The end of the Soviet Union provided an unprecedented opportunity to investigate materials held in Soviet archives, which had been unavailable to western researchers for several generations. The Jewish Archival Survey (JAS) was established as part of Project Judaica with an overall objective of locating and describing all of the archival collections related to Jewish history and culture in repositories of the FSU, in order to increase accessibility to scholars and researchers.
Millions of pages of material relating to European Jewry and the Holocaust were once hidden and stored in archival repositories throughout the FSU. These archives are the Cairo Geniza of modern Jewish history: a treasure trove that could expand and revise our entire understanding of the European Jewish experience. In order to gain access to these collections, JAS has formed close-working relationships with archives, libraries, and other repositories in several countries of the FSU. Thus far, three easy-to-use guides have been published on Moscow, Kiev, and Belarus.
Our newest publications include our 2006 Jewish Documentary Sources in Kiev Archives: A Guide, which describes 1,000 archival collections on Jewish history and culture found in 22 repositories in Kiev. It is the fruit of many years of labor. Dr. Patricia Kennedy Grimsted, a senior research associate at the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University and the foremost expert on the archives of the former Soviet Union, had the following to say about the Kiev guide:
I find Jewish Documentary Sources in the Kiev Archives to be an impressive and very important research tool. I was very impressed with the extent of the coverage. It certainly shows the contrast with the holdings I was able to mention in my 1988 Ukrainian archival directory. I encourage your enthusiastic team to keep going; your work should be very helpful to many researchers.
Our 2005 Jewish Documentary Sources among the Trophy Collections of the Russian State Military Archives: A Guide describes collections that were stolen by the Nazis during the Second World War and then seized by the Soviet army at the end of the war. They were held in the secret Special Archive of the USSR in Moscow for several decades until Project Judaica researchers arranged, cataloged, and described the material. An English-language edition of this guide is in preparation and will be published in collaboration with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum by Scranton University Press.
Guides to Jewish archival collections in St. Petersburg and Vohlyn-Podolia are also currently in preparation.