Guide to the Records of the Hebrew National Orphan Home Alumni Association, undated, 1925-2014 (bulk 1957-1997)

Reprocessed by Boni Joi Koelliker. Originally processed by Carmen Hendershott in 2011.

American Jewish Historical Society

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 294-6160



© 2019  American Jewish Historical Society, New York, NY. All Rights Reserved.
Machine-readable finding aid created by Boni Joi Koelliker, November 2014. Finding aid was encoded by Boni Joi Koelliker on December 23, 2014. Description is in English.
2016 Contents of a thumb-drive were made into a zip-file and added to the finding aid by Boni Joi Koelliker.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Hebrew National Orphan Home Alumni Association
Title: Hebrew National Orphan Home Alumni Association Records
Dates:undated, 1925-2014 (bulk 1957-1997)
Abstract: The Hebrew National Orphan Home Alumni Association Records document the activities from the establishment of the association in 1925 until its demise 2011. The records consist primarily of the Association's newsletter, The Alumnus, programs of reunion events, meeting minutes of both the general meetings and the association advisory board, newspaper and magazine clippings, oral histories on audiocassettes and videotapes, alumni writings, scrapbooks, correspondence, and a few photographs.
Languages: The collection is in English.
Quantity: 3.95 linear feet (4 manuscript boxes, 1 half manuscript box, 1 oversized box)
Identification: I-520
Repository: American Jewish Historical Society
Location: Located in AJHS New York, NY
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Historical Note

HNOH Basketball Team, 1952

The Hebrew National Orphan Home Alumni Association was established in 1925, almost a decade after the Hebrew National Orphan Home opened its doors. The alumni association was founded to facilitate social contact among men who, as children, had grown up in the home, since co-resident boys were their "family." Extant records contain little evidence of the activities of the alumni association in its early decades. According to Irwin Abrams, who left HNOH in 1925, he and others who had "graduated" from HNOH that year banded together in a social, basketball-playing group that met at the Central Jewish Institute and called themselves the ALYONS (Alumni from Yonkers). He continues: "Later we founded an alumni association consisting of boys who left the home before and after us. At its peak, it numbered about 1000."1 An offshoot of the alumni association, the Harry Lucacher Alumni Society (HLAS) formed officially in 1940 with the alumni association's recognition. HLAS published a newsletter, The Recorder, that same year.

The official alumni association itself commenced publication of an association newsletter, The Alumnus, with a May 17, 1936 issue. The newsletter was the main means by which alumni of the orphan home kept in touch with each other by publishing membership lists, correspondence, reminiscences, photographs, and news (including obituaries), and encouraging participation in alumni reunions which were another important point of contact.

The alumni association also generated a body of literature on what it was like to be an orphan and to grow up in an orphan home. Some of these stories are found in issues of The Alumnus. Two oral history audiocassettes were compiled by alumnus Sam Arcus and were distributed by him in 1997. They were based on interviews with several alumni members to accompany a videotape on life in the HNOH, entitled Our Childhood … Remembered, produced by alumnus Ed Lippman and distributed by him in Fall 1995.2 In the April, 1997 issue of The Alumnus, Ira Greenberg outlined a table of contents for a proposed book that would cover HNOH history and the alumni role in it. A questionnaire about alumni experiences of life in the home was also printed in that issue, and responses were requested and received. In 2001, the book came out, entitled, The Hebrew National Orphan Home: Memories of Orphanage Life, edited by Ira Greenberg with Richard Safran and Sam Arcus. Coincidentally with this effort to develop a concentrated historical record, Marjorie Soloff, daughter-in-law to HNOH orphan alumnus Jacob "Jack" Soloff, developed a website for the HNOH Alumni Association, which included an historical account of the founding of HNOH, reminiscences of the alumni, and photographs of orphanage life.

Since the Alumni Association of the Hebrew National Orphan Home (HNOH) grew out of the development of HNOH itself, a brief chronology of HNOH is included here, to provide context for the account of the alumni association above.


December 12, 1912HNOH established on New York City's Lower East Side.
October 14, 1913Initial payment made for premises at 57 East 7th Street by Romanian Jews comprising a Committee of the Bessarabian Verband.
June 7, 1914HNOH opens officially with space for 50 Jewish boys; a second tenement house at 52 St. Mark's Place & 8th Street also bought.
July 15, 1919The Tuckahoe Road facility purchased in Yonkers, N.Y.
July 26, 1920The Tuckahoe Road facility opens.
1943Professional Case Work Service introduced.
1944Psychiatric and Psychological Service and Remedial Education Program introduced.
1947HNOH becomes Homecrest.
1956Homecrest becomes Hartman-Homecrest as the result of a merger of Homecrest with the Gustave Hartman Home for Children (formerly the Israel Orphan Asylum for Girls).
June 27, 1958The Tuckahoe Road facility closes.
1962Hartman-Homecrest merges into the Jewish Child Care Association (JCCA) of New York.
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Scope and Content Note

The records of the Hebrew National Orphan Home Alumni Association document the social activities of the former residents of the Hebrew National Orphan Home. The collection is comprised of minutes of the Alumni Association Advisory Board meetings and the Alumni General Meetings, The Alumnus, the official newsletter of the Alumni Association, The Homelite a newsletter published by Hartman-Homecrest Home, and The Recorder, a 1940 newsletter of an offshoot organization called the Harry Lucacher Alumni Society. An index of issues of The Alumnus organized by year and volume number is available in an Excel spreadsheet and can be downloaded here The Alumnus index. The collection also contains newspaper and magazine clippings about the HNOH and its alumni, programs of alumni reunion events, and some correspondence, including a letter to Judge Aaron J. Levy, an early HNOH president, dated 1930 and signed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The collection holds hardcopies of the HNOHAA website developed in 1997, a few photographs of HNOH staff, residents, and facilities and oral histories on audiocassette accompanied by a videocassette, two scrapbooks, writings by former orphans, and baseball and basketball uniforms worn by the HNOH teams.

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The collection is arranged alphabetically by material type and chronologically by date.

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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.

This collection contains audiovisual or electronic media that requires special equipment to access. Please notify reference staff at 24 hours in advance of needing access.

Use Restrictions

Information concerning the literary rights may be obtained from the Director of Library and Archives 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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Related Material

Additional materials related to the Hebrew National Orphan Home Alumni Association can be found in following AJHS records and collections:

Brooklyn Hebrew Orphan Asylum Records, I-230
Hartman-Homecrest (New York, N.Y.) Records, I-233
Hebrew Benevolent Society Records, I-258
Hebrew Infant Asylum Records, I-166
Hebrew Sheltering Guardian Society Records, I-43
Home for Hebrew Infants Records, I-232
Hyman Bogen Collection of Hebrew Orphan Asylum and Seligman Solomon Society Memorabilia, P-767
The Industrial Removal Office Records, I-91
Jewish Child Care Association of New York Records, I-235
Jewish Children's Clearing Bureau, I-81
New York Association for Jewish Children Records, I-236
Pride of Judea Children's Home Records, I-448
Seligman Solomon Society Records, I-6

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Separated Material

The basketball and baseball uniforms were removed and placed in the Museum Collection. A press release for the Alumni Association of the Hebrew Orphan Asylum's Farewell Luncheon and issues of the HOA student publication The Rising Bell were removed to the Hebrew Orphan Asylum records, collection number I-42. In addition, newsletters from three other orphan asylums, Brooklyn Hebrew Orphan Asylum Bulletin, Pride Survey of the Pride of Judea Children's Home, and Crows and Ravens published by Alumni of the Hebrew Sheltering Guardian Association were removed and added to their respective collections.

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Other Finding Aids

An index of issues of The Alumnus organized by year and volume number is available in an Excel spreadsheet and can be downloaded here The Alumnus index.

A thumb-drive with the components used to create the HNOH website designed by Marjorie Spears Soloff was compressed into a zip-file (PID 3827412) and can be downloaded here HNOH Website Components. The website, which is now defunct, is available through the WayBack Machine (

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:
Identification of item, date (if known); Hebrew National Orphan Home Alumni Association Records; I-520; box number; folder number; American Jewish Historical Society, New York, NY.

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Acquisition Information

Donated by Hebrew National Orphan Home Alumni Association, 1996-1998, 2000-2001, 2005-present (bulk donated 1996-1997).

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Access Points

Click on a subject to search that term in the Center's catalog. Return to the Top of Page

Container List

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

Click the box in the request column to open the form that allows you to request a box for onsite viewing in the reading room at the Center for Jewish History, New York, NY.


Hebrew National Orphan Home Alumni Association Records, undated, 1925-2014 (bulk 1957-1997)

Boxes 1-5

Arranged in one series alphabetically by material type and chronologically.

Scope and Content:

See Collection Scope and Content Note.

52Audiocassettes—Oral Histories—Our Childhood...Remembered1997request_box
12Correspondence and Annual Reports—Dental Service Staff1920s-1930srequest_box
13Correspondence—Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Justice Aaron Levy1930 December 3request_box
19Events—Programs1980-1982, 1985request_box
110Events—Programs—Cleveland Jewish Orphan Home1988request_box
21Minutes—Alumni Advisory Board1934-1965request_box
22Minutes—Alumni Advisory Board1972-1976request_box
23Minutes—General Meeting 1946-1954request_box
24Minutes—General Meeting 1961-1976request_box
25Newsletters—The Alumnus1957, 1962-1964request_box
26Newsletters—The Alumnus1965-1969request_box
27Newsletters—The Alumnus1970-1975request_box
28Newsletters—The Alumnus1976-1979request_box
31Newsletters—The Alumnus1980-1984request_box
32Newsletters—The Alumnus1985-1989request_box
33Newsletters—The Alumnus1990-1996request_box
34Newsletters—The Alumnus1997-2002request_box
35Newsletters—The Alumnus2003-2014request_box
41Newsletters—The Alumnus—Master Copies1996-2001request_box
42Newsletters—The Homelite 1949, 1951 Junerequest_box
43Newsletters—The Recorder1940request_box
44Newspaper and Magazine Clippings1970s-1980srequest_box
45Newspaper and Magazine Clippings1990s-2000srequest_box
51Photographsundated, 1925, 1935-1936, 1949, 1952, 1997request_box
OS11Photographs—Alumni Association Open Membership Social1961 March 8request_box
46Printouts of HNOHAA Website and Thumb-Drive with Website Components1997request_box
47Writings by Alumni1962, 1977, 1983, 1991request_box
48Scrapbooks—Baker, Chick1939-1940request_box
49Scrapbooks—Hebrew National Orphan Home1926, 1932-1936request_box
OS1MUSEUMUniforms—Baseball and Basketballundatedrequest_box
53Videotapes—Oral Histories—Our Childhood...Remembered1997request_box
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