AJHS Names New Executive Director

American Jewish Historical Society Names New Executive Director

Country's oldest ethnic, cultural archive seeks to expand, deepen public engagement under leadership of new Executive Director Annie Polland

Annie Polland

New AJHS Executive Director Annie Polland

February 12, 2018 (New York City) – The American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS) announced today the appointment of Dr. Annie Polland as the organization’s new Executive Director. Polland comes to AJHS from New York City’s much acclaimed Tenement Museum where she served as Executive Vice President for Programs & Interpretation.

At the Tenement Museum, Polland was responsible for programs and content for over 250,000 annual visitors. During her tenure, museum visitation increased by 70 percent. She also led the National Endowment for the Humanities’ first Digital Storytelling at Museums conference. Polland holds a PhD in History from Columbia University and is the author of several books on Jewish history, including The Emerging Metropolis: New York Jews in the Age of Immigration (NYU Press, 2012), which she co-authored with Daniel Soyer, as well as Landmark of the Spirit (Yale University Press, 2008) about the famous Eldridge Street Synagogue.

Commenting on the appointment, AJHS Chairman Sid Lapidus said, “Annie Polland has earned a stellar reputation not only as a scholar of Jewish history, but also for her innovative approach to historical storytelling, education and community engagement. Her track record at the Tenement Museum, which stands among New York City’s treasures, speaks for itself. As AJHS looks to build on the tremendous work done by our previous Executive Director, Rachel Lithgow, we could think of nobody better positioned than Annie to move us to the next level.”

David N. Myers, the President and CEO of the Center for Jewish History – where AJHS is housed – stated, “I am thrilled at the news of Annie Polland’s appointment. She is a uniquely talented person who will bring to the job a rare mix of intelligence, creativity, and energy. AJHS – and the entire Center for Jewish History – will benefit enormously from her presence.”

As Executive Director, the AJHS board is charging Polland with the responsibility of steering the organization forward with an emphasis on expanding engagement with the American Jewish community, New York City residents, and the broader global community of historians and others interested in the history of the Jewish people in the United States. The board is further looking to Polland to assist in stewarding the organization’s finances, with an aim toward sustainable growth.

“I am deeply honored by the trust placed in me by the AJHS board,” said Polland. “AJHS is a vibrant part of the American Jewish community and an invaluable resource for all those interested not only in the stories of American Jews, but also this country’s immigration history, religious freedom and communal and philanthropic organization. At a time when history’s lessons feel especially urgent, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the exceptional team at AJHS to develop programming and content that connects past to present and inspires, teaches and draws together people from all walks of life.”

Polland will officially begin her duties at AJHS on February 26.


About the American Jewish Historical Society:

The American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS) is the oldest ethnic, cultural archive in the United States. Founded in 1892, AJHS provides access to more than 30 million documents and 50,000 books, photographs, art and artifacts that reflect the history of the Jewish presence in the United States from 1654 to the present. At our home on West 16th Street in downtown Manhattan, as well as in our Boston branch on Newbury Street, AJHS illuminates American Jewish history through our many archival treasures, scholarship, exhibitions, and public programs. Among the treasures of this heritage 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 field of education, philanthropy, science, sports, business, and the arts. For more information, please visit www.ajhs.org.

For press inquiries contact:

Jacqueline Leitzes