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Microfilm Collection in the Hadassah Archives

Identifier: I-578/RG 19

Scope and Content Note

This collection includes materials with subject matter that mirrors corresponding Hadassah record groups in paper format. Document types imaged in this collection include correspondence (both typed and handwritten), meeting minutes, reports, essays, program pamphlets, interviews, histories, and photographs.

Most of the microfilmed images in this collection are unique, meaning that AJHS does not have additional microfilm or physical print copies. In most cases, the paper originals were destroyed after imaging. Except for the Hadassah Newsletters and Magazines (of which AJHS also has a complete run on paper), these reels are the archival originals.


  • 1914-2009
  • Majority of material found within 1970 - 1980


Language of Materials

The collection is in English.

Access Restrictions

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.

Use Restrictions

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, NY, 10011


Historical Note

This collection includes materials with subject matter that mirrors corresponding Hadassah record groups in paper format. This historical note provides context for the images in this record group. For more historical information, see the finding aids for the related record groups, under Related Materials below.

Youth Aliyah was founded in Germany in 1933 by Recha Freier, as a way to bring Zionist organizations together to aid in the relocation of German Jewish children to Palestine. In 1934, Henrietta Szold became the Director of the Youth Aliyah Department in the Central Department for the Settlement of German Jews in Jerusalem. Her influential beginnings grew stronger a year later when Rose Jacobs, the acting National President of Hadassah, established Hadassah as the primary fundraising entity for Youth Aliyah in the United States.

The American Zionist Medical Unit (now the Hadassah Medical Organization) grew into a network of hospitals, clinics, health stations, public health initiatives, and school-based programs that represented key segments of Israel's health care system. The Hadassah Medical Organization created many influential institutions including the Nurses' Training School (now the Henrietta Szold Hadassah-Hebrew University School of Nursing), the academic medical center at Mount Scopus, and the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center at Ein Kerem, among others. They paved the way for medical advancements for the people of Israel, providing Israel's first bone marrow transplant in 1977, first test-tube conception in 1982, first skin-grafting center in 1985, the first heart transplant in 1986, and other discoveries.

At the suggestion of Theodor Herzl, founder of Political Zionism, Jewish women were encouraged to form religious and social study groups. In 1912, Henrietta Szold organized a local study group of the national organization called the Daughters of Zion, which she named Hadassah. Under her guidance and adherence to Practical Zionism, Hadassah soon sent two American-trained nurses to Palestine to establish district nursing in 1913. Hadassah's pre-1948 advocacy included creating a Jewish homeland in Palestine, immigration lobbying, aiding Jewish refugees displaced by the World Wars, and fundraising to support Jewish settlements in Palestine. After the founding of the state of Israel in 1948, Hadassah turned its attention to constructing medical centers, encouraging medical and nursing schools, establishing educational facilities, and supporting Youth Aliyah.

Until 1921, Hadassah was governed by a central committee. In November of 1921, a constitution was adopted and in December the first meeting of the National Executive Board of Hadassah was held. The elected National Presidents that followed were commissioned with the tasks shaping the organization's mission, and developing its policies, practices and procedures that governed operations.

Hadassah's first year marked only 700 members, but by the late 1920s it was 34,000 strong. As a response to the increased interest, National committees were created such as Membership, Fundraising, Publicity, etc. in order to better manage the functions and activities of the organization. The Membership arm of Hadassah maintained an orderly system of creation, organization, and service for each of its many National chapters and chapter regions. These chapters also became welcomed outlets for social interaction, participation in Jewish life on a global scale, and an opportunity to learn and acquire new skills. For stay-at-home mothers who felt removed from Jewish tradition, young women enthusiastic about making a difference, and older women interested in giving back to their communities, Hadassah's chapters gave them an outlet for a social feminist voice worthy of worldwide recognition.

Hazel Greenwald-Berkowitz founded the Hadassah Film Department and Archives. Starting in 1962, she also served as served as Chairman of Pictorial Archives. She was a long time member of Hadassah's National Board, and was active in documenting Henrietta Szold's work rescuing Jewish children from Europe and bringing them to Palestine as well as Hadassah's ongoing work in Israel.

