Western Jewish Americana

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The largest archive of its kind in the western United States, the Western Jewish Americana Archives center on the history of Jewish immigration and community engagement in the San Francisco Bay Area and the American West since the Gold Rush. 

The holdings combine two fields of research: the history of the American Jewish experience and the history of California and the American West.

In 1967, the Judah L. Magnes Museum established its Western Jewish History Center, the first regional Jewish history center in the United States. These holdings evolved into the Western Jewish Americana Archives and are currently housed at The Bancroft Library.

The Western Jewish Americana Archives are available to researchers and can be accessed in the reading room of The Bancroft Library, the primary special collections library at the University of California, Berkeley. One of the largest and most heavily used libraries of manuscripts, rare books, and unique materials in the United States, Bancroft supports major research and instructional activities and plays a leading role in the development of the University’s research collections.

Congregation Sherith Israel, San Francisco, CA


The Bancroft Library

Online access to the University of California, Berkeley’s Bancroft Library through the UC Library search engine.

Descriptions and finding aids for the collections of the Western Jewish Americana Archives are available in the listings below. Individuals and family creators are listed by last name (for example: Kahn, Julius or Lilienthal family).  Institutional creators are listed by full name (for example: Eureka Benevolent Society or Jewish Council of 1933).  Congregational records are listed under the proper name of the Congregation (for example: Emanu-El or Beth Israel).

The archival collections are integrated with the Museum and Library holdings. The broader cultural context can be reconstructed by searching The Magnes Collection Database.

Collections listed below are open to researchers. Check the record for each collection for availability status.

Many of these collections are stored off-site and must be requested a few days ahead of your visit to the Bancroft Library. Please check UC Berkeley’s Library Catalog for locations and details on access.

The Bancroft Library is located on the east side of Doe Library, just northwest of the Campanile on the University of California, Berkeley campus.

Contact The Bancroft Library to request information about materials in the archive.

Western Jewish Americana