Boston, MA: Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society Immigration Records, 1904-1929

Steamer Franconia, 1914 (Folder 7).

Our new database Boston, MA: Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society Immigration Records, 1904-1929 presents the earliest records of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) in Boston, thanks to our partnership with the Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center at New England Historic Genealogical Society (JHC).  This database will contain 12 folders from the HIAS collection held by the JHC. Six folders are available now for search as part of our initial launch of the database. The other six folders will become available later in 2020. These folders are from Box 211; for a complete listing of boxes within the collection, see the finding aid.

This new database contains over 6,000 records and names, with more to come. Records include passenger lists, ship arrivals, correspondence, and lists of immigrants who were detained and deported.  The contents of each volume vary greatly. Folders 2 and 9 are image-only. Use the blue arrows (on the image pages) to browse these volumes.

The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) was founded in New York City in the 1880s by the Russian Jewish community of New York in response to the influx of Russian Jewish immigrants fleeing the pogroms in Russia and Eastern Europe. The Boston office of HIAS was chartered in 1904. HIAS in Boston operated autonomously from the national office in New York, even after their merger in 1916. HIAS ensured that Jewish immigrants had access to holiday and religious services and kosher food; provided shelter and social services; and assisted immigrants with finding employment and schools, often on short notice.

Starting in 1930, HIAS began to keep case files on the individuals whom they helped.  The Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center is digitizing these files and making them available in Digital Collections in the Harris Poorvu Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (Boston) Digital Archives.

Immigrants in this database simply traveled through Boston.  While Boston or another town in Massachusetts were the final destinations of many, immigrants to locations throughout the United States and Canada are represented in this database.  Far-flung or popular locations include New York (city and state); St. Louis, Missouri; Wisconsin; Winnipeg, Ontario; North Carolina; Maryland; California and more.

The creation of this database was funded by the family of Harris Poorvu, former president and treasurer of HIAS Boston. We’d like to thank volunteers Bill Wolfendale, Eileen McCarthy, Ria Bhandarkar , Max Agigian, and David Anderson for their help scanning and indexing these folders.

Please note: This database is available to all NEHGS members.  Learn more about becoming a NEHGS guest member (free).