About Us

The year 2010 marks the 250th anniversary of the settlement of Jews in present-day Quebec. As descendants of that initial settlement, the Montreal Jewish community is fiercely proud of its contributions and participation in the historical narrative of this city. The depth of these contributions is very clear when examining the “third wave” of Jewish immigration; the period beginning in 1890. Consisting of mainly impoverished Eastern European Ashkenazi Jews, the struggling population still managed to create a strong and diverse community of artists, politicians, doctors, poets, journalists, educators, jurists and activists. Between 1896 and 1939 the Montreal Jewish community created, among others, its own schools; teacher training programmes; philanthropic organizations; sporting clubs; sick benefit associations; unions and labour advocacy groups; libraries; orphanages and hospitals.

To celebrate and share this diverse and storied past, the Jewish Public Library Archives proudly presents Jewish Montreal of Yesterday, a website devoted to bringing to the public digitized archival materials that tell the story of a community. The site contains:

  • Community image galleries
  • Digitized archival publications and documents
  • Virtual walking tours
  • On-line historical graphic novels
  • Free education kits and learning resources
  • Jewish Montreal heritage blogs from the Jewish Public Library Archives and guest institutions

A number of large processing and digitizing projects are currently happening in the Archives. Our student archivists are uncovering huge amounts of fascinating material. All of our blog posts come from these discoveries. Please leave comments and let the students know what you think of their work!

Current Blog Series

This Week in JPL History – This weekly blog series celebrates key moments and events in the 100 years of JPL’s history. The blog hopes to share with its readers a full portrait of the Library and all that it is about. This series is generously supported by the Peter and Ellen Jacobs Virtual Archives Fund.

The Y Project – The YM-YWHA turns 100 this year! To honour its incredible past, the YM-YWHA and the Jewish Public Library Archives have joined forces to properly arrange, describe and preserve their archival material. Most of the oldest materials have been untouched for decades. Various volunteers and students will continue to report on discoveries in the ‘Y’ collection as they are found.

Lea Roback Fonds – Lea Roback was monumental in the labour movement in Quebec and Canada. Her archival materials have been organized at the Jewish Public Library Archives since 2001. Public History undergraduate student Catherine though spent her internship indexing Lea’s correspondence as well as digitizing large amounts of Lea’s photographs.

Sam Gesser Fonds – Join Archive Studies graduate student Janice as she spends her practicum digitizing the celebrity archives of Montreal impresario Sam Gesser. Sam’s work during the latter half of the 20th Century paved the way for Montreal’s status as a centre of arts and culture.

For more information, questions or comments, contact:

Jewish Public Library Archives, Montreal

(514) 345-2627, ext. 3015

[email protected]

The Jewish Public Library Archives is generously supported by the Alex Dworkin Foundation for Jewish Archives.

This project was made possible through the Canadian Cultue Online Program of Canadian Heritage, Library and Archives Canada and the Canadian Council of Archives.

 Canadian Heritage Canada