Ruth Kelson Rafael was born on October 28, 1929. She received an MLS from University of California, Berkeley, in 1967, and an MA from San Francisco State University in 1952. She became the Archivist of the Western Jewish History Center in 1969. She was also the librarian of Congregation Beth Sholom, San Francisco, since 1965. A member of the Education Council of San Francisco, Marin County, and the Peninsula (1977-1978), she was the President of the Northern California Association of Jewish Libraries in 1977-1978.
Among her publications, Continuum. A Selective History of San Francisco Eastern European Jewish Life, 1880-1940 (Judah L. Magnes Memorial Museum, 1976), "Ernest Bloch at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music," Western States Jewish Historical Quarterly (April 1977), and theWestern Jewish History Center : guide to archival and oral history collections (1987).