Jewish Archives and Libraries

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Introduction[edit | edit source]

Yad Vashem memorial (Hebrew: יד ושם‎) in a building complex which includes a library, Jerusalem, Israel.

Archives collect and preserve original documents created by governments or religious institutions. Libraries collect published sources such as books, city directories, and maps. This section describes repositories of records for Jewish historical and genealogical research.

If you plan to visit one of these repositories contact the organization and ask for information about their collection, hours, services, and fees. 

Remember, the Family History Library may have a printed or microfilmed copy of the records you need.

The following publication lists addresses and telephone numbers of many local and state archives:

  • Archivum: Revue Internationale des Archives Publiée avec le Concours Financier de l’UNESCO et sous les Auspices du Conseil Internationale des Archives (Archivum: International Listing of Archives Published with Financial Assistance of Unesco and under the Authority of the ICA). Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1992. (FHL book 020.5 Ar25 v. 38). Much of the text is in English.

Cyndi's List

Online list of many archives and libraries house significant collections on subjects relating to Jewish history, historical events, and people.

Archives and Libraries[edit | edit source]

Center for Jewish History[edit | edit source]

The Center for Jewish History is the collaborative home for five partner organizations: American Jewish Historical Society, American Sephardi Federation, Leo Baeck Institute, Yeshiva University Museum, and YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. Together, these archives comprise the world's largest and most comprehensive archive of the modern Jewish experience outside of Israel. The collections span a thousand years. It is one of the world's foremost research institution. The Ackman & Ziff Family Genealogy Institute can also be found at the Center for Jewish History.

YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
Center for Jewish History
15 West 16th Street
New York, NY 10011

American Jewish Historical Society[edit | edit source]

The American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS) is the oldest national ethnic historical organization in the United States. It provides access to more than 20 million documents and 50,000 books, photographs, art, and artifacts that showcase the history of the Jewish presence in the United States since 1654.

American Sephardi Federation[edit | edit source]

The American Sephardi Federation (ASF) preserves and promotes the history and traditions of Greater Sephardic communities. The ASF hosts cultural events and exhibitions and produces online and print publications.

Leo Baeck Institute[edit | edit source]

The Leo Baeck Institute (see also Leo Baeck Institute) is dedicated to preserving the history of Jewish communities of German- speaking nations. Its collections date from the 17th century to the Holocaust and include family pedigrees, family histories, memoirs, and Jewish community histories. The institute has a Family Research Department to help genealogists. For an address see the Center for Jewish History.

The Institute also operates offices in England and Israel:

Leo Baeck Institute
4 Devonshire Street
London W1N 2BH
Leo Baeck Institute
33 Bustanai Street
91082 Jerusalem

Yeshiva University Museum[edit | edit source]

The mission of the YU Museum is to present, research, and interpret Jewish art and culture across history.

YIVO Institute[edit | edit source]

The YIVO Institute was established to preserve East European Jewish heritage and is currently the world’s leading research center for East European Jewish studies. Among its holdings are the world’s largest collection of Yiddish books and materials relating to the history and culture of Eastern European Jewry. They also have extensive resources to aid in the genealogical research of Eastern Europe including encyclopedias, gazetteers, yizkor books (Holocaust town memorial books), reference books on the geographical distribution of Jewish family names, biographical directories, and Landsmanshaft records. For an address see the Center for Jewish History. Translations of selected Yizkor books can be found online at: JewishGen. Also see: New York Public Library: Yizkor Books.

Holocaust Memorial Museums[edit | edit source]

Yad Vashem the major repository in the world for information about the Holocaust. Yad Vashem library contains more than 85,000 volumes documenting the Holocaust and includes the world’s largest collection of yizkor books. Also at Yad Vashem are the only publically available copies of the records of the International Tracing Service, a manuscript collection called Pages of Testimony that identifies more than three million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, and many oral or written testimonies of Holocaust survivors.

Yad Vashem Martyrs and Heroes
Remembrance Authority
P.O. Box 3477
91034 Jerusalem

Yad Vashem library has a database of Shoah victims names.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum provides access to archived material relating to the Holocaust. Its Survivors Registry and other resources such as transport lists, death lists, yizkor books, personal papers, and oral histories can be used to determine the fate of Holocaust victims and survivors. Most materials are in English, German, Polish, Russian, Yiddish, or Hebrew.

Library staff will not do genealogical research. An online catalog of their holdings is available at:

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

You can contact the museum at:

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, SW
Washington, DC 20024-2150

JDC Archives[edit | edit source]

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), established in 1914, is the world’s leading Jewish humanitarian assistance organization. JDC works in more than 70 countries and in Israel. Comprising the organizational records of JDC, the overseas rescue, relief, and rehabilitation arm of the American Jewish community, the JDC Archives includes text documents, a large photograph collection, audio recordings, video recordings, and a research library. More than 2.6 million digitized pages of documents are available in PDF form through the searchable online database. The Names Index holds more than 500,000 names and is a major source of information for genealogists and family historians. The Our Shared Legacy page includes photograph galleries and a names search from the WWII era by location.

The JDC Archives is located in two centers; one at JDC’s NY headquarters, and the second in Jerusalem. It is open to the public by appointment.

Other Libraries and Archives[edit | edit source]

The Library of Congress houses hundreds of yizkor books as well as an extensive collection on the Holocaust and all aspects of Jewish history and culture. An online catalog is available at:

Library of Congress
101 Independence Ave. SE
Washington, D.C. 20540

The article "Voices of the Holocaust Resonate on the Web" from the Library of Congress's "The Signal" includes information and links.

