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Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) Records

Identifier: I-363

Scope and Content Note:

The HIAS records include the archival material from the New York headquarters, from about 1954 to 2000. In 1954 HIAS merged with the United Service for New Americans (USNA) and the Migration Department of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) to form the United HIAS Service (UHS), and many of the oldest files in this collection date from the mid-1950s. A few files pre-date the 1954 merger: those of predecessor organizations (USNA, the National Refugee Service (NRS), HICEM) and United States Operations files from staff who moved from NRS, USNA and the JDC to HIAS with some of their earlier files. There are also scattered files within Isaac L. Asofsky's files as General Manager and Executive Director in the Executive Series from as early as 1909.

The most extensive material in the collection can be found in the Executive Series, primarily the files of the Executive Vice-Presidents,1 the staff leadership position. There is a complete run of Board of Directors minutes from 1913 to 2002; Annual Meeting files from most years 1960 to 1998; Annual Migration Conferences and other conference files, from 1955 to 1980 (with gaps), most of which include extensive information on HIAS activities in New York and in their European, Latin American, and other offices; Annual Reports, 1912 to 2003; and other publications, correspondence and subject files documenting the extensive range of issues that went before the Board of Directors for over 50 years. Selected files from senior staff in the Executive Office provide a snapshot of specific issues and detail, including files from the Administration and Financial Vice-President and the long-time outside counsel.

In the Programs Series, there are extensive files in the United States Operations Division, with information on many of the departments engaged in the myriad activities of this division—registering clients, tracking the status of client visa and refugee applications and other required documents, tracking clients once they were cleared for immigration into the United States, and post-migration issues of resettlement and acculturation into their new communities. Many files of the U.S. Operations directors survive, giving an overall perspective on the entire scope of this division—monitoring political situations in many countries around the world including incidences of anti-Semitism; tracking and lobbying for changing immigration policies and laws in the United States and other countries of refuge; working with United States government agencies to apply for and administer federal grants (much of the material on these federal grants is found in the Matching Grant Department, as well as the various departments within the Communities and Field Services Departments), and coordinating with HIAS offices overseas. Also within the Programs Series is Overseas Operations, including some subject files from the European headquarters in Paris and later Geneva. Highlights include thousands of client registration cards, 1950 to 1994; and files and index cards from the Location Department of the Geneva headquarters 1970 to 1990 that provided a tracing service, in cooperation with the International Red Cross and other agencies, for anyone seeking information on the location of relatives missing since the migration of millions of survivors after World War II.

The Communications Series includes files from Public Relations, including a large group of press releases, 1970s to 2000; HIAS Public Policy announcements; Programming and Events; HIAS Publications; Newsclippings; and Transcripts from the Oral History Project.

In the Development Series are files on Membership and Fundraising Campaigns and Subject files, including material from the Women's Division and a sampling of files on scholarships awarded by HIAS.

The Government Relations Series covers files from both the New York and Washington, D.C. offices.

The Finance Series includes HIAS audited and unaudited financial reports; and extensive reporting from the Grant Management Department as they filed required documentation for each community in the United States where federal funding aided the resettlement of HIAS clients.

The Administration Series contains files documenting the history of the Archives and Records Management program at HIAS under Colonel Seymour J. Pomrenze in the 1980s to 1990s, including some information on the earlier HIAS archives and records on deposit with YIVO.

The Artifacts, Audiovisual, and Photographs Series lists the audiovisual materials that are part of the collection, including audio cassettes and reels, computer diskettes, video in various formats, two boxes of artifacts and one box of photographs found throughout the collection that had no close connection with the files. (Other photographs found within the files that did belong together, were left in the file and "photograph" was noted on the folder.)

The HIAS Photograph Collection Series consists of over 1100 folders of legacy photographs that have been digitized, along with some of the Annual Reports and other documentation. This collection is accessible digitally only.

