Category Archives: Hebraica and Judaica

Collections News | January 2020

Here are some new and updated finding aids, reflecting work by archivists in archival processing, collections management, and university archives. – KWS

embroidered flowers and birds

Arthur Mitchell Papers

“Arthur Mitchell (1934-2018) was an American ballet dancer, choreographer, and founder and director of the Dance Theatre of Harlem. This collection contains materials related to his career as a dancer with the New York City Ballet, and his later professional work with the Dance Theatre of Harlem and others. The collection includes administrative records, appointment books, correspondence, invitations, notes, notebooks, photographs, programs, and audio and video recordings.”

Goodie Publications Archive, 1999-2009

“Goodie Publications featured interviews with subjects who played a major role in shaping NYC’s cultural underground from the 1960s and earlier through the 1990s to the present day.
From Judith Malina and Lionel Ziprin to Debbie Harry, Gregory Corso, Edgar Oliver and Penny Arcade to lesser known but equally important luminaries, these interviews and related materials are a treasure trove for students, historians, researchers and authors interested in the art, music, literature, politics and everyday life of the period.”

Gail Mary Killian and Stephen Desroches sound recordings, 1970-2003

“The majority of the collection’s interviews were taken by Gail Mary Killian and document her life in the 1970s-1980s as a woman living with Down syndrome in Eastern Massachusetts.”

* This fascinating oral history collection will shortly be sent to our external vendor for digitization. Continue reading

What is this place? A short intro to RBML

That is the question we hear a lot at the beginning of the new academic year as students explore Butler Library and end up here, in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, aka “The Pink Palace.”

pink castle design and acronym rbml

Is there difference between a “castle” and a “palace?”

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML) is Columbia’s principal repository for primary source collections.  The range of collections in the RBML spans more than 4,000 years and includes rare printed works, cylinder seals, cuneiform tablets, papyri, and Coptic ostraca; medieval and renaissance manuscripts; posters; art; comics & cartoons, and oral histories.

Forming the core of the collections: 500,000 printed books, 14 miles of manuscripts, personal papers, archives and records, and 10,000 (and counting) oral histories.

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New from RBML’s Archivists | August 2019

rows of archival boxes in a white room

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

Head Archivist Kevin Schlottmann shares collections newly opened or updated by RBML’s Archivists.

New finding aids

Yehudah Joffe papers, 1893-1966, bulk 1920-1945
“The collection consists of Joffe’s correspondence, manuscripts/notes, and newspaper clippings. Joffe’s correspondence in Yiddish in English is both personal and professional, covering communication with institutions he was working at or hoping to work at. Joffe’s manuscripts contain drafts for lectures and notes on university seminars and lectures he attended under Prof. Roman Jakobson and others. Joffe’s newspaper clippings contain a selection of clippings relating to Prof. Peck, his undergraduate advisor, and miscellaneous clippings.

Agudath Israel Records, 1933-2008, bulk 1940-1947
” This collection consists of autograph signed letters, typed signed letters, postcards, telegrams, printed material, programs, newspaper clippings, and written public announcements pertaining to the Agudath Israel movement in America, Eretz Israel/Palestine, and Lithuania. Most materials are dated during the 1940s (wake of WWII). Most letters are addressed to Rabbi Aaron Ben Zion Shurin. The materials are mainly in Hebrew and English with some in Yiddish. Most materials concern the role of Orthodox Jewry in the wake of the Holocaust.”

Andrew Alpern Collection of Edward Gorey Materials
“A collection of original artwork, published books, printed ephemera, and branded merchandise by the writer and artist Edward Gorey (1925-2000), assembled by Andrew Alpern.”
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Librarian Jane Siegel picks favorites from the RBML collections

The Current, a journal of contemporary politics, culture, and Jewish affairs at Columbia, stopped in to the RBML to speak with Jane Siegel, Librarian for Rare Books.

She’s all-around fount of knowledge about how so many of our rarities and oddities came to reside in Butler Library.

Read more about Jane’s career here in the Libraries and which items in the RBML’s vast repository are her favorite. Yes, we play favorites.

Summer Processing of Hebraica and Judaica materials

During the summer, as things quiet down on campus, we often turn to large processing projects, providing further access to many of our otherwise unknown holdings.  This summer has been no different in the Hebraica and Judaica collections.  In past years, our talented students have cataloged about 2000 rare printed Hebrew books, which can now, thanks to their work, be accessed via CLIO.

Vilner Trupe “Yoyvelbuch,” 1931

The major focus of this summer’s work will be archival processing. Due to the tireless efforts of Kevin Schlottman, RBML’s Head Archivist, our archival collections can now be found much more easily. We’re ensuring that once someone requests a formerly unprocessed collection, it will be easier to study the collection thanks to updated finding aids and description.

