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Boulder Action for Soviet Jewry Collection

 Collection
Identifier: COU:0159

Content Description

The Boulder Action for Soviet Jewry Collection (BASJ) contains administrative, research, and case files from the BASJ and The Center for Human Rights Advocacy. The Collection includes 82 record boxes containing various papers, photographs, and floppy disks, and 40 compact disk audio recordings. Books from the Collection can be found in the CU Boulder Library Catalog.

Dates

  • 1987-1997, Boulder Action for Soviet Jewry
  • 1987-2012, Maria Rogers Oral History Program

Language of Materials

English

Conditions Governing Access

This collection contains or may contain private and personally identifiable information (PPII). Researchers must sign the University Libraries’ Private and Personally Identifiable Information Agreement in advance of access to collection materials. Contact rad@colorado.edu for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

Limited duplication of materials allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Researchers may not make notes, reproductions (including photographs), or other record of any private and personally identifiable information (PPII) located in this collection and may not publish, publicize, or disclose that PPII to any other party for any purpose. Exclusions may apply to researchers who have obtained authorization from the University of Colorado Institutional Review Board to produce human subject research records in de-identified form. All researchers must sign the University Libraries’ Private and Personally Identifiable Information Agreement indicating their understanding of the use restrictions for PPII found in this collection. Contact rad@colorado.edu

Historical

As the Soviet Union began to crumble in the late 1980s, a group of Jews in Boulder organized to aid and resettle Soviet Jews who faced increasing discrimination from the Soviet state and refusal of their requests to emigrate (earning them the label of “refuseniks”). These Jewish Boulderites called themselves Boulder Action for Soviet Jewry (BASJ). BASJ worked as part of the national Soviet Jewry movement to aid these Soviet Jews, particularly those Jews in Dushanbe, Tajikistan (Boulder’s sister city), whose struggles were not known to many, if any, of the other Soviet Jewry advocacy organizations across the country.

After some of the first Dushanbe refuseniks gained permission to emigrate to the U.S. and expressed interest in settling in Boulder, BASJ organized a formal resettlement program to welcome and integrate Soviet immigrants into the Boulder Jewish and other communitiesBASJ then trained and assigned dozens of volunteers as home visitors and ESL tutors. The community came together to help them learn English, find jobs, and navigate the new society they had entered.

Boulder Action for Soviet Jewry Oral History Project:

A screening of the documentary film "Refusenik" at the Boulder Jewish Community Center on November 1, 2009 became the catalyst for the Boulder Action for Soviet Jewry Oral History Project. The film depicted the history of Jews in Russia and the Soviet Union during the 20th century, including the plight of Jewish "refuseniks," who were persecuted for seeking the human right to leave their country, and the American Soviet Jewry movement created to champion their cause. A local branch of this movement, Boulder Action for Soviet Jewry (BASJ), assisted refuseniks resettling in Boulder, Colorado between 1987 and 1997. The Boulder Action for Soviet Jewry Oral History Project produced a comprehensive body of oral histories about the work of Boulder Action for Soviet Jewry by recording interviews with a cross-section of BASJ organizers, board leaders, volunteer host families, ESL tutors, and medical professionals.

Members of BASJ identified who should be interviewed, contacted each potential narrator so the oral historians had immediate credibility, and helped guide the development of interview topics with the advantage of insider knowledge. The Maria Rogers Oral History Program, a program of the Boulder Public Library’s Carnegie Branch Library for Local History, brought 35 years of experience in the field of oral history and contributed a wealth of knowledge about oral history practice as well as the ability to archive and disseminate the oral histories through its existing online digital archive and social media vehicles such as a blog, Facebook, Tumblr, Vimeo, podcasts, and a YouTube channel. The Program in Jewish Studies at the University of Colorado offered an honors seminar as well as internships around the project, allowing students to obtain a rich academic background in the subject as well as training as oral history interviewers.

The Boulder Action for Soviet Jewry Oral History Project produced a comprehensive body of oral histories about the work of BASJ by recording interviews with a cross-section of BASJ organizers, board leaders, volunteer host families, ESL tutors, and medical professionals, in addition to a former refusenik whose family plight helped to inspire creation of BASJ and multiple generations of new Americans from the former Soviet Union who benefited from and/or received services from BASJ when resettling in Boulder, Colorado, between 1987 and 1997. This body of oral histories constitutes a comprehensive historical resource for research and understanding of the significance of this human rights and refugee resettlement organization.

These oral histories are available through the Maria Rogers Oral History Program at the Carnegie Branch for Local History of the Boulder Public Library. Together, these collections serve as primary sources of BASJ's work and constitute a comprehensive historical resource for research and understanding this Boulder human rights and refugee resettlement organization.

Extent

153 linear feet (102 total boxes 101 record boxes, 1 box of other type)

Abstract

Boulder Action for Soviet Jewry (BASJ) was established in 1987 as a nonprofit agency to advocate for and eventually assist in the resettlement of more than 250 refuseniks, including Soviet mathematician and human rights actvist, Naum Meiman. BASJ and The Center For Human Rights Advocacy, a nonprofit public interest law firm, continued their work advocating on behalf of more than 100 refuseniks from Dushanbe, the capital of Soviet Tajikistan and Boulder’s Sister City. After some of the first Dushanbe refuseniks gained permission to emigrate to the U.S. and expressed interest in settling in Boulder, BASJ organized a formal resettlement program to welcome and integrate Soviet immigrants into the Boulder Jewish and other communities.

Arrangement

This collection is arranged in the following series: Series 1: Maria Rogers Oral History Program, 1987-2012 Series 2: Research, 1987-1997 Series 3: Administrative, 1987-1997 Series 4: Case Files, 1987-1997 Series 5: Floppy Disks, 1987-1997 Series 6: Photographs, 1987-1997

Title
Boulder Action for Soviet Jewry CollectionCOU.0159
Author
Finding aid created by Jennifer Faus with assistance form Jane Thaler, 2017.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository

Contact:
1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States