The years most thoroughly covered in this collection include the turbulent mass migration of Jewish refugees in the aftermath of the Second World War, from displaced persons camps in Europe, from temporary homes throughout Latin America, and from Jewish communities in Shanghai and elsewhere; these records continue into the early 1960s. After Israeli statehood in 1948 there were huge numbers of Jewish refugees migrating from communities in North Africa and the Middle East; many of those who did not settle in Israel came to the United States. In the 1970s and 1980s HIAS and other resettlement agencies worked with the United States government to resettle refugees from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia after the American withdrawal from Indochina. And a very large portion of the files in this collection deal with the migration of Jews from the Soviet Union and countries of the former Soviet Union in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

The HIAS client files are restricted, and are not part of this collection; they remain with HIAS. However, one part of the HIAS archives project was to create a searchable database, with thousands of client names and their file numbers. The existence of a name in the database indicates that HIAS does have a client file for that person; if a name does not appear there is still a chance that HIAS does have the file. Information about how to request a client file from the HIAS Location Department can be found in the instructions at the link to the database, above.

There are some client-related files in the collection, mostly records without privacy issues and with content of research value, which have been retained as part of this collection. The balance of client-related records have been returned to HIAS. If a client file cannot be located, the HIAS Location Department may be able to identify client-related records that are more generally relevant to a family history search, not necessarily about a specific client. Contact HIAS directly for possible access to documentation that gives information on the immigration process and the work of the HIAS United States Operations Department in aiding migration and resettlement and acculturation for their thousands of clients. This type of documentation may include: letters of invitation and promissory notes. Refer to Series II Program Division, and especially Migration Department files for client-related material that is accessible within this collection. Where necessary, these files have been restricted or redacted.

For other specifically family history-related resources, see in particular:

Board of Directors Biographical Files

New York office Location and Family History Service

Indochinese Unit

Nominal Rolls

Client registration cards from HIAS European Headquarters

European Headquarters Location Department Client Index cards and files

Israel office Location Services


  1. 1 Titles changed in this position; for purposes of arrangement in this collection, the staff leader, no matter the title, is listed within the Executive Vice-President Subsubseries. A full list of names, dates and titles of these men is given in the historical note for that subsubseries.


  • Creation: undated, 1909-2003
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1954-2000


Language of Materials

The collection is in English, with some material in French, German, Hebrew, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Yiddish.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open to all researchers by permission of the Director of Collections and Engagement of the American Jewish Historical Society, except items that are restricted due to their fragility or for reasons of privacy. Privacy restrictions are generally removed after 72 years from the date of the most recent documents in a given folder. This collection contains audiovisual and electronic media that requires special equipment to access. Please be aware that not all formats can be accessed in their current format without digitization. Please notify reference staff at email: 24 hours in advance of needing access or to discuss digitization pricing for inaccessible formats. See also HIAS Photograph Collection Series IX Access Restrictions for access restrictions specific to Series IX. Given the size of this collection, it is housed at an off-site storage location, within a climate and humidity controlled environment. Please be advised that you will need to request this material at least two (2) business days in advance of your visit in order to use this material in the Lillian Goldman Reading Room. Providing as much notice as possible before a visit would be helpful. Boxes can be requested through the box and folder listings that accompany each series. For further information, please email: Please note that oversize materials, artifacts, audiovisual materials and folders in miscellaneous boxes that are pointed to in the finding aid or in transfer sheets in individual folders, are stored in-house; these materials do not need to be requested before your visit but can be requested as you need them.

Use Restrictions

Information concerning the literary rights may be obtained from the Director of Collections and Engagement 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

HIAS is an international migration agency sponsored by the American Jewish community—a national resettlement agency and an international refugee service organization with programs where they are needed most around the world.

Since its origins in the 1880s, the HIAS mission has evolved to remain relevant amid constantly changing world conditions for Jews and other refugee groups forced to flee their homelands. This work is done in support of their goal, which for over 100 years has been to rescue and resettle Jews and other refugees in the United States or other safe havens.

HIAS was formed in New York City by Jewish immigrants from Russia, to aid fellow Russian Jews in their migration to the United States. It soon became clear that what was also needed was temporary help on arrival in the form of food, clothing and shelter.1 A number of similar groups were forming at the end of the 19th century in the fast-growing Jewish community in New York City to also meet this need. For more detail on these earlier organizations, see this note on the HIAS collection pages of the AJHS website. Additional information can be found at the HIAS collection homepage.

