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Joseph A. Rosen Papers

Identifier: RG 358

Scope and Content Note

The Joseph A. Rosen Papers are in fact an organic part of the records of Agro-Joint. With the exception of a few personal documents and miscellaneous items, these are the files of the Agro-Joint Director, consisting of correspondence, memoranda, minutes, reports and a variety of other documents. A small portion of the records pertains to the period before 1924. The Joseph A. Rosen Papers remain a key record group for studying the history of Jewish colonization in the Soviet Union.

Joseph A. Rosen was often addressed as Iosif Borisovich in Russian-language correspondence and documents.


  • Creation: 1911-1943
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1922-1938


Language of Materials

The collection is in Russian, English, German, Ukrainian, Yiddish, French, and Spanish.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to the public. 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 email:

Biographical Note

Joseph A. Rosen was born in Moscow in 1877. He studied agronomic sciences in Russia and Germany. Joseph A. Rosen was exiled to Siberia for his political involvement with the Russian Social-Democratic Party (Mensheviks). In 1903 he emigrated to the United States. He completed his agronomic training here. Joseph A. Rosen gained international renown in the field of agriculture after he developed a new variety of winter rye which was named "Rosen Rye" after him and which was widely used by U.S. farmers.

Joseph A. Rosen joined the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (AJDC) Russian Unit in 1921, and in August of that year was invited by Colonel W.N. Haskel of the American Relief Administration (ARA) to join this organization as the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee representative. When the American Relief Administration ceased to operate in the Soviet Union, Joseph A. Rosen remained with the AJDC Russian Unit which continued its work by special agreement with the Soviet government. As one of the authors of the AJDC Reconstruction program, Joseph A. Rosen began to import from the United States corn seed and modern machinery, especially tractors, to help the Jewish colonies in the Ukraine. At the same time he explored the possibilities of Jewish colonization on a large scale in the Soviet Union as a measure against rapid pauperization of the Jewish masses. In his reports to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee he recommended full support for a massive colonization program. When the American Jewish Joint Agricultural Corporation (Agro-Joint) was founded in 1924, Joseph A. Rosen became its director. In this capacity he served until the last years of his life.

Joseph A. Rosen died in New York in 1949.

Historical Note

The American Jewish Joint Agricultural Corporation, known also as the Agro-Joint, was established by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee as its operating agency in the Soviet Union on July 17, 1924 with the aim of carrying on and developing on a large scale the land settlement of Jews in the Soviet Union. The Agro-Joint was also to conduct non-agricultural activities such as general relief, professional training and, especially in the 1930s, industrialization.

The Agro-Joint entered into its first agreement with the Soviet Government on November 29, 1924. Other agreements that provided for the extension of Agro-Joint's work were concluded on: January 31, 1927; January 15, 1929; March 22-April 14, 1933. The terms of the cessation of Agro-Joint's activities in the Soviet Union were established in the agreement of October 1, 1938. The Agro-Joint discontinued its work in the Soviet Union in 1939. On the Soviet side, all agreements were countersigned by the Government sponsored Committee for the Settlement of Toiling Jews on Land under the Presidium of the Council of Nationalities of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR (Komitet po zemel´nomu ustroistvu trudiashchikhsia evreev pri Prezidiume Soveta natsional´nostei TSIK SSSR, KOMZET). This agency, established by the government on August 29, 1924, was to have an over-all control over the colonization process. Under the auspices of KOMZET, a semi-voluntary All-Union Society for Land Settlement of Jewish Workers in the USSR (Vsesoiuznoe obshchestvo po zemel´nomu ustroistvu trudiashchikhsia evreev v SSSR, OZET) was also organized in January 1925 with the aim of promoting the idea of colonization among Jewish masses and recruiting new settlers.

The Agro-Joint conducted its work in the Soviet Union mainly through its own organization consisting of the following elements:

  1. Directorate – a collective body entitled to executive decisions (Joseph A. Rosen, director; Samuel E. Liubarskii, agricultural department; E.A. Grower, non-agricultural activities; I.M. Ratner, finances and administration)
  2. Main Office (AMO) located in Moscow
  3. Regional (district) offices in Kherson for the Kherson province; in Krivoi Rog (Kryvyi Rih) for the Ekaterinoslav province; in Simferopol' for Crimea. Outside of those districts, there were also several "special" projects, namely the hop-growing colonies in Volyn' (Vohlynia), grape and fruit plantations in the sandy district of the Lower Dniepr, Chalutzim settlements in Kuban district and Turkestan, ORT colonies in Odessa province and in Belorussia.
  4. Agro-sectors (agro-uchastok) consisting of several settlements that were under the supervision of an Agro-Joint agronomist

Beside colonization, the Agro-Joint assisted a network of Jewish mutual aid societies, medical establishments, kindergartens, professional schools and loan associations. In 1929 Joseph A. Rosen suggested the establishment of the Industrial Fund to help Soviet Jews to find their way to industry. Due to the discouraging political atmosphere in the Soviet Union, this plan was eventually abandoned by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (AJDC) leadership. Nonetheless, the Industrialization Department of the Agro-Joint was instrumental in the vocational training of Jewish youths and in creating a number of Jewish workshops.

