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Steven Siegel Papers

Identifier: P-979

Scope and Content Note

The Steven Siegel Collection documents the professional and to a smaller extent personal life of Steven Siegel, archivist, genealogist, and an active member of the LGBT community.

Materials related to Steven Siegel’s personal life constitute a much smaller portion of the collection. These materials document his involvement with student organizations at Cornell University and with Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, the first gay and lesbian synagogue in New York.

Additionally, there is a small amount of correspondence with friends and family members.

Moreover, there is correspondence, immigration documents, and other personal materials pertaining to other members of the Siegel family; most notably James Markstein and his efforts to bring relatives and friends from Nazi Europe to safety.

Materials documenting Siegel’s professional activities as an archivist and genealogist constitute a much larger portion of the collection. Throughout his career, Steven Siegel was actively involved with archival organizations and institutions. He was a member of the Synagogue Rescue Project Inc., the Council of Research Libraries in Jewish Studies, and the Jewish Historical Society of New York.

Steven Siegel’s involvement with these organizations is well documented in the collection by the abundance of correspondence, materials pertaining to the Board meetings and membership materials, memoranda, mailings and newsletters, financial documents, project proposals, and printed materials.

In addition to being an archivist, Steven Siegel was one of the most authoritative and influential genealogists of his time. Material dealing with genealogy includes correspondence, a large amount of original genealogical research, materials pertaining to seminars and conferences, periodical publications that Steven Siegel contributed to, such as Toledo and Dorot, manuscripts, lists, membership information pertaining to the Jewish Genealogical Society, and materials dealing with the Family History Fair that he organized and ran.

Even though Steven Siegel worked for many years as an archivist at the 92nd Street Y in New York, there are no records documenting this aspect of his professional activities.


  • 1938-2008


Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers, except items that may be restricted due to their fragility, or privacy.

Use Restrictions

No permission is required to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection, as long as the usage is scholarly, educational, and non-commercial. For inquiries about other usage, please contact the Director of Collections and Engagement at

For reference questions, please email:

Biographical Note

Steven W. Siegel, archivist, genealogist, and an active member of the LGBT community was born in 1946 in Teaneck, New Jersey.

Upon graduating from Teaneck High School, he studied engineering at Cornell University. While at Cornell, he was actively engaged in student life on campus, served as the president of the Cornell Class of 1968 and the vice president of the Cornell Alumni Association. In 2011, Steven Siegel received Cornell's prestigious Frank H. T. Rhodes Exemplary Alumni Service Award.

Starting as the student president of the Cornell Hillel during his senior year, Steven Siegel was a life long supporter of Hillel and served on the Cornell Hillel Board of Trustees for over 35 years.

For over 30 years Steven Siegel also served as the national coordinator of the Cornell University Gay and Lesbian Alumni Association (CUGALA).

His involvement with the LGBT movement was not limited to CUGALA as he helped found Congregation Beth Simchat Torah in New York, the first and only synagogue serving the Jewish gay and lesbian community. He served on the Board of Trustees, helped organize and attended conferences, and was instrumental in publishing the Gay Synagogue News, the synagogue’s newsletter.

In the early 1970s, Steven Siegel developed an interest in genealogy and as Gary Mokotoff writes “he became a pioneer of Jewish genealogy”.

In 1977, along with Dr. Neil Rosenstein, he founded the Jewish Genealogical Society of New York (JGSNY), the first genealogical society devoted solely to Jewish genealogy created since the 1930s. He was a member of the Board of Directors from its inception and served in this capacity for 35 years.

Steven Siegel was influential in the creation of many aspects of Jewish genealogy that are the standard today: he conceived of and published (along with Arthur Kurzweil) the first contemporary journal of Jewish genealogy, Toledot, organized the first annual conference on Jewish genealogy, helped publish the first major book by the Jewish Genealogical Society: Genealogical Resources in the New York Metropolitan Area (1989), and organized and ran the New York City Family History Fair.

Even though Siegel’s main interests were in the fields of Jewish archives and Jewish genealogy, he was also active in the wider genealogical and archival communities.

Steven Siegel served as a president of the Archivist Round Table of the Metropolitan New York as well as a president of the Jewish Historical Society of New York (JHSNY), which he helped found. He was also the director and archivist at the 92nd Street YM-YWHA in New York for over 30 years.

Steven Siegel died in New York on January 21st, 2012.


27 Linear Feet

Language of Materials







The Steven Siegel Collection documents the life and professional activities of Steven Siegel, archivist, genealogist, and an active member of the LGBT community. The collection consists of correspondence, seminar and conference materials, publications, lists, manuscripts, original genealogical research, minutes, official documents, photographs, project proposals, and questionnaires. Materials related to Steven Siegel’s personal life constitute a smaller portion of the collection and consist of personal correspondence, materials documenting his involvement with Cornell University and Congregation Beth Simchat Torah. Materials documenting Siegel’s professional activities include documents pertaining to the Jewish Historical Society of New York, the Jewish Genealogical Society, and the Council of Research Libraries in Jewish Studies.

Acquisition Information

The collection was donated in 2012 by Connie Siegel-Dennis.

Guide to the Steven Siegel Papers, 1938-2008 P-979
Processed by Yakov Illich Sklar
© 2014
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Processed as part of the Leon Levy Archival Processing Initiative, made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation

Revision Statements

  • November 2020: RJohnstone: post-ASpace migration cleanup.

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States