JDC’s messages of social and global responsibility, caring for the poor and sick, and helping the elderly, emanate from Jewish values. Our archival records speak to the enduring and evolving relationships among Jews and document broad-based humanitarian efforts around the world.

The JDC Archives recognizes that the complicated task of teaching responsibility for others is often best realized through stories that leap out of the pages of history. Educators are invited to seek out primary sources from within our Archives: eye-witness accounts of dramatic rescues, references to unsung heroes who sacrificed their lives in service to the Jewish people, touching thank you letters from people assisted by JDC, and the like.

The Archives documents modern Jewish history and can be creatively utilized in program development for youth groups, bar/bat mitzvah projects, leadership training activities, and for university studies. The Archives is a testament to JDC’s concern for every Jew in need and its humanitarian activities, which are provided within the context of local realities and socio-political constraints.

JDC has been a part of every milestone of contemporary Jewish history and continues to operate at the center of global Jewish concerns regarding rescue, relief, and renewal of Jewish life.

Topic Guides

The JDC Archives contains rich historical documents and photographs relating to Jewish communities in the modern period dating from 1914 to the present. JDC’s records of its work in assisting Jewish communities, often in response to emergencies and critical periods in Jewish life, are a treasure trove of primary source material.

This original material can be used by educators in a variety of settings to bring historical events and challenges to life in a very meaningful and poignant way. In our Topic Guides, we seek to introduce briefly the historical event and provide rich primary source materials that the educator can utilize to develop lessons, curricula, programs, or readings. Included are original letters, reports, minutes of meetings, and historical photographic images. This material can be used in formal or informal education settings for ages ranging from high school to adults. The material can be used for the study of Jewish history, social responsibility, or general history.

JDC in the Displaced Persons (DP) Camps (1945-1957)

Discover JDC’s work in the DP camps through historic documents, photos, and film footage.

JDC and the U.S. War Refugee Board (1944-45)

Explore primary sources that illustrate the relationship between JDC and President Roosevelt’s War Refugee Board.

Refuge in Shanghai (1938-1953)

Experience the challenges facing Jewish refugees in China who escaped Nazism and spent the war years in this far-flung locale.

The Story of the SS St. Louis (1939)

Use historic documents and photos to bring this chronicle of Jewish rescue alive for your classroom.