Wire-tapped phone calls with Refuseniks.
Addresses hidden on the inside of bubble gum wrappers.
Buttons from the largest Jewish rally ever held in Washington.
These are some of the items related to the American Soviet Jewry Movement that were digitized and made available thanks to the generous support of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).
From January 2014 to September 2015, Center for Jewish History staff digitized and made available 78,801 images of archival material and 544 hours of audio recordings from the American Jewish Historical Society’s Archive of the American Soviet Jewry Movement. This effort has made trip reports, photographs, posters, speeches, and ephemera openly available across the world via the Center’s central search and digital assets discovery systems.
Throughout the Cold War era, Soviet Jews were forbidden to embrace their cultural and religious traditions: learning Hebrew was outlawed, religious expression denied. Exit visa applications were routinely rejected.
The American Soviet Jewry Movement emerged from small grassroots groups of students and others outside the establishment in the early 1960s, pushing for the rights of these Soviet Jews and calling for them to be allowed to emigrate. By the early 1990s, the movement evolved into a worldwide phenomenon. As a whole, the American Soviet Jewry Movement was integral to raising awareness of the conditions under which Soviet Jews lived and advocating for the eventual emigration of hundreds of thousands.
The materials digitized under this grant capture the American Soviet Jewry Movement’s most influential achievements, such as lobbying, large-scale protests, boycotts, and acts of civil disobedience. They also document the conditions faced by Soviet Jews in the USSR, clandestinely compiled by US activists, and track the evolution of the movement from local grassroots efforts to a national force that shaped foreign policy during the Cold War years.
For the digitization work on this particular project, the cost per image was $1.87, and the cost per audio minute was $1.70. These costs encompass staff time on the following steps in the digitization process: fine-tuning of collection selection decisions, physical preparation, metadata preparation, capture, quality assurance of capture, derivative creation, ingest of digital objects into the digital asset management system, linking of digital objects to EAD finding aids, and in the case of audio, additional quality control and description enhancement.
Collection Materials Referenced Above
- “Wire-tapped phone calls with Refuseniks”can be found in “Evidence of Telephone Jamming, Zunshine, Lifshitz,” 1986; Chicago Action for Soviet Jewry Records; I-530; Box 325; Folder 104; American Jewish Historical Society, New York, NY, and Boston, MA.
- “Addresses hidden on the insides of bubble gum wrappers“ can be found among items 197-202 in “Trip to Visit the Refuseniks in Leningrad, Moscow and Kiev, U.S.S.R.” 1982; Leslie Schaffer Papers; P-923; Box 1; Folder 2; American Jewish Historical Society, New York, NY, and Boston, MA.
- “Buttons from the largest Jewish rally ever held in Washington” can be found in “Soviet Jewry Movement Buttons with Bumper Sticker and Brussels Conference on Soviet Jewry Identification;” Charlotte Gerber Turner Papers; P-907; Box 1; Folder 5; American Jewish Historical Society, New York, NY, and Boston, MA.