Finding Aid
Descriptive Summary
Title: Records of the New York Office of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, 1914 – 1918
Creator: American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
Inclusive Dates: January 1, 1914 – December 31, 1918
Extent: 9 linear feet
Link: The New York 1914-1918 Collection
Location: American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, New York Archives
Administrative History

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is the world’s leading 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 text records; approximately 150,000 images; and over 3,600 film, video, and audio items.

Scope and Content of Records

This collection comprises 155 numbered files from the New York Headquarters records of JDC. The material includes chronologies of events, correspondence, cables, reports, minutes and transcripts of meetings and conferences that document the origins, beginning in 1914, of systematic financial aid from American Jewish organizations to imperiled Jews abroad.

In August of that year, Henry Morgenthau Sr., then U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, cabled New York philanthropist Jacob Schiff seeking emergency aid for the Jews of Palestine. Subsequently, three relief committees—the American Jewish Relief Committee, the Central Relief Committee, and the People’s Relief Committee—formed the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, popularly known as the “Joint,” to distribute the funds they raised for needy Jews in Eastern Europe and Palestine.

The records in this collection depict the accelerated expansion of JDC activities; fund-raising and annual campaign drives; and ongoing efforts to overcome political obstacles and military restrictions that restricted the dispatch of field workers abroad. Also documented is the developing cooperation with governments, foreign Jewish organizations, and nonsectarian voluntary agencies so essential for JDC’s work; it enabled JDC to transmit emergency relief funds and individual remittances, and to provide food, clothing, and shelter to endangered Jews in a nonpartisan, nonpolitical manner.

Of note in this collection are records of prominent American Jewish leaders and philanthropists, such as Jacob Schiff, Felix Warburg, Louis Marshall, Cyrus Adler, Julius Rosenwald, and Judah Magnes, Genealogists and family researchers may find relevant correspondence, lists, and receipts for transmission of remittances to individuals.


The records are arranged into the following categories:

Subject Matter
Countries and Regions

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 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, New York Office Collection, 1914-1918, Folder #143.3, “Cablegram from Albert Lucas to Ambassador Francis,” August 7, 1917,, item 10139.

Processing Information

Arrangement and collection-level description of the 1914–1918 Collection was originally produced by Rose Klepfisz in 1964. Marilyn Henry updated the finding aid in 2010 using current descriptive standards and practices, but did not renumber files or modify arrangement.

Finding aid prepared by Rose Klepfisz and revised by Marilyn Henry with the assistance of a grant from Marshall Weinberg in Marilyn's honor.

Digitization of this collection was made possible with funding from the Polonsky Foundation.

Archives of The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Inc.

Email: [email protected]