Records of the Immigrants Mutual Aid Society, undated, 1938-1980 (Bulk: 1954-1980)

Reprocessed by Susan Earle (February 2004)

Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS

99-101 Newbury St.

Boston, MA 02116



© 2019  Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS, Boston, MA. All Rights Reserved.
Finding aid was encoded by Marvin Rusinek on November 08, 2006. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Immigrants Mutual Aid Society, Inc.
Title: Immigrants Mutual Aid Society, Inc. records
Dates:undated, 1938-1980 (bulk 1954-1980)
Abstract: Contains the papers of the Society founded in 1938 by recent German speaking Jewish immigrants to Boston to assist their initial adjustment to the economic, cultural, spiritual, and social life of the American community and subsequently, to provide mutual assistance to its membership and aid to other immigrants.
The collection consists of the Society's by-laws (1953, 1956, 1964); handwritten notes with the names of Officers and Directors (1949-1961), plans for cultural and social programs, agenda of Board of Directors' meetings, Officers' meetings, and Annual General Membership meetings (1950-1958); printed announcements of annual meetings (1963-1974); minutes of meetings in English and some in German (1954-1975); printed news bulletins (1956, 1961-1975); printed announcements of social and cultural events (1960-1974); printed matter related to sundry other activities of the Society (1964-1968); and miscellaneous printed announcements (1972-1974).
Languages: The collection is in English and German.
Quantity: 2 manuscript boxes (1 linear foot)
Identification: I-109
Repository: American Jewish Historical Society
Location: Located at AJHS, Boston, MA.
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Historical Note

The Immigrants Mutual Aid Society, Inc. (IMAS) was founded in 1938 by a group of Central European refugees, to ease immigrants' adjustment to the economic, spiritual, cultural, and social life of the American community and to provide mutual assistance to its members and aid to other immigrants. IMAS's original purpose was to assist refugees from Nazi persecution. In early years, IMAS was primarily concerned with securing affidavits for émigrés, and providing them with English lessons, as well as assisting them in finding jobs and homes. (Walter Bieringer's Boston Committee for Refugees worked with IMAS in this regard.) IMAS set up a clothing exchange, which was in operation with until the end of World War II and also established a women's auxiliary, offering assistance in cases of illness and other emergencies. In addition, IMAS sent care packages overseas.

IMAS was also concerned with providing social and cultural activities for its members, such as lectures and dances, in addition to offering religious services for the High Holy Days. The elderly and ill were visited by members of a Chevra Committee, which was established in 1942; the Committee also provided supplies to those in need during the Jewish holidays and ensured that inexpensive funerals were made possible. IMAS provided financial assistance to its members and, in 1960, established the IMAS Mutual Aid Fund, with a grant from United Help, Inc. IMAS also on occasion granted scholarships to its members. The organization functioned without paid staff, and without a permanent office or formal ties to other Jewish organizations.1

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Scope and Content Note

This collection documents the activities of the Immigrants Mutual Aid Society (IMAS), with the bulk of the material falling between 1954 and 1980. Very little material for the society's early years is included. The collection has been organized into two series: Administrative, which consists largely of meeting minutes and bylaws, (including IMAS's 1938 bylaws) and thus provides information on IMAS's efforts to assist its members, and Public Relations, which consists primarily of newsletters and provides a look at the various social activities IMAS made available to members and nonmembers. Much of the material in the collection is in German.

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The collection has been arranged into two series as follows:

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers by permission of the Director of Collections and Engagement of the American Jewish Historical Society, except items that are restricted due to their fragility.

Use Restrictions

Information concerning the literary rights may be obtained from the Executive Director of the American Jewish Historical Society. Users must apply in writing for permission to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection. For more information contact:
American Jewish Historical Society, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY, 10011

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The bulk of the Records of the Immigrants Mutual Aid Society were transferred to the American Jewish Historical Society by Frederic Poras in 1975; material was also contributed by Martha H. Jacoby in 1975. Additional material was added after 1980.

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:
Identification of item, date (if known); Immigrants Mutual Aid Society, Inc. records; I-109; box number; folder number; Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS.

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Access Points

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Container List

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

Click the box in the request column to learn more about viewing materials at the Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS.


Series I: Administrative, 1938-1975, (bulk 1954-1975)

The series is in English and German.
Box 1. (0.5 linear feet)


Scope and Content:

The bulk of this series consists of minutes from annual, board of directors, and officers' meetings, with some minutes of the Chevra(h) committee also included. Topics include IMAS's efforts to make contact with new immigrants and to reach out to needy members, High Holy Days services, and social events such as the society's annual Chanukah ball. Efforts to provide care for elderly members, and to purchase cemetery lots, are also documented here, as is the establishment of IMAS's Mutual Aid Fund with a grant from United Help, Inc. in 1960. Also included are IMAS's original by-laws, setting forth IMAS's initial objectives, which were to assist immigrants in adjusting to life in a new country and becoming useful citizens of that country, to encourage the study of the language, laws, and customs of the United States, and to provide a place of burial for its members, [and] to hold and receive property, whether real or personal, maintain it and disburse money for above purposes.2 (In later years the society also sought to preserve the cultural heritage of its members.) Additional materials consist of meeting announcements, by-laws from later years, a speech given by Fritz (James M.) Jacoby, and handwritten lists of board members and proposed programs.

11By-laws1938, 1956, 1964request_box
12Meeting Announcements1963-1973request_box
13Meeting Minutes1954-1961request_box
14Meeting Minutes1962-1965request_box
15Meeting Minutes1966-1968request_box
16Meeting Minutes1969-1972request_box
17Meeting Minutes1973-1975request_box
18Notebook: List of Officers and Directors1949-1961request_box
18Notebook: Proposed Cultural Programs and Agendas for Board of Directors, Officers, and Annual Meetings1950-1958request_box
19Speech by Fritz (James M.) Jacoby to Newcomers (possibly given before founding of IMAS)1938request_box
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Series II: Public Relations, undated, 1940, 1960-1980

The predominant language of the series is English.
Box 2. (0.5 linear feet)


Scope and Content:

This series consists largely of IMAS News, the society's news bulletin, which provided updates on the activities of the society as a whole, as well as those of individual members. The news bulletins also included messages from the IMAS's officials, and articles about IMAS's early years. In addition, the bulletins provide a look at the organization's changing goals: the June 1974 issue includes a list of IMAS's current objectives, which are markedly different from those first drafted in 1938. Programs for the 25th, 30th, and 35th anniversary banquets are also included in this series, as is information on homemaker and nursing services available to IMAS members. Meeting announcements and information on social and cultural events, such as IMAS's Kaffee Klatsch and dances, lectures, and concerts can also be found here. The series consists of newsletters, banquet programs and announcements and invitations. A small amount of material is in German.

21Anniversary Banquets: 25th, 30th, and 35th1963, 1968, 1973request_box
22Announcements: Assortedundated, 1972-1973request_box
23Announcements: Social and Cultural Events1960-1979request_box
24Member Services1963-1968request_box
25News Bulletins1940, 1956-1964request_box
26News Bulletins: IMAS News1964-1971request_box
27News Bulletins: IMAS News1972-1980request_box
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