Skip to main content

Henry Wise Papers

Identifier: P-944

Scope and Content Note

The materials in this collection primarily date from 1941-1942 and relate to Henry Wise in his role as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Institute of Jewish Affairs. It contains correspondence between Wise and a number of prominent figures within the organization, as well as minutes, reports, and publications pertaining to the activities of the Institute. It also includes biographical information about Wise and obituaries.

Of note is correspondence including signed letters from Beryl Harold Levy, Horace Kallen, Dewey D. Stone, Lincoln Filene, and Charles E. Wyzgarski, Jr. Also of note are the minutes for the first meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Institute of Jewish Affairs, and pamphlets produced by the Institute on their program and issues from the Jewish Affairs monthly magazine. It is arranged alphabetically.


  • 1941-2010


Language of Materials

The collection is in English.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for researcher use. Please contact us to request access or to make an appointment to view this collection at

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of this collection. For more information contact

Biographical Note

Henry Wise was born in the South End of Boston on July 14, 1896. He attended Boston Latin and went on to graduate from both Harvard College and Harvard Law School. Following his graduation from law school in 1921, he practiced in the Greater Boston area for 30 years. In 1927, he married Pearl Katz. Throughout his career, he specialized mainly in the areas of housing, fisheries, and labor law. In the 1930s and 1940s, he served as vice chairman and chairman of the Cambridge Housing Authority, as well as vice chairman of the Cambridge Committee for Plan E, which played a key role in the adoption of the city manager form of government. Wise also represented the Atlantic Fisherman’s Union of Boston for 25 years, and in the 1950s, as their lawyer, he helped draft legislation for a tariff on the importation of fish products with the revenue in turn being used towards research on fish resources and conservation. He also served as general counsel for the Cambridge Police Association from 1967 until his death, during which time he drafted and lobbied into legislation a law that gave Massachusetts police officers the right to bargain.

In 1942, Wise contacted the Institute of Jewish Affairs expressing an interest in becoming a member and provide any services he might be able to render them. The Institute was established in New York on February 1, 1941 as a co-operative effort between the American Jewish Congress and the World Jewish Congress. Its purpose was to examine Jewish life during the preceding 25 years, with the hope that it would give a better understanding to the situation of Jews at that time. Made up of scholars, the Institute of Jewish Affairs conducted scientific investigations geared toward explaining recent events surrounding Jews and to form a policy to protect Jewish rights post-war. Wise became a member of the Board of Trustees of the Institute of Jewish Affairs and worked to help the Institute further their reach beyond New York through his own connections in Boston, Ohio, and Texas.

Henry Wise also became an instructor and professor of law at numerous colleges in the Boston area, including law at Suffolk University, labor law at Wellesley College, and economics at the New York School for Social Research in New York City. He died on January 1, 1989 at the age of 92 at his home in Cambridge.


  1. Materials from the collection.


Born in Boston’s South End on July 14th.
Graduates from Harvard College.
Graduates from Harvard Law School and subsequently begins practicing law in the Greater Boston area.
Marries Pearl Katz.
Serves as vice chairman and chairman of the Cambridge Housing Authority.
Serves as vice chairman of the Cambridge Committee for Plan E.
Becomes involved with Institute of Jewish Affairs, serving as a member for the Board of Trustees.
Works as a lawyer for the Atlantic Fisherman’s Union of Boston for 25 years.
Serves as general counsel for the Cambridge Police Association until his death.
Dies at his Cambridge home on January 1st.


0.25 linear feet (1 manuscript box)


Henry Wise was a Boston-area lawyer whose practice focused mainly on housing, fishing, and labor, three areas in which he crafted important local legislation. In 1942 he wrote to the Institute of Jewish Affairs, a research branch created by the American and World Jewish Congresses, inquiring after membership. The Institute of Jewish Affairs was made up primarily of scholars, who took a scientific approach towards researching Jewish life from the previous 25 years. They hoped to better understand the current situation for Jews by looking at how the events in Nazi Europe were able to occur, as well as create policies that would protect Jews in a post-war environment. When Wise became a member of the Board of Trustees for the Institute he received a number of materials pertaining to its activities.

Physical Location

Located in Boston, Mass.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Rebekah Sachs in 2012.

Related Material

Processing Information

Processed by Kelsey Sawyer, 2012

Guide to the Henry Wise Papers, P-944
Processed by Kelsey Sawyer
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center at American Ancestors Repository

99-101 Newbury Street
Boston MA 02116 United States