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Religion Collections in Libraries and Archives:
A Guide to Resources in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia

Table of Contents - Preface/Acknowledgements - Abbreviations
Lists of Entries: District of Columbia - Maryland - Virginia

Lillian and Albert Small Jewish Museum, Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington: Archives and Library

Address: 701 Fourth Street, NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20001
(Office and Archives)

701 Third Street NW
Washington, DC 20001-2624
(historic synagogue)

Telephone Number: (202) 789-0900
Fax Number: (202) 789-0485
Email: [email protected]
Contact Persons:
Laura Cohen Apelbaum, Executive Director
Wendy Turman, Archivist/Curator
Claire Uziel, Assistant Archivist
David McKenzie, Manager of Interpretive Programs
Kristen Pierce, Administrative Coordinator
Lauren Christopher, Membership Development Coordinator

Access Policies

Hours of Service:
Sunday--Friday By appointment only
Open to the public: By appointment only.
Photocopying:: Yes
Interlibrary loan: No

Appointments must be made ahead of time in order to use the collections or tour the historic synagogue. Individual tours require at least 24 hours advance notice; group tours require at least two weeks advance notice. The historic synagogue is not wheelchair assessable. Most materials from the collections can be photocopied or photographed. The curator approves requests after checking copyright restrictions and condition of materials. There is a fee for all copying.

Reference Policy:
Specific questions are answered by telephone and by mail. The best efforts are made to respond to all research requests. Turn around time may be several weeks.
Borrowing Privileges:
Not a lending institution
DC Heritage Tourism Coalition, AAM, AASLH, CAJM, MAAM, Collections DC.
Background Note:
The Archives and Library was founded in 1960 and originally housed in the historic Adas Israel Synagogue. Dedicated in 1876, it is the oldest synagogue in the city, listed in both the District of Columbia and National Register of Historic Places. The mission of the the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington and the Lillian and Albert Small Jewish Museum is to preserve, chronicle and present the story of the local Jewish community through archival collections, exhibits, educational programs, publications, and the restoration and preservation of the oldest synagogue building in the nation’s capital. The museum collection traces the history of the Jewish community in the greater Washington, D.C. area from the mid-19th century through the present day. It includes personal and family papers, organizational and business records, congregation and synagogue archives, historical photographs, oral histories, ritual objects, and a reference library.

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Description of Collections

Books and monographs:
The Library holds 30 volumes, primarily 20th century discussing recent American Jewish history and culture. There is a small collection of religious texts in English and Hebrew.
Periodicals and newspapers:
American Jewish History--1960 to the present; Washington History--1989 to the present; The Record--1964 to the present. Washington History focuses on Washington, D.C., history. The other two journals emphasize national and local Jewish history.
Archives, manuscripts, correspondence, and oral histories:
The Archives holds 10 cubic feet of personal papers and correspondence; 18-20 cubic feet of professional documents and professional papers. Most materials are from 1925 to the present although some materials go back as far as 1852. There are six record group collections, including records of notable Washington Jewish families and individuals; records of area synagogues and community organizations; and records of the Jewish Community Council and the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington. A number of these collections contain oral histories.

Basic lists are available for these collections and more detailed information is currently being created. An accession file is also maintained which includes more detailed information for materials received between 1994 and present.

Videos and Sound Recordings:
15 videotapes with inclusive dates from 1970 to the present. These are primarily short documentaries produced in conjunction with past exhibits and a few documentaries produced by other societies.
Vertical files:
200 clipping files with inclusive dates from 1960 to the present. The emphasis of the collection is Washington Jewish history and some American Jewish history.
Paintings, photographs, slides, and prints:
1,000 photographs; 100 slides and other visual images, most with dates from 1925 to present, although some go back to the late 19th century. The emphasis is on the Washington area but some depict Israel as photographed for or by local individuals.

A card catalog covers this collection.

Other holdings not listed above:
A small collection of late 19th to early 20th century ritual objects, including menorahs and a very small collection of textiles including tallit.

Subject Headings

Judaism--History; Judaism--Washington, D.C.; Synagogue records


Bergheim, Laura. Look-It-Up Guide to Washington Libraries and Archives. Osprey, FL: Beachem Publishing, 1995.

To contact the institution described in this entry, please use the contact information at the top of this page.
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  June 22, 2017
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