The Institute of Jewish Affairs was established in New York under the auspices of the American Jewish Congress and the World Jewish Congress on 1 February 1941, based on proposals made by Dr Jacob Robinson to the American Jewish Congress in 1939 and 1940. Its aims were to conduct a thorough investigation of Jewish life over the preceding 25 years, to establish the facts of the position of the Jews during World War II, to determine their causes and to suggest how Jewish rights might be claimed in a post-war settlement. In pursuing this last, it was to focus on the rehabilitation of the Jewish population in Europe where it was possible and they were willing to remain in their homes. Where that was impossible and on the question of emigration, it was to take as its premise that `the National Home in Palestine is the primary solution of the problem of Jewish migration'. Its research initially focused on political science and law, economics, migration and colonisation, and post-war reconstruction, encompassing a watching brief on events affecting the Jews in all countries. As well as its programme of research, the Institute was established to collect documentation and to index holdings of other institutions, particularly on aliens, anti-Jewish measures, recent aspects of anti-Semitism, autonomy, colonisation, exchanges of population, migrations, minorities, nationalism, nationality and citizenship, plebiscites, race hatred, refugees, relief, self-determination, small states, the territorial questions of World War I, war and peace aims, and war and post-war changes. The Institute moved to London in 1965, maintaining its programme of research and publications into contemporary issues affecting Jewish communities across the world. Among its regular publications are ANTI-SEMITISM WORLD REPORT, EAST EUROPEAN JEWISH AFFAIRS, and PATTERNS OF PREJUDICE, along with series of research reports, and analysis and intelligence reports. The Institute was renamed the Institute for Jewish Policy Research in 1997.
As an international documentation centre of the first importance, the collections of the Institute of Jewish Affairs subsumed the archives of part of its parent organisation, the London office and British section of the World Jewish Congress. The origin of the World Jewish Congress can be found in the co-operative efforts by Jewish communities around the world in religious, legal, political and relief matters. In 1919 the Comite des Delegations Juives was established, led by Leo Motzkin, and after three preparatory conferences, the first World Jewish Congress convened in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1936. 280 delegates represented the Jews of 32 countries under the leadership of Stephen Wise and Nahum Goldmann. With the outbreak of war in 1939, the seat of the World Jewish Congress moved from Paris to Geneva. The World Jewish Congress was involved in relief activities during World War II and subsequently with the plight of refugees and the problems of post-war reconstruction. Since 1945, it has continued to take an active interest in Jews across the world and human rights, co-ordinating policies and activities of Jewish communities.
From the guide to the Papers of the Institute of Jewish Affairs, 1913-1991, (University of Southampton Libraries Special Collections)