The Hebraic Section is located in the Adams Building at 110 2nd Street, SE Washington, D.C.

The Jewish Public Library of Montreal has a large collection of yizkor books and the largest public collection of Judaica in North America. Reference and catalog information is available in English, French, Hebrew, Yiddish, and Russian. The collection documents all major aspects of Canadian Jewish history and maintains a large genealogical resource collection.

Jewish Public Library of Montreal
5151 Cote St. Catherine Road
Montreal, Quebec H3W 1M6

The New York Public Library is an excellent place for research because most Jewish immigrants to the United States lived in New York for a time. The library has borough directories, census records for the greater metropolitan area, back issues of The New York Times, maps, atlases, gazetteers, community histories, yizkor books, indexes to some of the U.S. federal census returns, vital records for New York City, and ship passenger lists.

The library’s Jewish Division has one of the most significant collections of Judaica in the world, including bibliographies, reference works, periodicals, and newspapers. The collection is only available in the Jewish Division’s reading room. About 40 percent of the Division’s holdings are in Hebrew; the remainder are in other languages, primarily English, German, Russian, and French.

An online catalog of material cataloged after 1972 is available at:

New York Public Library Jewish Division

Pre-1972 materials are described in the Dictionary Catalog of the Jewish Collection, published in 14 volumes in 1960; the 8-volume First Supplement, published in 1975; and the 4-volume Hebrew- Character Title Catalog of the Jewish Collection, published in 1981.

You can contact the New York Public Library at:

New York Public Library
42nd Street & 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10018

The American Jewish Archives has organizational records, family and personal papers, and synagogue records (many of the synagogue records have been filmed by the Family History Library). An online catalog of the Archives’ holdings is available at:

American Jewish Archives

American Jewish Archives
Hebrew Union College-Jewish
Institute of Religion
3101 Clifton Ave.
Cincinnati, Ohio 454220

The Jewish Museum of the American West: virtual museum with exhibits for every western state. Work in progress. They have indexes that are searchable by name and location. They publish a quarterly journal called Western States Jewish History Quarterly (since 1968) Copies are available at the Salt Lake Family History Library and the the Los Angles Family Search Library (Santa Monica, CA). Copies are also available for purchase from the museum.

The Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People Jerusalem (CAHJP) has documents, records, microfilms, photographs, newspaper clippings, books, and much more concerning the history of the Jews. The archives aims to the entire Jewish people. The central archives are unique in that they contain historical material on Jews from Western, Eastern, and Central Europe; the Islamic countries; North and South America; South Africa; and Eastern Asia.

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
The Edmond J. Safra Campus Givat Ram
P.O.B. 39077,
Jerusalem 91390
Telephone: 972-2-6586249

Inventories, Registers, Catalogs[edit | edit source]

Virtually all archives and libraries have catalogs, inventories, or guides that describe their records and how to use them. Many of these repositories have online catalogs on the Internet. If possible, study these guides before you visit or use the records of these repositories so you can use your time more effectively. Many books have been published that list inventories of Jewish records in various regional archives. These include:

  • Bernard, Gildas. Les Familles Juives en France XVIe siècle–1815, Guide des Recherches Biographiques et Généalogiques (Jewish Families of France 14th century–1815, Guide to Biographal and Genealogical Research). Paris: Archives Nationales, 1990. (FHL book 944 D27bg.) An inventory of Jewish records in the Departmental Archives of France.
  • Elyashevich, Dmitri A. oymehtahe matepa o ctop ebpeeb b apxbax CH ctpah at (Documentary Sources on Jewish History in the Archives of the CIS and the Baltic States). Sankt-Peterburg: Akropol’, 1994. (FHL book 943 A3e.) This is an inventory of records for the countries of the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States, which includes all the former Soviet Union except the Baltic states) and the Baltic states.
  • Gundacker, Felix. Matrikenverzeichnis der Jüdischen Matriken Böhmens (Register of Jewish Vital Statistics in Czech State Archives Pertaining to Bohemia). Wien: Felix Gundacker, 1998.
  • Guzik, Estelle M. Genealogical Resources in the New York Metropolitan Area. New York: Jewish Genealogical Society, 1989. (FHL book 974.71 A3ge; fiche 6100654.)
  • Rhode, Harold and Sallyann Amdur Sack. Jewish Vital Records, Revision Lists, and Other Jewish Holdings in the Lithuanian Archives. Teaneck, NJ: Avotaynu, 1996. (FHL book 947.5 F23r.)
  • Sallis, Dorit and Marek Web. Jewish Documentary Sources in Russia, Ukraine & Belarus: a Preliminary List. New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1996. (FHL book 947 A3sd.)
  • Weiner, Miriam. Jewish Roots in Poland: Pages from the Past and Archival Inventories. New York: YIVO, c 1997. (FHL book 943.8 F2wm.)
  • Weiner, Miriam. Jewish Roots in Ukraine and Moldova: Pages from the Past and Archival Inventories. New York: YIVO, 1999. (FHL book 947.71 F2w.)

The Family History Library has copies of other published guides, catalogs, and inventories of some archives and libraries. Check for these records in the FamilySearch Catalog. Volunteers at the Family History Library are also making an inventory of Jewish records in the collection.