Click on the logo above to access Shul Records America!
Shul Records America is a new finding aid directing you to over
738 American synagogue record collections housed in 86+ 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, Archivegrid, 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 Orthodox Jewish Archives; AJHSQ; Alabama Dept Archives & History; American Jewish Archives; American Jewish Historical Society; American Sephardi Federation; Ancestry; at synagogues or on their websites; Auburn University; Books; Boulder Carnegie Library; Brandeis University; Buffalo & Erie County Public Library; Buffalo History Museum; Capital Jewish Museum; Central Illinois Jewish Communities Archives; Central Synagogue Archives; College of Charleston; College of William and Mary; Cong. Shearith Israel; Cornell University; Dallas Public Library; Denver Public Library; Detroit Jewish Archives; Duke University Library; FamilySearch; Gardiner Public Library; Georgia Archives; Georgia Historical Society; Harvard University; Indiana Jewish Historical Society; Jewish Atlantic World; Jewish Hist. Soc. of North Jersey; Jewish Hist. Society MetroWest; Jewish Hist. Society of Delaware; Jewish Hist. Soc. of Long Island; Jewish Museum of Maryland; Jewish Museum of Milwaukee; Jewish Theological Seminary; JewishData.com; JewishGen USA Database; Jews of Marion Indiana; Library of Congress NUCMC; Magnes Bancroft UC Berkeley; Memphis Public Libraries; New Haven Museum & Hist. Soc. Lib.; New York Public Library; New York State Historical Docs; Northern Illinois University; Ohio History Collection; Phil. Cong Early Records Project; Rauh Jewish Archives; Rice University; Rutgers University; Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art (Tulsa); St. Louis Genealogical Society; Stanford University; State Hist. Soc. of Missouri; SUNY Buffalo; Temple University; Texas Tech University; Tulane University; UCLA Western States Jewish Hist. Archive; UNC Asheville; UNC Greensboro; University of Denver; University of Florida Smathers Library; University of Iowa; University of Kentucky; University of LA @ Lafayette; University of Minnesota Upper Midwest Jewish Archives; University of Nevada Las Vegas Library; University of Notre Dame; University of Pittsburgh; University of Rochester Special Collections; University of South Carolina; University of Texas Austin; University of Utah; Washington State Jewish Archives (U Wash Lib); Wayne State University; Western Reserve Historical Society; Wisconsin Historical Society Archives; Worcester Historical Museum; Wyner Jewish Heritage Center; Yeshiva University; YIVO.
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 2/9/2024.