American Jewish Archives

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The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives (AJA), located on the historic Cincinnati campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, was established in 1947 by renowned historian, Dr. Jacob Rader Marcus to collect, preserve, and make available for research, materials on the history of Jews and Jewish communities in the Western Hemisphere, including data of a political, economic, social, cultural, and religious nature.

Today the AJA houses over ten million pages of documentation. It contains nearly 8,000 linear feet of archives, manuscripts, nearprint materials, photographs, audio and video tape, microfilm, and genealogical materials. The AJA exists to preserve the continuity of Jewish life and learning for future generations and aspires to serve scholars, educators, students, and researchers of all backgrounds and beliefs.

In effort to advance this mission, the AJA publishes the American Jewish Archives Journal (AJAJ). The AJAJ documents and preserves the American Jewish experience through the publication of scholarly articles and analyses of primary source documents written by academic and talented amateur historians from around the world. It also contains important news about the AJA and book reviews of relevant secondary literature. This journal is considered one of two major refereed periodicals in the field of American Jewish history.

Contents

Address and Contact Info

The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives
3101 Clifton Ave
Cincinnati, OH 45220-2488

Phone: (513) 221-1875

Fax: (513) 221-7812

Web page: americanjewisharchives.org

Contact: Kevin Proffitt, Sr. Archivist for Research and Collections

Hours and Usage Restrictions

Monday-Thursday: 9am-5pm
Friday: 9am-3pm

Scheduled closings are posted on the AJA event calendar. Emergency closings are announced on the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion's Cincinnati Campus homepage.

All materials are housed onsite. Unless otherwise restricted, collections are open for research.

Online Catalogs and Finding Aids

The AJA Online Catalog contains descriptive records from our collection of manuscripts, microfilm, audiovisual materials, nearprint, genealogy files, and photographs. The catalog allows users to search by entering keywords, such as the creator's name, subject headings, or geographic place names.

Below are some preformed search strategies to help you find material.

For tips on advanced searching (wildcard, fuzzy, proximity, boolean, etc.), see the Search Tips link at bottom of the catalog.

Note: The AJA Online Catalog does not yet contain records for all of the materials available at the American Jewish Archives. The catalog includes all new accessions since 1997, all major manuscript collections, the entire photo collection, as well as family histories, and most of the nearprint collection. We are presently at work retro-cataloging our entire collection. If you do not find what you are looking for or have any questions, please Ask an Archivist!

Online Finding Aids

The AJA creates finding aids for all of it's major manuscript collection. All finding aids are available online.

Collection Summary

Below are broad descriptions of the types of material you'll find at the American Jewish Archives.

Manuscripts
The archival and manuscript holdings of the American Jewish Archives include over 800 major manuscript collections and almost 16,000 smaller collections. All major manuscript collections (finding aids) and a portion of the small collections are cataloged in the AJA Online Catalog.

Photographs
The AJA Photograph Collection consists of over 25,000 images. It is heavily used by scholars, filmmakers and videographers, among others, to illustrate books, articles, films, and television programs. The complete photograph collection is cataloged in the AJA Online Catalog.

Microfilm
The AJA's microfilm collection consists of over 4,000 reels, including copies of the papers of Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis, Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann, and the records of the Socialist Labor Party of America. A portion of the microfilm collection is cataloged in the Online Catalog.

Media
The AJA holds nearly 10,000 audio and video recordings consisting of oral histories, lectures, religious services, and music. A portion of this collection is cataloged in the AJA Online Catalog.

Nearprint
The archival-manuscript holdings of the American Jewish Archives are complemented by a large collection of ephemeral materials: newspaper and magazine clippings, leaflets, brochures, pamphlets, and organizational news releases. These materials are brought together in the "Nearprint" collection, which is divided into three categories:

  • Biography
  • Geography
  • Special Topics and Institutions

The Nearprint collections reflect the day-to-day development of Jewish life in mid and late twentieth-century America. Scholars invariably find in this collection data that does not appear in manuscript or non-ephemeral published sources. The Nearprint collection is cataloged in the AJA Online Catalog.

Usage Discussion

Please see the AJA visitors' guide for information on reading room policies and logistical information, such as parking and nearby accommodations.

Fellowships and Funding Opportunities

The Fellowship Program of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives was established in 1977 by our institution's founder, the late Dr. Jacob Rader Marcus. Since its inception, more than 350 scholars from over 20 countries have been named Marcus Center Fellows.

The Marcus Center's Fellowship Program was founded with the intent of creating a forum where students and scholars of the American Jewish experience could gather together to research, discuss, and study their chosen topics. Under the auspices of this unique program scholars come to Cincinnati to conduct in-depth research at the American Jewish Archives and to take part in the academic community of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. The program provides fellows with an opportunity not only to pursue their own research, but also to interact and exchange ideas with research peers as well as with the faculty and students of HUC-JIR.

Today, The Marcus Center administers fifteen endowed fellowships, all funded by generous friends and supporters of the American Jewish Archives. Marcus Center fellows are teachers, students, scholars, and practitioners who, both individually and as a group, come to the American Jewish Archives to study some aspect of the American Jewish past. It is The Marcus Center's hope that this Fellowship Program will advance our understanding of American Jewish history and, simultaneously, of the American nation as a whole.

For more information, please see the AJA Fellowship Program webpage.

Major Topic Areas

Collection Policy
The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives identifies, collects and preserves records of enduring value that document American Jewish life. Its collection development program reflects the diversity and distinctiveness of the North American Jewish community.

Core Areas of Interest
As one of the world's largest archives for the study of North American Jewry, the American Jewish Archives collects major records that relate to Jewish life in the Americas. It focuses intently on four core areas of interest:

  • The records of American Jewish personalities and institutions deemed to possess historical significance;
  • The records of American Reform Judaism—its institutions and significant personalities;
  • The records of American Jewish communities—with a special focus on the records of Cincinnati Jewry;
  • The records of the Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion.

The American Jewish Archives may periodically elect to acquire and maintain other records of special significance. When considering collections that relate to Jewish life outside of the United States of America, the American Jewish Archives will carefully consider accepting those records that have extraordinary research or historical value.

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