Sandra Chiritescu, a Ph.D. candidate in the Yiddish department, has been tackling our many Yiddish collections. Sandra has been working in the RBML for quite some time, and did an incredible job reprocessing the massive Language and Culture Archive of Ashkenzic Jewry and creating a finding aid for that collection as well as that of Marvin Herzog, who led the project for decades after the untimely death of its founder, Uriel Weinreich.

Poster from the Szajkowski collection

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A King’s College/Columbia founder’s contributions to Hebrew Studies

Judaica Librarian Michelle Chesner keeps you updated about new acquisitions, collection finds and exhibitions in Jewish Studies at Columbia. In this post she shares some revelations about  Revered Samuel Johnson’s connection to the study of Hebrew. Samuel Johnson was the founder of King’s College (renamed Columbia after the American Revolution), and its sole faculty member until 1757.

Title page of Samuel Johnson’s grammar text

Talk | Re-embracing the Lachrymose Theory of Jewish History: Dialogue with a Columbia Tradition

October 30, 2018 @ 6PM
Faculty House Garden Room 2

Norman E. Alexander Lecture in Jewish Studies

In his multi-volume social and religious history of the Jews, Salo Baron, one of the most influential Jewish historians of the 20th century, decried how Jewish history had been told and retold as an endless tale of woe. Instead, Baron stressed that, in the diaspora, Jews did not necessarily suffer more than other members of the societies in which they resided, and often lived creatively within Christian and Islamic lands.

This evening Benjamin Gampel will explain how Baron’s claims about the Jews grew out of the social and religious landscape of the early twentieth century Europe. Gampel will argue, based on his understanding of medieval Jewish history, that a newer understanding of the lachrymose history of the Jews could well be seen as an appropriate way to appreciate the saga of this minority people and be of importance, as well, to the social and religious challenges facing contemporary Jewry.

Co-sponsored by Columbia University Libraries, Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies.

Telford Taylor and the Precedent of the Nuremberg Trials

Archivist Christopher M. Laico shares the significance of the Telford Taylor Papers as the collection relates to International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

U.S. Brigadier General Telford Taylor addresses the Tribunal

U.S. Brigadier General Telford Taylor addresses the Tribunal. Telford Taylor Papers; Box 214, Folder 139; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

DATELINE: Washington, DC, 9 May 1949. In a statement to the International News Service, U.S. Brig. Gen. Telford Taylor announced the official end of the Nuremberg Military Tribunals. Taylor declared: “I venture to predict that as time goes on we will hear more about Nuremberg rather than less, and that in a very real sense the conclusion of the trials marks the beginning, and not the end, of Nuremberg as a force in politics, law and morals. . . . It is a precedent which will be welcomed by all who believe that peace and human dignity will find their surest guarantee in the establishment of ‘world order under the rule of law.’ ”

This Saturday, January 27th marks the internationally recognized date for Holocaust Remembrance Day, which commemorates the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. As we remember the victims of the Shoah , we gain solace in Telford Taylor’s fulfilled prophecy that the precedent of the Nuremberg Trials has become a force in international politics, law and morals.

SS Major General Otto Ohlendorf and SS Brigadier General Heinz Jost (front to rear), two principal German defendants of the Einsatzgruppen “commandoes” trial in Nuernberg, in the dock preparing their final pleas during a court recess.Telford Taylor Papers; Box 214, Folder 113; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Educating ourselves about the historical events associated with the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust also plays an integral role in coming to terms with its horrible memories. The Telford Taylor Papers provide one such important educational tool. In the Papers, scholars from many disciplines will find the papers a rich primary source for the International Military Tribunal (1945-46) and the Nuremberg Military Trials (1946-49). Beyond the trial transcripts, correspondence, speeches and writings will enable students and academics to trace the fifty-year development of Taylor’s nuanced conception of the Nuremberg Trials and their historical importance as he witnessed such events as the Adolf Eichmann trial and the Vietnam War.

Dr. Leo Alexander, Boston psychiatrist and neurologist, called to witness stand along with witness Jadwiga Dzido of Warsaw, Poland. Telford Taylor Papers; Box 213, Folder 79; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

In conclusion, the Telford Taylor Papers represent an integral part of the Columbia University Libraries archival mission – to foster the global exchange of ideas, to promote world class scholarship, and to train highly skilled human rights advocates. On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, therefore, we as citizen advocates honor the victims of the Shoah by recommitting ourselves to the precedent of the Nuremberg Trials and guaranteeing the peace and human dignity of all persons through a world order established under the rule of law.