People in a Joint Distribution Committee Transmission Bureau to Send Money to Relatives Overseas


During World War I, Americans who had relatives living in the war zones sought ways to send help to their families. The Joint Distribution Committee of American Funds for the Relief of Jewish War Sufferers (later the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, both names abbreviated as JDC) was formed in 1914 to send aid, including food, clothing, medicine, funds, and emergency supplies, to the stricken Jews of Europe. The war left in its wake many additional catastrophes—pogroms, epidemics, famine, revolution, and economic ruin—and after the war the JDC continued to play a major role in rebuilding the devastated Jewish communities of Eastern Europe and in sustaining the Jews in Palestine. In September 1915 the JDC created a special Transmission Bureau as a vehicle through which families in America could transfer funds to their relatives trapped in the war-torn countries. This project was the work of Harriet Lowenstein, the JDC’s first comptroller, who single-handedly ran the bureau until the scale of the demand required her to hire assistants. The JDC soon opened branch bureaus nationwide to meet the growing needs of people wanting to transfer funds. This branch office for the transmission of individual remittances was located at 98 Second Avenue, New York City, a neighborhood populated by immigrants. The photograph is from the archives of the JDC, which contain documents, photographs, film, video, oral histories, and artifacts recording the work of the organization from World War I to the present.

Last updated: March 4, 2016