The American Jewish Year Book (AJYB)
The American Jewish Year Book (AJYB) is an often overlooked resource for Jewish genealogical research. This annual publication first appeared in September 1899, under the auspices of the Jewish Publication Society of America. In 1908 the American Jewish Committee (AJC) took over compilation of the volume and since 1994 has been its sole publisher.
As its name implies, AJYB is a review of the year's events relating to Jewish matters in America and other countries. The "mix" of material in each volume has varied through the years, but certain features have remained constant, chiefly the directories of organizations and periodicals, obituaries, calendars, and Jewish population estimates, both U.S. and world. The earliest volumes carried lists of synagogues and local Jewish organizations, with names of officers. As the Jewish community grew, this extensive roster became impractical.
The more recent volumes list only national organizations (over 400), including national religious bodies (but not individual synagogues). Recent volumes tend to feature articles of a sociological nature, e.g., "Jewish Organizational Life in the United States Since 1945," or "Soviet Jews in the United States." Each volume carries a lengthy report on developments in Israel, as well as shorter reports on Jewish life in various countries and the United States. Here are a few examples of the kinds of information one can find, chosen randomly from earlier editions:
The articles are extensive and informative, and obviously earlier editions continue to have great reference value. A Cumulative Subject Index, published in 1959, covers volumes 1-50. Each subsequent volume contains a name index only.
Cumulative Index of Obituaries
The AJC has recently compiled a "Cumulative Index of Obituaries" from volumes 51-96 of this highly regarded reference work. The obituaries are mostly "Who's Who" type entries of varying length. Over the years, a small number of full obituary articles have been published about particularly outstanding figures.
Through the cooperative efforts of The American Jewish Committee and JewishGen, names of over 3000 notable Jews who died between 1948 and 1994 can now be accessed in this searchable database. Search the name and find the AJYB volume number and page reference.
To access the AJYB Obituary Index database, go to:
Where to obtain desired volumes
There are a great many libraries in the U.S. and Canada, both public and university, that may have complete sets of the AJYB. Major Jewish institutions -- Hebrew Union College, Jewish Theological Seminary, Brandeis U., etc.-- certainly have them. In addition to these libraries, there are also many synagogues, JCCs, Jewish schools, etc., that collect the AJYB. Be sure to check library catalogs for all sites.
The current edition of The American Jewish Year Book (annual) is sold by the American Jewish Committee in New York. It can be ordered from the AJC by calling 800-551-3252, or on the AJC's Web site http://www.ajc.org.
Last Updated 01Feb98