Bringing Sights and Sounds of the JDC Archives to Life

Over 150 new additions to the JDC Archives’ Historic Film, Video, and Audio Collection

To mark its recent and significant progress in digitizing and preserving previously “hidden” treasures—historic film, video, and audio materials, from the 1920s up through the early 2000s, which depict JDC’s humanitarian work worldwide—the JDC Archives has just unveiled a new comprehensive webpage for its Historic Film, Video, and Audio Collection.

With funding from the Henry and Marilyn Taub JDC Archives Film Project, the Council on Library and Information Resources, and the National Film Preservation Foundation, the JDC Archives has digitized 21 films, over 101 videos, and nearly 50 audio recordings. The List of Digitized Film, Video, and Audio Recordings offers a chronological list of all digitized materials, with a brief description and a link to the detailed database record for each item. Clips from several digitized items are also available online.

Rabbi Major Judah Nadich, Special Adviser on Jewish Affairs to General Dwight D. Eisenhower, discusses the needs of Jewish Displaced Persons (DPs), 1946.

These audiovisual materials span the globe, from Bosnia and Herzegovina to Ethiopia to Uzbekistan, and offer an extensive documentary record of JDC’s relief work with vulnerable communities at historic transitions, including:

  • Silent footage of Jewish war orphans departing from Lisbon for the United States on the SS Mouzinho; passengers seen on the ship include Marc Chagall
  • Silent footage, including rare color scenes, of Yemenite Jews traveling from the British Protectorate of Aden to the newly declared state of Israel during Operation Magic Carpet
  • Radio interview with Rabbi Major Judah Nadich, Special Adviser on Jewish Affairs to General Dwight D. Eisenhower, discussing Displaced Persons (DP) camps in Germany and Austria
  • Footage of Holocaust survivors at the Bergen Belsen DP camp
  • A film following Jewish families journeying from their Moroccan village to the fledgling state of Israel
  • Footage of JDC’s support for the re-establishment of Jewish institutions in Poland in the aftermath of World War II, shortly before JDC was forced by the Polish Communist authorities to terminate these activities
  • Addresses by Israeli political leaders, including David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir, to a JDC Country Directors Conference in Paris in October 1956, against the backdrop of the Suez Canal crisis
  • A video with scenes from the 1980s through 1990 depicting JDC aid to Ethiopian Jews awaiting emigration to Israel
  • JDC’s nonsectarian disaster relief responses to the Armenian earthquake (1988), the Balkan wars (1990s), and the Rwandan genocide (1994)

Scenes of JDC’s support for the reestablishment of Jewish institutions in postwar Poland, 1949.

These materials are the extraordinary results of JDC’s decision, as early as the 1920s, to document its on-the-ground work amid vital relief operations in real time. JDC’s historic audiovisual primary sources, created decades ago to raise awareness of its global relief efforts, are now preserved and accessible for filmmakers, scholars, journalists, and other researchers exploring JDC’s history in new ways—off the page and on the screen.