Undoubtedly underfunded and without paid staff, these early groups formed, merged, and disappeared without leaving much original documentation. The most in-depth discussion of the founding of HIAS that we have found is in Mark Wischnitzer's history, Visas to Freedom: the History of HIAS, published in 1956 for The United HIAS Service, although there are inconsistencies even in his historical reconstruction. Many of these early organizations had similar names, depending on which source is consulted—Hebrew Emigrant Aid Society, Russian Emigrant Relief Committee, Hebrew Sheltering Society, Hebrew Sheltering House Society—and dates are not firm.

Our research in the HIAS records that are described in this finding aid, as well as in earlier records held by YIVO, indicates that an organization called "Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)" was founded in 1902. This "HIAS" may have been the successor to one or more of the earlier organizations with similar names and missions. In any case, it was this HIAS that merged seven years later, in 1909, with the Hebrew Sheltering House Association (HSHA, founded in 1889), to form the Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society—the organization we know as HIAS today.

HIAS itself, in official publications and annual reports through the 1930s, used the date 1909 as the year of its founding, dating its annual meetings and annual reports from the merger that year. Later, 1884 was used; the HIAS centennial was celebrated in 1980. Today, HIAS uses 1881 as its founding date.2

Following is a list of founding and merger dates of various organizations important to understanding the history of HIAS:

Jewish Emigrant Protective Society, Hebrew Sheltering House Society, Voliner Zhitomirer (variously Zhitomir) Aid Society are formed prior to 1902
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society merges with Hebrew Sheltering House Association (Society) to form the Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)
National Coordinating Committee (NCC) forms
National Refugee Service (NRS) forms from reorganized NCC
NRS and the Service to Foreign Born Department of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) merge to form United Service for New Americans (USNA)
USNA, the Migration Department of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and HIAS merge to form United HIAS Service (UHS). USNA's local New York services arm had separated from USNA in 1949 to form the New York Association for New Americans (NYANA), which remains an independent organization after the 1954 merger
The name of the organization officially changes from United HIAS Service to HIAS, Inc.

HIAS grew through the first third of the 20th century and the Great Depression, absorbing related immigrant aid organizations in Baltimore, Boston, and Philadelphia. It joined forces with related overseas organizations—the Jewish Colonization Association (the JCA and/or ICA), and the Jewish Emigration Committee of Europe (identified by various other formal names, but always as EmigDirect), known as EmigDirect—in 1927 to form HICEM, which came to act as HIAS' international arm. HICEM was instrumental to HIAS' rescue work conducted during the Second World War, even after EmigDirect dropped out of the agreement and the JCA/ICA was restricted to using its funds in Britain.

After the war, HICEM dissolved, and HIAS opened offices in Europe and on other continents from which Jews were emigrating. HIAS worked together with other agencies—Jewish and non-Jewish, governmental and non-governmental, national and international—to coordinate efforts in securing visas and other immigration documents, arranging travel, and providing complex resettlement services over the first months and years of an individual or family's move to the United States or elsewhere. Through their overseas offices HIAS staff served as the direct link between refugees and displaced persons and HIAS headquarters in New York.

In 1949 and 1950, "HIAS and the European staffs of the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the United Service for New Americans (USNA) combined services to obtain the release of Jewish displaced persons from the camps in Germany and Austria." 3 Soon after their success with combined services, it was decided to formally consolidate the major Jewish agencies operating in the migration field, to form one world-wide agency. In 1954 HIAS merged with the United Service for New America (USNA) and the Migration Department of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee to form the United HIAS Service (UHS)—still referred to as "HIAS."

In the 1950s and 1960s HIAS aided the migration of Jewish refugees from post-war Europe, which involved the movement and resettlement of thousands of Jews from Europe, as well as from temporary refuge in Shanghai and throughout Latin America. After the ouster of Batista from power in Cuba, HIAS was also involved with helping Jewish families emigrate to the United States, along with planeloads of children sent alone to join relatives in the U.S. At the same time, in the aftermath of Israeli statehood in 1948 there were large numbers of Jewish refugees migrating from communities in North Africa and the Middle East; many of those who did not settle in Israel were helped to the United States by HIAS.

