The Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center
Discovering and preserving Philadelphia’s Jewish past
Traveling back in time comes easy at the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center. The Samuel Paley Library at Temple University is the new home for this collection that was once part of the former Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies. Collections date back to the 19th century, when Philadelphia’s Jewish community initiated a host of national firsts.
There are records of the first Jewish orphanage and first Jewish Sunday school. One can find papers of the Jewish Publication Society, the oldest operating Jewish publishing house. More than 800 individuals and organizations are represented, including Bernard Levinthal, Philadelphia’s chief Orthodox Rabbi in the 19th century, and Edwin Wolf II, the city’s chief bibliophile in the 20th.
The archives has provided a refuge for threatened records since 1972. It was the first community-sponsored archives of its kind in the nation, established as a joint project of the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Jewish Committee and the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. Its graphics are used extensively in publications and exhibitions throughout the United States and Israel.
Open Mon – Fri by appointment only
If your ancestors arrived in Philadelphia between 1884 and 1920, the archives can help you trace their journey. Extensive ship records include the name of the ship ticket holder, who traveled with them, the cost, and the dates of travel.
In the neighborhood
Museums & Attractions
Waterworks Drive and Kelly Drive
Philadelphia, PA 19130
- Wagner Free Institute of Science
- The Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection
- The Village of Arts and Humanities
- Temple University Libraries – The Special Collections Department
- View more attractions
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