Access and Provenance

Biographical Sketch

Scope and Content Note

Box and Folder Listing

A Finding Aid to the

Boris D. Bogen Papers

Manuscript Collection No. 3

1891-1929. 3.2 Linear ft.


The Boris D. Bogen Papers were donated to the American Jewish Archives in 1948 by the Bogen family. The American Jewish Archives holds the property rights to the Papers. Literary rights have not been dedicated to the public, and any questions concerning literary or copyrights should be addressed to the Director of the American Jewish Archives.

The Boris D. Bogen Papers are open to all users and available in the reading room of the American Jewish Archives


Boris David Bogen was an educator and a social worker. He began his career in educational administration but due to a philosophical controversy over the education of immigrant Jews he became disenchanted with the field. He rechanneled his career in the direction of Jewish social work and served as the superintendent of local Jewish social service agencies. He became associated with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and served as its general director of European relief operations. During this period, he traveled with the JDC and the American Relief Administration and helped to implement programs aiding destitute Jews in post World War I Europe and Russia. After his return to the United States, he continued his involvement in social work and Jewish affairs and served as an officer in many of the major Jewish organizations.

Boris Bogen's career is historically significant for it traces the growth of American Jewish social work from a local to an international level. A chronology of the high points of Bogen's life follows:

  • 1869 Born July 15 in Moscow, son of David Katzenelenbogen and Leah Meerowitz.
  • 1888 Graduated from the University of Moscow.
  • 1890 Married Elizabeth Sholtz.
  • 1892 Immigrated to the United States (New York City). Studied English and became the teacher/librarian at the Jewish Educational Alliance.
  • 1894-1896 Instructor, Baron de Hirsch Trade School, Woodbine, New Jersey.
  • 1896-1900 Instructor, Hebrew Technical Institute.
  • 1897 Ph.D., New York University. School of Pedagogy.
  • 1900-1904 Principal, Baron de Hirsch Trade School
  • 1904 Naturalized as an American citizen, Cape May County, Courthouse, New Jersey.
  • 1904-1910 Superintendent, United Jewish Charities, Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • 1910-1917 Field Secretary, Conference of Jewish Charities.
  • 1913 Field Agent, National Conference of Jewish Social Services.
  • 1916 Director, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.
  • 1917-1924 Involved in relief work in post World War I Europe and Russia with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the American Relief Administration (ARA).
  • 1917 Sent to Holland by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee to organize the relief organizations.
  • 1919 Sent to Poland as a member of the American Relief Administration and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Recalled from Warsaw to Paris. Returned to the United States to organize the first unit of social workers sent by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.
  • 1920 Accompanied his unit to Warsaw as the General Director of American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee relief operations.
  • 1921 Returned to the Paris office to serve on the Executive Council of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.
  • 1922 Sent to the Ukraine with the American Relief Administration to act as a liaison officer between the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the American Relief Administration.
  • 1924 Returned to the United States. Services with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee terminated. Superintendent of the Federated Charities of Los Angeles.
  • 1925-1929 International Secretary, Independent Order of B'nai B'rith.
  • 1926 Honorary Degree, Doctor of Law, Hebrew Union College.
  • 1929 Elected President of the National Conference of Jewish Social Services. Died June 29, survived by his wife Elizabeth and their six children; Emil, Robert, Esther, Sophie, David, Jessie.
  • 1930 Autobiography, Born A Jew, published

    The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) Archives houses one of the most significant collections in the world for the study of modern Jewish history. Comprising the organizational records of JDC, the overseas rescue, relief, and rehabilitation arm of the American Jewish community, the archives includes over 3 miles of text documents, 100,000 photographs, a research library of more than 6,000 books, 1,100 audio recordings including oral histories, and a video collection. To search the JDC Archives' text-collections, click here.


    The BORIS D. BOGEN PAPERS (1891-1929) contain organizational correspondence, records, speeches, pamphlets, and reports representative of Bogen's career as an educator and social worker. Although there is little family correspondence in the collection (mostly from his children), some biographical material may be gleaned from his autobiography, Born A Jew, and the folder of autobiographical notes.

    Many of the Bogen papers were damaged or destroyed, which accounts for the poor physical condition of the collection. The collection consists of eight Hollinger boxes of material spanning the dates 1891-1929 which cover Bogen's professional career. The collection is divided into three series:

  • SERIES A. CORRESPONDENCE, Sub-Series 1. General consists of four and one-half Hollinger boxes. The vast majority of the materials in this sub-series pertain to Bogen's involvement in the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Also included are files on the American Relief Association, family correspondence, and a 1919 letterbook. Sub-Series 2. Foreign Language Materials consists of two Hollinger boxes of Russian correspondence arranged chronologically, plus German, Hebrew and Polish correspondence. This sub-series also contains miscellaneous foreign language pamphlets and news clippings. Some of the Russian letters in this series are accompanied with English translations.

