JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen HIAS & Ethnic Bank records - Philadelphia, PA #general
Posting this message on behalf of Selma Neubaurer who is having some
problem with sending her AOL mail.
There have been recent postings about a database developed by Nancy
Goodstein, a volunteer at LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake
City, which includes records held by the Philadelphia Jewish
Archives Center (PJAC) in Philadelphia, PA. Because I do not know
exactly what the FHL holds, or their reel numbers, the following is
what I think you are likely to find, and a brief history. The
Philadelphia HIAS records which were preserved were filmed by the
Mormons many years ago. Copies of the films were given to PJAC.
The films were sent to Salt Lake City with a restriction that the
films were not to be released to the local FHCs. In other words,
if you wanted to see the films of the HIAS records you had to come
to Philadelphia, PA or Salt Lake City, UT. Is this still true? I
don't know. PJAC has a web page explaining their collections. If
there are computers available to you in SLC, take a look at
>> http://www.libertynet.org/pjac <<
- Arrivals to the port of Philadelphia - 1884-1921
- Indexes to Philadelphia port arrivals - 1884-1921
HIAS representatives were on the dock and tried to meet and
help the Jews who embarked >from the ships. If relatives were
there, most likely the passengers did not meet with the HIAS
representatives, so, of course, their names do not appear.
There is information in these records as to where the
immigrants were going -- they did not all stay in
Philadelphia. There are 2 sets of records, and once I wrote an
explanation for myself on how to use them. So, maybe the
following will help.
Passenger Arrival Records-Alphabetical - all "A's" together, etc.
Example: If you are searching the name "Berger", but don't know
when the person arrived, look under all the years for Bs. The
names are not in alphabetical order under "B"--all Bs are together.
Passenger Arrival Records-Chronological by Ship - By year - all
names in a particular year.
Example: If you are searching the name "Berger", and you think the
person arrived in 1903, look under 1903 for "Berger". The names
are not in any order, but are listed under the name of the ship.
- HIAS Naturalization Cards - c. 1910-1950
HIAS representatives went to Jewish homes trying to help the
immigrants with the naturalization process.
Ethnic/Immigrant Bank records or Passage Order Books. In the east
coast port cities, family run store front banks were established.
They began as places where the immigrants could deposit money to be
used to buy tickets (shifscarte) to bring over their families.
Eventually the banks became agents for the shipping lines. The
Passage Order Books have all or some of the following information:
date of purchase, passenger name and age, address they are coming
from, purchaser's name and address, name of ship, dates & ports of
departure and arrival, cost of ticket and how paid. Sometimes there
are 2 purchasers' names and addresses. Those of us who have
extensively used these records have concluded that one "purchaser"
was a "foosgeyer" (the person on walked the immigrant purchaser to
the bank and spoke for him). If you find info in these books, in
Philadelphia, you would immediately run to the Mid-Atlantic branch
of the National Archives to find the ship manifest. You can do
this in SLC by accessing the Philadelphia port ship manifests.
But, before you get your hopes up, just because tickets were
purchased does not mean that the immigrant used the tickets, or got
on another ship, or got sent home >from the port.
The Ethnic Bank records are:
- Blitzstein Bank
Index Cards and Books - June 1888-June 1902 & December 1903-
December 1930. This is the easiest set of records to use
because the index cards are in alphabetical order.
- Lipshutz or Peoples' Bank - 1906-1920 & 1923-1948
The index is interspersed on the roll of film.
- Rosenbaum Bank - 1894-1927
The indexes are handwritten in alphabetical order, i.e., all
the A's are together, all the B's, etc. The index may be at
the beginning of the reel, or partway through the reel. These
are difficult to use at PJAC because the boxes are poorly
marked. I do not know how the FHL has marked the boxes.
- Rosenbluth Bank - 1907-1926
I believe the index is at the beginning of the reel.
- Unidentified volumes - 1893, 1907-1910
I'm guessing that these reels are called "unidentified" on the
FHL films, but I believe they have been identified since the
filming as part of the Rosenbaum Bank records.
I refer you to articles written about the HIAS and bank records:
"Mein Bruder Haut Mir Geshikt a Shifscarte" by Harry Boonin, JGSP
"Chronicles" Spring 1991, Vol. X, #1.
"Opening the Door to the New World" by Robert Leiter, "Jewish
Exponent" (Philadelphia), July 13, 1984.
As you've probably guessed by now, these records are difficult
to use, but well worth the effort. They are a goldmine of
information. And yes, if you're thinking that some JGS group
should organize a project to computerize the records, you would be
right. Have a wonderful time in SLC. I'll miss you all.
Philadelphia, PA USA