AJA Receives the Institutional Records of the World's Largest Professional Association of Jewish Studies Scholars

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives (AJA) is pleased to announce that the records of the Association for Jewish Studies (AJS) were received by the AJA in May, 2016. The records constitute the most comprehensive collection of the largest learned society and professional association of Jewish Studies scholars worldwide.

The collection—now being processed at the AJA—includes board minutes, newsletters, correspondence, conference material, abstracts and programs, along with audio tapes of conferences and other materials from 1970 through 2006.  “The papers of the AJS document the development of the field of Jewish Studies on a global level,” noted Dr. Gary P. Zola, Executive Director of the AJA and the Edward M. Ackerman Family Distinguished Professor of the American Jewish Experience & Reform Jewish History at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion's Cincinnati campus. “They are critical to our understanding of the place of Jewish Studies—past, present, and future. We are most honored to have been selected to preserve and protect these priceless materials in perpetuity.”

The AJS collection includes correspondence, meeting minutes and print material like this 1970 newsletter.

The Association for Jewish Studies (AJS) was founded in 1969 by a small group of scholars seeking a forum for exploring methodological and pedagogical issues in the new field of Jewish Studies. Today, its more than 1800 members are university faculty, graduate students, independent scholars, as well as museum, library, and archive professionals who represent the breadth of Jewish Studies scholarship.

"As a scholar who has relied upon the AJA for so many of my own projects, I am delighted that the AJS collection has found its home at The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives,” adds Pamela S. Nadell, Patrick Clendenen Chair in Women’s and Gender History,  American University and President of the Association for Jewish Studies. “Scholars in the future will turn to the AJS collection to research the emergence and growth of Jewish Studies around the nation and globe and into diverse new arenas.  Here too, they will find crucial materials shedding light on the wider history of American academe.”

The AJS works to advance research and teaching in Jewish Studies at colleges, universities, and other institutions of higher learning and to foster greater understanding of Jewish Studies scholarship among the wider public. As a constituent organization of the American Council of Learned Societies, the Association for Jewish Studies represents the field in the larger arena of the academic study of the humanities and social sciences in North America.

“The papers of the Association for Jewish Studies shed important light on the growth and transformation of Jewish Studies since the 1960s,” said Jonathan D. Sarna, Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University and immediate past president of AJS.  “The collection complements the many other papers of Jewish scholars now reposited in the American Jewish Archives. The first stop for anyone intent on studying the history of Jewish scholarship in the United States should now be the AJA in Cincinnati.”

In early 2017 the AJS papers will be open and available for research in the historic Barrows-Loebelson Reading Room of the American Jewish Archives. A finding aid, listing the contents of the collection, will also be available through the AJA’s online catalog, allowing scholars and students to identify records of interest prior to contacting the AJA.

Media: For more information, to obtain an interview or to view sample materials from the collection, please contact Joyce Kamen at (513) 543-8109.

The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, founded in 1947 by its namesake on the Cincinnati campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, is committed to preserving a documentary heritage of the religious, organizational, economic, cultural, personal, social and family life of American Jewry. The Marcus Center contains over 15,000 linear feet of archives, manuscripts, nearprint materials, photographs, audio and videotapes, microfilm, and genealogical materials. www.americanjewisharchives.org


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu