Established in 1892, AJHS is the oldest ethnic, cultural archive in the United States, providing access to more than 30 million documents, 50,000 books, photographs, artwork, audio-visual material, and artifacts that reflect the history of the Jewish presence in the United States from 1654 to the present.
Established in 1892, the mission of the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS) is to foster awareness and appreciation of American Jewish heritage and to serve as a national scholarly resource for research through the collection, preservation and dissemination of materials relating to American Jewish history. At our home on West 16th street in downtown Manhattan, AJHS illuminates American Jewish history through our many archival treasures, scholarship, exhibitions, and public programs. Among the treasures of our collection are the handwritten original of Emma Lazarus’ “The New Colossus,” which graces the Statue of Liberty; records of the nation’s leading Jewish communal organizations; and important collections in the fields of education, philanthropy, science, sports, business, and the arts.
We are located within the Center for Jewish History on West 16th street in downtown Manhattan.
Emma Lazarus Statue of Liberty Award
Among our treasures is the original manuscript notebook of Emma Lazarus’ poetry including her handwritten draft of “The New Colossus” which she penned for an 1883 auction to help fund the pedestal for the Statue of Liberty. “The New Colossus” was read at the Statue of Liberty’s dedication on October 28, 1886, and engraved on the pedestal in 1903.
Every year the American Jewish Historical Society presents its most prestigious honor, the Emma Lazarus Statue of Liberty Award, to an individual or group whose contribution reflects the highest values of the American Jewish community.
Our primary searchable collections include our archival collections, library (including both our rare books and general research collection), and the Museum Collection. The archival collections and library are searchable within the Research Catalog, while the Museum Collection has its own search portal. Both are accessible via the Center for Jewish History’s online research portals.
The Center for Jewish History Research Catalog is a unified search portal that allows you to search the books and archival materials held by the American Jewish Historical Society, as well as those held by the four other partner institutions at the Center. In order to search our collections, simply select “American Jewish Historical Society” from the dropdown menu in the search bar.
The Museum Collection holds many unique treasures including paintings, daguerreotypes, silhouettes, textiles, silver objects, medals and ribbons, domestic and religious objects, sports and family memorabilia, military uniforms, political and theater posters, rabbinical regalia, correspondence, newspapers, and photographs.
AJHS Featured Holdings
Some of our largest and most-used collections include: the records of the UJA Federation of New York; the HIAS Collection; the Jewish-American Hall of Fame; the Archive of the American Soviet Jewry Movement; the archive of the American Soviet Jewry Movement; and the Loeb Portrait Database.