This collection contains a sampling of petitions that were circulated by the Jewish Peoples’ Committee of New York. These petitions, which were sent to the President and to Congress, urged the passage of House Joint Resolution 637. This Resolution provided for the admission of refugees into the United States. These petitions included signers’ names and addresses and were maintained by the Visa Division.
In the period of time surrounding 1938, quotas were in place as to how many visas could be issued by the US State Department to various immigrant groups. At this time, a large number of German Jews wanted to leave Germany and come to the United States in 1938. House Joint Resolution 637 was introduced in an effort to raise the quota for immigrant Jews.
These records are petitions from Jewish persons already residing in the United States urging Congress to approve this Resolution. Unfortunately, due to general anti-immigration sentiment in Congress because of the Depression as well as anti-Semitism on the part of a few in Congress, the resolution was not approved and no extra visas were issued.
For more information, here is a 1938 letter to the Editor in a Chicago newspaper about the pending resolution.