Location within New York City
|Location||15 West 16th Street|
Manhattan, New York U.S. 10011
|Director||Gemma R. Birnbaum|
|Public transit access||Subway: 14th Street – Union Square|
The American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS) was founded in 1892 with the mission to foster awareness and appreciation of American Jewish history and to serve as a national scholarly resource for research through the collection, preservation and dissemination of materials relating to American Jewish history.
The American Jewish Historical Society is the oldest national ethnic historical organization in the United States. The Society's library, archives, photograph, and art and artifacts collections document the American Jewish experience. They are housed in the Center for Jewish History in Manhattan.
The society has administrative offices in both New York, New York, and in Boston, Massachusetts. It has served as a public educational and interpretive function by publishing a journal, a newsletter, monographs and reference works on the American Jewish experience.
In 2007, it was among over 530 New York City arts and social service institutions to receive part of a $20 million grant from the Carnegie Corporation, which was made possible through a donation by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The Society publishes books, a genealogy program, museums tours, academic assistance and other related educational activities. Additionally, the American Jewish Historical Society publishes the following publications:
The American Jewish Historical Society has some 40 million items in its archives, including manuscripts, printed material, photographs, audio files, film files, digital material, and objects. Important elements of the Society's collection include hundreds of historical manuscripts and other records of American Jewish groups, including the papers of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds, the Synagogue Council of America, the American Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Committee, and the Hebrew Benevolent Society, as well as the papers of HIAS (formerly the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) from 1954 to 2000; United Jewish Appeal-Federation of New York and predecessor organizations from 1909 to 2004; and the American Soviet Jewry Movement.
The Society holds the original manuscript of "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus, as well as very early American Jewish documents, including Judah Monis's Hebrew grammar textbook (1735), the first American siddur for Jewish holidays printed in English (1761), and the first Hebrew‐English prayerbook published in the United States (1826). The Society also holds documents from American Jewish Patriots of the American Revolution, including the marriage contract of Haym Salomon (1777). The Society's Loeb Portrait Database of American Jewish Portraits is a repository of more than 400 portraits of pre-1865 American Jews.
The Society also maintains the Jewish-American Hall of Fame, which was founded in 1969 at the Judah L. Magnes Museum in Berkeley, California, and became part of the American Jewish Historical Society in 2001.
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