    SERIES B. WRITINGS AND ADDRESSES consists of one Hollinger box of writings and speeches of Bogen, plus a draft manuscript copy of his autobiography, Born a Jew. This series also contains miscellaneous reports and pamphlets not written by Bogen but pertaining to his professional activities.

    SERIES C. PERSONAL consists of one-half Hollinger box of awards, honors, news clippings, passports and travel passes.


    Box  Folder    Contents
    Sub-Series 1.  General
    1    1         A, General
         2         Adler, Cyrus 1921-1923
         3         American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
                   (AJJDC) 1916-1920
         4         AJJDC 1921
         5         AJJDC 1922
         6         AJJDC 1923
         7         AJJDC 1924-1929
         8         AJJDC n.d.
         9         AJJDC [Budgets] 1923
    2    1         AJJDC [Draft of Agreement between the AJJDC
                        and Russian Government] 1921-1922
         2         AJJDC [Executive Committee minutes] 1921
         3         AJJDC [Field Reports] 1920
         4         AJJDC [Financial Reports-Russian Unit] 1922-1924
         5         AJJDC [Internal Allocation Notes] 1923
         6         AJJDC [Latvia Child Care Reports] 1923
         7-9       AJJDC [Photographs - Russian Unit] 1924
         10        AJJDC [Polish Reports] 1920
         11        AJJDC [Polish Workers - Statistical Tables] 1921
         12        AJJDC [Poland-Miscellaneous] 1919-1921 
    3    1         AJJDC [Reports] 1922-1924
         2         American Relief Association [ARA] 1919-1924
         3         ARA [European Children's Fund Mission to Poland
                        Report] 1922
         4         ARA [Miscellaneous Reports] 1922
         5         B, General
         6         Billikopf, Jacob 1917-1925, n.d.
         7         Bureau of Jewish Social Research (BJSR) [Foster
                        Homes Reports] 1924
    4    1         BJSR [Juvenile Delinquency Report] 1924
         2         BJSR [Philadelphia Child Care Study] 1924
         3         BJSR [Hebrew Orphan Home of Philadelphia Report]
         4         C-E, General
         5         F-G, General
         6         Federation of Jewish Charities [Executive Director
                        Report] 1922
         7         H-J, General
         8         Jewish Welfare Board [Curriculum of Training
                        Course] 1921
         9         K, General
         10        L, General
         11        M-O, General
         12        P-R, General
    5    1         S-T, General
         2         Senior, Max 1907; 1924-1925
         3         Strauss, Lewis L. 1922-1924
         4         U-Z, General
         5         Voorsanger, Elkan C. 1921-1922, n.d.
         6         Warburg, Felix M. 1919-1926
         7         Family Correspondence 1917-1928, n.d.
         8         Letter book F-Mr 1919
         9         Letters of Condolence [written at the time of the 
                        death of Boris D. Bogen] 1929
         10        Unidentified Correspondence 1920-1929, n.d.
    Sub-Series 2.  Foreign Language Materials
         11        Russian Correspondence 1891-1900
         12        Russian Correspondence 1901-1919
         13        Russian Correspondence 1920-1922
    6    1         Russian Correspondence 1923
         2         Russian Correspondence 1924
    6a   1         Russian Correspondence 1925-1926
         2         Russian Correspondence 1927-1929
         3         Russian Correspondence n.d.
         4         Russian Correspondence n.d.	 
         5         German Correspondence n.d.
         6         Yiddish Correspondence n.d.
         7         Polish Correspondence n.d.
         8         Russian Syllabi and Lecture Notes n.d.
    7    1         Russian Fragments   n.d.
         2         Miscellaneous Pamphlets [Foreign Language]
         3         News clippings [Foreign Language]
         4         Writings and Addresses [A-Y]
         5         Writings and Addresses [untitled]
         6         Autobiographical Notes 1924-1930
         7         Born A Jew [Published Articles-Incomplete] 1926
         8         Born A Jew [Notes to Book and Articles] 1924-1930
         9-11      Born A Jew [Draft Manuscript] n.d.
    8    1-3       Born A Jew [Draft Manuscript] n.d.
         4         Jewish Welfare Services [Miscellaneous Papers]
         5         Russia [Notes] 1924-1930
         6         Symposium on Unifying and Disrupting Forces in
                        Jewish Community Life in the United States
                        [Report] n.d.
         7         "What Have To Be the Contents of a Reader"
                        [Miscellaneous article]
         8         Awards and Honors 1899-1929
         9         News clippings
         10        Passports 1921
         11        Travel Passes 1919-1924
    See also: Flat File, Cabinet 5, Drawer 10
         Charts. Newspapers, etc.
         Box No. X-59 and Microfilm No. 2655
         Two albums of photographs of AJJDC activities


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