"Three weeks after arriving in the US, children from Europe's post-war displaced persons camps rehearse a play for their first Thanksgiving to be performed at the national reception center of the United Service for New Americans" Photo courtesy HIAS archive/FaceBook


“Three weeks after arriving in the US, children from Europe’s post-war displaced persons camps rehearse a play for their first Thanksgiving to be performed at the national reception center of the United Service for New Americans.” Photo courtesy HIAS archive/FaceBook

HIAS, the global Jewish refugee resettlement agency, has launched a new initiative to preserve close to five million pages of client records and adminstrative files as well as nearly 70,000 images dating back to the 19th century. These documents help tell the story of HIAS’ origins, assisting Jewish individuals and families who fled anti-Semitism and came to the United States. The project, which will take place over three years, is a joint effort with the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS), which will oversee the effort to preserve, index and store the archives. A gift of $1 million, provided by the Brin Wojcicki Foundation, will be used to launch the project.

The full collection will contain both administrative records, as well as individual and family case files, and ultimately result in all of HIAS’s archival material being moved, processed and housed by AJHS at the Center for Jewish History in New York City. Once completed, this historical archive will not only shed light on the massive Jewish migration over the last century, but also the debates, strategies, and personalities that surrounded the difficult decisions necessary to carry out HIAS’ efforts to rescue and resettle Jewish populations in crisis overseas.