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Our Mission

The Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center (JHC) at American Ancestors is dedicated to preserving New England Jewish history, exploring Jewish heritage, and advancing understanding of the American Jewish experience for audiences of all backgrounds. 

Through its extensive archives, educational programs and resources, exhibits, scholarship, and public events, the JHC engages historians, genealogists, students, and the general public in the study and understanding of Jewish history and heritage.

The JHC's archival collections specialize in Boston, Massachusetts, and New England Jewish history and contain more than four million documents. These include institutional records of synagogues, social service organizations, businesses, and schools; the papers of community leaders and multigenerational families; newspapers; databases; subject guides; and much more. More than 700,000 documents from the collections have been digitized and are fully searchable online in the JHC's Digital Archive. These physical and digital collections are used by scholars, genealogists, and institutions around the world. The JHC also offers programs and events about Jewish history and culture throughout the year at its Boston home, in the community, and online.


Our History

The JHC began as part of the American Jewish Historical Society and was formerly known as the American Jewish Historical Society–New England Archives (AJHS–NEA). In 2010, AJHS–NEA began a collaboration with the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS). In 2015, the two entities formalized their partnership by creating the Jewish Heritage Center at New England Historic Genealogical Society, with a strengthened mission to enhance Jewish historical and genealogical research and to be a premier site for collection and preservation of Jewish history. In 2018, the center was renamed for Justin and Genevieve Wyner, in recognition of their longstanding support and advocacy.

Today, the JHC continues to preserve and maintain the AJHS–NEA collections while adding new collections to its holdings regularly.

Learn more about the JHC's current activities and impact here.


Our Values

Defined by the Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center Advisory Council, 2020

Preservation. We are committed to collecting and preserving Jewish history, adhering to professional archival standards.

Access. We are a destination—in person and online—for people of all backgrounds and from all parts of the world to research and learn about Jewish history and heritage.

Engagement. We engage historians, genealogists, students, partner organizations, and the general public through programming and research to advance the study and understanding of Jewish history, culture, and legacies.

Collaboration. We are an archival and educational resource for other Jewish organizations and institutions, and an active partner in programming and information-sharing.

Relevance. We develop programming and resources that make the history in our archives relevant to today and to many audiences.

Respect. Our work to enhance the understanding and accessibility of Jewish history and genealogy stems from our commitment to and respect for Jewish history, heritage, and tradition.

Excellence. We aspire to the highest work standards and professionalism. We achieve our mission by maintaining high-quality scholarship, scrupulously processed and preserved collections, and extensive expertise.