Guide to the Records of the West End House of Boston, 1909, 1981

Processed by Kelsey Sawyer

Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS

99-101 Newbury St.

Boston, MA 02116



© 2019  Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS, Boston, MA. All Rights Reserved.
Machine-readable finding aid created by Kelsey Sawyer as MS Word document, July 24, 2012. Finding aid was encoded by Christine McEvilly on October 3, 2012. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: West End House (Boston, Mass.)
Title: West End House (Boston, Mass.), Records
Dates:1909, 1981
Abstract: The West End House is a Boys and Girls Club that was established in 1906 by a group of thirty-five boys who were the children of Eastern European Jewish immigrants. Their aim was to provide a place where they could meet and work to improve their lives through mental, physical, and moral advancement. The club began in 1903, but was officially established in 1906 following aid received from the Jewish Federation, as well as James and Helen Storrow. From the 1940s-1971 the West End House under went numerous changes that included a more broad and diverse membership, change in location, and becoming part of the Boys and Girls Club. In 1971, it moved to Allston-Brighton where it continues to serve urban and immigrant youth.
Languages: The collection is in English.
Quantity: .25 linear feet (1 Manuscript Box)
Identification: I-285
Repository: American Jewish Historical Society
Location: Located in AJHS Boston, MA
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Historical Note 1

The West End House of Boston was a Boys and Girls Club that provided services and programs to help urban and immigrant youth in the city of Boston to better their own lives through numerous and varied channels. The organization was founded in 1903 by children of Eastern European Jews, most of whom left Europe to escape the pogroms. The group of thirty-five boys named their club the Excelsior Club. The group met in whatever open spaces they could find and worked to enrich their lives through “moral, mental, and physical advancement” and to prepare for a productive and meaningful future.

The club sought aid and assistance from the Jewish Federation of Boston. They were given Mitchell Freiman as a temporary advisor as well as use of a room at the Federation’s premises. In 1906, after seeing a production of Hamlet performed by the club, philanthropist James J. Storrow and his wife Helen funded the club by paying for rent and maintenance for a meeting place and to keep Mitchell Freiman on as a full time director for the newly reformed West End House.

While the club was never explicitly open only to Jewish boys, it wasn’t until WWII that membership was represented by a broader demographic including non-Jews and women. Dramatic changes of the West End neighborhood during the urban renewal of the 1950s led to its closing. The West End House moved to Allston-Brighton where it continued to serve the large and diverse population of the children of immigrants present there. In 1976, it became the West End House Boys and Girls Club where it continues today.


1903 The Excelsior Club is established by thirty-five Eastern European Jewish boys.
1906 The club is reconstituted as the West End House following funding from James and Helen Storrow.
1940s The West End House’s membership opens up to a wider demographic.
1971 The West End House moves to Allston-Brighton.
1976 Becomes the West End House Boys and Girls Club.
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Scope and Content Note

Materials in this collection include an edition of the West End House Forum from 1909, Vol. 1, Nos. 5-6. This contains editorials, House news, and other writings pertaining to or of interest to The West End House and its members. Also in the collection is an Ad Book from the organization’s 75th Anniversary in 1981. Among the ads are letters of congratulations from numerous leading figures that include Edward Kennedy and Paul Tsongas. It is arranged chronologically.

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The collection is arranged into a single 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 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

Records of the YMHA-Hecht House, I-74

Records of Combined Jewish Philanthropies, I-220

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:
Identification of item, date (if known); West End House (Boston, Mass.), Records; I-285; box number; folder number; Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS.

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Acquisition Information

Acquisition information unavailable.

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Access Points

This collection is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.

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 learn more about viewing materials at the Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS.


Series I: West End House of Boston, 1909, 1981

Box 1, Folders 1-2.

Arranged chronologically.

Scope and Content:

See Collection Scope and Content Note.

1 1 West End House Forum 1909 request_box
1 2 75th Anniversary Ad-Book 1981 request_box
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