Crafting a HIAS Bibliography

The HIAS team is busy assembling a website to accompany the HIAS Collection. This website will include access to a client database, a finding aid, a timeline, links to digital objects, and a bibliography of primary and secondary sources, selected to contextualize the HIAS Collection for researchers.

I spent the last couple of days selecting sources to be included in this bibliography, and then listing them in proper Chicago Style citations. There are three main types of citation formats: APA, MLA, and Chicago/Turabian. APA (American Psychological Association) Style is used in the fields of Education, Psychology, and the Sciences; MLA (Modern Language Association) style is used in the Humanities fields; and Chicago/Turabian is typically used in the fields of Business, History, and the Fine Arts. Archival repositories tend to prefer the Chicago/Turabian Style, though many—including the Center for Jewish History–will provide citations in all three styles.

Listing books in Chicago Style is fairly easy—even with multiple authors or editors or editions, books retain the same general components. Archival collections, however, are much more complex.

The Chicago Manual of Style notes that:

“It is impossible to formulate specific rules applicable to all bibliography listings of manuscript materials because methods of arranging and cataloging differ from one depository to another, and kinds of material differ as well. Librarians and archivists are usually willing and able to explain to an author what is required in citations to the documents in their collections. A publisher’s editor may add or delete or rearrange items in listings only with the consent of the author.”

And indeed, the Manual provides two distinct bibliographic citation formats for archival collections:

“The bibliographic sequence most useful for all collections of correspondence and other personal papers named for an individual or group begins with the name of the author of the collected manuscripts of the title of the collection of items being cited and ends with the depository  and, where desirable, its location.


A second possible sequence begins with the depository (or its location) and ends with the collection or part of the collection being cited. This sequence is useful when a number of collections from the same depository are cited and it is desirable to list them together in the bibliography reference list.”

Making the situation even murkier is that the American Jewish Historical Society and the Center for Jewish History (of which the AJHS is a partner agency) present two different ways of citing collections in Chicago Style.

In building the primary source portion of the bibliography, I first consulted the finding aids of the collections in question. The AJHS finding aids contained the following preferred citation format: “Identification of item, date (if known); Creator; Collection Call Number; box number; folder number; American Jewish Historical Society, New York, NY, and Boston, MA.”


But the plot thickens; because the collections were cataloged and assigned metadata by the Center for Jewish History staff, the citation provided in the Center-generated record details page provides the following citation format: “Contributor Name (Last, First) [First, Last for additional contributors], Contributor Organization(s).Collection title, creation date.”


So, for collection I-93, the records of the United Service for the New Americans, the AJHS preferred citation would look like “Item, date (if known); United Service for New Americans Records; I-93; box number; folder number; American Jewish Historical Society, New York, NY, and Boston, MA.” While the Center generated citation would look like “Dewey, Thomas E, Truman, Harry S President, U.S, European Jewish Children’s Aid, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, New York Association for New Americans, and National Coordinating Committee. United Service for New Americans Records undated, 1946-1954, 1945.”

With all of these divergent formats, none of which quite worked for the bibliography, I had to construct a unique citation format which was in keeping with the Chicago Style, but which spoke to the specific purpose of the bibliography.

As the purpose of this bibliography is to refer researcher to resources, I discounted the need to include box and folder number. Further, the center-generated format was too specific—researchers need to know the collection name and call number, not the full provenance.

Thus, the completed, customized citation took the form of “Depository, depository location. Collection Name; Call Number,” and the completed citation in the bibliography for I-93 looks like “American Jewish Historical Society, New York, NY, and Boston, MA. Records of the United Service for New Americans, undated, 1946-1954; I-93.”

Note: This post refers to information contained within the 14th Edition Chicago Manual of Style.


Shanghai and the HIAS Mystery

Between 1938 and 1941, ~18,000 German, Polish, and Austrian Jews fled to Shanghai, a city that lacked the centralized authority needed to enforce exclusive immigration laws. I studied this community for my MA research, and it is only in hindsight, as a HIAS project processing archivist, that I see how odd it is that I never encountered HIAS in my research.

After Pearl Harbor, Japan-long a colonial power in China-did away with its Chinese puppet government in Shanghai, and exerted direct control over the city. This act cut it off from the outside world, and especially from Allied powers. As a result, the Jewish refugees became isolated from the world outside of Shanghai.

Despite the isolation of Shanghai and the hostility of the Japanese towards organizations with Western ties, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee -a humanitarian relief organization-maintained a presence in Shanghai, importing money and necessary goods from neutral powers whenever possible, and suffering the wartime, slum conditions alongside the people they were working to help. And from working with the HIAS papers, I know that they too remained in Shanghai throughout the war.

The reasons why I never encountered HIAS in my research are twofold. First, HIAS records are not easily accessible, and are not apparent in online finding aids. I learned the second reason while processing some of HIAS’ newsletter files. During the war years, these publications included short briefs outlining what HIAS was doing for Jews in various corners of the globe, including Shanghai. There, it operated under the name “HICEM.” I had not come across HIAS in my research, but I certainly had seen HICEM many times.

HICEM came to be in 1926 in Paris as a merger of HIAS, the Jewish Colonization Association (ICA), and EmigDirect, which operated out of Germany. The agreement between the three stipulated that local branches outside the US would work as HICEM, while HIAS would continue to handle Jewish immigration to the United States.

EmigDirect had to back out of the merger in 1934, and during the Second World War, British regulations forbade the ICA from using funds outside of Britain. Therefore, during many of the war years, HICEM received funding primarily from HIAS; the JDC also provided a good deal of capital.

This information is fabulous for me as a historian, but also extremely helpful for me as an archivist. Having now been on both sides of modern Jewish immigration history, I know what kind of terms researchers may be looking for, and can use this knowledge to make the research process that much easier for them.