Our Shared Legacy: World War II and “The Joint”


Source: JDC Archives 


The American Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) has recently made available online an archive containing over 500,000 names, and more than 1,000 photographs in records of the relief organization's vast efforts during World War II and the postwar era in 24 countries, from China and Japan to the Dominican Republic and Bolivia. The records open a singular view into the lives of survivors that the JDC aided during that cataclysmic period. The collection of documents is searchable by the names appearing on them. The galleries of photos in the collection are organized by country and location where JDC worked during and after the war. Visitors to the site are requested to help the JDC identify the people in the images by adding identity tags to them.


Until recently, the organization's archive has been largely inaccessible to the public, kept at a private storage warehouse located a short subway ride out of Manhattan.


A special effort was made to recruit volunteers to enter names in a digital database for over a year; rare, fragile documents were scanned into the computer system. The JDC plans to put even more documents from its archive online later this summer.


The Archive website also encourages visitors to submit stories about how their lives were touched by the valiant relief efforts of "the Joint" during and after World War II. An online questionnaire is available on the website for this purpose.


The committee, commonly known as "the Joint", was founded in 1914 to help Jews in need in war-ravaged Europe and Palestine. During World War II, it provided assistance to refugees from Lithuania to Japan and helped Jews escape Europe, including by booking them on ships headed for the Americas.

Updated: Jun. 12, 2011