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St. Paul Jewish Community Center records

Identifier: umja0002

Scope and Content

Materials date between 1912 and 2017, with the bulk of the materials dating from the 1970s onward. Records include administrative materials such as correspondence, board and committee meeting minutes, and group and programming planning correspondence. Various publications, such as activity program schedule pamphlets, newsletters, and writing workshop booklets are also included. Scrapbooks are oversized and in varied states of physical condition, most housing newsprint clippings. There are many photographs from various events, with a few ephemera items as well.


  • 1912-2018


Use of Materials

Open for use in the Elmer L. Andersen Library reading room.


Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). Requests to publish should be arranged with the Upper Midwest Jewish Archives; please contact the archives for more detailed copyright information.

Historical Note

Before the present-day Jewish Community Center of St. Paul was created in 1948, there were other community organizations that paved the way to their success. The Neighborhood House, an organization to help poor immigrants on the West Side was founded in 1900 under the auspices of the Hebrew Ladies Benevolent Society and the Rabbis of Mt Zion. The Settlement House offered classes in English, homemaking, and social and recreational activities. The Lowertown Community Center (Central Community House) opened in 1921 with the mission of preventing juvenile delinquency. Later in the 1920s both Houses became more nonsectarian and Lowertown had become a Community Chest beneficiary. Other organizations such as B'nai B'rith, the YMHA and YWHA, and social clubs such as Aleph Beth sponsored activities at the houses with Jewish content. All of these groups contributed to the emergence of the JCC in St Paul.

In 1930 the first iteration of the St. Paul Jewish Community Center (JCC) was opened as the Jewish Educational Center (JEC). The building, which housed both a Hebrew school and recreational facilities, quickly ran into financial difficulties due to the Depression. The JEC association turned to the Community Chest for assistance and, following their suggestions, was reorganized in 1934 into three parts: one part dedicated to owning and operating the building, one part dedicated to operating and maintaining the Hebrew School (the JEC), and one part dedicated to taking charge of the community activity programs. The part dedicated to community activity programs was the Jewish Center Activities Association (JCAA) which became eligible for Community Chest support; from this the present-day Jewish Community Center was created in 1948. The JCAA developed musical, theatre and scouting groups, and became the center of the St Paul Jewish community, although secondarily its programs were open to the wider community. In 1956 the original building on Holly and Grotto was sold and the programs were operated from temporary facilities in the Highland Park area. During 1958 the Jack Butwin Day Camp was established in the Rosemount area to meet the needs of middle-class families. Ground was broken for the present Jewish Community Center location in 1963 where the JCC continues to serve the mission of providing individuals, families and communities a place to come together for Jewish culture, child care, fitness, recreation and socialization in an inclusive and welcoming environment. Ths JCC is alsm home to the St. Paul JCC Symphony, one of the oldest classical music community ensembles in the country.

For more information about the JCC, visit their website at


57 Cubic Feet (74 boxes -- (68 Paige boxes, 5 oversize boxes, 1 Hollinger box))

Language of Materials



The Jewish Community Center in St. Paul, which opened in 1930 first under the name of the Jewish Educational Center, began as a space for religious education and community activity programs, creating a space for the St. Paul Jewish community to come together for Jewish culture, child care, fitness, recreation and socialization.


The collection is divided into series:

Series 1: Administrative

-- Subseries 1: General administrative

-- Subseries 2: Annual meetings and reports

-- Subseries 3: Capital Campaign

Series 2: Board and Committee meetings

Series 3: Programming and Groups

-- Subseries 1: General programming and groups

-- Subseries 2: St. Paul JCC Symphony

-- Subseries 3: Camp Butwin

-- Subseries 4: Jewish Singles Collaborative

-- Subseries 5: Maccabi Games -- Subseries 6: High School in Israel program

Series 4: Publicity

Series 5: Scrapbooks, photographs, and ephemera

Source of acquisition

A small portion of the earlier materials were donated to the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest by the St. Paul Jewish Community Center in 1985. The majority of the collection was donated to the Upper Midwest Jewish Archives by the St. Paul Jewish Community Center in 2015 and 2016.

Separated Materials

Photographs related to the St. Paul Jewish Community Center can be found in the Sharron and Oren Steinfeldt Photography collection (umja0017) in boxes 27 to 34 and 59 to 63. To view the finding aid for this collection, visit

St. Paul Jewish Community Center records, 1912-2018
Finding aid created by Kate Dietrick
August 2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Revision Statements

  • February 2016: Collection added to and reprocessed by students; EAD updated by Kate Dietrick
  • June 2016: Revised to include new acquisitions
  • March 2017: Revised to include new acquisitions
  • February 2019: Revised to include new acquisitions
  • December 2022: Revised to add newly found materials

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Upper Midwest Jewish Archives Collecting Area