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History of the archives

The history of the Upper Midwest Jewish Archives dates back to 1984 with the creation of the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest.

Four members of the Berman family stand by the sign for the Berman Upper Midwest Jewish Archives
Photo taken during open house to commemorate the Berman's gift to the University of Minnesota Libraries. Left to right: Jan Berman, Theresa Berman, Sharon Berman Snyder, Phillip Snyder

The history of the Upper Midwest Jewish Archives began in 1984 with the establishment of the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest (JHSUM). A group of Jewish community members, concerned about preserving the stories of the earliest Jewish settlers in the Midwest, began collecting materials from individuals and local Jewish organizations who donated their materials. Located at the Sabes Jewish Community Center in St. Louis Park, JHSUM hosted events, mounted exhibits, published journals, as well as collected archival materials. In 2001, former Governor Elmer L. Andersen extended an invitation to JHSUM to place parts of its collections with the University of Minnesota Libraries.

In 2002, JHSUM founders Nathan and Theresa Berman created an endowment for portions of the collections to reside at the University of Minnesota Libraries, and the archives were named the Nathan and Theresa Berman Upper Midwest Jewish Archives as a permanent memorial to their vision. From 2002 to 2012, only a portion of JHSUM's collections were resided at the University. Finally, in 2012 the remaining portions of the collections were donated by JHSUM in perpetuity to the University. The materials that make up the Upper Midwest Jewish Archives serve as a valuable resource for historical research, exhibitions, and public programming.

The Upper Midwest Jewish Archives continues to work together with the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest in programming, outreach, and research with local Jewish communities.