Drafting a Guide: American Jewish History Resources

Today’s post is written by Alan Walker, Archivist at the National Archives at College Park.

In 1957, archivist Nathan Reingold distributed a memo to each custodial unit at the National Archives asking for their staffs’ help in tracking down records relating to American Jewish history.

Nathan Reingold, 1971. (National Archives ID 23856471, Local ID 64-NA-5058).
RG 64, P 71 - Reingold Memo to All Branches, July 1957
Memorandum from N. Reingold to all Branches, July 19, 1957, Regarding Resources for American Jewish History in the National Archives.

Now, such a request isn’t made (or granted) lightly in view of the tremendous reference burden felt by every custodial unit on a daily basis. But over the next year, reference reports from all of these units found their way to Reingold; archivists sent long and detailed listings of relevant records relating to Jewish involvement in many aspects of America’s story. Below is a sample of the responses.

From the textual records holdings:

RG 64, P 71 - Leo Pascal Reference Report, page 1
First page of Reference Service Report, September 30, 1957, regarding American Jewish history records in NLT record groups.

From the motion picture holdings:

RG 64, P 71 - Robert Wells Reference Report on Motion Pictures
Memorandum from NMP to Mr. Reingold, September 25, 1957, Regarding resources for American Jewish history in the National Archives.

. . . and from the photographic holdings:

RG 64, P 71 - Josephine Cobb Reference Report, page 1
First page of Reference Service Report, September 18, 1957, regarding photographs pertinent to a study of the Jewish peoples.

Reingold made good use of his colleagues’ work and produced a short article about Jewish American history resources at the National Archives, which was published in the journal of the American Jewish Historical Society in 1958.

Pages from Article re Am. Jewish History in the National Archives, 1958
“Resources on American Jewish History in the National Archives” By Nathan Reingold, (a copy of the article is attached below).

But he didn’t stop there. Reingold began compiling all of this material into what he hoped would become a Reference Information Paper, several of which the Archives had already published. He created two drafts, based on comments from his colleagues. At that point, other priorities intervened, and Reingold’s project went no further. However, he saved all of his material, including the drafts (the final draft is attached below).

RG 64, P 71 - Memo re Final Draft of RIP, April 1958
Memorandum from NBE to NIR, April 28, 1958, regarding Reingold’s draft of the Reference Information Paper (RIP) on American-Jewish History in the National Archives.

Even though the intended Reference Information Paper on American Jewish history resources at the National Archives was not published, Nathan Reingold could take pride in knowing he created a comprehensive and still useful guide! One which has been preserved among the holdings of the National Archives in Record Group 64. To see for yourself, click on the links below:

“Materials in the National Archives Relating to American-Jewish History,” Final Draft

“Resources on American Jewish History in the National Archives” by Nathan Reingold, 1958

These, and related material, can be found in the series Records Compiled by Nathan Reingold Relating to American Jewish History Resources, 1957 – 1958 (NAID 7595464) RG 64, Records of the National Archives and Records Administration, 1789 – ca. 2007.