In late 2013 my friend and fellow
genealogist Angela Shire pointed out to me that although the
registers of the JFS had been available on line in PDF form, on
the Moving Here* website, they had not been transcribed and
indexed for data searching. I therefore approached the school to
ask for permission to transcribe the registers. Over the past
year I have worked my way through some 20,000 records and
hopefully, in the future, will continue transcribing both
backwards and forwards. I have done my best to read the
sometimes extremely difficult handwriting but rather than take a
guess you may find "?" where it has proven impossible to do so.
The writing of the boys' school registrars has been more legible
than those of the girls'. The first tranche of searchable
records covers the period circa 1856 to circa 1907.
My sincere gratitude must go to
Jamie Peston the Community Liaison Officer of the Jews' Free
School who has been more than encouraging and enthusiastic and
also to David Luck of the London Metropolitan Archives who has
greatly facilitated my work.
Since starting this project the Moving Here website has been
Louise Messik, 30th March 2015
The Jews' Free School is Europe's largest and
most successful Jewish secondary school. It was established in
1732 as the Talmud Torah of the Great Synagogue of London,
serving orphans of the community.
In 1822, the School was relocated to Bell Lane in the heart of
the East End where, throughout the 19th century, it absorbed
thousands of immigrant children. At one time JFS had 4,000
children on roll and was the largest school in the world.
In the inter-war period, children often came straight from the
Kindertransport to JFS. During World War II, students were
evacuated to East Anglia and Cornwall and the School was
destroyed by enemy action. It re-opened in 1958 in Camden Town
where its location was central for the London Jewish community
of the late 1950s.
Maintaining its tradition of mirroring the demography of the
community, JFS left Camden Town in 2002 and relocated itself to
state of the art facilities closer to the heart of North West
The text immediately above and the photographs
are copyright of the Jews' Free School and may not be reproduced
without written consent. Enlarged versions of the photographs
may be seen by clicking on the images.