Information for Researchers
Scope and Content of Collection
Collection Title: Western Jewish History Center, Vertical files
Date (inclusive): 1868-2010,
Date (bulk): bulk 1967-2010
Collection Number: BANC MSS 2010/775
Western Jewish History Center
Number of containers: 23 cartons, 1 box, 2 oversize boxes
Linear feet: 29.95 linear feet
The Bancroft Library
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, California, 94720-6000
Phone: (510) 642-6481
Fax: (510) 642-7589
Abstract: The Western Jewish History Center, Vertical Files contain the office reference and research files of the Center and document
its efforts to provide guidance and assistance in the study of western Jewish Americana.
Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English and Hebrew
Physical Location: Many of the Bancroft Library collections are stored offsite and advance notice may be required for use. For current information
on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
Information for Researchers
Collection is open for research.
Materials in this collection may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition, the reproduction
of some materials may be restricted by terms of University of California gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions,
privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond
that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of without permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for
any use rests exclusively with the user.
All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from, or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the
Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley 94720-6000. See:
[Identification of item], Western Jewish History Center, Vertical Files, BANC MSS 2010/775, The Bancroft Library, University
of California, Berkeley.
Alternate Forms Available
There are no alternate forms of this collection.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Western Jewish History Center--Archives
Judah L. Magnes Museum
Charities--California--San Francisco Bay Area
Jews--California--San Francisco Bay Area
The Western Jewish History Center, Vertical Files were transferred to The Bancroft Library from the Judah L. Magnes Museum
No additions are expected.
System of Arrangement
Arranged to the folder level.
Processed by Jeffrey P. Sahaida in 2013.
The Western Jewish History Center (WJHC) was established in 1967 at the Judah L. Magnes Museum to collect, preserve, and provide
access to archival and oral history documentation about the Jewish community in the American West. The center was created
by Seymour Fromer, under the direction of Moses Rischin, and from an early stage saw the involvement of a series of archivists
and local historians, including Ruth Kelson Rafael, Fred Rosenbaum, and Ava Kahn.
The archival collections collected by the Western Jewish History Center are now part of the Western Jewish Americana archives
of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life at the Bancroft Library. The collections encompass the entire western United
States beginning with the 1849 Gold Rush and continuing to the present, with a specific focus on the Jewish experience in
California and the San Francisco Bay Area.
Many paintings, sculptures, and ritual objects initially collected by the Western Jewish History Center are now part of the
museum collections of Jewish art and life.
From 1967 until 2010, when the archives were transferred to The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life at The Bancroft Library,
the Western Jewish History Center occupied the top floor of the Magnes Museum, the former Jeremiah Thaddeus Burke mansion
in Berkeley, California. The theme of Western American Jewish history, however, pervaded all activities of the Judah L. Magnes
Museum, itself named after Judah L. Magnes (1877-1948). Magnes was the first native-born rabbi from the American West and
the first Chancellor of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, a cultural and political activist who, in the eyes of the founders,
symbolized the spirit of California's Jews in their achievements and contributions to global humanity.
The Center published over twenty monographs and bibliographies based on its collections. These imprints include
Taking Risks: A Jewish Youth in the Soviet Partisans and His Unlikely Life in California by Fred Rosenbaum (2004), winner of Forward Magazine's Book of the Year award, and
The Jews of the West: The Metropolitan Years, edited by Dr. Moses Rischin (1979).
The Western Jewish History Center staff and collections provided guidance and research materials to over a dozen fundamental
studies in Jewish Americana including
Jewish Life in the American West by Ava Kahn (2002);
Pioneer Jews, A New Life in the West by Harriet Rochlin (2000);
Towers of Gold by Frances Dinkelspiel (2008); and
Cosmopolitans, A Social and Cultural History of the Jews of the San Francisco Bay Area by Fred Rosenbaum (2009).
Scope and Content of Collection
The Western Jewish History Center, Vertical Files contain the office reference and research files of the Center and document
its efforts to provide guidance and assistance in the study of western Jewish Americana. The files were originally divided
into three reference areas, and this organizational structure has been retained by the archivist:
- Series I: Names
- Series II: Geographic Files
- Series III: Subject Files
The name files consist of family trees, lineages, and other genealogical background materials of named individuals and families.
While some files contain original documents, many items are photocopies of original materials.
The geographic reference and research files contain materials on Jewish synagogues, organizations, committees, and groups
of Canada, Mexico, and the United States. However, the bulk of the files pertain to organizations within the western United
States. While some files contain original documents and clippings, many items are photocopies of original materials.
The subject matter reference and research files contain topical materials germane to the history of the western Jewish experience.
While some files contain original documents and clippings, many items are photocopies of original materials.