May 2011

It has been two years since we published our last newsletter: not a sign that we have had nothing to say, but rather that we have been too busy to step back and say it!

CJHNlogo-square Most of the major activities of the CJCCC National Archives over the past two years have been associated with the creation of the Canadian Jewish Heritage Network, a database and website which CJCCCNA is developing in partnership with the Jewish Public Library Archives of Montreal, sponsored by the Samuel and Saidye Bronfman Family Foundation. The CJHN has been designed as a gateway site to our collection descriptions and as a platform for both individual and partnered displays. Other sections of the website are intended to help teachers and Jewish community record keepers. Long term goals for the CJHN project involve the addition of additional partners to this platform, looking towards making the site a true gateway for the use of Canadian Jewish archives on a national level.

Getting our portion of the CJHN database online involved the conversion of thousands of our internal database records into a format compatible with the field structure used by the Archives Online program developed by Andornot, a format already in use at the JPL-A. Assisted by a succession of student intern assistants (Kim Thompson, Jennifer Azimov, Loredana Caputo, and Shawna Satz) we have prepared thousands of images and record descriptions for the web, and hundreds of additional photographs and documents have been scanned.

Meanwhile, thanks to a generous donation by Penny Rubinoff, we were able to have an external company digitize two major sources of genealogical information; 1) the 97,000 index cards created by JIAS (Jewish Immigrant Aid Services) to keep track of all their clients who passed through Montreal or contacted the Montreal office between 1920 and 1988, and 2) almost 4000 forms describing the situations of Jewish immigrants settled by the JCA on farms in Western Canada and Quebec between 1906 and 1988.

Still with the help of the Rubinoff donation, we then commissioned Andornot to design a separate genealogy-specific database in order to permit the public to search these and other name-related sources of information to the extent permitted by Canada's Privacy Laws. This Family History search interface can be found at

While all this was going on, we continued to help the usual volume and variety of on-site researchers and information seekers from remote locations. We received several notable collections, seizing upon some of them with alacrity as candidates for immediate digitization. We weeded, catalogued, and interpreted documents from commemorative pins to ledger books, with the help of our loyal volunteers Willie Glaser, Shirley Sibalis, Naomi Caruso (before her migration to Vancouver), and Aaron Krishtalka.

On June 2, 2010, CJCCCNA hosted the first ever face-to-face meeting of the ACJAM, the Association of Canadian Jewish Archives and Museums. This informal group, founded in 2003, includes the heads of Jewish community archival repositories across Canada, as well as several Jewish museums. Beginning with a dinner the night before, the group met for a full day of sessions in CJCCCNA's building, the Samuel Bronfman House. Appropriate to the venue, this conference was also sponsored by the Samuel and Saidye Bronfman Family Foundation.

During the morning session, each out-of-town participant was asked to present a summary of the current state of their archives or museum, with an emphasis on how information about their holdings are organized in-house and disseminated via the internet. The afternoon sessions focused on efforts to bring Montreal Jewish archives online.

Attendance at the ACJAM conference added up to a total of 17 participants and 3 observers. Six of the participants were also presenters at a session at the Association of Canadian Jewish Studies annual conference, which was held on the previous day. This "Archives Out Loud" panel session was organized by CJCCCNA's Janice Rosen and the JPL-A's Shannon Hodge, and featured a montage of illustrated readings from archival repositories across Canada.

Our next project is the official launch of the CJHN website, scheduled for June 6, 2011. For further information about this or any other item above, please contact us.