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Guide to the Papers of John Stern

Identifier: ASF AR 68

Scope and Content Note

The papers of Mr. John Stern consist of documents relating to the life of John Stern and the people and events surrounding his life. This collection represents several key points in Stern's life, including documents from his time at school, several pages from his journal, and items that represent the community in Morocco where he resided. Notable items include school notebooks, several poems composed by Stern’s wife Alia Azancot Stern, and tributes to John and Alia.


  • 1924-2013
  • Majority of material found within 1945-1990


Language of Materials

The collection is in English, French, and Spanish.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact:

American Sephardi Federation, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011


Biographical Note

John (Hans Ulrich) Stern was born in Hamburg, Germany where he attended school until July 1933. Moving to Morocco with his parents, he attended French school in Casablanca from October 1933 until May 1935 and then a Spanish primary school in Tetuan, where he graduated in June 1937. He then moved to Tangier where he attended the French Lycee and obtained a French Baccalaureat of Philosophy in 1945. During this time, Stern maintained a journal in which he described life in Tangier during a period of Spanish annexation and Nazi propaganda. He lost his father early in life, and worked as a buying agent for his mother.

Encouraged by his mother, he moved to the United States in 1949. He served in the U.S. Army from 1951-53, serving as a supply clerk in an infantry company, and later as an interpreter at a U.S. Army base in Stuttgart, Germany. Upon his release from the Army in 1953, he went back to New York and resumed his business interests there.

A devoted son, Stern moved to Tangier in June, 1955 in order to care for his sick mother. There, he met and married his wife Alia Azancot Stern (the daughter of a former Rabbinic Judge from Tangier) in 1957. Their son James was born in 1958. Once Tangier was integrated into Morocco in 1960, he and his family moved back to New York. He continued working as a buying agent for Jewish customers in Morocco, and joined the company Dicker International in 1968. He purchased the business with a partner in 1974, and continued as its sole owner in 1992. Stern died in New York (Rosh Chodesh Tamuz).


0.75 Linear Feet (1 manuscript box, 1 half-manuscript box)


The papers of John/Jean (Hans Ulrich) Stern are composed of a selection of his school papers, several journal entries and primary sources from Tangiers Morocco, and later sources from reunions and societies related to the Jewish communities of Tangiers. There are also several samples of his wife Alia’s poetry in English and French.


Materials in this collection have been organized into three series, based on the life of John Stern. Series I consists of notebooks, documents, and other materials created during his years at school. Series II is made up entirely of photocopies of Stern's journal. Series III consists of various documents and ephemera relating to the Moroccan community Stern lived in as a young man.

The collection is divided into three series:

  1. Series I: School Years, undated, 1924-1957
  2. Series II: Tagebuch (Journal/Diary), 1939-1951
  3. Series III: Tangier, Morocco Community, undated, 1926-2013

Acquisition Information

Collection was donated to the American Sephardi Federation in 2012 by John Stern.

Additional materials (mostly items relating to John Stern's school years) were donated to the American Sephardi Federation in 2014 by John Stern's son, James Stern.

Related Material

The Leo Baeck Institute holds the Guide to the Papers of the John Stern (1926-1987) Family, 1836-2000, which includes official documents, correspondence, and various personal papers of several Stern family members.

Separated Material

Processing Information

Original order was retained whenever possible.

Most non-archival fasteners (such as rubber bands and staples) have been removed. All items have been rehoused into archival folders.

Guide to the Papers of John Stern (1926-1987) 1926-2013 bulk 1939-1951 ASF AR 68
Processed by Randall C. Belinfante and Netalie Matalon
© 2013
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.

Revision Statements

  • 2018:: Additional processing and EAD encoding by Janine Veazue.

Repository Details

Part of the American Sephardi Federation Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States