Finding Aid
Descriptive Summary
Title: Records of the New York Office of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
Creator: American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
Inclusive Dates: 1955 – 1964
Extent: 1,409 files
Location: American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, New York Archives
Link: The New York 1955-1964 Collection
Languages: The majority of this collection is in English.
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 nonsectarian 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.

Scope and Content of Records

This collection, which comprises over 120,000 pages, documents JDC’s global relief work in this period in Israel, North Africa, Latin America, and across Europe during the years 1955-1964. The records describe, among other relief, renewal, and reconstruction initiatives: the far-reaching assistance JDC provided to Jewish communities in Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia, including educational and medical support for over 90,000 children through its partnerships with OSE, a French Jewish humanitarian organization, and international Jewish educational organizations, such as Alliance Israélite Universelle, Lubavitch, Ozar HaTorah, and ORT World Union; its efforts to maintain a presence in the Eastern bloc, with its officially-sanctioned welfare activities limited in the cold-war period to Poland, from 1957, and Yugoslavia; its extensive cultural and religious initiative in Israel, including considerable support for yeshivot (educational seminaries) all over Israel; and outreach to Latin American Jewish communities.

These files detail JDC assistance to Jewish communities in North Africa, where the large-scale emigration of the professional classes in response to unrest triggered by Arab nationalism and political developments left behind a preponderance of the elderly, the young, and the needy; its support for community development in Iran, especially the extraordinary strides made in setting up programs for daycare and education and providing social welfare and medical services; and its extensive guidance to the Israeli government in the development of strategic social service programs to enable the absorption and integration of immigrant populations from all over the world into Israeli society, enabling Israel to meet the needs of its diverse communities. A notable development in this realm is the establishment of MALBEN (a Hebrew acronym for “Organizations for the Care of Handicapped Immigrants,” a vast network of medical facilities and social welfare programs and resources to enable vulnerable populations such as the elderly, Holocaust survivors, the handicapped, and the unprecedented waves of new immigrants to lead productive and fulfilling lives.

These materials also testify to JDC’s ongoing support to rebuild Jewish communities in Europe and assistance to survivors and refugees still residing in displaced persons camps in Europe, as well as JDC’s significant involvement in receiving and dispensing Holocaust restitution funds to Nazi victims and to support the reconstruction and renovation of Jewish communal institutions and facilities across Europe through its partnership with the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany (Claims Conference), the agency that negotiated with the West German Government for compensation for individual victims of Nazi persecution and for funds to finance relief and education projects.


The New York 1955-1964 records are arranged into the following four subcollections:

Subject Matter
Countries and Regions

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 92 reels, 82 of which are open.

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 further 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 1955-1964, File 873, “Foreign Policy Objectives and the Voluntary Sector of Overseas Activity,” November 6, 1958,, item 811498.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Marilyn Henry in 2009.

This finding aid was produced by Tamar Zeffren in 2015.

The cataloguing of this collection was made possible through a donation from Marshall M. Weinberg in honor of Marilyn Henry.

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]