In the 1970s and 1980s HIAS and other resettlement agencies worked with the United States government to resettle refugees from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia after the American withdrawal from Indochina. And a very large portion of the files in this collection deal with the migration of Jews from the Soviet Union and countries of the former Soviet Union in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

By the 1980s, HIAS was becoming more involved in government relations, working to effect changes in immigration laws, and educating their staff in continually changing federal policies in connection with refugee and asylum status, green card and other benefits and other issues on which HIAS aided and advised their clients. As a large resettlement agency, HIAS was eligible to receive funding from the United States Department of State and the Health and Human Services Department, to cover some of the costs of transporting, resettling and providing services for immigrants; several departments applied for and monitored these grants in terms of allocations to resettlement communities, reporting, and actual services provided. The HIAS 1996 annual report begins with a letter from Norman D. Tilles, HIAS president and Martin A. Wenick, Executive Vice-President, that clearly explains the growing anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States. In response, "HIAS increased its public policy and collaborative efforts while continuing to provide a wide-range of programs and services for the reception and resettlement of clients."4

After the breakup of the Soviet Union, and Jews who chose to leave Russia and other former Soviet republics had left, there were no more large groups of Jews in need of migration assistance. HIAS leadership knew that to continue its work, its mission would have to evolve from its focus on helping the Jewish immigrant to helping whoever was in need. It was important to the leadership and staff to enable this evolution, because there was still a great need to aid refugees and asylum seekers, and it was clear that HIAS should continue "its work, helping Jewish and non-Jewish refugees and immigrants." 5

As fewer Jews needed immigration help later in the century, it is possible to trace how HIAS has evolved their mission. The 1997 annual report explained: "As a reflection of our Jewish values of helping others at risk, HIAS continued to respond to the resettlement needs of populations outside of its traditional mandate." Advocating on behalf of those in peril, clients included "Bahais from Iran, Kurds from Northern Iraq and Bosnian Muslims." 6

The endpaper in the 2003 annual report states, "The primary mission of HIAS has been assistance to Jews and others whose lives and freedom are in danger. HIAS assists people escaping persecution and poverty; assures resettlement assistance to refugees and migrants through cooperation with a network of agencies throughout the United States; and works to assure that the United States provides generous, humanitarian policies to those in peril. HIAS also advocates on behalf of refugees and migrants on the international, national and community levels."7

In the 2007 annual report, HIAS states: "The Hebrew Immigrant Society, guided by Jewish values and our shared immigrant experience, devotes its resources to ensuring the safe migration and resettlement of Jews as well as other migrants who are victims of persecution and displacement and who seek safety and security in the United States, Israel and other Havens."8

Elsewhere in the 2007 annual report, Gideon Aronoff, President-CEO, sums up this evolution in an essay titled Jewish Values, HIAS Values: "Since we began as an organization in 1881, the work of HIAS has mirrored world events. Crises and conflicts, wherever they happen, tend to have a direct correlation to the movement of refugees from country to country, continent to continent … Why does the plight of people affected by such a broad array of issues matter to HIAS? The simple answer is that HIAS, as the migration arm of the Jewish community, helps people in need, not because of who they are, but because of who we are as a people."9

See also the HIAS project webpages for a comprehensive HIAS timeline.


  1. Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, HIAS: What it is—What it Does (New York: Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, 1981).
  2. HIAS (website), Our History, accessed October 30, 2018,
  3. Wischnitzer, Mark. Visas to Freedom: The History of HIAS (Cleveland and New York: The World Publishing Company, 1956), pp. 261.
  4. HIAS, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, HIAS Annual Report, 1996, pp. 1, 4.
  5. HIAS, Inc., The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, 120 HIAS Stories (New York: HIAS, Inc., The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, 2002), pp. x.
  6. HIAS, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, HIAS Annual Report, 1997, pp. 2.
  7. HIAS, Inc., The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, HIAS Annual Report, '02-'03, endpaper.
  8. HIAS, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, "Annual Report." Passages, Autumn 2007, pp. 31.
  9. Ibid, pp. 8.