In 1928, when some 100,000 Jews were already settled, Rosen came forward with a proposal to enlarge the colonization by finding new sources of financing the project (up to 1928 all funds came from direct American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee appropriations). The new sums were to be raised among a small group of private subscribers who would receive in return from the Soviet government interest bearing bonds. Thus, the American Society for Jewish Farm Settlements (ASJFS or AMSOJEFS) was incorporated in 1928 with James N. Rosenberg as its president. The American Society for Jewish Farm Settlements (ASJFS) concluded an agreement with the Soviet Government on January 15, 1929 providing $1,000,000 per annum over the period of 10 years that the American Society for Jewish Farm Settlements would raise funds for the colonization. The Agro-Joint was named as the operating agency of the American Society for Jewish Farm Settlements. The worsening economic conditions in the United States and the death of Julius Rosenwald in 1932, who was the single largest contributor to ASJFS (he pledged $5,000,000), caused modification of the terms of the agreement and the signing of a supplementary agreement in 1933. The American Society for Jewish Farm Settlements ceased to operate in 1935 after raising nearly $8,000,000.

Altogether, between 1924 and 1938 the Agro-Joint administered some $16,000,000 for all its activities in the Soviet Union. After 1939 the Agro-Joint operated for a number of years in Latin America seeking to settle German-Jewish refugees. The new project never went beyond its initial stage. The Agro-Joint was dissolved in 1954.


17.1 Linear Feet

10 Linear Feet (Photos)


Joseph A. Rosen was an agronomist and official of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. In the 1920s and 1930s he organized and coordinated relief activities for impoverished Jews in the Soviet Union. Joseph A. Rosen was a director of the American Jewish Joint Agricultural Corporation (Agro-Joint) that tried to develop Jewish settlements and assisted with organization of Jewish factories, cooperatives, schools, and health care facilities. All these subjects are covered in this collection. These are the papers of Joseph A. Rosen in his official capacity as a Director of the Agro-Joint. The collection contains agreements between Agro-Joint and the Soviet government, reports, and field observations of the agronomists and officials of the relief organizations, particularly of the Agro-Joint, technical reports and documentation necessary for development and financial sustainability of the Jewish settlements. Maps and landscape plans are also part of this collection.


The collection is divided into five topical series.

  1. Series I: : Agro-Joint Director General Records
  2. Subseries 1: Agreements with the Soviet Government
  3. Subseries 2: American Relief Administration (ARA), American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (AJDC), American Society for Jewish Farm Settlements in the USSR (ASJFS)
  4. Subseries 3: Agro-Joint Main Office (AMO)
  5. A. AMO annual and periodic reports
  6. B. AMO general correspondence
  7. C. Land surveys and allocation
  8. Subseries 4: Committee for the Settlement of Toiling Jews on the Land (KOMZET)
  9. Series II: Records of the Agricultural Department
  10. Subseries 1: General Files
  11. Subseries 2: Regional Files
  12. A. Crimea (Krym)
  13. B. Crimea settlements and agro-sectors
  14. C. Ekaterinoslav (Yekaterinoslav)
  15. D. Kherson
  16. E. Krivoi Rog (Kryvyi Rih)
  17. F. Moscow
  18. G. Odessa
  19. H. Volyn’(Volhynia, Volynia)
  20. I. Belorussia (Belarus, Byelarussia)
  21. Series III: Records of the Relief and Industrialization Department
  22. Series IV: Photographic Files
  23. Series V: Post-1938 and Miscellaneous

Other Finding Aids

There is a list of photographs that were originally located in folder 308. Researchers can access the photographs by making an appointment with the curator of the Photo and Film Archive.

Acquisition Note

The Joseph A. Rosen Papers were donated to the YIVO Archives in 1956 by Joseph A. Rosen's widow, Catharina Rosen.


This collection has been microfilmed and is available on 32 Microfilm reels MK 469.1 to MK 469.32.

Related Material

Records of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (AJDC) RG 335.

Separated Material

Photographs in the Joseph A. Rosen Collection were removed to the YIVO Photo and Film Collection and labelled RG 358. For more information contact the Chief Archivist or the Photo Archivist.

Processing Information

At the time of the accession of the Joseph A. Rosen papers a general description of contents was made, but no particular arrangement procedures were applied to the collection. The papers were eventually inventoried and microfilmed in 1976 under a special grant from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. The transliteration of Russian and Ukrainian personal and geographical names was adjusted according to ALA - LC Romanization tables in 2003. The Russian form of the geographic names was, however, preserved, since that is the form in which they appear in the collection, but where applicable the contemporary form in Ukrainian is added in parentheses.

Guide to the Papers of Joseph A. Rosen (1877-1949), 1911-1943 (bulk 1922-1938) RG 358
Processed by Marek Web
© 1976, 2004
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
with the assistance of a grant from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
Edition statement
This version was derived from JosephRosen.xml

Repository Details

Part of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States