Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ontario Jewish Archives Awarded OHS Scadding Award of Excellence

The Ontario Jewish Archives was awarded the Ontario Historical Society’s Scadding Award of Excellence on June 4th after the Society’s AGM. The intent of the award is to honour an historical society or heritage group that has made an outstanding contribution to the field of history. The OJA was selected for its virtual exhibition initiative Ontario’s Small Jewish Communities.
The OJA launched this Trillium funded virtual display in the fall of 2009. It documents the histories of 11 small Jewish communities from across the province, spanning from Cornwall to Thunder Bay. The site relies on approximately 250 pages of text along with oral history clips, archival photographs, textual material, maps, architectural plans and artwork to tell the compelling stories of Jewish life and culture in these mostly undocumented communities.
The OHS described this initiative as being of the highest merit, stating “from a technical standpoint the design and execution of the virtual exhibit takes full advantage of the rich and varied historical material at its core and presents new information in an innovative, educational and entertaining manner.”  Since its launch, the display has attracted thousands of viewers from around the world. 
OHS Award Presentation, 4 June 2011
Pictured in photograph (left to right): Dr. Brad Rudachyk (President, OHS), Cyrel Troster (OJA Board Member), Dr. Ellen Scheinberg (Former Director, OJA)
and Dr. Sharon Jaeger (Chair, Honours and Awards Committee, OHS)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Jewish Vocational Services Case Files

The Ontario Jewish Archives' volunteer program is essential to the successful operation of the Archives. Much of the work done by our small but dedicated group of volunteers results in better access to our records by the public. One such example is the recent completion of the Jewish Vocational Services of Toronto case file project, which involved over a year of volunteer time. These case files number approximately 3000 in total and date from 1947 until 1951. They are an important part of our collection as they document a group of individuals who received assistance from JVS immediately following the Second World War.

 Many of the individuals were Holocaust survivors and had recently immigrated to Toronto with the assistance of other Jewish social service agencies and organizations, such as the Canadian Jewish Congress, Jewish Immigrant Aid Service and Jewish Family and Child Services. These case files shed light on this period of immigration in Canadian Jewish history and also document the number and the range of private sector companies who provided job opportunities for those in need of work.

Atlantic Fur Company, 1940s. OJA, photo #24.
The JVS case files are very sensitive documents as they contain personal information such as names, addresses, past education, job placements and wages. As such, access is restricted and must be first approved by the Director of the OJA in accordance with our privacy policy. Yet, it is certain that these files will prove invaluable to genealogists, demographers, labour historians and others interested in this long-running Jewish agency.