902 Linear Feet (748 Bankers boxes, 1 manuscript box, 12 oversize boxes, and 118 photograph boxes)


The records of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, now known as HIAS, comprise much of the history of HIAS through the second half of the 20th century, primarily through the files created by leadership based in the New York headquarters. Since the 1880s HIAS has worked with immigrants and refugees to help them emigrate legally from their home countries to safe resettlement in the United States and elsewhere, and they continue this work today. The records focus on files of the Executive Directors, including James P. Rice, Gaynor I. Jacobson and Karl D. Zukerman, and other material created by executive staff and by the Board of Directors. Also of importance is the work of the HIAS United States Operations Department in the New York office, handling the everyday details of immigration documentation, migration issues and resettlement activities in connection with communities throughout the United States, and in coordination with HIAS staff in overseas offices and the other departments in New York and Washington, D.C. In addition, more than 1100 files of legacy photographs have been digitized as part of this project and made accessible online.


The HIAS collection is arranged hierarchically by Series; the outline below shows the arrangement of the Series. Click on any Series to access additional detail, including the folder lists for that Series.

  1. Series I: Executive
  2. Subseries A: Board of Directors
  3. Subsubseries 1: Board of Directors Minutes
  4. Subsubseries 2: Board of Directors Meeting Material
  5. Subsubseries 3: Committees of the Board
  6. Subsubsubseries a: Committee Minutes
  7. Subsubsubseries b: Committee Meeting Material and Subject Files
  8. Subsubseries 4: Subject Files and Correspondence
  9. Subsubseries 5: Presidents
  10. Subsubsubseries a: Friedman, Harold
  11. Subsubsubseries b: Glick, Carl
  12. Subsubsubseries c: Israeloff, Robert L.
  13. Subsubsubseries d: Kesselhaut, Martin
  14. Subsubsubseries e: Leuchter, Ben Zion
  15. Subsubsubseries f: Shapiro, Edwin
  16. Subsubsubseries g: Tilles, Norman
  17. Subsubsubseries h: Touster, Ben
  18. Subseries B: Executive Office
  19. Subsubseries 1: Executive Vice-President
  20. Subsubsubseries a: Aronoff, Gideon
  21. Subsubsubseries b: Asofsky, Isaac L.
  22. Subsubsubseries c: Glickman, Leonard
  23. Subsubsubseries d: Greenleigh, Arthur
  24. Subsubsubseries e: Jacobs, Dr. Arthur T.
  25. Subsubsubseries f: Jacobson, Gaynor I.
  26. Subsubsubseries g: Rice, James P.
  27. Subsubsubseries h: Seidenman, Leonard
  28. Subsubsubseries i: Wenick, Martin A.
  29. Subsubsubseries j: Zukerman, Karl D.
  30. Subsubseries 2: Other Executive Staff and Departments
  31. Subsubsubseries a: Assistant/Associate Executive Vice-President
  32. Subsubsubseries b: Financial VP/Comptroller/Secretary to the Board
  33. Subsubsubseries c: Legal/Outside Counsel—Edward M. Benton
  34. Subsubsubseries d: Research and Statistics - Ilya Dijour, Director
  35. Subsubseries 3: Executive Office Subject Files
  36. Subseries C: Predecessor and Related Organizations
  37. Subsubseries 1: HIAS–ICA Emigration Association (HICEM)
  38. Subsubseries 2: National Refugee Service (NRS)
  39. Subsubseries 3: United Service for New Americans (USNA)
  40. Series II: Programs
  41. Subseries A: United States Operations
  42. Subsubseries 1: Communities
  43. Subsubsubseries a. Community Services Department (CSD)
  44. Subsubsubseries b. Field Services—Field Representatives
  45. Subsubsubseries c. Field Services—Norman Levine
  46. Subsubseries 2: Directors Files and Assistant Directors Files
  47. Subsubsubseries a. Director—Herche, Roberta
