Sisterhood 1896

By Laura Gottlieb and Robbie Terman

Have you ever wondered if your family’s history might be hidden amongst the many boxes of our community’s archival collections? Were you too busy to go on a treasure hunt, or unsure of where to start? Well, we just made it easier for you to explore.

The Center for Michigan Jewish Heritage, home to the collections of the Rabbi Leo M. Franklin Archives of Temple Beth and the Leonard N. Simons Jewish Community Archives of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, has just launched a combined database for their online collections.

What does this mean? On one website, you can discover historical photographs, documents, films, oral histories, objects, and guides to collections owned by both archives. Never before has so much primary source material on Jewish Michigan been available at your fingertips!

Keep in mind that the digital database is a small but growing representation of each collection. More digital material is being added daily. If you cannot find what you are searching for or need guidance, archivists are ready to help! Contact Laura Gottlieb from the Franklin Archives at or Robbie Terman from the Simons Archives at for assistance.

Please enjoy a sneak peek of some of the images you will find on the database below, and to explore more, visit:

(Click on photos to see captions.)

About the Archives

The Rabbi Leo M. Franklin Archives collects, maintains, and makes available records pertaining to Michigan Jewish history with a vast majority related to Temple Beth and its functions. As the first Jewish congregation in the state, Temple Beth El’s Franklin Archives incorporates materials from earl Jewish Detroit to its prominent members and the organizations they helped build. Franklin also houses the Jewish War Veterans of Michigan’s archival collection.

The Leonard N. Simons Jewish Community Archives collects, preserves, and makes available the original historical documents of Jewish Detroit. Its collections include organizational records, and personal and family papers. Since its inception in 1991, Simons has amassed more than sixty collections, two million documents, and 25,000 photographs. It also has a robust oral history program and is the home of the Irwin I. Cohn Michigan Jewish Cemetery Index, a free database of more than 65,000 burials.