Purpose  

The Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center at New England Historic Genealogical Society (JHC) is a destination for exploring and preserving the histories of Jewish families and institutions in New England and beyond. The JHC engages historians, genealogists, partner organizations, and the general public in the study of Jewish history, culture, and legacies through its extensive archival collections, educational programs, exhibits, and public events.  

Collection Scope 

The archives of the JHC identifies, collects, and preserves the original records of New England Jewish communities. These include the records of synagogues; schools; communal, social service, and cultural organizations; labor, social justice, and immigration advocacy organizations; Jewish-owned businesses; and the papers of individuals and families.  Although the focus of the JHC’s collections is on New England, we may determine that a collection of significance outside of this geographical area is appropriate for the archive. 

The JHC’s definition of Jewish heritage includes interfaith families and Jews by choice. In addition to our existing collections’ strong historical narrative of the Ashkenazi Jewish experience in greater Boston, we seek to expand our archives to include the diverse array of stories that document the depth and breadth of American Jewish history and culture.  

Collection priorities 

We collect materials in paper, audio-visual, and electronic formats.  

  • Diaries and journals; 
  • Family histories, genealogies, and cookbooks; 
  • Oral histories; 
  • Photographic materials (19th century-21st century photograph formats, scrapbooks, and photo albums); 
  • Yearbooks and other school-related materials; 
  • Correspondence; 
  • Memorabilia, souvenirs, and ephemera; 
  • Newsletters, programs, and brochures; 
  • Ledgers (example: financial and membership); 
  • Meeting minutes and reports. 

Depending on size, quantity, relevance, and condition, we may collect ritual objects, artifacts, textiles, awards, plaques, and artwork. However, we maintain the right not to accept any part of a collection. 

Please consult with the archives about the following: 

  • Large pieces of art, signage, or ritual objects; 
  • Textiles; 
  • Collections that have been divided and donated to other repositories. 

We do not collect: 

  • Collections with serious mold and/or insect damage; 
  • Items where the donor’s ownership is questioned or unclear; 
  • Duplicates of another collection already housed at the JHC; 
  • Photocopies of materials; 
  • Photocopies of materials donated to another repository; 
  • Published materials (for donations of published books, please contact the NEHGS library). 

Appraisal of Collections 

The JHC is a non-profit organization and donations of collections may be tax-deductible. Per IRS regulations, archives staff are not permitted to appraise collections. We can provide a recommendation for appraisers, but the donor must contact the appraiser independently of the JHC. 

Monetary Donations 

Collection donors are encouraged to make a financial donation to support the maintenance of their collection. While a donation is not required for the JHC to accept a collection, there are continual costs of archivists’ labor, archival materials, and permanent physical and/or digital storage involved in the preservation of collections. This vital work ensures that collections are available to researchers for years to come. 

If a collection donation requires the use of a professional moving company, we kindly ask that the collection donor make arrangements with a moving company and cover the costs thereof.  

Collections Management  

The JHC welcomes inquiries from potential donors to discuss their collections in more detail. Once a donation is accepted, the donor will be asked to complete a Deed of Gift, which transfers ownership of the collection to the JHC. A Deed of Gift enables the JHC to maintain the collection and make it available for research. Exceptions to the Deed of Gift are by the purview of the Associate Director of Archives and Education. We do not accept loans unless that material will be used in an exhibit. 

If a collection does not fit the scope of the JHC’s collection policy, we can suggest other repositories for the donor. 

Questions about these guidelines or about donating your collection to the JHC can be directed to the Associate Director of Archives and Education, Stephanie Call, at stephanie.call@nehgs.org or 617-226-1241.