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Youth Aliyah Records in the Hadassah Archives

Identifier: I-578/RG 1

Scope and Content Note

This collection documents the work of Hadassah as part of the Youth Aliyah movement in relocating Jewish children from Europe before and during World War II to new, safe homes in Palestine. It also documents Youth Aliyah organization and activities, and Hadassah's role in it, during the establishment of the State of Israel, through the turbulent period in the Middle East during the 1960s and 1970s, and through mass immigration of the Diaspora from North Africa and the Soviet Union to Israel in the 1980s and 1990s.

In his 1983 guide, The Archives of Youth Aliyah, 1933-1960, Dr. Lawrence D. Geller (then the Archivist and Head of Archives and Research for Hadassah) wrote, "Researchers will find complete correspondence files, reports, essays, and publications on the subject of child rescue in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. There is also much material on Hadassah's role in Youth Aliyah education which was decisive from a planning and financial point of view as well as much material on the major issue of absorption and integration of shattered youth from war torn Europe into a new society. Later, it would deal with the complex absorption, educational, psychological and medical problems of the influx of youth from a variety of cultural backgrounds from North well as from Europe and to a lesser degree from all points on the globe. Since 1935, this has been one of the major functions of Hadassah in connection with the Youth Aliyah Department of the Jewish Agency for Israel."

The early materials in the Youth Aliyah Records in the Hadassah Archives include correspondence, financial and statistical data, reports, publicity material, and publications which deal with the process of rescuing the children, transporting them to Palestine, obtaining visas and other documentation for them from the British during the end of the British Mandate in Palestine, and housing them in youth villages among the Jewish settlements of pre-State and Statehood Israel.

Documents related to the war years include material on the rescue of the Teheran Children, the sinking of the S.S. Struma, and personal accounts of survival in the death camps. There is extensive material on Hadassah's interaction with government officials relating to the British Mandate Government's policy of limiting immigration to Palestine. There is also material pertaining to the institutional programs for children including considerations around placement of children in religious versus non-religious communities and families, documents regarding the "Town to Country" movement, and the training of madrichim (youth leaders).

Post-war materials document the liberation of concentration camps, the Israel War for Independence, conditions of refugee services in Europe, as well as the conditions on the ships transporting refugees to Palestine. There are also materials regarding the training of Madrichim (Youth Aliyah instructors who were also group leaders and counselors) and social workers.

Following the crisis of the war years, the Youth Aliyah Records document the development of 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. The work to assist children as they integrated into the community in healthy and productive ways is well articulated here through correspondence, reports, financial plans, pamphlets, articles, and brochures.


  • Creation: 1928-2009
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1935 - 1998


Language of Materials

This collection is predominantly in English with some material in German and Hebrew.

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 fragility or as required by the agreement between Hadassah and AJHS.

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

"I too am a totalitarian, I want to rescue the totality of German youth." - Henrietta Szold, 1939

So begins The Archives of Youth Aliyah, 1933-1960 prepared by Lawrence D. Geller, Ph.D. Funded by a generous grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Dr. Geller's guide was published in 1983 on the occasion of the Fiftieth Anniversary of Youth Aliyah's 1933 founding. Of the collection, Dr. Geller wrote, "The archives of Youth Aliyah ...are in the widest, most descriptive sense, the archives of tragedy and hope."

During the intervening years, The Files of Youth Aliyah in the Hadassah Archives have evolved. This current guide reflects the addition of more recently acquired materials, the availability of several yet-to-be processed addendum and corresponding shifts in arrangement. Undiminished, indeed hopefully enhanced, is the documentation of Miss Szold's endeavors to rescue German youth and the archives' legacy of "tragedy and hope."

The following historical overview is based upon Dr. Geller's scholarship in The Archives of Youth Aliyah.

Youth Aliyah was founded in Germany in 1933 by Recha Freier. Following Hitler's rise to power as Chancellor the same year, the political strength of the Nazi party increasingly threatened the stability of European Jewish communities. Thus, Recha 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.

