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JCA: Jewish Community Council Records

Identifier: UR001726

Scope and Content

Part 1 contains documents of relevance to the operation of the organization including pamphlets, publications, correspondence, calendars, memos and newsletters. Minutes and documents of many committees are included. It contains a significant amount of literature generated by other organizations as well. The collection contains, among other things, anti-Semitic literature disseminated during the 1930s and 1940s by men like Gerald K. Smith and Father Charles Coughlin. Issues that concerned the Council and its committees, such as racial and housing discrimination and church-state relations, are well documented.

Series Descriptions: Part 1 consists of 8 series, the first being the largest. Each series emphasizes a different area of Council concern. Series 1 consists of materials filed numerically and has been identified as the Executive Director materials. A numeric filing system was to organize files, numbering 100 through 1000, which serves as the basis for the ten subseries in Series 1.

Series 2 consists of documents relevant to the operation of the Jewish Community Council which were not filed numerically. In some instances there may be duplication, but that does not normally appear to be so.

Series 3 contains materials related to culture and programming, not filed numerically, an area of major concern throughout the Council’s history. Radio and TV scripts are included.

Series 4 contains materials related to discrimination, including but not limited to employment, housing and public accommodation. This series also contains material related to anti-Semitism as well as racial bigotry, including relations with the Michigan Committee on Civil Rights and Michigan Labor Committee for Human Rights.

Series 5 contains materials related to the Committee on Church and State, as well as those pertaining to concerns on schools and education.

Series 6 holds the materials generated and received by the Mass Media Committee and its branches. Topics include intergroup relations, League of Women Voters, Negro Press, Michigan Catholic.

Series 7 contains materials related to the wide variety of organizations, religion-based and secular, with which the Council has been involved either as a supportive mechanism or as a vocal opponent. This includes US and state political institutions, the UAW, Metropolitan Detroit Conference on Religion and Human Rights, and many others.

Series 8 contains material identified as addenda. Materials in this series relate to those in another series. "See" references are appended to the description of each boxes content. Items in this series can be linked to all other series.
Part 2 consists largely of meeting minutes and audiotapes. There are a small number of videotapes and subject files. Boxes 688-696 are in the Reuther Library AV Department, as of November 2020.


  • 1937 - 1984


Language of Materials

Material entirely in English.


Collection is open for research.


Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials. Restrictions: Researchers may encounter records of a sensitive nature – personnel files, case records and those involving investigations, legal and other private matters. Privacy laws and restrictions imposed by the Library prohibit the use of names and other personal information which might identify an individual, except with written permission from the Director and/or the donor.


On January 27, 1935, the Jewish Welfare Federation convened a meeting, the Conference of Jewish Organizations, including representatives of the landsmanshaften, other Yiddish-speaking groups, and of many secular, social, fraternal, charitable, labor, religious and Zionist groups. The purpose of that meeting was to enlist the support of these elements in a community-wide campaign for funds to build a new Jewish Old Folk’s Home, as it was then called. A by-product of that meeting was an expressed insistence on the part of those convened for a greater voice and degree of participation in the affairs of the Jewish community.

The 1935 meeting authorized creation of the Committee of Twenty-One headed by Myron Keys. The committee maintained a liaison with the Federation with regard to the campaign for the home. Its agenda included the creation in Detroit of a Jewish Community Council.

The Jewish Community Council was established September 29, 1937, after two years of organizational effort as 200 representatives from 155 Detroit Jewish organizations convened at the first delegate assembly.

The organization played a protective role on behalf of the community, fighting anti-Semitism locally and the Nazi threat in Europe. Following World War II and into the 1960s, the Council initiated and joined activities against discrimination in hiring, education and housing, as well as other civil rights issues. It has been strong voice of support for Israel since its independence. The Council has an active public policy agenda, shaping public opinion through media relations, community revitalization projects, outreach to Detroit’s ethnic and religious groups and working with many community agencies. In 2006, the Council was renamed the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) in order to better convey the organization’s mission. Ten years later, it merged with the American Jewish Committee (AJC), becoming the JCRC/AJC.


356 Linear Feet (680 MB, 15 SB, 1 OS)


The Jewish Community Council was established in 1937 as an umbrella organization to serve as a unifying force for Jewish organizations of metropolitan Detroit.

The records of the Council document the organization's operational activities, programming, and publications, and the interests of the organization as related to issues such as anti-Semitism, discrimination and the civil rights movement, church-state relations and education, Israeli and Middle Eastern affairs, Zionism, and the affairs of organizations supported by and in opposition to the Council. The Council has been the representative of the Jewish community in media relations. Since 2006, the organization has been know as the Jewish Community Relations Council.


Part 1 is arranged in 8 series.

Series 1: Executive Director Materials, 1937-1978 (Boxes 1-297), comprises 10 subseries, A through J.

Subseries A: Operations (100) (Boxes 1-45). Subseries B: Culture and Programming, Black and Catholic relations, real estate issues (200) (Boxes 46-70). Subseries C: Discrimination, Anti-Semitism, Civil Rights (300) (Boxes 71-89). Subseries D: Church-State relations, Schools and Education (400) (Boxes 90-101). Subseries E: Media Material and Creative Writings (500) (Boxes 102-133). Subseries F: Other organizations (600) (Boxes 134-232). Subseries G: Other organizations (700) (Boxes 233-250). Subseries H: Israel and Middle East, American political issues, political parties, elections (800) (Boxes 251-277). Subseries I: Research (900) (Boxes 278-279). Subseries J: Various topics-holidays, immigration legislation (1000) (Boxes 280-297).

Series 2: Council Operations and Organization, 1930s-1980s (Boxes 298-493).

Series 3: Culture and Programming, 1941-1976 (Boxes 494-525).

Series 4: Discrimination, Anti-Semitism, Civil Rights, 1933-1978 (Boxes 526-599).

Series 5: Church-State Committee, Schools, Education, 1947-1975 (Boxes 600-611).

Series 6: Mass Media, 1947-1972 (Boxes 612-619).

Series 7: Other Organizations, 1943-1980 (Boxes 620-641).

Series 8: Addenda related to other series, 1941-1981 (Boxes 642-677).
Part 2: Materials grouped by format. Boxes 688-696 contain audio-visual materials.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Guide to the JCA: Jewish Community Council Records
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA