Reference code(s): GB 0074 ACC/3121
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
Title: BOARD OF DEPUTIES OF BRITISH JEWS
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 108.85 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Board of Deputies of British Jews
London Committee of Deputies of British Jews
The website of the Board of Deputies provides the following historical information:
The London Committee of Deputies of British Jews, which is now known as the Board of Deputies of British Jews, was established in 1760 when seven Deputies were appointed by the elders of the Spanish and Portuguese Congregation to form a standing committee to pay homage to George III on his accession to the throne. 1760 was also the date the Ashkenazi Community appointed their own "Secret Committee for Public Affairs". It was agreed at the end of 1760 that the two committees should hold joint meetings from time to time.
The Secret Committee of the Ashkenazim and the 'Deputados' met intermittently until well into the 1800s. From 1817 the two appear to have achieved greater unity and met thereafter as one body. In the 1830s the role and reputation of the Board began to expand with the election of Moses Montefiore as President of the Board in 1835 and with official recognition from Parliament, when the Marriage Act of 1866 named the President of the Board of Deputies as the authority for certifying the Marriage Secretaries of Synagogues. In 1836 Montefiore was instrumental in drawing up the first constitution and establishing the name Deputies of British Jews.
Moses Montefiore was to have profound influence over the development of the Board, and it came to be recognised as the representative body of British Jewry and its name became known overseas. In 1840 Montefiore went to plead for persecuted Jews in Damascus; the Board has been actively concerned with the interests and rights of co-religionists abroad ever since. Montefiore was President until 1874. He was an active international figure and interceded many times on behalf of Jews with foreign leaders.
By the end of the century, when the Anglo-Jewish community had achieved emancipation on the level of fellow non-Jewish citizens, thousands of Jews from Eastern Europe came to the country to escape Tsarist oppression. The Aliens Committee was formed in 1905 (the year the first Aliens Restrictions Act was passed) to ensure that these immigrants, or Aliens, received considerate treatment and to provide help with naturalisation problems. Britain remained a place of refuge well into the twentieth century, particularly with the growth of fascism in Europe in the 1930s and the accompanying rise of anti-Semitism. In 1936 the Jewish Defence Committee was created and launched an Outdoor Campaign to challenge the open air meetings conducted by the British Union of Fascists. Anti-Fascist leaflets and literature were circulated and protest meetings, supported by Christian Churches and other non-Jews, were organised. Co-operation with other faiths continues, most significantly perhaps in the close liaison with the Council for Christians and Jews.
In 1950 the Board convened the first Conference of Jewish Communities in the British Commonwealth, and was represented at the first meeting of the United Nations in San Francisco. Dr. D. Mowshowitch prepared surveys of the conditions of European Jewry as the Board helped these communities to rebuild and the Foreign Affairs Committee had an active role in the negotiations for Jewish reparations. The Board is a member of the Co-ordinating Board of Jewish Organisations and the World Jewish Congress. It has helped in the rehabilitation of Holocaust survivors and works to secure compensation and restitution for them. In 1983 a Holocaust Memorial was set up in Hyde Park in London at the instigation of the Board of Deputies.
Education is a keen interest of the Board. In 1853 grants were made to Jewish Day Schools after the Board had negotiated the matter with the government. The Board of Deputies works with local and private education authorities to combat racism, anti-Zionism and religious discrimination in schools and colleges. The Board of Deputies has always fought anti-Semitism in whatever guise and degree it manifests itself. Much of this work is very routine and it can be on a communal or individual level. Educating and informing non-Jews about Judaism, Israel and the Anglo-Jewish community continues to the present day and is an important aspect of the work of the Board.
The Foreign Affairs Committee of the Board established the National Council for Soviet Jewry (later the Council for Jews in the Former Soviet Union) in 1975. The archives of the National Campaign for Soviet Jewry are catalogued at the London Metropolitan Archives as ACC/3087.
The creation of the State of Israel in 1948 provided the Board with a new focus. A Palestine Committee of the Board of Deputies existed from 1923 until 1948 when it became the Erets Israel Committee. The Committee now acts as a bridge between the Anglo-Jewish community and Israel and seeks to promote a sense of identity with Israel among the Anglo-Jewish. Anti-Zionism in Britain is monitored and countered at all levels. The Board also has close links with the Israeli Embassy.
In 1940 the Trades Advisory Council was established to combat anti-Semitism in trade; to encourage good relations between Jewish and non-Jewish traders; to licence Jewish shop-keepers to work on Sundays and to give advice during a period of food rationing and close government observation. The Council was able to issue certificates to Jewish traders who wished to work on Sundays (before restrictions on Sunday trading were eased in the 1990s) and give support to Jewish employees asked to work on Jewish High Holy Days and Sabbaths. It is able to arbitrate in business disputes. The Trades Advisory Council began life as a sub-committee of the Defence Committee but is now a practically independent body affiliated to the Board.
Source: Board of Deputies website at http://www.boardofdeputies.org.uk/page.php/Historical_Background/106/2/1, accessed Feb 2010.
Scope and content/abstract:
Records of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, 1760-2002. The archive is central to the history of the modern Jewish community in Britain. It covers virtually every facet of Jewish life in Britain in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries - assimiliation, education, political emancipation, Shechita, anti-Semitism. The archive is particularly interesting on the conditions of Jewry outside the UK - there is a lot of information, for example, on the rise of fascism in mainland Europe in the 1930s and the Holocaust.
ACCESS AND USE
Language/scripts of material: English
System of arrangement:
The archive has been arranged into the following sub-fonds:
ACC/3121/A Board minutes;
ACC/3121/B Presidents and Secretaries;
ACC/3121/E General Correspondence;
ACC/3121/H Images and Audio-visual.
Conditions governing access:
Written permission from the depositor is required to access this collection. Contact the Executive Director, Board of Deputies of British Jews.
Conditions governing reproduction:
Copyright rests with the Board of Deputies of British Jews.
Please see online catalogues at: http://search.lma.gov.uk/opac_lma/index.htm
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:
A certain amount of weeding of the archives was been done by the staff at the Board and the RCHM in the 1970s. Very little material has been weeded at the LMA and that consists almost entirely of duplicate printed material and very trivial ephemera.
The archives of the Board of Deputies were first sorted and catalogued by a professional archivist in the 1970s under the auspices of the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts. A catalogue was produced in 1976 which included the records up to 1966. The records were retained in the custody of the Board at Woburn House until 1992 when they were transferred to the Greater London Record Office (now London Metropolitan Archives).
Further deposits of archives were made over following years to the GLRO. This catalogue is a complete list of all these deposits. The order and classification of the 1976 RCHM list has been retained with later deposits of archives integrated into its structure. A note has been made of the previous reference to each item in the catalogue in square brackets at the end of the description. A copy of the RCHM list which includes a very detailed historical introduction, is available as ACC/3121/E05/32. This catalogue also includes records from the Trades Advisory Council which were not included in the 1976 RCHM catalogue as they had already been deposited in the Public Record Office. They were transferred from there to the Greater London Record Office at the wish of the Board of Deputies in 1995.
Some selected records containing very personal information have been closed under Data Protection legislation.
Immediate source of acquisition:
Deposited in multiple accessions between 1992 and 2002.
For further information please consult the LMA Information Leaflet: "Records of the Anglo-Jewish Community at London Metropolitan Archives"; available to download here: http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/Corporation/LGNL_Services/Leisure_and_culture/Records_and_archives/Visitor_information/free_information_leaflets.htm (URL correct Feb 2010).
Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.
Date(s) of descriptions: Description prepared in March 2010. Updated November 2017.