Click on the logo above to access Shul Records America!
Shul Records America is a new finding aid directing you to over
500 American synagogue record collections housed in 50+ repositories or websites.
This list will grow as additional repositories are added!
What are synagogue records?
Synagogue records are the records created by congregations, their staff including rabbis and administrators, other ritual leaders such as mohels, educators, and board members.
The records that are preserved can contain a broad variety of materials including some that are of more value to community historians than family historians, but the real gems to genealogists include birth, marriage, and death registers, mohel or circumcision lists, ketubot, burials, and yahrzeit memorial plaques.
Additionally, there are other types of synagogue materials that may be helpful such as membership lists, congregational bulletins, board meeting minutes, donor lists, bar or bat mitzvot lists, photographs, eulogies, and more.
Where are synagogue records found?
You can research where defunct or historical congregational records may have been deposited in an archive by searching for the congregational name, rabbi, or mohel on WorldCat, ArchiveGrid, or Google possibly finding the location of preserved material hidden away at hundreds of small historical societies, museums, archives, or within commercial genealogy company catalogs.
The reality is that the archival world does not catalog all collections with the same terminology or use the same transcriptions from foreign languages. There are also boxes at archives that are not described in finding aids and never make their way to WorldCat or Google, so when searching with a phrase such as "synagogue records" a collection that is simply catalogued as a "congregation register" or "rabbinical papers" or not described at all, may not point you to where the records exist and are housed.
To make it easier and in one place, we've partnered with the American Jewish Archives, the Center for Jewish History, Yeshiva University, and The Jewish Theological Seminary to start the search for you with a Shul Records America finding aid that points you in the right direction to get started. We've also added hidden online gems from FamilySearch and elsewhere.
As for languages, most are in English, but there are also Hebrew, German, and Yiddish collections.
We need you!
To identify where American synagogue records are located both online and offline, and grow this finding aid!
Inspire individuals, Jewish Genealogy Societies, and congregations to create indexing projects from these records for placement on JewishGen.
If you don’t find a congregation you are interested in listed in SRA, perhaps you could motivate an active congregation to collect and share their records with archives such as AJA, JTS and YU.
Repositories included to date are as follows but check back as others are added:
Agudath Israel of America Orth Jewish Archives;
AL Dept Archives & History;
American Jewish Archives;
American Jewish Historical Society;
American Sephardi Federation;
Buffalo & Erie County Public Lib
College of Charleston;
College of William and Mary;
Cong. Shearith Israel
Detroit Jewish Archives;
Duke University Library;
GA Historical Society;
Indiana Jewish Historical Society;
Jewish Atlantic World;
Jewish Museum of MD;
Jewish Theological Seminary;
JewishGen USA Database;
Jews of Marion Indiana;
Memphis Public Libraries;
NY Public Library;
NY State Historical Docs;
Phil. Cong Early Records Project;
Sherwin Miller Mueseum of Jewish Art
St. Louis Genealogical Society;
U of Nevada Las Vegas Library;
UCLA Western States Jewish Hist Archive;
Univ MN Upper Midwest Jewish Archives;
Univ. of Denver;
Univ of LA @ Lafayette;
Univ. of Pittsburgh;
University of Notre Dame;
University of Rochester Special Collections
WA State Jewish Archives (U Wash Lib);
Wayne State University;
Western Reserve Historical Society;
Wisconsin Historical Society Archives;
Worcester Historical Museum;
Wyner Jewish Heritage Center;
Shul Records America is compiled by Ellen Kowitt, Director, JewishGen USA Research Division.
This material is protected by copyright and may not be reproduced or published elsewhere without permission.
SRA is a work-in-progress with ongoing corrections and additions. Last updated 1/25/2023.