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Records of the American Jewish Committee, Alphabetical Files

 Collection
Identifier: RG 347.17.12

Scope and Content Note

Of the numerous general record groups maintained by the former AJC Central Files Division, the "Alphabetical" series is probably the most straightforward. These records consist of correspondence, biographical statements, memoranda, meeting minutes, reports, transcripts, press releases, clippings, notes, photographs, booklets, and other published materials, documenting the Committee’s relationships with a variety of individuals and organizations. The files appear to have been heavily used by AJC staff as well as outside researchers, and to have been conscientiously organized to this end. Cross-reference sheets and folders marked with "See also" notes are common, and some folders indicate specific use restrictions for non-AJC researchers. The upper right corners of many documents are annotated with numeric subject codes and file headings; generally, these are simply the names of relevant persons or agencies. Files were and arranged alphabetically, with some idiosyncrasies and thematic sub-groupings (described in more detail below).

This collection was maintained by the Committee’s Central Records office until sometime around 1962, at which point record retention switched to a departmental system. As physical custody remained within the AJC Records Center until the 1980s, the few items in the collection dated past 1963 were likely inserted by an AJC archivist prior to transfer to YIVO.

Not contained here are files on the subject of the AJC itself; executive, administrative, and personnel records will be found elsewhere. See Arrangement note and Related Materials for more information.

Dates

  • 1924-1981
  • Majority of material found within 1933-1962

Language of Materials

The collection is primarily in English.

Access Restrictions

Permission to use the collection must be obtained from the YIVO Archivist.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish part or parts of the collection must be obtained from the YIVO Archives. For more information, contact:

YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011

Email: archives@yivo.cjh.org

Historical Note

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) was founded in New York in 1906 to defend the civil and religious rights of Jews and other minorities throughout the world. Among the original founders of the AJC were Louis Marshall, Judge Mayer Sulzberger, Jacob Schiff, and Cyrus Adler. AJC leadership in subsequent years has included Judge Joseph Proskauer, Jacob Blaustein, Morris Abram, Irving Engel, Morris Waldman, John Slawson, and other notable figures. Beginning as a small group, the AJC interceded privately on behalf of Jews in the traditional style of personal diplomacy. Early successes included lobbying for a liberal American immigration policy and against the literacy test requirement for immigrants. The AJC also campaigned for the rights of Jews in Tsarist Russia and mounted a public relations campaign against anti-Semitic publications like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

In the 1930s AJC membership widened, and by the 1940s the organization was conducting educational programs and scholarly studies on anti-Semitism, civil rights, and intercultural relations. With the rise of Fascism and the years of World War II, the Committee produced an increasing number of publications on Nazi influences in the United States. The AJC also intervened on behalf of persecuted European Jews before the U.S. and other Allied governments, campaigning for Jewish immigration to neutral states and safe heavens for refugees.

In following decades, the Committee continued its public relations activities domestically and abroad, denouncing racism and bigotry while promoting intergroup cooperation and cultural diversity. International projects included providing aid to Jewish refugees and DPs, monitoring pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic movements in Europe and the Soviet bloc, and helping to fashion laws on genocide and human rights through cooperation with the United Nations. At home, AJC supported legislation addressing racial and religious discrimination in employment, education, and housing.

Today, the AJC continues its work "to promote pluralistic and democratic societies where all minorities are protected"1. It remains headquartered in New York City, with regional offices across the United States and in Washington, D.C., and outposts in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.

References

Mohrer, Fruma, and Marek Web, eds. Guide to the YIVO Archives. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 1998.

Pomrenze, Seymour J. Inventory of Records of the American Jewish Committee, 1906-80. New York: American Jewish Committee, 1981.

Footnotes

  1. 1"Who We Are." AJC: Global Jewish Advocacy. Retrieved from the American Jewish Committee website at www.ajc.org September 24, 2013.

Extent

81.25 Linear Feet (195 letter-sized manuscript boxes; 2,661 folders)

Abstract

This collection consists of general reference files from the New York City headquarters of the American Jewish Committee (AJC). Materials originated in various AJC departments and were maintained by a Central Records office until 1962, when records retention policy was decentralized. Document types include correspondence, memoranda, reports, clippings, and published materials concerning individuals, businesses, government agencies, and other organizations related to the work of the AJC.

Arrangement

The collection is arranged as a single series and should be considered in relation to the larger body of American Jewish Committee records.

The arrangement scheme is generally alphabetical, with miscellaneous files grouped at the beginning and the beginning of each section. Folders 1–3, called "Organizations," contain documents relating to multiple organizations, relationships between organizations, issues common to organizations in general, and lists of multiple organizations. In contrast, the miscellaneous group folders that appear at the start of each new letter section may have been intended as temporary holding areas where items accumulated until warranting a separate folder. In some cases, correspondence from an individual appears in both the generic "M" file (for example) and again in a file labeled with that person’s own name.

All other A–Z folders pertain to an individual person, association, or institution. Original order has been maintained entirely, with very few alterations to folder titles except to expand and clarify abbreviations or acronyms. There are, therefore, small inconsistencies regarding spelling, the alphabetization of non-essential words (prepositions and articles), and the formulation of complex organization names. For the largest file groups, items were divided into multiple files and denoted by multipart folder titles. The AJC records office typed these longer titles onto file labels with each subordinate part on a separate line, which is represented in this finding aid through the use of dashes. For example: "Joint Defense Appeal — National Council — Annual Meetings" (Box 69, Folder 11). Such titles do not necessarily describe real administrative hierarchies or the format of materials contained within a given folder. Instead of functioning as a simple naming system, such groupings may reflect thematic concerns or topics of special interest to the AJC.

Folder titles containing parentheses were transcribed from the files as they appeared, with any additions or annotations from the archivist found instead within square brackets. It is not clear if the folders with "See also" notes refer to files in this series or another AJC record group.

Other Finding Aid

A typed file inventory (61 pages) is available upon request in the CJH Reading Room, but it contains errors that have been corrected by this online finding aid.

Acquisition Information

American Jewish Committee deposited selected record series in the YIVO Archives in 1983.

Related Material

This collection is one of several large AJC record groups held by YIVO. These include files of the community services and membership department (CSD), executive offices (EXO), the foreign affairs department (FAD), and the research division (DIS). Collections most closely related to the Alphabetical Files, however, are likely to be the other general (GEN) records groups, as they were maintained concurrently at the central office: RG 347.17.13 (AJC Domestic Geographic Files) and RG 347.17.10 (AJC Subject Files).

Many of the Committee’s records are also preserved in their own library and digital archives, available at www.ajcarchives.org.

Processing Information

Due to time and space constraints, physical re-processing of the collection was minimal. Large metal bindings and bulky plastic report covers were removed. Wherever possible, the original folders were kept and numbered appropriately, although these folders are not pH-neutral and this means there is some variety in the formatting of file labels. The folders appear to have been frequently reused by the Committee's records office, and many files have previous labels and titles visible within folders or on the reverse side.

In the course of processing, four files listed on the paper inventory were found to be missing. Two of these are from Box 11: "American Jewish Conference — Committees," and "American Jewish Conference — Committees — Executive." The other two are "Heschel, Abraham" (from Box 56) and "Proskauer, Joseph M. — Speeches" (Box 131).
Title
Guide to the Records of the American Jewish Committee, Alphabetical Files (GEN-12) 1924-1981 (bulk 1933-1962) RG 347.17.12
Status
In Progress
Author
Processed by Alyssa Carver
Date
© 2013
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Sponsor
as part of the Leon Levy Archival Processing Initiative, made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation

Repository Details

Part of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research Repository

Contact:
15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States