Although the Anti-Defamation League was founded to correct injustices toward the Jewish people, it later broadened its mission to seek justice and fair treatment for all social groups.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was founded as an American Jewish defense organization by the Chicago chapter of
At the 1908 meeting of the executive committee of B’nai B’rith, Rabbi
A few months before the founding of the organization that was finally named the Anti-Defamation League,
Livingston and fifteen leaders of the Jewish community convened the first meeting of the ADL in Chicago. They established a 150-member executive committee representing Jews across the United States. With a budget of two hundred dollars from B’nai B’rith and two desks in Livingston’s law office, the organization began its mission: “to stop, by appeals to reason and conscience, and if necessary, by appeals to law, the defamation of the Jewish people.” The league was also committed to securing “justice and fair treatment to all citizens alike.” One of the first actions of the ADL was to eliminate negative images of Jews in the media.
Leo Frank, whose lynching helped prompt the creation of the Anti-Defamation League.
The work of the ADL was carried forward through aggressive campaigns to educate people about anti-Semitism. Through the publication of pamphlets and short films, the league sought to eradicate negative stereotypes of Jews and to promote awareness of Jewish contributions to American life. However, serious attempts to defame Jews continued. For example, in 1920, industrialist
During the 1930’s, as
Following World War II, the ADL worked toward ending social discrimination against Jews, focusing on barriers against Jewish memberships in organizations and prohibitions in housing. The ADL also started a “crack the quota” campaign against anti-Jewish discrimination in college and medical school admissions. The league’s weapons were the media and the law.
Over the years, the ADL has fought discrimination against Jews and other groups. During the 1960’s, for example, the ADL was actively involved with the
Forster, Arnold. “The Anti-Defamation League.” The Wiener Library Bulletin 28, no. 33 (1975): 52-58. A detailed look at the background of the ADL and the league’s continuing efforts to combat anti-Semitism. Friedman, Saul A. No Haven for the Oppressed: United States Policy Toward Jewish Refugees, 1938-1945. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1973. Discusses how the intensification of Judeophobia in the United States led to the founding of the ADL. Grusd, Edward E. B’nai B’rith: The Story of a Covenant. New York: Appleton-Century, 1966. Describes the context that led to the founding of the ADL. O’Brien, Lee. American Jewish Organizations and Israel. Washington, D.C.: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1986. Includes general background on the ADL, including its founding, structure, and projects. Svonkin, Stuart. Jews Against Prejudice: American Jews and the Fight for Civil Liberties. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997. Focuses on the post-World War II activities of the ADL.
American Jewish Committee
Ku Klux Klan