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The Jewish Historical Project of North Dakota records

Identifier: umja0001

Scope and Content

Records of the project consist administrative planning and correspondence pertaining to the project itself; information on synagogues, cemeteries, and farming colonies and cities; and newspaper clippings pertaining to aspects of Jewish life in North Dakota. Finally, the vast majority of the collection is correspondence with individuals who provide details of their genealogy and retell short family histories.


  • Creation: 1884-2007
  • Creation: Majority of material found within ( 1975-1979)


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

Toba Geller and Ruth Landfield along with a committee of Fargo women initiated the North Dakota Jewish Project in 1975. It was the second attempt to set down the Jewish history of the state, the first being in the mid-1950s when Toba Geller began researching Jewish families via correspondence. The creators took up research again, incorporating The Jewish Historical Project of North Dakota as a non-profit in 1978 and actively solicited materials from Jews who had grown up in North Dakota in the hopes of publishing a book. The project lost momentum when Toba Geller suddenly passed away in December 1978 and despite her husband Sam Geller’s attempts to continue research, a book was never published. This collection represents the results of a sustained collecting effort. The collection has been augmented since by other individuals donating information about their family’s sojourn in North Dakota.


6.5 Cubic Feet (7 boxes (5 paige boxes, 2 hollinger boxes))

Language of Materials




The Jewish Historical Project of North Dakota was a venture headed by Toba Geller, working alongside Ruth Landfield and Lorraine Kasden, in attempts to document the history of early Jewish immigrants in North Dakota. Mostly through correspondence, the project collected family histories and information related to Jewish settlements throughout the state. The goal of publishing a book of their findings was never realized as Toba Geller passed away in 1978.


The collection is divided into series:

Series 1: Administrative

Series 2: Correspondence and Research: Towns

Series 3: Correspondence and Research: Families

Series 4: Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest Supplemented Materials

Source of acquisition

Materials donated to the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest in 1993 by Cary Geller.

Processing Information

The collection came to us in a distinctive order as collected and maintained by Toba Geller, and this order has remained intact along with original folder naming conventions. When the collection was donated to the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest in 1993, the collection was at times augmented by various individuals donating information about their family history in North Dakota. These added materials have been isolated and can be found in Series 4. Some folders were found with no materials inside—these files are listed but noted as empty.

The Jewish Historical Project of North Dakota records, 1884-2007
Finding aid created by Kate Dietrick
July 2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Upper Midwest Jewish Archives Collecting Area