02 December 2008

New library blog: Yeshiva University

Yeshiva University (New York) has started a YU Libraries Blog to share news about important additions to collections, new services, and to provide timely information at the school's Beren and Wilf campus libraries.

Recent postings have included journal articles of interest, such as Judaica Librarianship, published by the Association of Jewish Libraries. An article in the new 25th anniversary issue offers: "Yizkor Books in the Twenty-First Century: A History and Guide to the Genre," by Michlean J. Amir and Rosemary Horowitz.

I also did some looking around the YU Library site and found some interesting collections for Sephardic researchers interested in Egypt and France (see links below).

Another posting contains an online comprehensive guide to a major Soviet Jewry Collection. Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry Collection may now be viewed online.

The Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry (SSSJ) collection was donated to YU by Jacob Birnbaum, who founded the organization in 1964 and donated the collection in 1993.

This collection, one of the largest in the Archives’ holdings, documents the full scope of SSSJ's activities on behalf of Soviet Jewry, as well the condition of Jewry and individual Jews in the Soviet Union through numerous firsthand accounts. It includes case files of hundreds of individual refuseniks, correspondence, especially with Jewish “establishment” organizations and members of the United States and Israeli governments, newsletters and other SSSJ publicity information, clippings, thousands of photographs of SSSJ events, posters, buttons and other artifacts from SSSJ demonstrations, reports, and hundreds of sound and video recordings.

The collection has been used by historians, documentary filmmakers, authors and others in their work documenting the American Soviet Jewry movement, an area of growing interest among both scholars and the general Jewish public. In 2007, Jacob Birnbaum received a YU honorary degree for his achievements on behalf of Soviet Jewry.

There is a very detailed finding aid here, which indicates inclusive dates (1956-2006) and size of the collection: about 250 linear feet (350 manuscript boxes, 10 record cartons, 1 map box, 15 flat storage boxes and 40 artifact boxes). Contents include correspondence, questionnaires and statistical information on refuseniks, administrative and financial records, press releases and publicity material, newsletters, clippings, photographs, publications, reports, reel-to-reel tapes, audiocassettes, videotapes, CDs, and buttons, bumper stickers, posters, uniforms and other ephemera; mostly English, some Russian, Hebrew and Yiddish.

Sephardic researchers will also find details of collections from Egypt and France:

- An Inventory to the Jamie Lehmann Memorial Collection Records of the Jewish Community of Cairo, 1886-1961

- An Inventory to the French Consistorial Collection, circa 1809-1939 1809-1939.

Consistories were created by Napoleon I in 1808 to administer Jewish religious matters and facilitate the acculturation of French Jews. This collection contains diverse materials relating to Jewish communal life in nineteenth-century France, and includes personal and official correspondence, drafts, engravings, essays, community and organization records, accounts and financial records, petitions, demographical statistics, reports and membership lists. The Consistorial system was dissolved in 1905, after which some Consistories regrouped into Consistorial associations ("Associations consistoriales"). Materials in French, Yiddish, Italian, German, Hebrew.

For more information about YU's Archives, email them.

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