06 February 2008

Digitized Frankfurt 'Memorbuch'

An important source of German Jewry genealogical data, the Frankfurt Memorbuch, has been made available online by the Shapell Family Digitization Project of the National Library of Israel.

The 1,073-page vellum manuscript documents the deaths of important community members of Frankfurt am Main, over some 300 years (1628-1907). They are mainly in the form of Yizkor prayers followed by biographical data.

There is an introduction (English and Hebrew) on the Memorbuch by the late scholar Cecil Roth, as well as indexes (only in Hebrew) for pages and dates.

The Memorbuch opens with a poem written in 1712 telling of a 1711 fire in the Frankfurt synagogue which destroyed the old Memorbuch. The poem goes on to relate how, at the initiative of Eliezer Leizer Oppenheim a new Memorbuch was prepared, and that the entries for 1628 to 1711 were copied into it from the communal burial records (leaves 5a-57a). The new entries begin on leaf 57a with the death of Frumet, the wife of Eliezer Leizer Oppenheim.

The entries brought over from the burial records are very brief. Those written for the Memorbuch record primarily important members of the community (entry in the Memorbuch required payment). Deaths of infants, strangers and the poor were generally not recorded.

Click here for the complete English introduction and the Hebrew indexes.

The Jewish National University Library also offers a very good selection of web links here for additional sources of information in many categories.

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