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JDC New York Office Records, 1919 – 1921

Finding aid prepared by Marilyn Henry with the assistance of a grant from Marshall Weinberg in her honor.
In 2014, this collection was re-microfilmed for preservation purposes with a grant from the New York State Program for the Conservation and Preservation of Library Research Materials.

Archives of The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Inc.
Email: archives@jdc.org

Descriptive Summary
ID Code: NY AR191921
Creator: American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
Title: Records of the New York Office of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, 1919 - 1921
Inclusive Dates: July 1, 1919 - October 31, 1921
Extent: 30 linear feet
Link: The New York 1919-1921 Collection
Location: American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, New York Archives
Scope and Content of Records
The collection comprises 290 numbered files from the New York Headquarters records of JDC, supplemented by reports by the following JDC personnel: James N. Rosenberg, Dr. Cyrus Adler, Dr. Boris D. Bogen, Mrs. Harriet B. Lowenstein Goldstein, Joseph Marcus, Alexander A. Landesco, Dr. Israel Friedlander, and Rabbi Bernard Cantor; and by the records of JDC's European Headquarters; the records of the JDC Landsmanschaften Department; and the records of Prisoners of War in Siberia aided by JDC.

The material consists primarily of correspondence, cables, minutes, and transcripts of JDC meetings and conferences, reports, and interviews of JDC representatives and others pertaining to JDC's relief activities and its organization. The collection contains documentation on prevailing conditions across the globe, including news dispatches and articles, field reports, eyewitness accounts, diaries and memoirs, and some lists of victims. There are records of the transmission overseas of individual remittances, the collection of funds in the United States, and the distribution of funds and supplies abroad.

The collection vividly depicts the chaotic postwar political, economic, and social conditions in Eastern Europe, Palestine, and other areas; the plight of uprooted Jewish refugees and war orphans and the stranded Jewish prisoners of war in Siberia; and the proliferation of anti-Semitic attacks and ghastly pogroms, particularly in the Ukraine. At the same time, it describes the major role that JDC played in bringing the suffering of Jews overseas to the attention of the public and the outpouring of support that followed; and it details JDC's cooperation with government offices and agencies, and with humanitarian nonsectarian and Jewish organizations, as it responded to the misery and dislocation of this turbulent time.

This period—January 1, 1919 through July 1, 1921—saw the establishment of JDC's overseas organization, and several units of relief workers were sent abroad. Substantial materials document the work of Dr. Israel Friedlaender and Rabbi Bernard Cantor, who were murdered while on a mission for JDC.

After July 1, 1921, emergency relief activity was largely discontinued, except in Russia, and JDC activities and programs focused on rehabilitation and reconstruction. A new operational system was developed, and five functional departments were organized to target different areas of need: medico-sanitary improvements, childcare, economic reconstruction, refugee care, and cultural and religious institutions.

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. For more information contact: archives@jdc.org
Preferred Citation
Repository, Title of Collection, Folder number, Title of item, Date of item.

Example: JDC Archives, Records of the New York Office of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, 1919 - 1921, Folder #63.3, Information Service Letter No. 20.10, 08/01/1920.

The main categories of arrangement are:
This subcollection focuses on the composition, structure, operations, leadership and personnel of JDC, JDC committees, and JDC administrative departments and is divided into the following two record groups:
New York Headquarters Administration
Records describe expanding JDC committee development, assignments, and commitments to undertake relief activities for impoverished Jews in various locations abroad; conferences addressing the needs of Jews and Jewish communities overseas; fundraising campaigns and the use of publicity materials to raise public awareness; procedures for the transmission of relief funds and individual remittances.
Overseas Administration
Records describe overseas relief efforts, communal conditions, and appeals for funds; the establishment of JDC's EUREXCO (European Executive Council), with headquarters in Paris; the end of emergency relief activities, the closing of JDC's overseas branches and committees, and the reorganization on a functional basis.
This subcollection deals with JDC's relationship and cooperation with the United States Government, departments, and agencies; with JDC constituent member organizations, other private Jewish organizations, landsmannschaften (immigrant fraternal associations), commercial agencies and businesses, and nonsectarian humanitarian agencies. This subcollection treats the functional activities of JDC in this period and documents efforts to assist orphans and children; to support rabbis and cultural and religious institutions; to provide aid for emigrants, and care and relief for the displaced and the vulnerable; to set up medical facilities and public health services to combat disease, infant mortality, and unsanitary living conditions; to distribute supplies and kosher provisions; to respond to personal appeals for help in locating and assisting family members; and to organize trade schools, training programs, and loan societies; to supply tools and machinery; and to help rebuild homes and shattered lives. The Subject Matter subcollection is divided into the following nine record groups: This subcollection comprises 335 files that document JDC’s overseas programs and operations in 50 localities. The majority of these files deal with JDC’s work in Poland, Russia (including Siberia), and Palestine; records for Romania, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, Hungary, and Turkey are also significant.

Record groups within the subcollection are organized alphabetically by country or regional name. When the amount of material for each country or region warrants further classification, the record group may be broken down into series.

The materials depict JDC's extensive relief efforts to alleviate suffering and rebuild devastated European Jewish communities in the wake of World War I. Detailed field reports describe prevailing political, social, and economic conditions in these areas, with considerable space devoted to Brest Litowsk, Bialystok, Pinsk, Rovno, and Vilna.
Processing Information
Arrangement and collection-level description of the 1919&endash;1921 Collection was originally produced by Eleanor Mlotek in 1969. Marilyn Henry updated the finding aid in 2009 using current descriptive standards and practices, but did not renumber files or modify arrangement.