Hebrew and Judaica Manuscripts Project
Between 2014 – 2015 at the behest of Michelle Chesner, Norman E. Alexander Librarian for Jewish Studies, PDCD staff completed a project to make a number of previously photographed Hebrew and Judaica Manuscripts fully accessible to the world on the Internet Archive. Here is some background from Michelle:
“Columbia’s Hebrew manuscript collection is one of the largest in the country, behind only the Jewish Theological Seminary and Hebrew Union College. It was, however, unknown by many due to a lack of cataloging and exposure until recently. After a generous donation from the Norman E. Alexander Foundation endowed funds for Judaica in the libraries in 2010, CUL was able to catalog nearly all of the manuscripts in the first step toward accessibility. The next step was an exhibit of the manuscripts in 2012 – 2013. A partnership with the National Library of Israel yielded digitized images for many of the manuscripts that had been previously unrecorded, and they became accessible via the NLI’s Institute for Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts and their new Ktiv interface for digitized Hebrew manuscripts. Posting the images to the Internet Archive allowed us to create a space to highlight the manuscripts at Columbia (the NLI sites contain manuscripts from all over the world) and it has become a place to point to for a sampling of our extensive collection.” — Michelle Chesner
In PDCD, we worked from Michelle’s detailed spreadsheets to derive new catalog records for the electronic versions of the materials. We then used Photoshop to crop and deskew them and uploaded them in large batches into their own special subcollection on Internet Archive. We also updated all the records in OCLC and Voyager so that the materials will be findable both as objects on Internet Archive, but also through OCLC First Search, the international bibliographic database.
There are now 244 titles in this very rich collection, containing numerous ketubot (marriage contracts), Torahs, books on poetry, fairy tales, astronomy and numerous other topics. Many are brightly illustrated, like the ones featured in this post.
Here is a link to the full collection on Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/culhebrewmss