Treasures of the Hadassah Archives: A Virtual Tour

May 13, 2024

Treasures of the Hadassah Archives: A Virtual Tour

This Jewish American Heritage Month, we are diving into the rich history of Hadassah through a tour of the Hadassah Archives at the American Jewish Historical Society, where the collection is on long-term deposit.

The collection — overseen by archivist Melanie Meyers — spans 1,000 linear feet, making it the third largest collection at the historical society. It’s made up of about 1,000 boxes, filled with artifacts, documents, photographs and more, including periodicals, executive committee and national board minutes, reel-to-reel tapes, and even the original audio of President John F. Kennedy addressing Hadassah’s 1963 National Convention.

“Hadassah right from the beginning seemed to have a really innate sense of their own history, and what their place in history was going to be, and as a result they kept a lot,” Meyers said.

One of the most sought-after collections in the facility, the collection is available for review by the public through the historical society’s reading room.

“The reason why this collection is so appealing and so used by researchers is because it covers such an enormous amount of material,” Meyers said. “It covers an incredibly large span of time –– close to 100 years. It also covers a lot of different geography –– it talks about America, it talks about public health projects on other continents.”

The scope of the collection is so big that it attracts not only Hadassah researchers, but those interested in broader historical topics.

“People who are thinking about women’s history, looking at the role of women as leaders –– not just in Jewish organizations but in other organizations –– thinking about the professionalization of certain careers for women, nursing, social work, etc. All of this is really incredibly documented within the Hadassah collection,” Meyers said.

The history of the Hadassah Medical Organization is of particular interest to those studying public health, too, she said. “They can look at the records of what these nurses were doing, what these women were doing, and learn a great deal about these early public health projects all over the globe,” Meyers said.

Watch this video to take a tour of the Hadassah Archives. It was originally filmed in 2020.

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