American Soviet Jewry Movement Posters and Ephemera Collection
Scope and Content Note
The collection contains digitized posters and ephemera found in various collections in the Archives of the American Soviet Jewry Movement at the American Jewish Historical Society. The total number of digital images in the collection is 428.
- Creation: undated, 1970-1991
Language of Materials
The collection is in English, Russian and Hebrew.
The collection is open to all researchers by permission of the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society.
Permission to reproduce collection materials must be obtained in advance and paid for prior to usage. A Materials Release Form must be completed for photographs. Usage fees are assessed by the AJHS as the owner of the physical collection material.
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 email: email@example.com
Historical Note<extptr actuate="onload" altrender="Poster by Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry" href="http://digital.cjh.org/webclient/DeliveryManager?pid=2461863" show="embed" title="Poster by Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry"/>
The American Soviet Jewry Movement Posters and Ephemera Collection consists of a selection of images from various collections housed within the Archive of the American Soviet Jewry Movement (AASJM). These images document 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 Movement 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 Soviet Jewry Movement political posters found in this collection incorporated dramatic imagery, powerful symbolism, and memorable slogans that conveyed the urgency for personal accountability. Sponsored by various Soviet Jewry movement organizations, many were regularly published as full-page ads in newspapers such as The New York Times and The Washington Post. The ads helped to shape the public’s stance on the Soviet regime through calls for trade sanctions, boycotts of Soviet goods, and calls to encourage U.S. participation in scientific and cultural exchanges with the U.S.S.R.
Many of the posters commemorate local, national and global events that shaped the Soviet Jewry movement—the Leningrad hijacking trial of the 1970, the 1980 Moscow Olympics, the Freedom Sunday demonstrations, the Reagan-Gorbachev summits, and special projects designed to help Soviet Jews, such as the Emergency Matzoh Campaign, and Project Sefer. A large number of the posters focus on specific Soviet Jewish Prisoners of Conscience and Refuseniks.
The ephemera aspect of the collection consists of bumper stickers and buttons. Through the 20th century movements for civil rights have used such items to identify and unite their members, to communicate their message and to inform the public of their causes. During the decades of the American Soviet Jewry movement the buttons and stickers were printed and distributed by Jewish organizations and communities and utilized to attract public attention with short and concise messages. The artwork on the buttons ranges from decidedly DIY aesthetics—hand-drawn simple pictures with hand-written text—to powerful graphics by talented artists and professional designers.
Many of the digitized buttons and stickers promoted unity of the global Jewish community with slogans like "Save them, save yourself," "I am my brother's keeper," "Let my people go," and "I am fasting with Soviet Jews." A group of buttons called "freedom shields" bear the names of Soviet Jewish Prisoners engraved on a Star of David. A pamphlet, advertising the freedom shields proclaims: "This is your chance to help the Prisoners of Conscience who gave up their freedom." Wearing these items effectively humanized the Soviet Jewish community and connected the American activists with Soviet Jews on a personal level. A button with a photograph of an emaciated young man with just two words: "Ask me," or a button reading "Ask me about Natasha" were used in an intelligent way to attract attention of a passerby and start a conversation about Soviet Jewish prisoners.
The American Soviet Jewry Movement Posters and Ephemera Collection reflects the great diversity of the Soviet Jewry movement in the United States. The parent collections range from the papers of Jerry Goodman (the director of the major establishment organization National Conference on Soviet Jewry) to the records of the Chicago Action for Soviet Jewry, the founding council of the grassroots Union of Councils for Soviet Jews, as well as several small personal collections of local activists. The digitized buttons and bumper stickers were produced by different, often ideologically rival organizations that nonetheless worked together and succeeded in a common cause. These organizations include the United Jewish Appeal, the American Jewish Congress, the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry, the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, the Coalition to Free Soviet Jews and a number of smaller local agencies and student and youth organizations. In the truly national nature of the Soviet Jewry movement, the digitized artifacts were produced and used in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D. C., Chicago, Los Angeles and in many other locations across the United States.
428 Digital Files
This is an artificial collection that contains digitized posters and ephemera selected from various collections in the Archives of the American Soviet Jewry Movement at the American Jewish Historical Society.
The collection is arranged into a single series.
Located in AJHS New York, NY
Alternate Access to Digitized Posters and Ephemera
The digital images can also be accessed by following this link: AASJM posters and ephemera in Digitool.
This artificial collection was created by the American Jewish Historical Society in 2009 and extended in 2014, due to the ongoing digitization efforts by the Center for Jewish History.
The digitization of a portion of the items available here has been made possible through a generous grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).
This artificial collection is the result of several ongoing digitization efforts on the part of the American Jewish Historical Society and the Center for Jewish History. Some of the items in the collection are described on the item level, while others are described on folder level.
- Gorbachev, Mikhail Sergeevich, 1931- (Person)
- Nudel, Ida (Person)
- Reagan, Ronald (Person)
- Sakharov, Andreĭ, 1921-1989 (Person)
- Shcharansky, Anatoly (Person)
- Shultz, George Pratt, 1920- (Person)
- Travers, Mary, 1936-2009 (Person)
- Bay Area Council for Soviet Jews (Organization)
- Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry (Organization)
- National Conference on Soviet Jewry (U.S.) (Organization)
- Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry (Organization)
- Union of Councils for Soviet Jews (Organization)
- Olympic Games (22nd ) (Location of meeting: Moscow, Russia). Date of meeting or treaty signing: 1980 :.) (Organization)
Genre / Form
- Former Soviet republics
- Moscow (Russia)
- New York (N.Y.)
- Saint Petersburg (Russia)
- Siberia (Russia)
- Soviet Union
- United States
- American Soviet Jewry Movement Posters and Ephemera Collection, undated, 1970-1991 *I-566
- Processed by Andrey Filimonov
- © 2014
- 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
- August 2016: Container list updated by Leanora Lange.