Access and Provenance

Biographical Sketch

Scope and Content Note

Box and Folder Listing

Subject Tracings


A Finding Aid to the

Henry Pereira Mendes Papers

Manuscript Collection No. 39

1862-1937. 1.2 Linear ft.


The HENRY PEREIRA MENDES PAPERS were donated to the American Jewish Archives by the sons of Rabbi Mendes, A. Piza Mendes and Samuel Pereira Mendes (New York, New York), in 1976. Prior to this donation (in 1966) A. Piza Mendes presented several scrapbooks to the Archives which had been compiled by Rabbi Mendes' mother, Eliza de Sola Mendes.  The scrapbooks date from 1877-1980 and concern the activities of her son.  Due to their deteriorating condition, these scrapbook were microfilmed (AJA Microfilm No. 2493) and are available in this form only. A third donation of 1 Hollinger box was received from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1992.

The American Jewish Archives holds the property rights to the PAPERS. Literary rights have not been dedicated to the public. Literary rights to materials authored by Mendes are held by the Mendes heirs, others are held by the individual author or his/her heirs.  Questions concerning rights should be addressed  to the Executive Director of the American Jewish Archives.

The HENRY PEREIRA MENDES PAPERS are open to all users. The original manuscript collection is available in the reading room of the American Jewish Archives.


 Born on April 13, 1852, H. Pereira Mendes came from a long line of Sephardic rabbis, including his father, Abraham Pereira Mendes, and his maternal grandfather, David Aaron de Sola. Mendes was born and raised in England. At the age of twelve he began his studies at London's Northwick College, a religious school founded and directed by his father. From 1870 through 1872, while continuing his studies at Northwick, Mendes also attended London's University College.

In 1873, Mendes began his ministry at the newly-formed Sephardic congregation in Manchester, England. In 1877, he was called to the United States to serve as preacher in New York City's Congregation Shearith Israel, where he was to remain the rest of his life. Apart from serving Shearith Israel as preacher, hazzan and pastor, Mendes was involved in a vast array of other activities. He received a medical degree from New York University in 1884 and he was awarded an honorary degree from Jewish Theological Seminary in 1902 and one from the Jewish Institute of Religion in 1937.

Rabbi Mendes was instrumental in the organization of many communal projects in New York, such as the Montefiore Hospital, the Institute for the Improved Instruction of Deaf-Mutes, the New York Guild for the Jewish Blind and the New York Kehillah. Mendes also participated in the founding and support of numerous national Jewish Organizations and institutions, such as the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, the Jewish Theological Seminary and the Board of Delegates of American Israelites. In addition, Mendes worked closely with other Sephardic congregations in the United States, helping to bring some into existence and to rejuvenate others.

Mendes was one of the first American Zionists. He was among the founders of the Zionist Organization of America and he served as vice-president of the Federation of American Zionists. Until his death, he worked to promote the religious ideals of Zionism.

Rabbi Mendes was also a writer. His books include religious books for children and adults, prayer books, poetry and plays.

Henry Pereira Mendes died October 21, 1937 in New York City. He was survived by his wife, Rosalie Piza Mendes, and his two sons, A. Piza Mendes and Samuel Pereira Mendes.


The HENRY PEREIRA MENDES PAPERS contain correspondence, minutes, sermons, addresses, newsclippings, pamphlets, articles, memorabilia and a biography of Mendes by his colleague, cousin, and successor, David de Sola Pool. The Collection is divided into three series:

The CORRESPONDENCE SERIES consists of five folders, 1852-1937, which deal with Mendes' rabbinic, charitable, and religious activities. Included in the General Correspondence files are Mendes' pastoral letters, Congregation Shearith Israel's letters and announcements to Mendes concerning congregational elections, regulations and activities. Also included is Mendes'correspondence with various organizations and individuals, such as Nicholas Murray Butler, Israel Zangwill, Dr. Solomon Schechter, Stephen S. Wise, Jacob Schiff and Felix Warburg concerning international peace, the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, the Hebra Hased Va-Amet and the United Synagogue of America. The General Correspondence is arranged chronologically but the Subject Tracings of this inventory provide access to the significant correspondents and correspondence. This Series also contains a folder of correspondence dealing with the Institute for the Improved Instruction of Deaf-Mutes, which developed out of the Horeb Home and School for the Deaf, and a folder containing the records of the Mendes Jubilee Committee, which sponsored the celebration and commemorative activities honoring Mendes in 1927.

The NEARPRINT SERIES, 1873-1937, consists of one Hollinger box, of which three folders contain sermons, addresses, messages and articles written by Mendes and of which one contains newsclippings and articles concerning Mendes.

The third series, MEMORABILIA, consists of one box. David de Sola Pool's biography of Mendes, which contains letters from Stephen S. Wise, Rabbi and Mrs. Judah Magnes. The text of the presentation of JIR's honorary degree to Mendes is contained in this series. Also included are invitations, programs, commemorative books, and various academic, professional and honorary certificates presented to Mendes over the years.


Box  Folder    Contents


1      1       General, 1862-1892
       2       General, 1893-1905
       3       General, 1906-1937; n.d.
       4       Institute for the Improved Instruction of Deaf Mutes Jubilee
                    Committee [Corr; Minutes; Nearprint] 1927
       5       Mendes Jubilee Committee [Corr; Minutes; Nearprint], 1927


2      1       Sermons, articles, etc. by Mendes, 1873-1937
       2       Sermons, articles, etc. by Mendes, n.d.
       3       Semons, articles, etc. by Mendes,n.d. [Bible related]
       4       Bible Translation - Genesis, n.d.
       5       Bible Translation - Exodus, n.d.
       6       Bible Translation - Leviticus, n.d.
       7       Bible Translation - Numbers, n.d.
       8       Bible Translation - Deutoronomy, n.d.
       9       Clippings, articles, etc. concerning Mendes, 1862-1937

3      1       Pool, David de Sola. H. Pereira Mendes; A Biography, 1938
       2       Invitations and announcements, etc., 1870-1937.
[not foldered] Commemorative books, 1902-1937

NOTE: AJA also has one reel of microfilm, Microfilm number 2493, which
contains the scrapbooks kept by Mendes' mother, Elizabeth de
Sola, concerning his career, 1877-1908.


Note: This list represents a selective guide to some of the persons and subjects in the HENRY PEREIRA MENDES PAPERS. It is selective in that it only attempts to draw attention to the more significant items in the collection. It does not list every subject or individual nor does it indicate every location of a listed subject or individual in the collection. This list must be used in conjunction with the Box and Folder List of this inventory. References are to box and folders, i.e. means Box 1,
Folder 2.

Bible 2/3-8
Butler, Nicholas Murray 1/3

Caribbean Jewry 1/1-2
Chancellor, J. R. (Palestinian High Commissioner) 1/3
Ethiopian Jewry 1/3

Hayes, Patrick J., 1/3
Herzl, Theodore (copy of a letter to Mendes)
Hughes, Charles Evans (Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court) 1/3

Jewish Territorial Organization (ITO) 1/3

Manning, William Y. 1/3

Peace, International 1/3
Pershing, John J. 1/3

Schechter, Solomon 1/3
Schiff, Jacob H. 1/1,3

Union of American Hebrew Congregations 1/3
United Synagogue of America, formation of 1/3

Warburg, Felix M. 1/3
Wise, Stephen S. 1/3

Zangwill, Israel 1/3

Copyright © 2000 Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives