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Records of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Landsmanshaftn Department

Identifier: RG 335.7

Scope and Content Note

The majority of the collection consists of correspondence with some newspaper clippings, photographs, committee meeting minutes, bank reports and receipts from the interest-free loan associations and from individual donors, official documentation about immigration and displaced persons, and a few programs and invitations from various events held by the landsmanshaftn. The materials date from 1926 to 1950 with the bulk dating from 1937-1939 and 1945-1949. Over 800 communities and countries are represented. Most of the documents for an individual community are in a single folder, however some communities have several folders. The majority of the collection is in English and Yiddish, although various official documents are in Polish, German, Russian, Spanish, French, and Arabic on the documents from various governmental and JDC offices around the world. Folders 41, 43, 117, 155, 234, 246, 307, and 353 contain some information about the activities of TOZ, the Society for the Protection of the Health of the Jewish Population in Poland, including some photographs.

Many of the towns have several different names and different ways of spelling these names, depending upon what language is used and what system of transliteration, if any, is used. Most town names are listed by their Polish name and spelling in the container lists, although some folders have information about landsmanshaftn using a transliterated spelling, such as folder 43, labeled Brzesc and containing information about the Brisker Relief Society. Alternate names and spellings are in parentheses following the town name. Some of the folders are labeled according to the name of the landsmanshaft, although they are represented by the town name in the container list, such as folder 824, listed as Satanow but labeled as Satanover Sisterhood Bronx, for Child Transportation to Palestine. Some folders of towns that were known by different names or were so small that former occupants were part of the landsmanshaft of the closest larger town contain only a cross-reference sheet, such as folder 241, Lubar, directing the researcher to folder 378, Rowne. When one landsmanshaft serves multiple towns, the town names are divided by slash marks, such as folder 14, Bendzin (Bedzin) / Sosnowiec, which contains information about the landsmanshaft that serves both Bedzin and Sosnowiec. The materials are arranged chronologically in each folder.


  • 1926-1950
  • Majority of material found within 1937-1939
  • Majority of material found within 1945-1949

Language of Materials

The collection is in English and Yiddish, with some German, Polish, Russian, Spanish, French, and Arabic.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to researchers. Permission to publish part or parts of the collection must be obtained in writing from the YIVO Archives.

Use Restrictions

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

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


Historical Note

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (also known as the JDC) was founded on November 27, 1914, in order to facilitate and centralize the collection and distribution of funds by American Jews for Jews abroad. The Landsmanshaftn Department of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (LD) was originally organized as a department of the JDC, known as the Landsmanshaftn Bureau, in 1919 in New York. The aim of the department was to encourage relief efforts by the landsmanshaftn in the United States for their native communities in Eastern Europe.

This work was temporarily discontinued in 1924 before it was revived in the late 1930s as part of the JDC Reconstruction program. At this time, the JDC pledged to match with equal amounts of funds every donation made by each landsmanshaft to their former native communities, particularly those made on behalf of the interest-free loan associations (gmilas khesed societies) in these communities. The JDC organized a Landsmanshaftn Fraternal Division, known usually as the Landsmanshaftn Department, in 1937 and this department successfully enlisted the cooperation of several hundred landsmanshaftn.

The outbreak of World War II put a temporary end to this program, which was revived once again in 1945, this time mainly as a channel of relief aid furnished by the landsmanshaftn for the survivors from their native communities. These activities were later expanded to include issues of immigration and the location of survivors.


15 Linear Feet


This collection contains mainly correspondence between staff of the JDC Landsmanshaftn Department and members of various landsmanshaftn, benevolent organizations of immigrants originally from the same communities, as well as between the Landsmanshaftn Department and the interest-free loan associations (gmilas khesed societies) and heads of the various Jewish communities, mostly in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.


At the time of the accession, the materials were arranged in two series, Records of the Landsmanshaftn Fraternal Division 1926-1940 and Landsmanshaftn Department Post-World War II Records, 1944-1950. Each series consisted of general correspondence files and correspondence with landsmanshaftn – the latter filed under the name of the locality to which it pertained. This classification has been retained, as has the original series and folder arrangement. Folders are arranged chronologically and alphabetically by the name of the community, although any discrepancies in alphabetizing have been retained from the original organization. The series have been further divided into several subseries.

  1. Series I: Records of the Landsmanshaftn Fraternal Division, 1926-1940
  2. Subseries 1: General correspondence, 1937-1940
  3. Subseries 2: Correspondence about communities and landsmanshaftn, 1926-1940
  4. Series II: Landsmanshaftn Department Post-World War II Records, 1944-1950
  5. Subseries 1: General correspondence chronological file, 1945-1950
  6. Subseries 2: General correspondence alphabetical file, 1944-1950
  7. Subseries 3: Inter-office memoranda, 1945-1948
  8. Subseries 4: Correspondence about countries and with the regional JDC offices, 1945-1950
  9. Subseries 5: General correspondence cross-file, 1947-1949
  10. Subseries 6: Correspondence about communities, 1944-1950

Other Finding Aid

A paper finding aid, which was created in 1976, can be found in the Reading Room.

Acquisition Information

The AJDC Archives gave the Records of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Landsmanshaftn Department to YIVO in June 1976. The materials were originally packed in eight transfile boxes and have been rehoused in 36 Hollinger boxes comprising 15 linear feet.

Related Material

YIVO has several collections of JDC records as well as books about the JDC, as do the Leo Baeck Institute and the American Jewish Historical Society. Record group 335 contains records of the JDC, including its nine subgroups, 335.1-335.9. In addition, YIVO has many collections of various individual landsmanshaftn and charitable organizations, some of which are mentioned in this collection, and its own Landsmanshaftn collection, as well as records of several people associated with the JDC. YIVO also has several territorial collections for many different countries and regions represented by the Landsmanshaftn Department.

Guide to the Records of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Landsmanshaftn Department 1926-1950 RG 335.7
Collection arranged by YIVO archivists, 1970s. Electronic finding aid produced with the assistance of a grant from the Gruss Lipper Family Foundation. Additional processing by Rachel S. Harrison in 2008 as part of the Leon Levy Archival Processing Initiative, made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation.
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.

Repository Details

Part of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States