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The Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center

Discovering and preserving Philadelphia’s Jewish past


The Experience

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.

Other Information

Open Mon – Fri by appointment only

Insider Tip

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.


Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center
Urban Archives, Paley Library
Temple University
1210 Polett Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19122
(215) 204-8257

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