ARCHIVAL MATERIALS
Home » Donate Archival Material

Donating Archival Material to the AJA

archival contributions

The AJA possesses the largest cataloged collection in the world of documents and records relating to the American Jewish experience and is an internationally known center of research.  The AJA's Collection is comprised of historical materials from institutions, organizations, local communities, and individuals which relate to the political, economic, social, cultural, and religious nature of the American Jewish experience.  Preserved materials include:  manuscripts, photographs, nearprint, journals/diaries, family histories, and video/audio recordings on a variety of media.

The AJA encourages all those who have archival records (especially those who cannot care for their materials) to consider preserving them in the state-of-the-art Jacob Rader Marcus Repository at the AJA.

If you have questions please Ask an Archivist.

Donating Personal and Family Papers to the AJA

The study of American Jewish history is primarily the study of the interrelationship and interaction,
within the life of the individual Jews and the Jewish community, of the Jewish heritage and the American environment. Every Jewish community is in many ways the aggregate of a series of individuals. Consequently, the intensive study of the individual is indispensable. The AJA, therefore, is interested in collecting the papers and studying the lives and careers of individual Jews and their families.

Please contact the AJA’s Director of Research & Collections, Dr. Dana Herman ([email protected]) or an AJA archivist to discuss the potential donation of your personal or family papers to the AJA.

Among the types of materials in personal and family papers of interest to researchers are:

  • brochures and flyers
  • business records
  • diaries
  • films/videos/audio tapes (labeled)
  • genealogical information
  • legal documents
  • letters
  • memoirs/reminiscences
  • minutes/reports
  • photographs (labeled)
  • scrapbooks/photo albums
  • speeches/lectures
  • Also of interest are files relating to the individual's civic, business, religious, political, and social activities.

Records that should NOT be sent to the AJA:

Artifacts; published sources (newspapers, magazines, journals, etc.); books and prayer books; checks; copies of checks; invoices; bills, etc.

Donating Congregational Records to the AJA

So much of American Jewish life has been and still is, reflected in the synagogue, the basic institution of American Jewry. Synagogue records constitute one of the most important sources the researcher can hope to secure.

Please contact the AJA’s Director of Research & Collections, Dr. Dana Herman ([email protected]) or an AJA archivist to discuss the potential donation of your congregation’s records to the AJA. Please note that depending on the complexity and size of the collection of documents/records of the congregation, the AJA may send an archivist to the congregation to evaluate the records.

Among the types of materials (and these may be in digital form) in congregational records of interest to the AJA are the following:

A. Records relating to the establishment of the Synagogue/Congregation

B. Subject files of officers and administrators
- Include correspondence and internal memos (including e-mails), reports, and working
papers. Records and papers that document growth, change, new initiatives, and
controversial matters

C. Membership Records
- Include records of life-cycle events

D. Annual Reports

E. Committee Reports

F. Selected Project Files
- Includes records about fundraising activities/initiatives but NOT actual ledgers, checks
or business records.

G. Cemetery records

H. Publications (congregational bulletins, for example)

I. Programs & Public Relations Material
- Include brochures, press releases, and other promotional and programmatic materials

J. Photographs & Media
- Include both interior and exterior photographs
- Include audio/ audiovisual material as well as digital photos and film
- Try to identify date, event, persons, location, etc.

Records that should NOT be sent to the AJA:

  • Artifacts, prayer books, Torah scrolls, museum pieces
  • All business records, checks, copies of checks, invoices, bills, etc.
  • Any records that are considered "active" - i.e. records that are still in use by the rabbi, the congregation board or other personnel
  • Any records that relate to the day-to-day activities that would not be historically valuable - i .e.
    operations documents, security records, phone logs

Donating Organizational Records to the AJA

Many of the records produced by an organization have long-term historic value. A repository such as the AJA is interested in the records that best illustrate the purpose, activities, and policies of an organization from its inception. 

Please contact the AJA’s Director of Research & Collections, Dr. Dana Herman ([email protected]) or an AJA archivist to discuss the potential donation of your organization’s records to the AJA. Please note that depending on the complexity and size of the collection of documents/records of the organization, the AJA may send an archivist to evaluate the records. 

Among the types of materials (and these may be in digital form) in organizational records of interest to the AJA are the following:

  • architectural records
  • articles of incorporation, charters
  • audio recordings
  • budgets
  • bylaws and revisions
  • clippings
  • constitution and revisions
  • correspondence of officers
  • directories
  • financial statements
  • handbooks
  • legal documents
  • memoranda
  • minutes of meetings
  • membership lists
  • motion picture film and videotape
  • newsletters and other publications (generated by the organization)
  • organizational charts
  • pamphlets, brochures, fliers, etc.
  • photographs (try to identify date, event, persons, location, etc.)
  • planning documents
  • press releases
  • reports (annual, committee, etc.)
  • rosters
  • scrapbooks
  • speeches
  • subject files

Records that should NOT be sent to the AJA:

  • Checks, copies of checks, invoices, bills, etc.
  • Any records that are considered "active" - i.e. records that are still in use by the organization
  • Any records that relate to the day-to-day activities that would not be historically valuable - i .e. operations documents, security records, phone logs, etc.