Records of the Dominican Republic Settlement Association (DORSA), 1939-1977

Language of Description
1939 - 1977
Level of Description

Scope and Content

In 1938, President Roosevelt invited 32 governments to consult with U.S. representatives at Evian, France, on refugee problems, and the participants created an Intergovernmental Committee for Refugees (IGCR). For IGCR Reports on Refugees 1938 - 1940, and on Refugee Settlement in the Dominican Republic, see Files 45a - 45b.

At the first IGCR meeting, Generalissimo Trujillo offered to admit into his country as settlers up to 100,000 refugees from Europe. Promptly, the Refugee Economic Corporation and the President's Advisory Committee on Political Refugees—under Executive Secretary George L. Warren—launched feasibility studies on settlement prospects. Other studies followed, notably one by Dr. Joseph A. Rosen, President of the Agro-Joint. He recommended the tract of Sosua, with its 26,000 acres on the north shore of the island, as a desirable location.

In October 1939, Generalissimo Trujillo announced that 500 refugee families would be admitted immediately under the auspices of the IGCR in the wake of discussions conducted with the President's Advisory Committee and the JDC. By then, the Agro-Joint had wound up its activities as the JDC operating agency in the USSR, and was ready to apply its great fund of experience to the field of agricultural settlement for Nazi refugees. Accordingly, it offered a commitment of $200,000 from its residual assets towards the launch of a settlement undertaking in the Dominican Republic under the auspices of the Dominican Republic Settlement Association (DORSA). DORSA was incorporated in New York State; James N. Rosenberg was elected President and Joseph A. Rosen Vice President. Over the years, DORSA received other large-scale allocations from the Agro-Joint.

In mid-January 1940, negotiations were opened between the Dominican government and DORSA. James Rosenberg was a key participant and the diary of his trip to the Dominican Republic—see File 9—offers interesting sidelights on the progress of the negotiations. On January 20, Generalissimo Trujillo offered the Sosua tract for the new settlement. DORSA accepted the offer and the formal agreement was signed on January 30

Finding Aids

  • Arrangement and description of the DORSA Collection was originally produced by Emil Lang.

Existence and Location of Copies

  • The records in this collection have been digitized and are searchable online through the textual collections portal of the JDC Archives database. Microfilm copies of the material are also available on 13 reels labeled according to folder range.


  • It should be noted that the DORSA files pertain to Sosua almost entirely. Refugees also inhabited Ciudad Trujillo, the capital city. Aid to them was channeled via the Joint Relief Committee in that city, and the data may be found in the following collections:

    Records of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee 1945-1954, Files 227-231 Records of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee 1955-1964, Files 161-162

Archivist Note

JL according to the description collection on the JDC website:

Rules and Conventions

EHRI Guidelines for Description v.1.0

Corporate Bodies