Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington | Lillian & Albert Small Jewish Museum

Collections: Oral Histories

The Washington Jewish Oral History Collection includes tapes and transcripts of more than 100 oral histories recorded by men and women of the Washington Jewish community. This irreplaceable resource documents the history of the community through personal recollections and reminiscences, providing researchers with an intimate understanding of the Jewish experience in the Washington area.

Abstracts of Six Main Holdings

Twentieth Century Life Collection, 1982

Offering insight into early 20th century life of the Jewish community in the Washington area, 30 local leaders discuss businesses, family life, war time, and congregations. Additional copies are housed at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Public Library. Funded by the Humanities Council of Washington, D.C.

JSSA Centennial Collection, 1993

Jewish Social Service Agency’s 100th Anniversary, 1893–1993, testimonies of how JSSA helped community members weather turbulent social changes in the Washington area. Interviews with past JSSA presidents.

Suburban Maryland Congregations Collection, 1988

Transcripts of 1988 interviews with members of the following suburban Maryland congregations: Bethesda/Chevy Chase Community Group, Beth El, Beth Tikva, Har Tzeon-Agudath Achim, Nevey Shalom, Oseh Shalom, B'nai Shalom, Temple Emanuel, Temple Sinai, Temple Solel, Har Shalom, Ohr Kodesh, Kehilat Shalom, Temple Shalom.

Hebrew Home Oral History Collection, 1976

Recollections about life before immigrating to America; arriving at Ellis Island; life in New York City; survival of the Triangle Shirt Factory fire; and, local Jewish neighborhoods and businesses.

Ties that Bind: Washington Jews and the Birth of Israel, 1997

Interviews recounting Washington’s unique role in the birth of a new nation. Discussions of the May 14, 1948 recognition of the Jewish state, fundraising, collection of supplies, and political lobbying involved with the creation of the State of Israel.

Tzedakah: Jewish Women Creating a Capital Community (1895-1948), 1996

Interviews with local Jewish women about the ways they engaged in tzedakah (the righteous obligation to care for others). Interviews illustrate the communal responsibilities of women in the creation of Hebrew schools, orphanages, and other benevolent societies.

Want to learn more about oral history and interview techniques? Try these links: