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American Jewish Committee Archive

Title: American Jewish Committee Archive
Inclusive Dates: 1918-1970s
ID: RG 347 
Predominant Dates: 1930s-1970s
expand icon Administrative/Biographical History
Organization founded in 1906 in New York by 34 prominent American Jews to defend Jewish civil and religious rights throughout the world. The original founders included Louis Marshall, Judge Mayer Sulzberger, Jacob Schiff and Cyrus Adler. Judge Sulzberger was elected first president of the committee and served in that capacity until 1912. Among those who succeeded him were Louis Marshall, 1912-1929; Cyrus Adler, 1929-1940; Joseph Proskauer, 1943-1949; Jacob Blaustein, 1949-1954; Morris B. Abram, 1964-1968; Arthur J. Goldberg, 1968-1969. The chief executive officer of the AJC was the Secretary, later renamed the Executive Vice President. Among those who occupied this position were: Herbert Friedenwald, 1906-1912; Herman Bernstein, 1913-1914; Morris D. Waldman, 1926-1943; John Slawson, 1943-1967. The AJC is governed by the National Executive Council and administered by the AJC Executive Committee. Headquarters are in New York with regional offices throughout the U.S. There is also an office in Jerusalem. Current membership is estimated at 50,000.      At the outset, the AJC consisted of a small select group who interceded on behalf of Jews, privately and discreetly, in the traditional style of personal diplomacy. In 1907 and 1913 the AJC lobbied for a liberal American immigration policy and fought against the literacy test requirement for immigrants. In 1911 it campaigned successfully for the abrogation of the Russo-American Treaty of 1832 because of violations of Jewish rights in Tsarist Russia. At the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 the work of Julian Mack, Louis Marshall and Cyrus Adler was influential in securing minority rights for Jews. In the 1920s the AJC conducted a public relations campaign against Henry Ford's publication of the *Protocols of the Elders of Zion* in the *Dearborn Independent*.      In the 1930s the AJC began to widen its membership. By the 1940s the structure and approach of the AJC had undergone a fundamental change. The private diplomacy approach was supported more and more by organized educational and public relations programs, including an increasing number of scholarly studies and publications on antisemitism, civil and religious rights, interracial and intercultural relations.      With the rise of pro-Nazi and antisemitic groups in the United States the AJC campaigned against these movements, carrying out studies on Nazi activities and publicizing some of their findings in newspapers and magazines. In addition, the AJC studied conditions in various countries for their potential as havens for Jewish refugees from Europe.      During subsequent decades, the AJC continued its lobbying activities and public relations and educational programs, strengthening its research staff and promoting studies about bigotry, cultural diversity, intergroup cooperation and intercultural education. The AJC was particularly active in the civil and human rights areas, supporting legislation and court decisions addressing racial and religious discrimination in employment, higher education and housing. In 1951, the AJC published the 5 volume Studies In Prejudice. The Committee also publishes the monthly magazine *Commentary* and co-sponsors the annual publication of the *American Jewish Year Book*.
expand icon Forms of Material (links to similar genres)
expand icon Finding Aid Information
In-house shelf-lists of select subgroups, inventories, indexes. An *Inventory to the Records of American Jewish Committee, 1906-1980* by Seymour J. Pomrenze, published.
expand icon Administrative Information
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Other Formats: MK 516 (inventory)
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