers, N.Y.
July 26, 1920
The Tuckahoe Road facility opens.
Professional Case Work Service introduced.
Psychiatric and Psychological Service and Remedial Education Program introduced.
HNOH becomes Homecrest.
Homecrest becomes Hartman-Homecrest as the result of a merger of Homecrest with the Gustave Hartman Home for Children (formerly the Israel Orphan Asylum for Girls).
June 27, 1958
The Tuckahoe Road facility closes.
Hartman-Homecrest merges into the Jewish Child Care Association (JCCA) of New York.


  1. 1 Abrams, Irwin. 'The Way It Was - 1920s." In: The Alumnus v.72 (3) 1997, [p.8].
  2. 2 "Alumni Video Ready." In: The Alumnus v.70 (3) October 1995, pp.1-2.


3.95 Linear Feet (4 manuscript boxes, 1 half manuscript box, 1 oversized box)


The Hebrew National Orphan Home Alumni Association Records document the activities from the establishment of the association in 1925 until its demise 2011. The records consist primarily of the Association's newsletter, The Alumnus, programs of reunion events, meeting minutes of both the general meetings and the association advisory board, newspaper and magazine clippings, oral histories on audiocassettes and videotapes, alumni writings, scrapbooks, correspondence, and a few photographs.


The collection is arranged alphabetically by material type and chronologically by date.

Physical Location

Located in AJHS New York, NY

Other Finding Aids

An index of issues of The Alumnus organized by year and volume number is available in an Excel spreadsheet and can be downloaded here The Alumnus index.

A thumb-drive with the components used to create the HNOH website designed by Marjorie Spears Soloff was compressed into a zip-file (PID 3827412) and can be downloaded here HNOH Website Components. The website, which is now defunct, is available through the WayBack Machine (

Acquisition Information

Donated by Hebrew National Orphan Home Alumni Association, 1996-1998, 2000-2001, 2005-present (bulk donated 1996-1997).

Separated Material

The basketball and baseball uniforms were removed and placed in the Museum Collection. A press release for the Alumni Association of the Hebrew Orphan Asylum's Farewell Luncheon and issues of the HOA student publication The Rising Bell were removed to the Hebrew Orphan Asylum records, collection number I-42. In addition, newsletters from three other orphan asylums, Brooklyn Hebrew Orphan Asylum Bulletin, Pride Survey of the Pride of Judea Children's Home, and Crows and Ravens published by Alumni of the Hebrew Sheltering Guardian Association were removed and added to their respective collections.

Guide to the Records of the Hebrew National Orphan Home Alumni Association, undated, 1925-2014   I-520
Reprocessed by Boni Joi Koelliker. Originally processed by Carmen Hendershott in 2011.
© 2014
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.

Revision Statements

  • 2016: Contents of a thumb-drive were made into a zip-file and added to the finding aid by Boni Joi Koelliker.

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States