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The Genealogical Research Division of

American Jewish Historical Society

The AJHS Manuscript Catalog

· Introduction
· About the AJHS Manuscript Collection
· About this Database
· Acknowledgements
· Search the Database


This electronic database contains catalog information on the over 1,100 manuscript collections held by the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS).

The American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS), founded in 1892, is the world's leading institution for the preservation of original materials on Jewish life and culture in the Americas.  Currently located at the Center for Jewish History in New York City and on the Hebrew College campus in Newton Centre, Massachusetts, the AJHS holds more than 40 million manuscripts, 30,000 books, and thousands of newspapers, magazines, paintings, photographs and other artifacts that document the growth and accomplishments of American Jewry.

For an overview of the genealogically relevant holdings of the AJHS, see the article "Genealogical Resources at the American Jewish Historical Society", by Fred Davis and Warren Blatt, in Avotaynu: The International Review of Jewish Genealogy, Volume XI, Number 3 (Fall 1995), pages 33-41. This article is also available online. For more details, see Resources for Jewish Genealogy in the Boston Area (Boston: Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Boston, 1996), pages 33-54, and Appendix E, pages 254-266.

About the AJHS Manuscript Collection:

This database contains descriptions of 1168 manuscript collections. The collections range in size from one page to hundreds of boxes each; in dates, from the sixteenth century to the present. These collections are organized into the following categories:

  • Institutional Manuscripts: Papers of a particular organization. (Call numbers start with "I-"). Over 200 collections: papers of synagogues, national Jewish organizations, local Jewish organizations, immigrant aid societies, fraternal organizations, and burial societies.
  • Personal Manuscripts: Papers of an individual. (Call numbers start with "P-"). Over 600 collections, organized by surname, including a wide range of notable Jews.
  • Ephemera Manuscripts: Ongoing publications of Jewish-related organizations. (Call numbers start with "MS-"). Over 200 collections, which include yearbooks, proceedings, reports, catalogs, bulletins, news releases, brochures, and miscellaneous publications.
  • Vertical Files for Landsmanschaftn. Publications of various landsmanschaft organizations. 137 collections.

The AJHS possesses a few other manuscript collections not included in this database, namely, vertical files for Jewish schools, synagogues, and other Jewish organizations.

The following collections include significant genealogical memos:

Note that non-manuscript material, such as books and periodicals, are not included in this database; the AJHS card catalogs (on-site, non-electronic) must be consulted.

Note also that the collections themselves are not available in any electronic form, on this website or elsewhere. The AJHS has been collecting this material for over 100 years, and preserves them in its archives in the original format, be it handwritten, typewritten, or printed. All collections must be accessed in person on-site. For information on how to research the AJHS archival collections, essential information about their Reading Room and Regulations can be found at <>.

About this Database:

This database has been a joint project between the AJHS and the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Boston (JGSGB). The concept was initiated in June, 1994, and the data made available at the AJHS in March, 1996.

When the database was first developed, it was derived from then-current catalog cards, which had not been updated or revised for some time. In 1999, AJHS has been surveying its holdings in preparation for its expansion to the Center for Jewish History in New York. In the process, AJHS staff is finding that some of the entries in the old cards, and thus in this database, have proven not to accurately reflect the actual holdings.

AJHS and JGSGB apologize for these inaccuracies, which are in the process of being corrected. AJHS staff members are striving to correct the inaccuracies found in the catalog and to ensure the catalog meets current professional standards. To prevent disappointment, researchers are encouraged to contact AJHS reference staff to ascertain whether the materials they might be interested in are correctly described in the database.

The AJHS can offer no assurances to the users of the database published here that descriptions of the collections match the actual contents, quantities or conditions of the collections themselves. Prior to coming to the Society to conduct research or before requesting that the Society staff conduct research for you, please call the Society's Reference Service at (781) 891-8110 to determine whether the description provided herein matches the actual catalog.

This catalog is searchable via a full-text search, or the collections may be browsed, using the category links above. Using full-text search, any occurrence of your search term found anywhere in the collection's description will result in a match. There is no soundex search available for this database, because is a full-text database. So searching for "Coh" will find "Cohen" and "Cohn" as well as "coherent", but not "Cone" or "Kohen".

This database is dedicated to the memory of Malcolm Stern.


The following people assisted the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Boston in researching and documenting the genealogical resources at the AJHS: Eugene Hirshberg (Boston HIAS); Karen Kushner (New York City Childcare Association institutions); David Kohen (New York Court Papers); Seth Korelitz (Baron de Hirsch Fund); Elana Horowitz and Brian Ferber (World War I Records); David Rosen (vertical files Landsmanschaftn records). A number of Brandeis students helped enter data on manuscript collections in the electronic database; Gabriel Feldberg was responsible for final input and assisted in trouble-shooting.

Fred Davis, President of the JGSGB 1995-1998, coordinated the project for the JGSGB, and Warren Blatt, Vice-President of the JGSGB, was editor of Resources for Jewish Genealogy in the Boston Area (Boston: JGSGB, 1996). The JGSGB would also like to thank everyone at the AJHS for their cooperation and encouragement: Holly Snyder helped initiate the project and oversee research; Michelle Feller-Kopman contributed time and resources to continue the work; Ellen Smith and Stanley Remsburg offered their expertise; and, Dr. Michael Feldberg's enthusiastic executive leadership made all of this possible. Michael Tobias and Warren Blatt were instrumental in establishing the web version of this database in February, 1999.

This website constitutes the first publication of this complete data in any format.

If you have any questions or feedback specifically about the AJHS database, send an email.

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Last Update: 4 Mar 2018   MT
Web Author: Michael Tobias
Data Copyright ©1996, by the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Boston and the American Jewish Historical Society.  All Rights Reserved.
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