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Jewish Refugees and Others Databases

Using the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee Archives site that is online can be superb resource for providing copies of documents, records, information and photos of the overseas rescue, relief and rehabilitation  of the thousands of displaced Jewish families and individuals. The entire archive has thousands of documents, books, audio recordings as well as over 100,000 images, some dating back to 1914.

To start a search the site has it divided by doing a search of the 500,000 names in the collection taken directly from documents.  The names include not only those Jewish individuals, but also those who signed documents on their behalf or offered support. To assist the search engine will also list similar spellings to a name submitted, so that every possibility can be found.

In the second search box a keyword can be placed to located the some 250,000 primary sources of the material available The third method to search is by using a keyword such as a town or location that was listed on a photograph.

The collections include about the establishment of a Jewish settlement in Palatine between 1919 into the 1940s. There are ship manifests for many refugees leaving Europe. Documents cover the efforts to provide assistance to refugees, prisoners of war and orphans. There are many photos and records on the many relief efforts after World War II (1945) to help the displaced persons resettle, especially in the Middle East and North Africa.

A fascinating section is the Early Remittance Lists which provide information of deposits of money from relatives living outside of Europe who were sending the money to relatives in need in Europe during the Great War (World War I – 1919). There are names and addresses for those sending and receiving these funds in Romania, Russia, Poland and Palestine between 1915 and 1921.  Further down on the web site of databases are lists of refugees from Poland from 1938 to 1939, those held in prisons in Siberia in 1916 and as well as other locations included.

An interesting search with names can be to include those non-Jewish surnames to see those who assisted refugees. I used a family name of ‘Frankforter’ and had 21 records available, some which picked up the spelling of ’Frankfurter’ also.  Several of these records revealed Frankfurter refugees. The surname ‘Harris’ had 56 records, many where they were sending aid to refugees. Even with some of the documents in foreign languages, a brief summary of what is on each document is included.

The photo gallery section has images from the mid-1930s into the 1950s. Such a variety that might not be seen in most locations.

This is a resource that does need to be examined by all family historians.

Photo above:  1935 – training farm in Neuendorf, Germany

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