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American Jewish History Autograph and Documents Collection

Identifier: P-1055

Scope and Contents

The documents in the collection were originally bound in a leather book embossed with the title "Autograph Letters and Documents Relating to American Jewish History." As of April 2023, the AJHS has not discovered how or why donated Rosenbach materials were removed and placed in the bound volume. Notes found in the collection of documents include several items that were removed for exhibitions and never returned to the book. The earliest of these notes is from 1937, indicating that the volume was created prior to that year. In 2023, the documents were removed from the bound book by the Cahnman Preservation Laboratory at the Center for Jewish History and digitized by the staff of the American Jewish Historical Society. The documents were then ingested into the Center's digital management system and are now viewable to the public.

The collection holds various documents from prominent members of Jewish society in the 18th and 19th centures, plus some advertisements and book pages. Documents relate to the American Revolution and tariffs; American Revolution pensions; politics between Whig and Democratic issues during the 1840s; other correspondence and items published from pamphlets promoting books or schools.


  • Majority of material found within 1700 - 1910


Historical Note

"Remember the Days of Old."

This phrase from the Torah is located on the Seal of the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS) and also graces a pamphlet produced by the AJHS in 1946 entitled, "Memorable Documents in American Jewish History." The seal motto harkens back to the beginning of the AJHS (1892), while the pamphlet was created under the leadership of the president of the Society from 1922-1949, Abraham Simon Wolf Rosenbach (1876-1952), known as "A.S.W. Rosenbach." Rosenbach followed in the footsteps of his uncle, Moses Polock, who was the first rare bookseller in the United States. Polock died intestate, thereby leaving part of his collection, including a trove of historical children's literature, for sale. Rosenbach and his brother Philip were able to buy the greater majority of the collection, and the remainder was sold by Polock's sisters to the newly formed Rosenbach Company. Rosenbach carried on his uncle's collecting, eventually becoming known both as, "The Terror of the Auction Room" and "Le Napoléon des Livres" or, "The Napoleon of Books," depending on who was speaking. Rosenbach was an avid collector of American Jewish history. President Rosenbach donated his trove of American, Caribbean, and Mexican documents regarding Jewish history to the Society over a period of several years. Rosenbach's donation has formed the canon of the American Jewish Historical Society's collections.

Among the documents are correspondence from United States Vice President George Mifflin Dallas, and two letters from Rebecca Gratz which compliment the collection of Gratz letters at the AJHS.

Remember the days of old, Consider the years of ages past; Ask your father, he will inform you, Your elders, they will tell you: When the Most High gave nations their homes And set the divisions of humanity, Fixing the boundaries of peoples In relation to Israel’s number. (Deuteronomy 32:7-8)


0.25 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The collection's original order was non-existent. The fifty-eight documents (note, six are missing) were placed in a bound volume with no sense of order. Upon preservation removal of the documents from the bound volume and during processing, a pattern of revealed itself into some series order. Documents were described in this resource from 1 to 58, but reordered into the following series:

Series List

  1. Aaron Lopez (1759-1817), 1770 - 1780
  2. Aaronsberg, PA (founded 1786) and Aaron Levy (1742-1815), undated, 1786, 1792
  3. Congregation Shearith Israel (New York, NY), 1805 May 19, 1839 January 7
  4. George Croghan (c. 1718–1782), Bernard (1738–1801) and Michael (1740-1811) Gratz, undated, 1773 May 26, 1780 July 16
  5. George Mifflin Dallas (1792-1864), Henry Myer Phillips (1811-1884), and Isaac Phillips (1812-1889), undated, 1844-1857
  6. Jacob Philadelphia (Jacob Meyer, 1735-1795), undated, 1874 November 1
  7. Isaac Franks (1759-1822), undated, 1788-1819
  8. Isaac Leeser (1806-1868), undated, 1835
  9. Mordecai Manual Noah (1785-1851), undated, 1846, 1851
  10. Moses Levy (1757-1826) and Alexander James Dallas (1759-1817), undated, 1804
  11. Rebecca Gratz (1791-1869) and Mary Elizabeth Fenno (Verplanck; 1787-1817), 1802, 1806
  12. Other Documents, 1706-1825, 1946
  13. Missing Documents, undated, [1794], [1808], [1835], 1937, 1954

Related Materials

The following collections located at the American Jewish Historical Society contain materials related to this collection.

  1. I-1 American Jewish Historical Society Records, President A.S.W. Rosenbach Records, 1922-1949
  2. P-8 Gratz Family Papers
  3. P-11 Aaron Lopez Papers
  4. P-17 Philips Family Papers
  5. P-45 Judah Benjamin Papers
  6. P-142 Franks Family Papers
  7. P-748 ASW Rosenbach Collection

Separated Materials

The following number codes were located in the AJHS bound volume and may correlate to items donated by Rosenbach and numbered "R+item number." Over the past several years, attempts have been made to reconcile Rosenbach numbers and clarify exactly which numbers correlated to specific documents. In some cases, Rosenbach numbers were unable to be reconciled after ninety years of somewhat inaccurate numbering and legacy cataloging. However, the exact meaning of the numbers written in the AJHS bound volume is unknown and were not found to correlate to documents with old Rosenbach catalog numbers.

Rosenbach Numbers Found in AJHS Bound Volume

  1. R54
  2. R64
  3. R75
  4. R135
  5. R391
  6. R439
  7. R644
  8. R645


Wikipedia, A.S.W. Rosenbach.
Guide to the American Jewish History Autograph and Documents Collection
In Progress
Tanya Elder
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States