Collection 4 - Genealogy / Personal history files

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Genealogy / Personal history files

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  • 188- to present (Creation)
    Jewish citizens of Saint John

Physical description

3.5 m of records

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(Jewish immigrants first arrived in Saint John in 1858)

Biographical history

This fonds has three sections. The first is composed of family trees. Many of the family trees have been prepared by professionals. Others have been compiled by family members using computer software. There are also some personal family trees filled out by participants in the Koom Ahaim reunion in 1984.

The second section chronicles the lives of individuals, e.g. births, marriages, obituaries, personal accomplishments, etc., through newspaper articles, letters, curriculum vitaes, programmes, and personal memorabilia. Many noted and colourful people have come from Saint John's Jewish community, including Louis B. Mayer, Nathan Cummings, Mayor Samuel Davis, Senator Erminie Cohen, Hon. Myra Freeman and Diana Meltzer Abramsky, founder of the Thyroid Foundation.

The third section is made up the oral interviews conducted by Marcia Koven and others with members of the Saint John Jewish community about their lives and their memories of life in the city's Jewish community. Most of these interviews were recorded on audiocassette. In 2011, these cassettes were converted to MP3 files for improved access. Other interviews have been recorded on videocassette. The interviews have been transcribed in summarized form and photographs of the subject accompany many of the early interviews. Beginning in 2004, more detailed transcriptions were being produced for the interviews and will be added to the files as completed.

Custodial history

The Saint John Jewish Historical Society began to collect material on the history of the Saint John Jewish community in 1983. The collection was originally housed in a small art studio on Canterbury Street in Saint John before the opening of the Museum in July 1986 in the Jewish Community Centre on Wellington Row. Formal cataloguing of the collection began in 1986. Material collected from 1983 to 2001 has been microfilmed by the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick. The archives is stored in a dedicated archival space in the Museum’s current location at 91 Leinster Street and regular additions of material are made. Prior to acquisition by the Museum, these materials were held by the donors in their homes, and generally donated prior to moves, downsizing or change in community role.

Scope and content

The material includes family trees, newspaper and magazine clippings, curriculum vitas, letters, programmes, obituaries, and personal memorabilia.

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Immediate source of acquisition

Most of the content has been donated by individuals or family members of those represented. Some material has also been collected by Museum staff from newspapers from Saint John or elsewhere, either as historical research or as the stories are published.


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There are no restrictions. Generally material must be consulted on site or through correspondence with the curator.

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A detailed finding aid is available

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