  48. Subsubsubseries b. Director—Stolow, Dail
  49. Subsubsubseries c. Assistant Director—Rogoff, Shulamit
  50. Subsubseries 3: Documents Department
  51. Subsubseries 4: Location and Family History Service—Valery Bazarov Files
  52. Subsubseries 5: Matching Grant Department
  53. Subsubseries 6: Migration Department
  54. Subsubsubseries a: Indochinese Unit
  55. Subsubsubseries b: Nominal Rolls
  56. Subsubsubseries c: Port Reception
  57. Subsubseries 7: Post-Migration Department—Michael Gendel Files
  58. Subsubseries 8: Refugee and Immigrant Services
  59. Subsubsubseries a: Correspondence Unit—Tina Dorfman
  60. Subsubsubseries b: Directors Files—Rachel Zelon
  61. Subsubsubseries c: Immigration Representation—Frank Lipiner
  62. Subsubseries 9: Subject Files 1940s–1970s
  63. Subseries B: Overseas Operations
  64. Subsubseries 1: New York Staff
  65. Subsubsubseries a: Director Files—Dail Stolow
  66. Subsubsubseries b. Latin American Affairs
  67. Subsubsubseries c: Overseas Representative—Dr. Henry Shoskes
  68. Subsubseries 2: Overseas Offices
  69. Subsubsubseries a: European Headquarters
  70. Subsubsubseries b: Israel Office
  71. Subsubsubseries c: Jewish Immigration Aid Services (JIAS) Office Canada
  72. Series III: Communications
  73. Series IV: Development
  74. Subseries A: Membership
  75. Subsubseries 1: Campaigns
  76. Subsubseries 2: Subject Files
  77. Subseries B: Women's Division
  78. Subseries C: Scholarships
  79. Series V: Government Relations
  80. Subseries A: New York Office
  81. Subsubseries 1: Mark, Deborah files
  82. Subsubseries 2: Saperia, Phillip files
  83. Subseries B: Washington, D.C. Office
  84. Subsubseries 1: Aronoff, Gideon files
  85. Subsubseries 2: Hetfield, Mark files
  86. Subsubseries 3: Wenick, Martin A.—Washington Files
  87. Series VI: Finance
  88. Subseries A: Financial Reports
  89. Subsubseries 1: Audited Reports
  90. Subsubseries 2: Unaudited Reports
  91. Subseries B: Collections
  92. Subseries C: Grant Management
  93. Subsubseries 1: Audited Reports—Communities and Organizations
  94. Subsubseries 2: Fiscal Administrator—Nina Shteyngart
  95. Subsubseries 3: Grants Coordinator—Tracy (Lamb) Wise
  96. Subsubseries 4: Grants Manager—Gail (Gauthier) Christmann
  97. Subsubseries 5: Matching Grants—Field Services
  98. Subsubseries 6: Grant Management Subject Files
  99. Subseries D: Finance Subject Files
  100. Series VII: Administration
  101. Subseries A: Archives and Records Management
  102. Subseries B: Human Resources
  103. Subsubseries 1: Subject Files
  104. Subsubseries 2: Staff Personnel Files 1930s–1980s
  105. Subseries C: Information Services
  106. Series VIII: Artifacts, Audiovisual Materials and Photographs
  107. Subseries A: Artifacts
  108. Subseries B: Audio Cassettes
  109. Subseries C: Audio Reels
  110. Subseries D: Compact Discs (CDs)
  111. Subseries E: Diskettes
  112. Subseries F: Microfilm
  113. Subseries G: Photographs
  114. Subseries H: Video
  115. Subsubseries 1: Betacam-SP
  116. Subsubseries 2: DVD
  117. Subsubseries 3: Film Reels
  118. Subsubseries 4: U-matic
  119. Subsubseries 5: VHS
  120. Series IX: HIAS Photograph Collection
  121. Subseries A: Digital Files
  122. Subseries B: Photographic Prints

Physical Location

Located in AJHS New York, NY

Acquisition Information

The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) collection was started with a donation from the family of Isaac L. Asofsky (HIAS leadership positions, circa 1912-1952); this material, 1909-1944, which became the original I-363 encompassing 3 linear feet, was integrated into the larger HIAS archives project 2016-2018 and can now be found in Asofsky's Historical Files.

