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Noah Benevolent Society Records

Identifier: I-186

Scope and Content Note

The Records of the Noah Benevolent Society consist of constitutions and by-laws, trustee and membership minutes, anniversary journals, membership books, accountant's reports, financial and statistical reports of the Mordechai Federal Credit Union, newsletters, and photographs that document the Society's activities.

The collection is valuable to researchers studying American German Jewry, benevolent societies, refugee relief, Jewish World War I soldiers, and Jewish philanthropy.

Of special interest in the membership minutes is information on an attempt to form a Noah Legion Post as part of the American Legion, a November 1932 report of the Welfare Fund Committee, a Barter Committee established during the Depression, an unsuccessful attempt in 1944 to have an ambulance plane named "The Spirit of Noah" by selling war bonds, and the Society's efforts in 1963 to aid the Association for the Advancement of Blind Children. Of interest in the newsletters is information on efforts to find jobs for members during the Depression, correspondence from members in the Armed Forces, and the 1939 Noah Summer School for Refugees.

The collection consists of constitution and by-laws, minutes, memorabilia, newsletters, anniversary journals, financial records, a scrapbook, and photographs.


  • Creation: undated, 1852-1979

Language of Materials

The collection is in German and English.

Access Restrictions

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.

Use Restrictions

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


Historical Note

Noah Benevolent Society (1849-1980)

Seven German Jewish immigrants who wished to provide a forum for mutual assistance and social support founded the Noah Benevolent Society in New York on January 7, 1849. Electing to name the lodge after a representative of American Judaism, they chose Judge Mordecai M. Noah for his "fervent patriotism" and "deep religious feeling," and elected Judge Noah as an honorary member. The lodge sought to provide "mutual relief of its members in sickness, destitution or distress, their interment in a suitable burying ground, the relief of their widows and orphans, and other like benevolent purposes." It quickly grew in membership, and joined the Independent Order Free Sons of Israel that organized in March 1849. In December of that year, Noah Lodge purchased a large plot (Section 1) in Cypress Hills cemetery. Additional grave plots were later purchased in Mt. Hope Cemetery (1883), Cypress cemetery, Section 14 (1912), Mount Pleasant Cemetery (1927), and Beth Israel Cemetery in New Jersey (1947). Noah Lodge No. 1 broke away from Free Sons of Israel over a disagreement over insurance plans in 1870, and chartered its own organization titled the Noah Benevolent Widows' and Orphans' Association. The name of the Association changed to the Noah Benevolent Society in 1916, and also in 1916, the official language for Noah switched from German to English. Please note that the Membership minutes are written in German until 1907, and the Trustee minutes are written in German until 1912.

Noah Benevolent Society stayed true to its mission to help its members and other Jews in need. In 1916, the Herman Brand (a popular Noah President) Welfare Fund Committee was formed to assist impoverished members. In the 1930s, Noah was involved in educating refugees. Through its Committee for Refugees (1939-1941) it created a refugee school and offered special social events. Among the charitable funds Noah contributed include helping Jews in Morocco (1860), Jerusalem (1863), Jewish Federation of Charities (beginning in 1937) and the United Jewish Appeal (beginning in 1939). Noah also annually disbursed small donations to various Jewish charities. In 1963, Noah elected a sponsor charity, and chose the Association for the Advancement of Blind Children.

Having served as a security and close community for its members for 131 years, Noah disbanded in 1980. Unable to financially stay afloat due to a lack of new membership, deaths of its elderly members, and increasing Life Members (members who had been in the Society over 50 years and were not required to pay dues) it was forced to liquidate its assets.


Compiled from the records of the Noah Benevolent Society, Ref. #I-186.


17.35 Linear Feet (25 manuscript boxes, 3 20" x 17" x 3" boxes)


The Noah Benevolent Society (1849-1980), named after Judge Mordechai M. Noah, provided mutual relief for members, their wives and orphans, and helped with internment costs and burial plots at Cypress Hills and other New York cemeteries. The Society also provided relief for Jews in Morocco and Jerusalem and donated funds to several Jewish charitable institutions as well as the Association for the Advancement of Blind Children. The Society disbanded in 1980 due to dwindling membership. The records of the Noah Benevolent Society contain membership minutes and books, donation and financial records, constitutions and by-laws, newsletters, memorabilia, and photographs.


Informally arranged into one series including minutes, journals, membership books, financial records, directories, newsletters, cemetery listings, memorabilia, and Constitutions and By-Laws; documents appear in chronological order.


The Noah Benevolent Society donated its records to the American Jewish Historical Society in 1981.

Related Material

Mordecai Manuel Noah (1785-1851) Collection, undated, 1816-1851. Ref. # P-75.

Guide to the Records of the Noah Benevolent Society (1849-1980) undated, 1852-1979 I-186
Processed by AJHS Staff
© 2003.
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from NoahBenevolentSociety.xml

Revision Statements

  • May 2005.: Finding aid was updated and reconverted in order to match other online finding aids by Dianne Ritchey Oummia.
  • January 2006.: Entities removed from EAD finding aid.

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States