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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 ACC/2942
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1872-1980
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 2.15 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Soup Kitchen for the Jewish Poor


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Soup Kitchen for the Jewish Poor was founded in January 1854. Its aim was to supply soup, bread and meat twice a week, during the winter, to impoverished members of the Jewish community. It was originally set up to help Jews fleeing from pogroms, who were arriving in London with no money and no immediate prospect of employment. At that time it was probably only viewed as a temporary measure, a service which would no longer be required once the refugees had integrated. This was not to prove the case, although as the Soup Kitchen became more established it was no longer the refugees that needed the service, but the elderly and the sick amongst the Jewish community.

The Soup Kitchen was originally situated in Fashion Street, Spitalfields. However the charity was forced to vacate these somewhat dilapidated premises when the lease expired. The new building, at 17-19 Butler Street, also in Spitalfields, was opened in December 1902. The street name was changed to Brune Street in 1937.

Until 1939 the institution was literally just a soup kitchen, which dispensed soup that was cooked and eaten on the premises, or taken away in tin cans. However, with the advent of the Second World War, rationing made it impossible to continue the soup allocations. Instead available food stuffs were distributed in return for ration card coupons. The actual kitchen did not re-open again. The area was sublet, thus providing a valuable source of income for the charity.

Instead of receiving soup, those on the charity's books received an allocation of bread and groceries three times a week. In addition to this special distributions were made at festivals. A small monetary allowance was also given on these occasions. A special fund was set up for relief at Passover.

Recommendations for people to receive relief came from a number of sources, including the Jewish Welfare Board (formerly Jewish Board of Guardians), the Spanish and Portuguese Board of Guardians, and other local bodies. A few people contacted the charity directly. All cases referred to the Soup Kitchen were thoroughly investigated and re-investigated at regular intervals. The results of these investigations were recorded on report cards.

The Soup Kitchen's main sources of income came from rent paid on part of the premises in Brune Street, and annual donations and convenants. It also held occasional fund raising activities.

The charity was governed by a president, one or more vice-presidents, a treasurer, and a committee of not less than sixteen members. The three trustees of the charity were appointed by the committee.

A general meeting of the subscribers and donors who donated more than a certain amount was held annually. Its purpose was to receive and adopt the reports of the commmittee for the preceeding year, and to elect officers and a committee for the following year. A sub-committee called the Investigating and Distributing Committee was set up to grant or refuse relief.

The buildings in Brune Street were finally vacated by the organisation in July 1991. Its remaining functions were taken over by Jewish Care, previously known as the Jewish Welfare Board.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Soup Kitchen for the Jewish Poor, 1872-1980. The collection includes minute books of the general and other committees, and many account books, although there is little material which relates to the early days of the charity. There is a large amount of correspondence relating to all aspects of work of the charity.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The archive has been arranged into the following series:
ACC/2942-01: Administration;
ACC/2942-02: Finance;
ACC/2942-03: Conveyances;
ACC/2942-04: Distributions;
ACC/2942-05: Correspondence;
ACC/2942-06: Miscellaneous.

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information may be subject to access restrictions.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to these records rests with the depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited in July 1991.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

For further information please consult the LMA Information Leaflet: "Records of the Anglo-Jewish Community at London Metropolitan Archives"; available to download here: (URL correct Feb 2010).

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

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.

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