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JEWS' FREE SCHOOL, Spitalfields 

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 Introduction to the Registers

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.

*NB. Since starting this project the Moving Here website has been closed down.

Louise Messik, 30th March 2015

About the School

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 London.

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.


J.F.S. The History of the Jews' Free School, London since 1732 by Dr Gerry Black

From East End to Land's End (the evacuation of Jews' Free School to Mousehole Cornwall during WW2) by Susan Soyinka

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Page Created 3 April 2015: last revised or updated 30 November 2015 LM

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