The cataloguing of this collection was made possible through a donation from Marshall Weinberg.
||American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
||Records of the New York Office of the American Jewish Joint
||1945 - 1954
||American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, New York
||The majority of this collection is in
Alternative Form of Materials
The records in this collection have been digitized and are searchable
online through the textual collections portal of the
JDC Archives database
. The collection has also been microfilmed on 215 reels, 211 of which are
open for access.
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
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
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.
Scope and Content of Records
This collection documents JDC's global overseas operations in over 70 countries
and regions in the immediate post-World War II (WWII) period from 1945 - 1954. These
records testify to the complex and multi-faceted nature of JDC's worldwide rescue,
relief, and rehabilitation initiatives from its headquarters in New York, which primarily
focused upon: resettling and sustaining Jewish refugees and Holocaust survivors around
the world and facilitating the renewal of Jewish life in Europe, including the rebuilding
Jewish communal institutions; and providing medical, financial, and logistical support to
the remnants of Jewish communities worldwide in the aftermath of World War II.
These records highlight ongoing cooperation between JDC and the American government
in this period, particularly in the Displaced Persons (DP) camps, and reflect American
government policies in postwar Europe. JDC marshaled its forces to meet a crisis of
staggering proportions, racing to establish a massive purchasing and shipping program
to send urgent necessities to tens of thousands of newly liberated Jews, shipping
227 million pounds of supplies to Europe from U.S. ports. The files detail how, with official approval from Allied Headquarters (SHAEF) to enter
the DP camps, JDC developed an all-encompassing program of assistance to the DP camp inhabitants. JDC provided supplementary
food, clothing, equipment, and educational and religious materials; allocated funds for medical facilities,
schools, and synagogues; organized communal life
in the many camps and other installations; developed vocational training programs;
setting up a vast emigration program for survivors; and represented the DPs before
the military and other authorities.
Of note are files which shed light on JDC's role in the landmark
Harrison Report. By late 1945, some 75,000 Jewish survivors of the Nazi horrors had
crowded into the displaced persons (DP) camps that were hastily set up in Germany,
Austria, and Italy. Conditions were abominable, with many subjected to anti-Semitism
from non-Jewish inmates and hostile treatment. Earl Harrison, Dean of the University
of Pennsylvania Law School and the U.S. representative on the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees, was dispatched by President Harry Truman to conduct an official tour of the DP camps. Harrison asked Joseph Schwartz, Chairman of JDC's European Executive Council (EUREXCO), to accompany
him on this official tour of the camps. Harrison's landmark August 1945 report on his inspection tour
called for separate Jewish camps and for UNRRA (UN Relief and Rehabilitation Administration)
participation in administering these separate facilities with JDC's help.
The materials also describe JDC's collaborations with diverse organizations such as the Intergovernmental
Committee on Refugees and its successor, the International Refugee Organization (IRO);
the American Friends Service Committee; the International Red Cross; and CARE to assist
refugees with emigration concerns. Emigration records in this collection also chronicle
JDC's negotiations with military and diplomatic personnel and with the U.S. State
Department regarding the passage of refugees fleeing from outbreaks of anti-Semitic
violence in Eastern Europe to the safety of the American zone in Germany. JDC's vast
Location Tracing Service searched for surviving family members. Other JDC offices,
in partnership with New York-based organizations such as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS),
the New York Association for New Americans (NYANA), and the National Refugee Service,
processed the applications of prospective emigrants to the U.S. In Cyprus, when the British army began interning illegal Jewish immigrants in detention camps on that island (which was then a British colony), JDC
furnished medical, educational, and social services for the detainees. Moreover, JDC also intervened
with Washington and the army on issues of borders and refugee quotas, and was an active participant in the United States Escapee Program, dedicated
to aiding refugees from Communist countries.
This collection reflects the evolution of JDC's overseas relief mandate to include
extended rehabilitation and reconstruction initiatives for European Jewry to sustain tens of thousands
of Jews who remained in Eastern Europe--in Hungary, Poland, Romania--and other locales--as well as thousands of others living in the
West outside the DP camps. JDC's extensive support for refugees included vast relief operations in Palestine and later Israel, where the majority of survivors would resettle. The organization established loan institutions, cooperatives, and hachsharot centers (agricultural training centers), which provided vocational training for those seeking new lives in the Jewish state. These records also evince JDC's expanding sphere of humanitarian activities in Jewish communities in Muslim countries. In partnership with OSE, a French Jewish humanitarian organization in countries such as Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia, JDC supported clinics and medical installations to combat tuberculosis, trachoma, and tinea; the establishment of milk depots; and summer camps and educational programs.
These files also document the formation, under JDC's auspices, of MALBEN, a social service organization intended to provide comprehensive social welfare services and training and to address the needs generated by the massive waves of immigrants arriving in the fledgling State of Israel. The MALBEN records vividly testify to JDC's role in fostering the development of private and public organizations in the new state to generate resources for vulnerable populations.
The materials in this collection include: correspondence; committee and board meeting
minutes; field reports from worldwide staff; budgets; income and expenditure statements;
lists of survivors; tracing requests from relatives and friends seeking information
about relatives who may have survived the Holocaust; memoranda; lists of aid recipients
and supplementary allocations; program descriptions; passenger lists; cables; supply
lists; restitution laws and statutes; summaries of statistical reports; personnel
files; legal files; case files; conference proceedings; names lists; audits; brochures;
press releases; pamphlets; and news clippings.
The New York 1945-1954 records are arranged into the following four subcollections:
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 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
Access and Restrictions Policy
for further details.
For information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Repository, Title of Collection, Folder number, Title of item, Date of
Example: JDC Archives, Records of the New York office of the American Jewish Joint
Distribution Committee 1945-1954,
Folder 468, Displaced Persons, 1947-1948, "Meeting of the Committee on Displaced Persons
- November 8, 1946."
Marilyn Henry processed the Countries and Regions, Organizations, and Subject Matter
subcollections. The Administration subcollection was processed by Aaron Rosenblum
This finding aid was produced by Tamar Zeffren in 2014.