JDC Archives Awarded Prestigious National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Grant

The JDC Archives was recently awarded a 2017 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The grant will fund a preservation assessment of its Artifacts and Ephemera Collection by an expert consultant and the purchase of preservation supplies.

When curating the JDC’s centennial exhibit at the New York Historical Society in 2014, it became clear that the presence of artifacts and ephemera in the exhibition helped immensely to illustrate and bring to life JDC’s efforts and impact over the years. This exhibition was the catalyst for the establishment of the Artifacts and Ephemera Collection, which today contains over 750 works ranging from posters and illuminated records to precious artwork and gifts from Jewish communities around the world. However, due to the fragility of rare items received from survivors and other aid recipients over the past century, it is critical to now take steps to preserve this historical record. This grant will enable the JDC Archives to maintain effective stewardship of this newly catalogued collection and render it accessible to researchers and curators around the world.

The Preservation Assistance Grants help institutions improve their ability to preserve and care for their humanities collections. The Artifacts and Ephemera Collection is rich with paper artifacts and ephemera, some of which are fragile and in need of preservation guidance and action. Notable examples, which will benefit from this award, include:

  • Signed correspondence from famous historical figures such as Albert Einstein, John D. Rockefeller, and Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik
  • Printed matter from JDC’s early years such as a 1926 newspaper issued by the United Jewish Campaign News, Chicago Conference Special with a lead story entitled “How J.D.C. Saved European Jewry”
  • Maps from Poland that mark the locations of services supported by JDC loan kassas, schools, and welfare programs, c. 1930
  • A scrapbook from Shanghai, featuring photographs and reports narrating the experience of Jewish refugees in the city c.1947
  • An album of linocuts made by students of the JDC-funded Rutenberg Seminar, illustrating daily life in the detention camps of Cyprus, c.1948
  • Photo albums from North Africa and Iran depicting Jewish communities of the 1950s-60s, snapshots of a lost world

Letter signed by John D. Rockefeller

May 20, 1926

Front page of United Jewish Campaign News with article “How J.D.C. Saved European Jewry”

Chicago, October 11, 1926

JDC continues to expand its Artifacts and Ephemera Collection and is seeking items whose history is intertwined with that of the JDC, in order to help narrate the organization’s story of rescue, relief, and renewal around the globe. If you are interested in donating a potential artifact or ephemera item to the JDC Archives, please contact us at [email protected].