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Annette Levy Ratkin
Jewish Community Archives
The history of the Jewish community of Nashville began with "five families and eight young men" in 1851. The Archives of the Jewish Federation serves as the repository of this history. It is a collection of the stories, records, photographs and documents of the families that settled and grew in Nashville as well as the businesses and organizations that have made Nashville strong and vibrant.
The Annette Levy Ratkin Jewish Community Archives collects the records of the families, businesses, and institutions of the Nashville Jewish community, which began in1851. Housed in the Library of the Gordon Jewish Community Center, the Archives has the records of such organizations as the Nashville Section of the National Council of Jewish Women, 100 years old in 2001, Hadassah, B’nai B’rith, and the Jewish Community Council, which became the Jewish Federation.
Microfilms and hard copies of The Observer, which began publication in 1934, and its predecessor The Y.M.H.A. News, which was first published in 1915, are in the Archives. An oral history audiotape collection, sponsored by the NCJW, documents the memories of older adults who grew up in Nashville and has been transcribed. An oral history collection, sponsored by the Jewish Federation, records on DVD the experiences of Holocaust refugees, survivors, and liberators. Tombstones dated prior to 1900 from The Temple Cemetery, which became a part of the National Register of Historic Places in 2004, have been photographed, documenting their inscriptions.
All documents and photographs are stored in acid-free containers and are available to researchers under supervision of the archivist. Users have included university and high-school students doing research on Nashville Jewish history and the Holocaust, Jewish organizations celebrating their anniversaries, and exhibits on local families.
What happens today will be history tomorrow, and the Archives seeks to preserve the records of all Jewish people from Nashville, whether here for six generations or six years. Please consider donating your family’s papers to the Archives, so that they will become a part of the history of the Nashville Jewish community.
Our History DVD
"A Caring Community the History of the Jews of Nashville," a multimedia program that traces the development of this community through the use of original source material, is available by contacting Lynn Fleischer, Archivist, at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is available in DVD and VHS from the Archives for $10 plus postage.
Personal narratives are interspersed with factual accounts which combine to reveal a panorama of important historical events. The audiovisual program graphically demonstrates how a small group of Southern Jews organized itself to respond to the local, national and international events that shaped its history.