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Religion Collections in Libraries and Archives: Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia

Lillian and Albert Small Capital Jewish Museum: Archives and Library

Introductory Information

Lillian and Albert Small Capital Jewish Museum: Archives and Library External

Address: 575 3rd St. NW Washington, D.C. 20001

Telephone number: 202-789-0900

Contact information: Jonathan Edelman, Collections. j[email protected]

Digital Collections link External

Access Policies

Hours of service: By appointment

Open to the public: Yes, by appointment

Interlibrary loan: No

Reference policy: Reference requests are accepted by: telephone and email

Background note:
Much of the collection comes from the archive of the former Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington, founded in 1960. The collection and historical society were housed in the historic 1876 Adas Israel Synagogue- the oldest synagogue in the city, listed in both the District of Columbia and National Register of Historic Places. That historic synagogue building now sits as the centerpiece of the new Capital Jewish Museum whose mission is to inspire visitors to connect, reflect, and act: connect across families and diverse communities, reflect on the relevance of the past to today, and act on behalf of their communities and values. The museum collection traces the history of the Jewish community in the greater Washington, D.C. area from the mid-19th century through the present day. It includes personal and family papers, organizational and business records, congregation and synagogue archives, historical photographs, oral histories, ritual objects, and a reference library.


Books and monographs
The Library holds 30 volumes, primarily 20th century discussing recent American Jewish history and culture. There is a small collection of religious texts in English and Hebrew.

Periodicals and newspapers
American Jewish History--1960 to the present; Washington History--1989 to the present; The Record--1964 to the present. Washington History focuses on Washington, D.C., history. The other two journals emphasize national and local Jewish history.

Archives, manuscripts, correspondences, and/or oral histories
The Archives holds 10 cubic feet of personal papers and correspondence; 18-20 cubic feet of professional documents and professional papers. There are six record group collections, including records of notable Washington Jewish families and individuals; records of area synagogues and community organizations; and records of the Jewish Community Council and the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington. A number of these collections contain oral histories.

Basic lists are available for these collections and more detailed information is currently being created.

Videos and sound recordings
15 videotapes with inclusive dates from 1970 to the present. These are primarily short documentaries produced in conjunction with past exhibits of JHSGW and a few documentaries produced by other societies.

Vertical files
200 clipping files with inclusive dates from 1960 to the present. The emphasis of the collection is Washington Jewish history and some American Jewish history.

6,000 photographs; 100 slides and other visual images, most with dates from 1925 to present, although some go back to the late 19th century. The emphasis is on the Washington area but some depict Israel as photographed for or by local individuals.
A card catalog covers this collection

Other holdings not listed above:
Ephemera from various local Jewish-owned businesses
Objects belonging to notable figures in the community
Ephemera from protests, vigils, and demonstrations held in the nations capital including posters and political buttons
A small collection of late 19th to early 20th century ritual objects, including menorahs
A minimal number of textiles including prayer shawls.

Subject Headings

Judaism--History; Judaism--Washington, D.C.; Synagogue records