archive collage

Jewish Historical Society of San Diego Archives

Historic treasures and abundant research opportunities await you in the Jewish Historical Society Archives at San Diego State University. This archives, in partnership with the Jewish Studies Program and Love Library's Special Collections and University Archives, maintains the papers and photographs of the Jewish community of San Diego's distant and more recent past.

Researchers from across the country and around the world have used material from our archives in films; created original performance pieces; completed doctoral dissertations and master's theses. Materials from our archives have been published in international magazines and in books. In 2017-2018, many photos and documents from the collections were used in the exhibition, “Celebrate San Diego! The History and Heritage of San Diego’s Jewish Community” at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park. (Second photo from the left above)

Please contact us if you have historical materials or if you would like to do research.

  • Mailing Address:
  • Jewish Historical Society of San Diego
  • 1934 Pentuckett Ave.
  • San Diego CA 92104

About the Archives

In 1999, the Jewish Historical Society of San Diego, under the leadership of Stanley and Laurel Schwartz  partnered with the Jewish Studies Program, formerly the Lipinsky Institute for Judaic Studies, directed by Dr. Lawrence Baron. Together they established the Jewish Historical Society of San Diego Archives. The Archives consists of documents, papers, letters, books, photographs, and other materials that people have collected over the years about themselves and their lives here in San Diego. The first and largest collection accessioned, was the personal papers of Rabbi Morton J. Cohn, who was a reform rabbi in San Diego for nearly 40 years from the 1940's-1980's.

The Archives formally opened in 2000, the year of the Society's 20th Anniversary and the Jewish Studies Program's 30th Anniversary, with a program celebrating 150 years of San Diego Jewry. (Photo on the right above)

Since that time, the number of collections has greatly increased, with strengths in women's and men's communal organizations, clerical papers, Jewish Community Center, Jewish Federation, synagogue histories and San Diego Jewish newspapers. There are also significant collections of research notes on pioneer Jews.

The materials in the Archives date from the mid-19th century to the 21st century. The 19th century material consists of published and unpublished papers on local Jewish history and copies of primary source material from other institutions. Original materials in the Archives date from the 1910's into the 21st century. (First photo on the left above: 1930’s Adolph & Eleanora Levi Family; Third photo from the left above: 1950 B’nai B’rith Girls Installation of Officers)

The Society accepts both personal and public materials, relating to the Jewish community of San Diego, either in original form or copies. To donate documents, records, photographs or papers, please contact the curator, Laurel Schwartz, using the contact information listed above. The Society also welcomes assistance from the community in processing the collections, either in the form of volunteer time or monetary contributions. The Society is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) corporation.


The collections are accessioned, processed and maintained by the Jewish Historical Society of San Diego. All collections will eventually reside and become the property of the Special Collections and University Archives Department of the Library. Some collections already reside there.

To search the collection catalog by keyword or alphabetic search and to see some images from the collections by going to

Please note: except for some photos, the collections are not digitized and you will only see catalog entries, not actual documents. To see original documents and photos you must visit the Love Library. When you go to the above website, you can determine the location of a specific collection, by looking at the Collection Location field on the Archive Record page. It will either say JHSSD Archives or Special Collections and University Archives. At the bottom of the screen you can click on either location to get more information about how to access the collections.