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The AJHS Manuscript Catalog

Board of Delegates of American Israelites

Type / Call #Institutional / I-002Contains printed copies of the 1860 constitution and by-laws,
copies of proceedings and annual reports, 1859-1877, of the Board
of Delegates; report on Jews in Roumania, an 1874 annual report
of the Hebrew Benevolent and Orphan Asylum Society, manuscript
minute books and minutes of meetings, 1859-1876, resolutions,
executive, financial, ritual slaughtering and other special
committee reports, newspaper clippings and correspondence with
synagogues and organizations in the U.S. who constitute the
membership of the Board of Delegates, with the Union of American
Hebrew Congregations with whom they later merged, the Union's
Board of Delegates of Civil and Religious Rights, and with
individuals and organizations in foreign countries including the
Alliance Israelite Universelle, the Anglo-Jewish Association, the
Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Committee for the
Roumanian Jews (Berlin), the Koenigsberg Committee, and the
London Roumanian Committee. Correspondence in English, French,
German, Hebrew and Spanish, deals with the Board's activities of
collecting statistical information on Jewish life in America,
acting as an advisory arbitrator in disputes, and protecting
civil and religious rights of Jews both in America and abroad,
rights which were infringed upon by various incidents including
General Ulysses S. Grant's order expelling Jews from his Military
Department which was revoked after appeals were made to
government officials including President Abraham Lincoln;
proposed U.S. and North Carolina State constitutional amendment
recognizing Christianity as the religion of the land; problems
arising from student absenteeism on Jewish holidays and from
changing the name of Jews' Hospital in New York to Mount Sinai
Hospital; the exclusion of Jewish clergyman from beings chaplains
in the U.S. Army; anti-semitic charges, including one of "Jewish
nationalism", by Major General Benjamin F. Butler which promoted
replies defending Jewish occupations and stressing the service of
Jews to the country in respected positions; pogroms,
anti-semitism, famine and poverty affecting the Jewish population
in Iran, Iraq, Italy, Morocco, Palestine, Russia, Roumania,
Spain, Switzerland and Turkey. Efforts were made to aid Jewish
inhabitants of and the emigrants from Russia and Roumania,
particularly by the Franklin Peixotto to build schools,
orphanages and widows' asylums in Palestine; to eliminate
discriminatory clauses against American and French Jews in the
Swiss Treaty; to revoke the Spanish edict of 1492 banishing Jews;
and to raise money to relieve the suffering of Jews throughout
the world. There are several letters from Rabbi Isaac Elhanan
Spektor requesting aid for a community near Kovno, Russia. Among
those active in Jewish rights whose correspondence is included
are Adolphe Cremieux, Isaac Leeser, Jonas Phillips Levy, Sir
Moses Haim Montefiore, Isaac N. Seligman, William Henry Seward,
Adolphus Simeon Solomons and Simon Wolf. Also contains
correspondence about the Hebrew Education Society of Philadelphia
as well as the American Jewish Publication Society (in existence
1871-1873) concerning Jewish educational scholarship in the U.S.
A large portion of the correspondence is either addressed to or
from Myer Samuel Isaacs who held various positions on the Board.
Size4 cartons (1500 items)

All AJHS manuscript collections must be accessed in person on-site at the American Jewish Historical Society. For information on how to research the AJHS archival collections, essential information about their Reading Room and Regulations can be found at

The AJHS collections themselves are not available in any electronic form, on this website or elsewhere. The AJHS has been collecting this material for over 100 years, and preserves it in its archives in the original format, be it handwritten, typewritten, or printed. For more information on the AJHS' genealogical holdings see the article "Genealogical Resources at the American Jewish Historical Society".

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