Washington Committee for Soviet Jewry Records
Scope and Content Note
The collection is divided into ten series.
The Washington Committee for Soviet Jewry include materials from the mid-1960s through 2001, and the bulk of the collection is dated 1970s-1980s. The documents include correspondence, memoranda, publications, news clippings, photographs, slides, ephemera, audio and video recordings and 3-D objects.
- Creation: undated, 1962, 1965-2001
- Creation: Majority of material found within 1970 - 1990
- Washington Committee for Soviet Jewry (Organization)
Language of Materials
The collection is in English, Russian, Hebrew, Yiddish, and French.
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.
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, N.Y., 10011 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Washington Committee for Soviet Jewry records 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.
The Washington Committee for Soviet Jewry (WCSJ) was a grassroots volunteer membership organization founded in 1968. The organization was renamed the Greater Washington Committee for Post-Soviet Jewry after the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, and disbanded in 2001. The goal of the WCSJ was to help Jews emigrate from the Soviet Union and the Former Soviet Union regions, to aid Jews in the U.S.S.R. and the Former Soviet Union and to activate the Washington Community on behalf of Soviet Jewry. The Greater Washington Committee for Post-Soviet Jewry was dedicated to ensuring that Jews in the countries of the Former Soviet Union could lead lives in which their physical and spiritual needs were met. During the thirty-three years of its existence, the WCSJ took on a multitude of initiatives designed to raise awareness of the plight of Soviet Jewry. The Bar Mitzvah twinning program, Adopt-A-Refusenik Family, the Pepsi Boycott, and the Daily Vigil across the street from the Soviet Embassy, were some of the many activities that the WCSJ organized or participated in. Travelers to the USSR were recruited and instructed to carry out direct help to the families of the Refuseniks. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Committee continued to support those Jews who remained in the Former Soviet Union by supplying them with food packages, medicine, Judaic teaching materials and other essentials.
13.5 Linear Feet (26 manuscript boxes, 1 oversized box, 1 MAP folder)
The collection contains records of the Washington Committee for Soviet Jewry, a grassroots volunteer membership organization that was founded in 1968 and existed until 2001. The organization was renamed the Greater Washington Committee for Post-Soviet Jewry after the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991. The Committee worked to raise awareness of the plight of Soviet Jewry in the United States and supported Jewish communities on the U.S.S.R. territories, during the rule of the Soviet regime and after its collapse. The records cover the period from the mid-1960s through 2001, and the bulk of the collection is dated 1970s-1980s. The documents include correspondence, memoranda, publications, news clippings, photographs, slides, ephemera, audio and video recordings and 3-D objects. Originally the collection was titled Papers of Carolyn W. Sanger, *P-870 by the name of the Committee's last president.
The collection is divided into ten series as follows:
- Series I: Correspondence and Administrative Materials, undated, 1967-1968, 1970-1975, 1977-2000
- Subseries A: Correspondence, undated, 1978, 1980-1995
- Subseries B: Administrative Materials, undated, 1967-1968, 1970-1975, 1977-1979, 1991, 1996-2000
- Series II: Soviet Jewish Refuseniks and Prisoners of Conscience, 1962, 1965-1966, 1969-1991
- Subseries A: Individual Files on Soviet Jewish Refuseniks and Prisoners of Conscience, 1969-1991
- Subseries B: Prisoners of Conscience, undated, 1962, 1965-1966, 1970-1973, 1975-1980, 1984, 1986
- Subseries C: Former Soviet Jewish Refuseniks, 1976-1980, 1982-1987
- Series III: Emigration from USSR, undated, 1970-1977, 1979-1980, 1986-1987, 1989-1990
- Series IV: Human Rights, Antisemitism and Legal Issues related to Jews in the USSR, undated, 1967, 1972, 1974-1982, 1984-1989
- Series V: Travel to USSR, undated, 1971-1979, 1981-1985, 1990
- Series VI: US Government, undated, 1968-1973, 1975-1991
- Series VII: Projects and Events, undated, 1967, 1971-1990
- Series VIII: Other Soviet Jewry Movement Organizations, undated, 1967, 1970-1972, 1976-1979, 1985-1986, 1988-1989
- Series IX: Publications, undated, 1965-1966, 1970-1994
- Series X: Photos, Slides, Audio, Video and Oversize Materials, 3-D Objects, undated, 1969, 1971, 1973-1990
- Subseries A: Photos and Slides, undated, 1969, 1971, 1973-1985, 1987-1988
- Subseries B: 3-D Objects, undated
- Subseries C: Audio Materials, undated, 1975-1986
- Subseries D: Video Materials, undated, 1989-1990
- Subseries E: Oversize Materials, undated, 1980, 1982, 1986-1987
Located in AJHS New York, NY
Donated by the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2007.
Photographs in Series X, Subseries A: Photographs were digitized in their entirety. Blank versos were not digitized. The audio materials in Series X, Subseries C: Audio Materials were digitized and made fully available online with the exception of tapes 2, 3, 4, 19, 22, 23, 26, 27, 37, 38, 39, and 41, which are available onsite only due to copyright concerns. All unique, playable VHS tapes in Series X, Subseries D: Video Materials were digitized and made fully accessible with the exception of tape 11, which is limited to onsite access only due to copyright concerns. For duplicate VHS tapes, links were added to other digitized copies.
This collection was donated to AJHS as Carolyn W. Sanger Papers in 2007. It was processed under that title in 2009. Carolyn W. Sanger presided over the Washington Committee for Soviet Jewry/Greater Washington Committee for Post-Soviet Jewry from the early 1990's until its disbandment in 2001. In 2012 another president of the Committee who led the organization during the 1980s, Mrs. Sanger's predicessor Joan Dodek, suggested a more appropriate title and description for the collection. Considering that it spans the entire thirty-three years of the WCSJ existence and documents its activities under the leadership of several presidents it was decided that the more historically accurate title would be the Records of the Washington Committee for Soviet Jewry. The collection was renamed and the Finding Aid edited accordingly in December of 2012.
- Begun, Yosif, 1932- (Person)
- Nudel, Ida (Person)
- Shcharansky, Anatoly (Person)
- Slepak, Vladimir (Person)
- Stolar, Abe (Person)
- Moʻatsah ha-tsiburit lemaʻan Yehude Berit ha-Moʻatsot (Israel) (Organization)
- Jewish Defense League (Organization)
- National Conference on Soviet Jewry (U.S.) (Organization)
- Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry (Organization)
- Union of Councils for Soviet Jews (Organization)
- Washington Committee for Soviet Jewry (Organization)
Genre / Form
- 16mm (photographic film size)
- Case files
- Commemorative jewelry
- Legal documents
- slides (photographs)
- Washington Committee for Soviet Jewry Records
- Processed by Andrey Filimonov
- © 2012
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Description is in English.
- Selective digitization of the Records of Washington Committee for Soviet Jewry (I-540) was made possible through a generous grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). Digitization of audio and video was made possible through the generous support of the Blavatnik Foundation.
- August 2015: dao links added by Eric Fritzler.
- April 2016: audio dao links added by Nicole Greenhouse.
- July 2017: video dao links added, digitization note and sponsor statement updated, and filename simplified by Leanora Lange.