Finding Aid
Descriptive Summary
Title: Records of the Geneva Office of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
Creator: American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
Inclusive Dates: 1955 – 1964
Link: Records of the Geneva Office, 1955-1964
Location: American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Jerusalem Archives
Languages: The majority of this collection is in English. Other languages include French, German, and Hebrew.
Administrative History

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is the world’s leading Jewish humanitarian assistance organization. Formed in 1914 in response to the onset of World War I and the devastation it wreaked on thousands of Jewish communities across war-torn Europe, JDC has served over the past century as the overseas arm of the American Jewish philanthropic community, providing rescue, relief, and rehabilitation services to global Jewish communities and individuals in need worldwide.

In the present day, JDC continues its efforts to alleviate hunger and material hardship, rebuild and sustain Jewish cultural and social service infrastructures and communal institutions worldwide, aid at-risk Jewish communities and individuals, and provide critical relief and long-term non-sectarian development assistance services for victims of man-made and natural disasters in more than 90 countries across the globe.

The JDC Archives holds, describes, preserves, and makes accessible the organization’s institutional records. These records include: approximately 3 miles of textual records; a photo collection of approximately 100,000 photo images; over 1,300 films; and a collection of over 1,000 sound recordings, which document JDC’s history and its global activities.

Geneva Office
The Geneva office records are the records of JDC’s European Headquarters office, which, in the aftermath of World War II, was located in Paris. When JDC’s Geneva office opened in July 1958 as JDC’s European Headquarters, earlier records were transferred from Paris to Geneva. After JDC’s Geneva Office closed in 1977, these records were shipped to the JDC Archives in Jerusalem.

Custodial History

These records were transferred to the JDC Archives in Jerusalem when the Geneva Office closed in 1977.

Scope and Content of Records

The Geneva 1955-1964 Collection documents JDC’s global relief initiatives in the post-World War II period for Jewish communities grappling with the aftermath of the trauma of the Holocaust, emigration crises and migration, and systemic poverty. This period witnessed enormous demographic changes for many Jewish communities in response to wide-ranging geopolitical upheavals like the Hungarian Revolution of 1956; the Suez crisis, also in 1956; and Algeria’s declaration of independence from France in 1962. In addition to resulting large-scale emigration from Hungary and Egypt, JDC responded to significant Jewish emigration from Morocco, Romania, and Tunisia and addressed the diverse needs of new immigrant populations in Australia, France, Israel, and South America. JDC’s comprehensive support for hundreds of thousands of new immigrants included assisting existing communities in absorbing new arrivals and operating loan institutions in partnership with the Jewish Colonization Association (JCA) to enable Jewish refugees to establish themselves in their new countries of residence.

In its Israel operations, JDC continued the work of MALBEN, a vast social service organization established by JDC in 1949 in partnership with the Israeli government to provide institutional care and social services for handicapped, elderly, and chronically ill clients; train medical and rehabilitation professionals; and support the development of private and public organizations and resources to support vulnerable populations. JDC also maintained its support of yeshivot throughout the entire country, including providing vocational training for students.

During these years, JDC concentrated on sustaining and reinforcing existing Jewish communities, especially in postwar Europe. JDC embarked on a vital partnership with the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany (traditionally known as the Claims Conference) to administer restitution funds from the German government for the relief and rehabilitation of Nazi victims, primarily in Europe, and for the reconstruction of European Jewish institutions.

Throughout Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa—including in Egypt, India [where JDC formally established operations in 1964], Iran, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia, among other countries—JDC continued its wide-ranging funding and oversight of Jewish educational resources, summer camps, public health programs, and clinics. The Polish government invited JDC back into Poland in 1958 to care for Jews repatriated from the Soviet Union; however, after the Six-Day War in June 1967, it again expelled JDC.

Charles H. Jordan, a prominent Jewish humanitarian aid professional who began his career with JDC in 1941, served as JDC’s director-general from 1955-1964. In addition to his vast JDC responsibilities, Jordan played a leadership role in many non-sectarian umbrella organizations to support refugees and other international humanitarian concerns. His participation amplified JDC’s commitment to facilitating the professionalization of Jewish communal organizations and personnel through granting scholarships, conducting research and surveys, publishing magazines and educational material, organizing conferences on germane topics such as education, health, and social work, and founding entities like the Standing Conference for European Jewish Community Services and the International Council on Jewish Social and Welfare Services (Interco), which attained consultative status with the United Nations.

Media in this collection include: correspondence, memoranda, cables, handwritten notes, notebooks, conference proceedings, meeting minutes, speech transcripts, annual country reports, field reports, budgets, financial tables and reports, statistical tables, lists of aid recipients, questionnaires, news clippings, press releases, community publications, applications, training course curricula, workbooks, collections of songs and stories, lists of supplies, and academic papers.

Alternative Form of Materials

All four subcollections have been digitized and are available online through the JDC Archives database.

The entire collection has been microfilmed on 650 reels.


The Geneva Office records are arranged into the following four subcollections:

Subject Matter
Countries and Regions | A-F
Countries and Regions | Ge-Ma
Countries and Regions | Me-Yu

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to researchers with the exception of files that are restricted due to the nature of their contents. Restricted files can include legal files, personnel files, case files, and personal medical diagnoses, etc. Please see our Access and Restrictions Policy for further details.

Copyright Conditions

Copyright held by The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Inc. Other intellectual property rights may apply. The publication of JDC records in any format requires the written permission of the JDC Archives. Users must apply in writing for permission to reproduce or publish manuscript materials found in this collection. Please see our Access and Restrictions Policy for further details.

For additional information, contact: [email protected]

Preferred Citation

Repository, Title of Collection, Folder number, Title of item, Date of item,, item [ITEM ID number].

Example: JDC Archives, Geneva Collection 1955-1964, Folder CC.20, “Financial Report Council of the Jewish Community, Shanghai,” October 1, 1964,, item 2690854.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by multiple staff at the JDC Archives branch in Jerusalem, including Pinchas Aronin, Martine Cohen, Sarah Lemann, Ayala Levin-Kruss, and Victoria Raun.

This finding aid was produced by Rebecca Weintraub and Tamar Zeffren in 2020.

Cataloguing and digitization of this collection was made possible by generous donations from: Lord David Alliance; Ruth and David Musher; The Rothschild Foundation (Hanadiv) Europe; Benay, Steven, Shelley, Ira and Judy Taub in honor of Henry and Marilyn Taub, Marshall M. Weinberg; and Jane and Stuart Weitzman.

Archives of The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Inc.

Email: [email protected]