Resources

Anna Greenberg Family Papers and Photographs (MSS 1010)

Repositories

Materials relevant to Jewish history in Western Pennsylvania can be found at many repositories in Pittsburgh as well as other cities around the world and also at various websites. To find useful information, it helps to know where records are kept, as well as the most effective strategies for searching those repositories.

Rauh Jewish Archives at the Heinz History Center

What it is

The Rauh Jewish Archives at the Heinz History Center was founded in 1988 to serve as a central repository for archival records documenting the Jewish experience in Western Pennsylvania. The archive currently contains more than 1,000 collections documenting many aspects of Jewish life throughout Western Pennsylvania.

The Rauh Jewish Archives is housed in the Detre Library & Archives of the Heinz History Center. The Detre Library & Archives contains thousands of collections covering the entirety of Western Pennsylvania. Even when those collections are not explicitly Jewish, they can sometimes prove useful for those researching Jewish subjects.

While many useful resources can be found online, the vast majority of the Rauh Jewish Archives' collections are not yet digitized but are available for in-person research. The Detre Library & Archives reading room is open to researchers Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and other times by appointment. Admission to the reading room is free but does not include access to exhibits throughout the museum.

The Library & Archives welcomes walk-in visitors during normal business hours but encourages researchers to call ahead to discuss projects.

How to use it

To find materials in the Rauh Jewish Archives, start by searching this website. It contains hundreds of exhibits, links to materials in other collections, and research tools such as the Western Pennsylvania Jewish Cemetery Project.

Then, search the Detre Library & Archives catalog. The catalog includes short records of all the holdings currently available for research. It is the only place to locate books and smaller collections, and it provides access to linkable subject headings and other useful search terms.

While the catalog provides links to finding aids, it does not search their contents. Therefore, it can be helpful to search finding aids on Historic Pittsburgh. Finding aids are typically created for larger collections. They provide a more detailed description of collections than catalog records.

It can also be helpful to search the Heinz History Center’s eMuseum. This ever-growing artifact collection contains hundreds of Jewish objects.

You can also search the archives of the Heinz History Center’s long-running publication “Western Pennsylvania History” to find scholarly articles about many regional Jewish subjects.

Archives & Special Collections at the University of Pittsburgh

What it is

The University of Pittsburgh's Archives & Special Collections was founded in 1961 as the Archives of Industrial Society. Since its founding, it has focused on the ethnic and communal history of Western Pennsylvania, including the Jewish population of the region. Archives & Special Collections holds many collections of Jewish people and organizations, including the National Council of Jewish Women-Pittsburgh Section and the local branch of the Jewish Labor Committee.

The University of Pittsburgh also hosts the website Historic Pittsburgh, which brings together collections from more than a dozen repositories throughout the region. The website hosts the National Council of Jewish Women Oral History Project, which contains more than 500 recordings with a variety of local Jewish people.

How To Use It

To find materials held by the University of Pittsburgh, start by searching the Archives & Special Collections catalog. Next, search the finding aids published at Historic Pittsburgh. Finally, for more thorough research projects, search the PittCat catalog, which includes catalog records for materials from other repositories throughout the university system. 

The Archives & Special Collections reading room on Thomas Blvd. is currently open by appointment with 48 hours notice.  

American Jewish Archives

What It Is

The American Jewish Archives at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio was founded in 1947 by Dr. Jacob Rader Marcus. Dr. Marcus was born and raised in small towns in Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia. He was a history professor, and he maintained contact with his former students as they accepted rabbinic pulpits around the country. He used those contacts to build the foundations of the archive, which took particular interest in Jewish communities in big cities west of the Allegheny Mountains, in small towns throughout North America, and in Jewish communities in the Caribbean.

The American Jewish Archives currently holds more than 200 collections relevant to the Jewish history of the greater Pittsburgh area and to dozens of small-town Jewish communities throughout Western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and West Virginia. It also contains the records of several national organizations with a presence in this region. Its long-running American Jewish Archives Journal is a useful resource for finding scholarly articles about a variety of subjects.

How To Use It

To find materials in the American Jewish Archives, start by searching its catalog. The catalog contains records and finding aids for more than 200 collections relevant to the Jewish history of the greater Pittsburgh area, including many prominent people, dozens of small-town Jewish communities throughout Western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and West Virginia, as well as national organizations with a local presence.