The bulk of the HIAS collection that comprised this processing project (the 902 linear feet of material described in this finding aid) was transferred to the American Jewish Historical Society by HIAS in 2016.

The HIAS legacy photograph collection, identified here as the HIAS Photograph Collection was transferred by HIAS to the American Jewish Historical Society by agreement in 2017.

Digitization Note:

Series IX, HIAS Photograph Collection, has been digitized in its entirety, including most annual reports and incidental documentation filed with the photographs. For specifics about the digitization and processing and access to this collection see Series IX.

Other parts of the collection have been digitized; links to these digital files can be found in the folder list for the following series:

Executive Series, Board of Directors Minutes, 1927 to 1952

Executive Series, HICEM

Executive Series, National Refugee Service

Executive Series, United Service for New Americans

Related Material

There is a list of related collections on the collection webpage.

The HIAS website is periodically captured by the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, and as of 2018 includes snapshots from 1998 to 2018 that may contain helpful information not included in the HIAS collection itself. The snapshots can be viewed here.

Please note that the Wayback Machine may not render the website exactly as it appeared on the live web at the time, and that AJHS has no control over how often the site was crawled or how it displays now.

Processing Information

The HIAS collection has been minimally processed at the folder level, which means that folder titles are listed and searchable, but individual documents have not been examined or arranged in chronological order within a folder. In the interest of making this large collection available to researchers in a timely manner, metal fasteners (particularly staples) may not have been removed. Original folder titles have been maintained as often as possible while imposing overall order, clarity and accessibility to the collection.

Because of the time and space limitations of this project, archivists worked with only a few hundred boxes at one time. Processed boxes were sent to off-site storage before bringing in a new group of boxes. When related material was found later, folders were added intellectually to the folder list, but were not placed physically in the intellectual order of the container list. When requesting boxes, please take note of the correct box numbers for folders within a series you would like to see, as the folders that are consecutive in the list may not be in the same or consecutive boxes.

Also because of minimal processing, some Series have Historical, Biographical and Scope and Content Notes that are not as complete as they would be if processed traditionally. Researchers who use these collections and learn more about specific parts of the collection, and who have descriptive information that could be added to the finding aid are encouraged to contact

Original folder titles created over the past 50 years will occasionally contain terminology now considered inappropriate, inaccurate or offensive. Wherever it was possible to alter these titles without obscuring the original, historically accurate usage, we have done so.

When an employee with files in the collection changed their last name and both names occur in the files, we have put the original surname in the middle, in parentheses; for example, Tracy (Lamb) Wise, should make it clear that this is the same person.

Photographs found throughout the collection that had no close connection with the files were transferred to the Photographs Subseries in Series VIII. Other photographs found within the files that did belong together were left in the file and "photograph" was noted on the folder. The large collection of HIAS' legacy photographs has been digitized and can be found in Series IX as the HIAS Photograph Collection.

Because of the size of the collection and the fact that it is stored off-site, the majority of the boxes referred to in the finding aid are Bankers Boxes, which hold approximately three times the number of files as a more-typical archival manuscript or document box.

Where no citation is given for factual information, either in a footnote or within the text of the finding aid, the information has been taken from the files themselves. One helpful spreadsheet we compiled, ad hoc during processing, is HIAS People and Addresses. This spreadsheet is in no way complete or totally accurate, but it provides basic information on dates and HIAS-related work as a starting point for a name that may not be familiar to the researcher. Where dates and facts differ from what is written in the finding aid, the finding aid is accurate.

Researchers are invited to contact with further questions regarding the collection; the reference staff of the American Jewish Historical Society should be able to direct researchers to the likely location of relevant archival material, or to aid in access.

Guide to the Records of Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) undated, 1909-2013 bulk 1954-2000 I-363 I-363
Processed by Susan Woodland, Rachel Lintz, Rachel Harrison, Janine Veazue, Lawrence Giffin and Elizabeth Hyman
© 2018
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
This project was made possible by generous funding from HIAS.

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States