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Industrial Removal Office Colorado Correspondence

Identifier: B171


The Industrial Removal Office (IRO) was created in New York to Americanize Eastern European Jews, find jobs for the immigrants, and relocate them throughout the United States. The Jewish Relief Society and the Independent Order of B'nai B'rith (B'nai B'rith) in Denver worked to resettle the immigrants in Colorado. Lesser Levy and Milton Schayer headed the industrial removal committee of the B'nai B'rith. The collection contains copies of correspondence from the Industrial Removal Office Records held by the American Jewish Historical Society.


  • 1903-1916


Language of Materials

The correspondence is in English.

Biographical / Historical

Between 1899 and 1903 a large wave of Romanian Jews fled to New York. The “Rumanian Committee” was formed in New York to find jobs and move the Romanian immigrants to other parts of the United States. The Committee evolved into the Industrial Removal Office (IRO) and began aiding any unemployed Jewish immigrants. In 1901 the Denver lodge of the Independent Order of B’nai B’rith established a “Rumanian Refugee Committee,” later the IRO Committee. Goals of the IRO were to aid Eastern European Jews become part of American society and resolve some of the burdens on relief societies in the overcrowded eastern cities. Between 1900 and 1917, of the 80,000 immigrants dispersed throughout the country by the IRO, 2791 immigrants were settled in Colorado. The Jewish Relief Society of Denver was very involved in the early years of resettlement. In 1906 Congress passed the Galveston Plan, making Galveston, Texas another entry station into the United States in an effort to discourage new Jewish immigrants from settling in New York and other eastern cities. Many of the Galveston immigrants were sent to Denver, provided they could be supported by families and did not have tuberculosis. The Jewish community of Denver before the 1880s, was primarily German or native-born, but by 1910 the Eastern European Jews would greatly outnumber the Americanized Jews of German descent. Lesser Levy was chairman of the B’nai B’rith Removal Committee from 1901 to 1907 and Milton Schayer was Chairman from 1907 to 1914 when the IRO Committee was disbanded.


0.5 Linear Feet (1 legal document box)

Scope and Contents

The material is copies of correspondence of the Industrial Removal Office in New York and relief organizations in Colorado from 1903 to 1916. Correspondents include the Jewish Relief Society of Denver, the Jewish Consumptives' Relief Society, National Jewish Hospital, the Denver lodge of the Independent Order of B'nai B'rith, and the two Colorado IRO committee directors, Lessy Levy and Milton M. Schayer.


The correspondence is arranged into seven series: 1. Jewish Relief Society, 1903-1911. 2. Central Jewish Aid Society, 1916. 3. Jewish Social Service Bureau, 1913-1915. 4. NJH, JCRS, and B'nai B'rith, 1906-1919. 5. Milton M. Schayer, 1907-1914. 6. Lessy Levy, 1906-1907 7. John Livingston Paper on IRO, before 1999.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of the American Jewish Historial Society, October 20, 1977.


No further accruals are expected.

Related Materials

Related collections include the Records of the Industrial Removal Office, I-91, at the American Jewish Historical Society in New York and the Independent Order of B'nai B'rith Lodge #171 (Denver, Colo.) Records, B009 in the Beck Archives.

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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives Repository

2150 East Evans Avenue
Denver CO 80208
(303) 871-3428