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Jewish Camp collection

Identifier: umja0005

Scope and Content

This collection includes correspondence, bulletins and newsletters from camp administration as well as from campers themselves, photographs, 35mm slides, meeting minutes and financial documents, and research notes on different camps.


  • Creation: 1937-2006

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

The experience of summer camp has been an important part of the Jewish community for years. This collection brings together materials related to different summer camps throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin. The first Jewish camp in Minnesota was Sophie Wirth Camp, located in White Bear Lake; it was open from 1911 to 1943 and was sponsored by the St. Paul Council of Jewish Women. As the first kosher camp in the northwest, children were sent to Sophie Wirth for learning the Jewish faith, but also for fun and recreation, and often for their health, as good nutrition was emphasized for underweight children. 16mm film footage from Sophie Wirth Camp in 1937 is hosted on YouTube at Council Camp begain in 1937 during the Depression. As a result of high unemployment rates, the government created the WPA program to build camp sites around the country, including a site in Hinckley, Minnesota. The Jewish Camping Program received permission to use the site on the condition that at least 1/3 of campers were lower income. Base fees had to be "reasonable" as well, and charges ranged from $2.75 to $3.50 a week.

The site lasted for 10 years, after which the goverment lease was terminated and focus was placed upon a site in Aitkin which became Camp Tikvah. Camp Tikvah, located in Aitkin, MN, was opened in 1947 with the assistance of the Minneapolis Jewish Community Center. Known for their sports and canoe trips, the camp served Jewish children until 1983. Herzl Camp in Webster, Wisconsin, was started by Harry Rosenthal and a group of St. Paul Jews in 1946 in an effort to create a Zionist camp that would emphasize Jewish tradition along with the usual summer camp experience. The camp, located on Devil's Lake, is still in existence. For more information regarding the history of Herzl Camp, visit their website at


0.90 Cubic Feet (2 Hollinger boxes)

Language of Materials



This collection brings together materials related to four different Jewish summer camps throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin: Sophie Wirth Camp, Herzl Camp, Council Camp, and Camp Tikvah.


This collection is divided into series:

Series 1: Sophie Wirth Camp

Series 2: Herzl Camp

Series 3: Various Camps

Source of acquisition

Materials donated to the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest by various donors.

Processing Information

The collection was put together and processed by the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest as a subject-based collection, taking materials from various different donors. Series 1 and 2 list the name of the donor of the materials. Series 3: Various Camps was put together following a Minnesota Jewish Historical Society Annual Meeting in 1987 on "Jewish Camping in Minnesota and Preserves its Place in History." All materials collected for that meeting are found in Series 3.

Jewish Camp collection, 1937-2006
Finding aid created by Kate Dietrick
November 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

  • January 2021: revised to include newly found materials
  • June 2023: Revised to include newly found materials

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Upper Midwest Jewish Archives Collecting Area