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Canadian Jewish Heritage Network Launches Website

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August 23, 2011.

The Canadian Jewish Congress Charities Committee National Archives (CJCCCNA) and the Jewish Public Library Archives (JPL-A) are proud to announce the launch of a new website, The Canadian Jewish Heritage Network, at www.cjhn.ca. The major funding for this project came to the Canadian Jewish Congress Charities Committee from the Samuel and Saidye Bronfman Family Foundation. Ongoing support is being provided thanks to the Alex and Ruth Dworkin Foundation.

As two of the major organizations involved in Canadian Jewish historical research, both located in Montreal, CJCCCNA and JPL-A preserve the memory of Quebec and Montreal’s Jewish poets and politicians, its artists and activists, its builders and teachers, its families and philanthropists. Now you can visit the collections from the comfort of your own desk, searching the online catalogue for archival collections dating from the 18th century onwards. Using the site's selection cart, you can select, e-mail, print or order archival material directly from the web.

What you see on this website is a seamless blend of two repositories' holdings; actually a virtual ‘mind-meld’ of two institutions into a single functional entity helping researchers. Through designing the web site together we have a new awareness of the specifics of each others’ collections and how they relate to each other; knowledge which we now pass on to our researchers. After building this platform it has also become natural for us to consult each other in areas of archival acquisition, and in our approaches to educating the interested public via the website and beyond it.

More than 25,000 database records from our archival collections are currently online, as well as over 1,500 digitized historic photographs and archival documents. Many complete multi-page documents are available in PDF format. The digitized documents now available include minutes, annual reports, anniversary publications, sermons, and ephemeral material.

Users of the site can also delve into the CJHN's genealogical research database, which already contains over 54,000 genealogical records and over 5,000 associated images. This aspect of the project was funded by a special donation from Penny Rubinoff of Toronto. Speaking at the site’s June 6 launch, Rubinoff noted: “Genealogy is a fanatical pursuit for many of us and on-line non-census historical Canadian data on Jewish families have been lacking, especially compared to many other countries. It will not only be Canadians who benefit from this database but genealogists around the world whose families have had Canadian roots.”

Archives are not really about the past, rather we must constantly plan for the future: how will we preserve this for another five hundred years; who is going to use this archive fifty years from now; what will they need and why and so on. With this in mind we know that we will continue to push the limits of the CJHN site. We hope you will come back and watch us grow!