Thursday, August 27, 2009

New Exhibition: "HIAS: The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society"

More for you at the ever-expanding Museum of Family History.

Many Jewish immigrants who entered countries such as the United States sought assistance upon their immigration, e.g. food, housing, etc. Aid societies, such as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, founded by Russian Jewish immigrants in New York City in 1881, often had a representative stationed at the major ports of entry, waiting to help each and every immigrant they could. The founding of HIAS was in response to the huge wave of immigration that occurred following the assassination of the Russian Czar Alexander II in 1881 and the subsequent pogroms. Many Jews were forced to flee Russia and immigrate to the United States, the majority entering via the port of New York. There, HIAS would provide food and shelter to the new immigrant, and try to find them a job. In 1911, HIAS even provided a kosher kitchen at Ellis Island and fed more than half a million meals between 1925 and 1952.

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I am the immigrant.
Since the dawn of creation my restless feet have beaten new paths across the earth.

My uneasy bark has tossed on all seas.
My wanderlust was born of the craving for more liberty and a better wage for the sweat of my face.
I looked towards the United States with eyes kindled by the fire of ambition and heart quickened with newborn hope....

-- from the book "The Immigrant: An Asset and a Liability," by Frederick J. Haskin, an excerpt from the poem "The Immigrant."

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In this exhibition you can read about HIAS cir 1913, its objectives and its accomplishments. You can also read some of the content that appeared in a full-page advertisement in the New York Times on December 28, 1913, as it appealed to the public for financial support.

You will also find an example of a HIAS immigration card which was filled out by HIAS officers and the immigrant when they first arrived in the United States. In this page from the Museum of Family History's ERC (Education and Research Center), you can learn what information can be gleaned from such cards.

To access this exhibition, please visit www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/mfh-hias.htm and follow the "next" links at the bottom of each web page.

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