Such profound accomplishment would not have been achieved had it not been for the efforts of Henrietta Szold who in 1934 became the Director of the Youth Aliyah Department in the Central Department for the Settlement of German Jews (later the Youth Department of the Jewish Agency) in Jerusalem. Through Miss Szold's intervention and under the leadership of Hadassah National President Rose Jacobs and Hadassah National Youth Aliyah Committee Chairman Marian G. Greenberg, Hadassah extended itself in 1935 to become the primary fund raising entity for Youth Aliyah in the United States.

The subsequent years, particularly those during the war, were fraught with the unrelenting political and administrative processes necessary to secure the release of Jewish children from detention, death and displaced person camps throughout Europe. The obstacles were not only related to the impact of the War in Europe but also to the British Mandate Government's limitation on immigration to Palestine. The efforts to maintain the process of rescue required an international collaboration between multiple agencies throughout Continental Europe, the United Kingdom, Palestine and the United States.

Moreover, Youth Aliyah strove to provide a true "home-coming" for these displaced children. The files document Hadassah's establishment of youth villages, children's day centers, residential facilities and "foster placements" networks. These efforts required on-going international collaborative efforts in order to establish the infrastructure necessary to fund and maintain these institutions. Additionally, Youth Aliyah developed vocational, educational, therapeutic and rehabilitative programs to assist the children toward a holistic integration into the community.

Since its inception in 1933, the mission of Youth Aliyah has not waned. To the contrary, since the end of the Second World War Youth Aliyah has continued serving Jewish youth communities globally including those in Ethiopia and North Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Russia and Asia. The files document these efforts. While The Jewish Agency gradually took on primary programmatic care of Youth Aliyah in the 1990s, today there are over 300,000 Youth Aliyah graduates from over 80 nations and Hadassah continues its essential support toward residential, educational, vocation and therapeutic services for displaced and "at-risk" Jewish youth as a proud partner in the Youth Aliyah movement.


50.2 Linear Feet (93 manuscript boxes, 1 oversized box, and 1 oversized folder)


The Youth Aliyah Records in the Hadassah Archives 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.

Physical Location

Located in AJHS New York, NY

Previous Finding Aids and Concordance

Two finding aids for this collection have been previously prepared. They have been superseded by this finding aid, but both contain historical information that may be of interest.

The printed finding aid of 1983 provides a wealth of information about Youth Aliyah and its records. It can be found here: Please note that this arrangement is no longer valid.

In 2010, the arrangement of the collection was altered slightly from the 1983 arrangement, and an online finding aid created. That finding aid is provided for reference only, and can be found here: Please note that this arrangement is no longer valid.

The concordance links the former box and folder numbers from the 2010 finding aid to the current box and folder numbers in the 2015 finding aid. The concordance is provided for reference and can be used to track previous citations of material in the Youth Aliyah Records in the Hadassah Archives (RG 1). The concordance can be found here:

Acquisition Information

The Hadassah Archives, of which the Youth Aliyah Records (I-578/RG 1) are part of, are on long-term deposit at the American Jewish Historical Society.


The Hadassah Archives include a record group comprised of microfilm, RG 19—Microforms. Series I, Subseries 1 contains reels related to Youth Aliyah.

Related Material

The Guide to the Hadassah Archives on Long-term Deposit at the American Jewish Historical Society, which describes the entire collection, can found here:

Within the Hadassah Archives, Youth Aliyah material can be found in the following record groups: RG 4—Zionist Political History Collection; RG 5—Hadassah Council in Israel and the Hadassah Youth Services Records; RG 7—Personal Papers and Special Collections of Influential Executives, Volunteers, and Individuals Associated with Hadassah; RG 13—Executive Functions Records; RG 15—Hadassah Functions and Operations Records; RG 17—Printed Materials and Publications; RG 18—Photographs; RG 19—Microforms; RG 20—Oral Histories; RG 21—Architectural Materials; RG 22—Artifacts and Memorabilia; and RG 25—Audio and Moving Images Materials.

