I admit it. I am a history buff. I like going to history museums, watching Ken Burns documentaries on PBS, and looking up famous people on Wikipedia. I remember going to the Library of Congress on a trip to Washington DC and seeing all the great artifacts from decades of American culture and government. On that same trip, I went to the Newseum where I viewed hours of video from war correspondents and seeing documents that I previously only saw in textbooks or online. It made me feel great to be an American.
Did you know that as a Jew in Dallas, you have something similar that showcases the history of Jews in Dallas? The next time you are in the JCC, take a left at the front desk and go by the office of the Dallas Jewish Historical Society. You will see volunteers cataloging pictures from the earlier to mid-20th century of Jewish families who settled here. In the humidity-controlled Archive, you will see BBYO pictures from conventions in the 1960 and 1970s (yes I had hair back then) and collections of books, magazines, and other treasurers from decades of family collections. There are over 10,000 artifacts from people who donated family heirlooms or things from Dallas’s political history (campaign buttons and literature) or culture. Remember shopping at Titche’? There’s a collection from there. Did you shop at NorthPark when it open in the 1960s? We have promotional literature from its opening. We have Texas Jewish Posts going back 50 years. Talk about a Library of Congress – and it’s all in one place. Just ask our Archivist Alexus Ferguson to show you around.
If you don’t get by the JCC that often, look online at djhs.org. There you will find hundreds of oral histories from some of Dallas’s famous and not-so-famous Jewish residents who shared their journey to our area from places as far away as Russia and South Africa or as close as New York or Houston. Pretty fascinating stuff.
You can be a part of history too. If you have a family collection, come by the office and donate it to the Dallas Jewish Historical Society. We’ll take good care of it. Have a good story to tell about growing up in Dallas or why and how you moved here? Schedule an appointment to give a recorded Oral History. Your family will appreciate it for years. What a way to leave a legacy.
If you like what you see (and who wouldn’t?), we would love you to join us. Membership is only $72 (you can sign up on our website). There are also sponsorships available for programs the DJHS offers during the year. Just let Debra Polsky, our Executive Director, know how you can be a part of Jewish Dallas’ best kept secret.
I hope you join our family and be part of Dallas’s Jewish history.
Dallas Jewish History Society