Alice Seligsberg was one of the first graduates of Barnard College. She created the Fellowship House, an organization that provided positions and residences to poor and orphaned children. In 1913 she began studying with Henrietta Szold, around the same time the Daughters of Zion was formed. In 1917, Seligsberg helped with the organization of the first group of Hadassah nurses being sent to Palestine. She later served as a board member for the Institute for the Blind in Jerusalem and served as the National President of Hadassah from 1921-1923. From 1923 to the end of her life, she served as the Palestine advisor to the Junior Hadassah Organization, initiating a number of projects including ones that housed war orphans.

Rose Jacobs was influential with Hadassah for most of her life. She was a member of the original circle of women who formed Hadassah and later helped create Hadassah chapters in Georgia, Tennessee, and Washington, D.C. She was instrumental in forwarding Hadassah's support for the Youth Aliyah program, was responsible for initiating the establishment of the Hadassah Hospital in 1939 on Mount Scopus, organized the Hadassah Emergency Committee in Palestine, and served two terms as president, from 1930-1932 and from 1934-1937.

Hadassah began publishing the Hadassah Bulletin in 1914, containing regular updates on national projects and Hadassah chapters. The Hadassah Newsletter replaced the discontinued Bulletin in 1920, with a focus on programming, answering questions, and informing chapters about Palestine/Israel. In 1961, the newsletter evolved into Hadassah Magazine. The post-war publication included topics pertaining more to Jewish women's domestic living, like holidays, travel, food, health, education, culture, as well as pertinent social issues throughout the world.


5 Linear Feet (4 bankers boxes, 2 manuscript boxes, 201 reels)


The Hadassah Microfilm Collection consists of 16mm and 35mm reels containing images of various Hadassah publications, administrative documents, and personal archival material. Content includes on-site photographs, membership and organizational documents, regional chapter lists and histories, items relating to Hadassah’s Zionist political history, and a near-complete run of Hadassah Newsletter/Magazine. Other than the newsletter/magazine run, all images are unique within the collection.

Physical Location

Located in AJHS New York, NY

Previous Finding Aids

The 1985 printed guide of the Alice L. Seligsberg and Rose G. Jacobs papers on microfilm (organized by L.D. Geller) provides a wealth of information about that collection. It can be found here: Guide to the Alice L. Seligsberg and Rose G. Jacobs papers in the Hadassah Archives. Please note that this arrangement is no longer valid.

In 2011, an item-level inventory of RG 19 was created. This inventory is available as a PDF here: RG 19 Inventory.

Acquisition Information

The Hadassah Archives, of which the Hadassah Microfilm (RG 19) is a part, are on long-term deposit at the American Jewish Historical Society.

Related Material

Below is a list of the established Hadassah subjects (and their corresponding record groups) that appear in this collection. For additional materials, please see the following record groups:

Children: RG 1—Youth Aliyah Records and RG 8—Young Judaea Records

Hadassah Medical Organization: RG 2—Hadassah Medical Organization Records

Conventions: RG 3—Annual and Midwinter National Conventions Records

Zionist Political History: RG 4—Zionist Political History Records

Board Minutes: RG 13—Executive Functions Records

Presidents:RG 13—Executive Functions Records

Departments: RG 15—Hadassah Functions and Operations Records

Publications: RG 17—Printed Materials and Publications Records

Chapters: RG 24—Chapters, Regions, Co-ops and Junior Hadassah Records

The Guide to the Hadassah Archives on Long-term Deposit at the American Jewish Historical Society, which describes the entire collection, can found here:

Processing Information

Please be advised that the unit marked 'Folder' in this RG's container list refers to individually numbered reels.

All reels were originally housed in drop-front archival boxes with varying levels of detailed description on each individual microfilm box. This original box description was used as series- and item-level scope notes.

Where dates were not apparent, the microfilm reel was carefully viewed. Labels were adjusted slightly to conform to institutional label formats.

All drop-front microfilm boxes were placed into bankers and manuscript boxes to minimize shelf space and linear footage. Applicable labels including box/reel contents were added to these boxes for ease of research and paging.

Several reels [entirety of box 15] have a faint vinegar smell. Conservation's recommendation of physically isolating the box has been implemented. These reels now reside in a separate manuscript box along with the rest of the collection.

Guide to the Microfilm Collection in the Hadassah Archives 1914-2009 I-578/RG 19
Processed by Janine Veazue in June 2016
© 2012
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

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States