The mission of the Leonard N. Simons Jewish Community Archives is to collect, preserve and make available for research the records of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, United Jewish Foundation, Federation’s member agencies and local community organizations. We also collect personal and family papers.
It is a vast repository that includes photographs, manuscripts, videos, oral histories, artifacts, biographical information, as well as a cemetery index.
Established in 1991, the Leonard N. Simons Jewish Community Archives document the rich and varied history of the Detroit Jewish community.
The Archives are housed in two locations: The Max M. Fisher Jewish Federation Building and the Walter P. Reuther Library of Labor and Urban Affairs.
The Walter P. Reuther Library of Labor and Urban Affairs is located on the campus of Wayne State University. It is the pre-eminent labor archive in North America. The collection also includes urban affairs, with emphasis on the history of metropolitan Detroit. The library houses more than 1,800 individual collections of business, civic and political leaders.
In 1991, the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit placed the bulk of its archival holdings in the Reuther Library. The collection dates back to the beginning of the United Jewish charities in 1899. Through the years, the Jewish Community Archives at the Reuther Library has expanded to include more than two million documents chronicling the growth and development of the Federation and its member agencies and Jewish communal agencies.
Click here to visit the Jewish Community Archives Collection at the Walter P. Reuther Library of Labor and Urban Affairs.
The photograph collection, as well as several manuscript collections, remain housed at the Max M. Fisher Jewish Federation Building.
As a service to the community, we provide a searchable cemetery index (link) that contains a listing of burials in Michigan Jewish cemeteries that span the 20th century. Our focus, however, is not on genealogical research. We strongly encourage individuals to contact the Jewish Genealogical Society for questions pertaining to genealogy.
We Pay Tribute To Leonard N. Simons
The Jewish Community Archives was named in honor of Leonard N. Simons in 1995 to commemorate his commitment to preserving Jewish Detroit’s historic legacy. Co-Founder of Simons, Michelson Zieve Advertising Agency, Simons combined his career in advertising with an equally rich career as a community activist and advocate for countless community institutions.
In the words of Dr. Jacob Marcus, Director of American Jewish Archives at Hebrew Union College, “What would Detroit, American Jewry, have done without Leonard? Behold the indispensable man. Can you imagine writing the philanthropic history of Detroit without putting him in the center of things? The Greek word for philanthropy means love of fellowman and in the literal sense he has loved his fellowman, working for them without regard to color, creed or race.”
Give a Gift
You can play a part in maintaining and preserving our valuable historical resources with a gift to the Leonard N. Simons Jewish Community Archives of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit. Click here to donate.
The Leonard N. Simons Jewish Community Archives is located at:
Max M. Fisher Federation Building
6735 Telegraph Road
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48301
Phone: (248) 203-1491
Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.; Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Please schedule an appointment before visiting to ensure availability of the collections and a staff person to assist you.
If you would like to view a collection housed at the Reuther Library, please contact their reference archivist to schedule an appointment.
The Walter P. Reuther Library of Labor and Urban Affairs
5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202
Phone: (313) 577-4024