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Collection Guide: Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)

Overview of the individual archival collections and library materials found at the Center relating to the HIAS organization and their activities.

Refugee Resources--Photographs, Maps. (Box 57, Folder 3, Image 7)

Archival Collection Overview

The YIVO records of HIAS reflect the activities of all its administrative offices in the United States and abroad until World War II. The collection is comprised of the records of HIAS, HICEM and the United HIAS Service, and is divided into several subgroups. All records are digitized and available online. 


HIAS Board of Directors and Steering Committees (RG 245.1)

Collection includes minutes of the Board of Directors and of their annual meetings and meeting minutes of the permanent and ad hoc committees of HIAS which include the Executive Committee, Committee on Work in Foreign Countries, U.S. Immigration Stations (later Committee on Overseas Work), Budget, Membership, House and Shelter, Citizenship, and Law and Work in Palestine Committees.

HIAS Ellis Island Bureau (RG 245.2)

Collection consists of case files and administrative correspondence relating to deportation or detention cases at Ellis Island handled by HIAS representatives Irving Lipsitch and Samuel Littman. 

HIAS Foreign Relations Department (RG 245.3)

Collections materials consist of HIAS "search material" case files, which include questionnaires, affidavits, and correspondence on administrative matters and transportation arrangements. 

HIAS and HICEM Main Offices—New York (RG 245.4)

This collection includes the records of the main HIAS administration from 1907 until the merger of HIAS and the United Service for New Americans in 1954 to form the United Hias Service and the records of the New York office of HICEM, 1940-1945.

RG 245.4 is further organized into the following sub-subgroups:

Minutes of meetings of the HIAS Board of Directors, Executive Committee and other standing committees of the Board. Also includes records of Annual Meetings and reports to the Board from HIAS branch offices throughout the U.S. 

Reports on the history of HICEM, minutes of meetings of the HICEM Board of Directors (Paris and New York) and of various committees, operational correspondence between the Paris headquarters and various affiliates throughout the world. 

Correspondence primarily between the Executive Director of HIAS and the President or Secretary of HICEM. Also included are reports and correspondence to and from overseas HICEM representatives. 

Records primarily relate to international organizations and conferences established and convened to deal with the Jewish refugee crisis in the face of Nazi persecution. Topics include: the 1938 Evian conference; the 1939 Paris conference of European Aid Committees; the 1943 Bermuda Conference. Correspondence with the International Labor Office, (European) High Commissioner for Refugees, and (U.S.) Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees. 

Correspondence with: (245.4.6) international immigration organizations, such as the Jewish Colonization Association, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the American Jewish Committee, the World Jewish Congress, the Palestine Jewish Colonization Association and the Jewish Labor Committee; (245.4.7) mainly Jewish immigration organizations in the United States. 

Correspondence between HICEM and various prominent individuals. 

Materials on immigration into the U.S., with statistical reports and correspondence documenting HIAS' participation. Topics include U.S. government lobbying regarding immigrant legislation, Ellis Island activities, coordination with HIAS branches and affiliate agencies throughout the U.S., HIAS educational department lectures. Also correspondence with the Canadian Jewish Immigrant Aid Society (JIAS). 

Correspondence and reports documenting HIAS/HICEM participation in emigration to Palestine. 

Correspondence between HIAS/HICEM main offices in New York  and various European countries regarding migration in western and eastern Europe and Russia. 

This subseries consists of materials pertaining to Latin America and various Latin American countries generated by HIAS and HICEM's main offices in New York and Europe. Materials are geographically divided and cover the following locations, among others: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, British Honduras, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Surinam, Trinidad, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Materials primarily are in English, Yiddish, or Spanish, unless noted otherwise. 

Materials regarding migration to/from Australia and New Zealand. 

Materials regarding migration to/from the Far East, Siberia, and the western Pacific. 

Materials regarding migration to/from Africa. 

Correspondence and reports regarding transportation of refugees. Also includes reports about specific ship voyages and passenger lists. 

Correspondence of HICEM relating to selected individual cases, mainly of refugees stranded in Lisbon. 

Standard form letters and pre-printed forms used by the central and branch offices and various auxiliaries. 

HIAS periodic publications, press releases and publicity materials. Includes radio programs. 

Includes "A History of HIAS" by Dr. Aryeh Tartakower (1939), notes for, and manuscript of "Visas to Freedom: The History of HIAS", by Dr. Mark Wischnitzer, Y. Parsky's notes on HIAS in eastern Europe (1950), research materials on immigrant aid in San Fransisco (1868-1925), and biographical notes on HIAS leaders. 

Materials consist entirely of index cards providing information on all immigrants to the U.S. assisted by HIAS. Records are available on microfilm MKM 27.1-.79.

HICEM Main Office—Europe (RG 245.5)

This collection, a sub-group of RG 245 HIAS, includes all existing records of the main HICEM offices in Europe prior to and during World War II. There are also some records of the post-World War II period relating to the merger of HICEM with HIAS in 1945 and HIAS’s work with displaced persons. 

HICEM and HIAS Office—Lisbon (RG 245.6)

The records includes Lisbon Office correspondence and case files of the Lisbon HICEM office during World War II, which includes correspondence with affiliates worldwide, regarding transportation and money transfers and with government officials. Also, with the Lisbon offices of the Quakers and Unitarians. Lisbon wartime correspondence and refugee dossiers kept in the Lisbon office of HICEM. Lisbon refugee case files from HICEM's Central Registry during WW II and after the war. Collection materials can be found on multiple microfilm reels: MKM 14.1-.46; MKM 19.61; MKM 20.1-.45; MKM 21.1-.63; MKM 22.1-.17.

HIAS European Office—Paris (RG 245.7)

Materials include postwar correspondence and related documents on about 6000 individual cases, arranged by region:  Europe, Latin  America, Australia, Israel, North Africa, Africa, Asia. Also included: general correspondence, reports, publications, financial records, relating to world-wide Jewish immigration after the war, including correspondence with organizations:  IRO, AJDC, USNA, yeshivot, landsmanshaftn, the Jewish Agency, and organizations in D.P. camps. Collection material can be found on microfilm MKM 23.1-.267. (NOTE only folders 1-5312 were microfilmed)

United HIAS Service Main Office—New York (RG 245.8)

Consists of administrative records as well as reference and resource materials on immigration such as speeches, reports, statistical materials, bulletins, clippings. Reports relating to immigration to Israel.  Correspondence of UHS European headquarters in Geneva and of UHS office in Paris, Brussels, Vienna.  Correspondence with UHS Latin American headquarters in Rio de Janeiro.  Correspondence concerning China. Materials on Jewish Immigrant Aid Society, Canada.  Also included are records of individual cases filed by year and by card number and photographs relating to immigration, 1900-1960s, including: scenes of Ellis Island; HIAS offices in New York; displaced persons; immigrants; HIAS relief and immigration work in various countries, including China, France, Japan, Latvia, Poland. Films in this group were cataloged and placed into RG 105.

United HIAS Service Office—Chile (RG 245.9)

Includes correspondence and financial records of the HIAS office in Chile relating to the immigration of Jews from Chile to the U.S. after 1946. Also includes individual cases, correspondence with HIAS offices in Brazil, France, U.S. and other countries. 

HICEM Office—Prague (RG 245.10)

Collection consists of records of the HICEM Office in Prague, documenting efforts to assist Jewish refugees from Czechoslovakia. Records include minutes of National Committee Meetings, correspondence from the HICEM office, including with various aid societies, and extensive individual refugee case files.