Listening to Financial Records

I’m processing the Finance Series of the larger HIAS collection. Within that series, the largest subseries is Grant Management.

Grant Management is, well, what it says on the label. HIAS, generally in cooperation with the Department of State and the UJA-Federation of New York, would award grants to Jewish organizations across the country, and those organizations in turn would use the money to resettle refugees. These organizations were typically branches of larger Jewish organizations such as the United Jewish Federation, the United Jewish Fund, the Jewish Family Service, and the Jewish Vocational Service. This pre-existing organizational structure of the US Jewish community allowed for HIAS’ resettlement efforts to be as effective as those of other, larger organizations.

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One of the record types to be found in the Grant Management subseries.

The record types in the Grant Management subseries consist of audits, tax forms, check and payment requests, accountant commentary, financial statements, financial status reports, organized by community, and spanning the years from 1990 to 2004.

While these records are overtly dull, taken together they weave a narrative. This narrative tells us where refugees were placed, what they needed, assistance types provided, and how HIAS oversaw and monitored the allocation of these funds.

The history of immigration is fascinating, and it is important to keep in mind that this isn’t just a history of movement and human displacement, but it is a history of the money which made those movements possible.

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