Jewish Americans have served in all military branches and in every major conflict in which the United States has been involved. Our collections include personal papers on soldiers from the American Civil War, World War I, and World War II, as well as organizational records from local branches of the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America.
Below are the JHC’s archival collections related to military and veterans. Click on a title to see an overview of the collection, view the collection’s finding aid (guide to the collection and its contents), and, if applicable, view the digitized collection on our Digital Library & Archives.
Please note: most of our digitized collections require the creation of a free guest user account to access. Click here for instructions on how to create a free account, as well as tips for navigating the Digital Library & Archives.
Stanley Canner was a 24 year old pilot in World War II, when his plane was shot down over Normandy on July 14, 1944. Canner, along with Alfred Sutkowski from Portland, Connecticut and Russell Leith of Australia were rescued by members of the French underground, and were hidden in a farmhouse owned by Jean and Renee Renault. The couple hid the three soldiers for six weeks, until they were liberated by the Canadian Allied Forces. This collection includes his book, Missing in Action with the French Underground, and photocopies of articles, photographs and correspondence.
Philip D. Epstein was a trial attorney from 1941 to 1999 and a veteran of World War II. He was active in the Jewish community of Marblehead, Massachusetts and worked with a number of veterans support organizations, such as the National Jewish Welfare Board and Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America. He served two terms as Commander of JWV Post 656 Marblehead-Swampscott. The material in the collection includes correspondence, announcements, meeting minutes, membership rosters, and publications primarily concerning his tenure as JMV commander.
George Clint Frank (1917-2000) served in the 826th Bombardment Squadron, 484th Bombardment Group, United States Army Air Corps from 1943 until he was discharged at the end of World War II. The collection consists of one folder containing photographs from Frank’s time in the Army, along with his War Department Identification Card and discharge papers.
This collection contains correspondence, photographs, news clippings, ephemera and a scrapbook compiled by Bernard L. Gorfinkle, a Boston area lawyer and civic leader who served in the United States Army during both World Wars and was a participant in the negoriations leading to the Treaty of Versailled and the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.
Herbert Gorfinkle was the eldest child and only son of Colonel Bernard and Frieda Gorfinkle of Newton, Massachusetts. Born in 1923, Gorfinkle came of age during World War II and entered the U.S. Army while an undergraduate at the University of New Hampshire. As a Tech 5 combat engineer, Gorfinkle was responsible for clearing landmines ahead of his advancing unit. He was also a trained army photographer, and aside from his letters home, he documented his years in the War with photographs. A soldier under General Dwight Eisenhower, Gorfinkle participated in the Normandy Invasion and was among the troops that liberated Buchenwald in 1945. This collection includes correspondence and photographs from Gorfinkle’s service in World War II, photographs of Bernard Gorfinkle’s serviced during World War I, and a collection of family carte de visites, cabinet cards and tintypes.
Samuel H. Gurvitz was the owner of New England Millworks in Dorchester, Massachusetts and a veteran of World War II. In 1936 and 1939, he visited Palestine, and the photographs from this trip are included in the collection. In 1939 Gurvitz visited Paris, Berlin, Warsaw, Vienna and Prague and witnessed firsthand how the political situation in Nazi Germany was impacting European Jews. His notes from these trips are also included in this collection.
This collection contains scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, newsletters, photographs, and event flyers from the Jewish War Veterans chapter in Lynn, MA, which was founded in the 1950s. The documents provide information on the organization’s purpose and activities. Some information on Jewish War Veterans organizations and their Ladies Auxiliaries in the general North Shore area can also be found in this collection. In 1991, an exhibit was held in the North Shore about the Jewish veterans from the area, and materials from that exhibit are included here as well.
The Shevitz and Feldman families were first-generation immigrants from Russia who settled in Worcester, Massachusetts in the early 20th century. Wolf Shevitz changed his name to William Marcus upon enlisting in the United States Army and married Minnie Feldman after his discharge. The collection contains William’s service and naturalization records, correspondence between William and Minnie while William was serving in World War I, photographs of the Feldman and Marcus families, and a series of family histories.
This collection primarily contains materials from the Jewish War Veterans, Post 486 in Beverly, Massachusetts from 1946-1995. These include financial, administrative, and membership records from the post, as well as ephemera. There are also materials from the Department of Massachusetts Jewish War Veterans and the national Jewish War Veterans, focusing primarily on their state and national legislative goals. The collection also contains some personal papers of Max Rubinstein, including materials from his personal and professional life and his involvement with other organizations and businesses in Beverly.
Adolphus Strassman was born in 1848 in Hungary, which was at that time part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. As a child, he immigrated with his family to the United States. They settled in Fall River, Massachusetts, where he lived with his mother, Rosa, stepfather Henry Strassman, and two half-siblings, Etta and Henry. From 1863-1865, he served in the Union Army. He served as a Private in the 2nd Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteer Heavy Artillery, Company I, under Captain John D. Parker, Jr. His diary includes information about the Battle of Wyse Fork (South West Creek). The collection includes pension and discharge certificates, correspondence, a medallion, wallet with calling cards, photographs, Commonwealth of Massachusetts Commendation for services rendered, and an 1865 diary.
The Synagogue Council of Massachusetts was founded in 1941 as the Associated Synagogues of Greater Boston (and later the Associated Synagogues of Massachusetts). The documents in this collection describe the proceedings and activities of the Synagogue Council of Massachusetts, as well as those of its affiliated organizations, including the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis, the Rabbinical Association of Greater Boston, the Kashruth Commission, the Beth Din, and the Jewish Chaplaincy Council. This collection contains meeting minutes, correspondence, flyers, brochures, pamphlets, reports, financial documents, photographs, scrapbooks, news clippings, directories, and newsletters.
Originally from Salem, Massachusetts, Louis Winer received both his undergraduate and law degree from Boston University. Admitted to the bar in 1916, the outbreak of World War I interrupted his law career, as Winer served in the American Expeditionary Forces in France. This collection includes photographs, correspondence, newspaper clippings, awards and an American Legion military cap and medal.
Articles, Webinars, & More
National Museum of American Jewish Military History
National Jewish Welfare Board Bureau of War Records - American Jewish Historical Society
Collection of the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America - American Jewish Historical Society
"Men of Mordechai: Jewish Americans in the U.S. Armed Forces" - the National Archives
The Shapell Roster: Jewish Service in the American Civil War - Shapell Manuscript Foundation