Several partners at the Center for Jewish History holds related material:

The American Jewish Historical Society holds the Schoolman Family Papers (P-716) which include papers of Bertha S. Schoolman who served in various capacities in the Youth Aliyah movement.

The Leo Baeck Institute holds the Georg Landauer Collection (AR 6007). Landauer served as financial director of Youth Aliyah for the Jewish Agency for Palestine (later the Jewish Agency for Israel).

Separated Material

Materials in certain formats were removed from RG 1 and placed into the following record groups: RG 17 Printed Materials; RG 18 Audiovisual Materials; RG 21 Architectural Materials; and RG 22 Artifacts and Memorabilia. Folder-level notes, connecting the items to their original folders and context, were added when items were separated. One manuscript box (old box number 67) was removed and added to RG 13 Hadassah Presidents. The box contained papers of Rose Halprin while she served as the Hadassah National Aliyah Chairman in the 1970s. Halprin also served as Hadassah National President from 1932-1934 and again from 1947-1952. Finally, a folder titled "George Abrams, 1966-1967" was removed and placed in the Charlotte Jacobson series of RG 13. It contained two letters from Charlotte Jacobson to George Abrams concerning medical topics and the Kennedy family. From 1965 to 1968, Abrams served as general counsel and staff director of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Refugees. Charlotte Jacobson served as Hadassah National President from 1964 to 1968.


Books and other material related to Youth Aliyah can be found by searching the catalog of the Center for Jewish History.

Processing Information

The Youth Aliyah Records in the Hadassah Archives was originally processed in the early 1980s by Dr. Lawrence Geller and Ira Daly who worked for Hadassah as Archivist and Assistant Archivist, respectively. Hadassah had received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to process the Youth Aliyah records and produce a comprehensive guide. The guide (or finding aid), The Archives of Youth Aliyah, 1933-1960; Part I: The Years of the Holocaust and Ingathering, was published in 1983 on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the Youth Aliyah movement.

In December 1999, Hadassah and the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS) entered an agreement placing the Hadassah Archives on deposit at AJHS for its safekeeping and maintenance. In November 2000, the Hadassah Archives were moved to AJHS under the management of the Director of the Hadassah Archives, Susan Woodland. In 2010 Woodland and Assistant Archivist Margaret Bausman created a new finding aid, based on the 1983 version, which incorporated additional Youth Aliyah records into the collection. This addition comprised Series 33 and 34 of the 2010 finding aid. In 2014, under a new agreement between Hadassah and AJHS, the Hadassah Archives were placed on long-term deposit at AJHS.

In 2015, the Youth Aliyah Records were intellectually rearranged and thirty-four series were revised into three series. The two addendum series (Series 33 and 34 from the 2010 finding aid), comprising unprocessed material, were incorporated into the new arrangement as was approximately 1.5 linear feet of other unprocessed material. Description from the previous finding aids was reused and incorporated into the 2015 finding as much as possible, particularly collection-level description. Series and subseries description was added and collection-level notes pertaining to acquisition, processing, access and use, and related material were added as well. Some folder titles were revised.

The boxes were consolidated to save space and reduce damage to the material. Box and folder numbers were renumbered to create uniform numbering across the entire record group and a concordance was created linking the previous box and folder numbers to the new numbers. Some boxes were replaced and many of the folders were also replaced. Plastic clips and deteriorating plastic sleeves were removed.

Guide to the Youth Aliyah Records in the Hadassah Archives 1928-2009 I-578/RG 1
The finding aid was prepared by Patricia Glowinski in 2015. It is based upon two previous finding aids: a 2010 finding aid by Susan Woodland and Margaret Bausman, and the original finding aid, dating from 1983, by Dr. Lawrence D. Geller and Ira Daly.
© 2012
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
as part of the Leon Levy Archival Processing Initiative, made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States