The contents of these collections is rarely available online. To review the actual materials, researchers can either visit the archive in person for free or request reproductions for a fee.

Back issues of the long-running American Jewish Archives Journal are also available online. The journal is a useful resource for finding scholarly articles about a variety of subjects.  The Isaac Mayer Wise Digital Archive collects correspondence, writings and photographs of the pioneering Reform rabbi. It can be a useful resource for researching 19th-century Jewish subjects.

Rodef Shalom Archives

What It Is

Rodef Shalom Congregation is the oldest Jewish congregation in Western Pennsylvania. Its spiritual leaders, lay leaders and members have played an important role in Western Pennsylvania history, both within the local Jewish population and also within the broader civic community.

The Rodef Shalom Archives contains the records of the congregation back to its earliest days, as well as papers from several of its best-known leaders: Rabbi J. Leonard Levy, Rabbi Samuel H. Goldenson, Rabbi Solomon B. Freehof, Rabbi Walter Jacob, and Rabbi Mark Staitman.

How To Use It

The Rodef Shalom Archives is open remotely for research request and by appointment for research visits. Researchers should contact archivist Martha Berg to discuss research needs and to schedule a visit to review materials in person.

American Jewish Historical Society

What It Is

The American Jewish Historical Society was founded in 1892 and is now the “oldest ethnic, cultural archive in the United States,” according to its website. The large archive is strongest when it comes to documenting east coast Jewish communities, although it also holds many books and a few small collections of interest to scholars researching Western Pennsylvania. Some records of local interest can also be found within the collections of large national Jewish organizations, such the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) and the Archive of the American Soviet Jewry Movement.

The American Jewish Historical Society is part of the Center for Jewish History, which also includes the American Sephardi Federation (ASF), the Leo Baeck Institute (LBI), the Yeshiva University Museum, and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. Some of these organizations also hold records of interest to local researchers.

How To Use It

The Center for Jewish History catalog includes records of materials from all five of its member institutions as well as other repositories around the world.  While some of those materials are available online, most require researchers to schedule an in-person visit or request reproductions for a fee. The Center for Jewish History requires researchers to register for a free account for visiting the archive in person.

The Center for Jewish History also maintains a collection of useful research databases.

Carnegie Mellon University

What It Is

Carnegie Mellon University Libraries began digitizing collections in 1997 and currently provides online access to 2 million pages and 390,000 items from its collections. In addition to institutional and organizational records with Jewish connections, CMU hosts the Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project. The project contains digitized, fully searchable scans of four English language Jewish newspapers published in Pittsburgh between 1895 and 2010.

How To Use It

The Carnegie Mellon University Digital Collections catalog searches materials from dozens of collections held by the university. Search results can then be filtered by collection, by date, by genre, and by subject, and also sorted in various ways.

Organizations

The Jewish Genealogy Society of Pittsburgh was founded in 1983 to help people to reconnect with their Jewish ancestry in Western Pennsylvania as well as their ancestral homelands around the world. The organization hosts a robust calendar of programming, produces a monthly newsletter “Z'chor," and organizes forums for discussion of genealogical subjects through its social media platforms and its online Family Finder tool. It is a member of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies.

Three Rivers Archivists is a professional advocacy group committed to supporting archivists and allied professionals in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area. It maintains a database of archival repositories throughout greater Pittsburgh.

JewishGen is a global resource for Jewish genealogy, containing millions of documents and resources for tracing ancestors all over the world.

Websites

Historic Pittsburgh collects digitized materials docuemnting a wide range of subjects relevant to Western Pennsylvania history. The website was launched in 1999 and now contains materials from more than a dozen repositories throughout the region. It is particularly useful for its collection of city directorieshistoric mapsbooks, and newspapers, as well as thousands of images from the Pittsburgh City Photographer Collection. The website hosts the National Council of Jewish Women Oral History Project, which contains more than 500 recordings with a wide variety of local Jewish people. It also contains finding aids for collections held at the University of Pittsburgh, the Heinz History Center, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, and other large repositories throughout the region. 

Pittsburgh Historic Maps overlays two centuries of maps and satellite imagery over the current street grid. It is useful for documenting the changes to a specific location or address over time.

Retrographer maps images from the Pittsburgh City Photographer Collection onto the current street grid. It is useful for finding historic images of specific addresses and neighborhoods.

History

  • Original version: Dec. 14, 2021
  • Current version: Dec. 14, 2021