// William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum
Jewish Research and Education - Cuba Family Archives, Finding Aids

Date Span:  1936-1977

Creator:  B’nai B’rith Women Inc.

Summary/Abstract:  B’nai B’rith Women, Inc. organized an Atlanta chapter in April, 1944.  Activities included assistance to Hillel House at the University of Georgia, the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, and the American Red Cross.  B’nai B’rith Women were also actively involved with the sale of war bonds during World War II.  Programs of B’nai B’rith Women have historically served both the Jewish and non-Jewish communities of Atlanta. The records include Correspondence, newsletter, records of the B’nai B’rith Youth Organizations and scrapbooks.

Quantity/Physical Description: 1.2 linear feet

Language(s):  English

Repository:  The Cuba Family Archives for Southern Jewish History, The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, 1440 Spring Street NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30309.

Restrictions on Access:  There are no restrictions on accessing material in this collection.

Restrictions on Use:  Copyright restrictions may apply.  Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright.  Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation:  Box #, Folder #, Mss 25, B’nai B’rith Women Inc. Records, The Cuba Family Archives, The Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, 1440 Spring Street NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30309.

Separated Material:  Photographs removed to visual arts collection, and objects removed to artifact collection.

Arrangement: All material is arranged alphabetically by subject and chronologically within each folder.

Biographical/Historical Note:  The first permanent chapter of B’nai B’rith Women (BBW) was founded in 1909 in San Francisco. Its aim was “to promote sociability among [B’nai B’rith] lodge members and their families.” B’nai B’rith, American Jewry’s oldest and largest fraternal and service organization, did not permit women’s auxiliaries until 1897, when Ruth Lodge No. 1, Daughters of Judah, enjoyed a very brief existence. Before the outbreak of World War I, over a dozen B’nai B’rith women’s auxiliaries were scattered from San Francisco to New Jersey. They expanded into cultural activities, philanthropy, and community service, such as financial support of orphanages and homes for the elderly. Their announced aims were to perpetuate Jewish culture, enrich their communities, and ensure the religious survival of their sons and daughters. Their unannounced goals included sociability and the first steps toward personal independence. At the beginning of World War II, BBW included 248 chapters with more than 40,000 members, and produced its first monthly publication, B’nai B’rith Women. In 1941, voteless women delegates protesting their status created a stir at the B’nai B’rith Supreme Lodge convention. The 1960s became the turning point in B’nai B’rith Women’s activism. Inspired by the presidency of John F. Kennedy, BBW became involved in the War on Poverty’s anti-illiteracy and antipoverty programs, as well as in the needs of senior citizens, including senior housing. However, the burgeoning women’s movement and the early Jewish feminist movement of the 1970s became even more critical influences, turning the organization toward feminist issues. BBW transformed itself into a politically conscious and activist feminist organization, campaigning for such issues as free choice in abortion, equal Social Security benefits for women, assistance for the displaced homemaker, women’s and infants’ health care, and reducing teenage pregnancy. The organization also focused on programs to meet the growing needs of women on their own, career women, older women, and young family women juggling families and careers. B’nai B’rith Women fully declared its independence by changing its name to Jewish Women International in 1995. It announced its intention of continuing “cordial relations” with B’nai B’rith, and maintaining its support of the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization, Hillel, and the Anti-Defamation League. Today, Jewish Women International continues its effective programs and political advocacy on issues of concern to women. Nevertheless, it struggles with the same dilemma as other women’s organizations: the difficulty of recruiting new members from women juggling families and careers, with little time left for volunteerism. (Source: Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia, “B’nai B’rith Women,”  Jewish Women’s Archive, http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/bnai-brith-women 

Collection Inventory

Box File Description Date
1 1 B’nai B’rith Youth Organization 1962-1964
2 Certificates 1974
3 Correspondence 1945-1963
4 Hillel 1944
5 Invitations and application for membership 1957-1977
6 Meeting notices 1947
7 Newsletter – “The Mitzvah” 1973-1974
8 Newsletter – “The Mitzvah” 1975-1976
9 Newspaper clippings 1956-1974
10 Printed material 1936-1942, 1964, 1977
11 Programs – various chapters 1976
12 Scrapbook 1944-1945
13 Scripts 1960
2 1 Scrapbooks (2 items) 1946-1969
3 1 Scrapbooks (5 items) 1961-1976

Posted in: Finding aids

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