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Jewish Collections

Over 185,000 items

Jewish collections UCL Library Services holds printed, manuscript and archival collections of Hebraica and Judaica which are of national and international importance. The core of the collection was the Library of the philanthropist, scholar and community leader Frederic David Mocatta, deposited in 1905 by the Jewish Historical Society. The libraries of Sir Moses Montefiore, Moses Gaster, Hermann Gollancz, Israel Abrahams and Lucien Wolf were added before enemy action in 1940 destroyed much of the collections, apart from the rare books and manuscript material which was stored safely in the National Library of Wales. The main library collection was rebuilt from many sources, including the Salomons collections from the Guildhall Library, the collections of Asher Myers and Alexander Altmann were added later.

The Jewish Studies special collections include two of the most valuable illuminated manuscripts in the Library, an extremely rare 14th century Castilian Haggadah and a 16th century Mahzor, as well as eight incunabula including a 1480 edition of Summaripa's Martyrium Sebastiani.

Collections:

Altmann Archive

Professors Altmann (right) and Heschel approx 117 boxes

More recently the Library acquired the extensive personal archive of the leading scholar and founder of the Institute of Jewish Studies, Dr Alexander Altmann, (1906-1997) consisting of his books and papers. The papers, housed with Special Collections and awaiting detailed cataloguing, consist of the Altmann family archive as well as material relating to the Institute and Altmann’s own research, comprising memoirs, diaries, manuscripts, letters, photographs, audio-visual material, family history papers, and papers relating to his publications.The collection also includes papers from the Institute of Jewish Studies (I.J.S.)

Box list available

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Gaster Papers

Over 170,000 items

Carte de Visite style Photograph of Dr. Moses Gaster Correspondence and papers of Dr Moses Gaster (1856-1939), his family, and the family of his wife Lucy (née Friedlander), 1796-1973, dating largely from the 1870s to the 1930s, also including some material on Gaster's life and work which post-dates his death. Many papers relate to Gaster's activities in his official posts, notably as Haham, to his interests in Jewish affairs and Zionism, and as a scholar, but the collection touches upon a wide range of topics in late 19th and early 20th century history, including the history of Rumanian Jewry and Anglo-Jewry. The bulk of the collection comprises Gaster's correspondence, which includes letters from Jewish and Zionist organisations in Britain, Europe and Jerusalem, from newspapers, periodicals and publishers, and from a large number of individuals outside Gaster's family, including eminent British, European and American Jewish scholars, rabbis and public figures, such as members of the Adler, Gollancz, Mocatta, Montefiore and Rothschild families, and with non-Jewish public figures.

Gaster was born in Romania and settled in England after being expelled from Romania for protesting against the treatment of Jews. As well as letters from many important individuals of the day, the collection also contains Gaster’s own notes, manuscripts, illuminated certificates, photographs, press cuttings, posters, notices of lectures, ephemera, picture postcards and Victoriana. The subjects range from rabbinica and Judaica to philology, Slavonic and Oriental Studies, and refugee issues.

The collection was given to UCL in 1974, but was originally on loan from 1960.

Trude M.Levi The Gaster Papers, UCL Library, Occasional Publications, 2 (London, 1976), a biographical guide to Gaster's correspondents in the years 1870-1897.

A card index held in the Special Collections reading room gives the names of Gaster's correspondents. The collection is awaiting a complete catalogue and parts of the collection are restricted due to the poor condition or unsorted nature of the material.

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Goldsmid Letterbooks

Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid (1778-1859) 2 volumes

Albums of letters from various correspondents, 1828-1934, to Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid, 1st Bt (1778-1859). The papers are bound in two volumes, the first relating largely to negotiations concerning the Jewish Relief Bills, 1828-1834, and the second including the foundation of London University and various other financial, charitable and agricultural matters. There is apparently no systematic order within the two volumes, and letters from some correspondents are split between the volumes. Correspondents include prominent figures such as Michael Faraday, Elizabeth Fry, Daniel McConnell and Lord Wellington

Index available

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Institute of Jewish Affairs

9 outsize boxes

The archives of the Institute of Jewish Affairs, the latter containing rare printed literature relating to the British Fascist movement.

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Jewish Rare Book Collections

The Complete Works of  Flavius Josephus The Mocatta, Gollancz, Wolf, Solomons and Myers printed collections contain many items dating from the 16th-18th centuries, chiefly liturgies, Bibles, commentaries, editions of the Mishnah, works on the Cabbalah, polemical tracts, sermons, service books, grammars and dictionaries. Of particular note are the many editions of the works of Josephus and the Sefer Yosippon of Joseph ben Gorion.

Among the important collection of tracts on Anglo-Jewish history are Burnet’s The conversion and persecution of Eve Cohan (1680), George Foxe’s A visitation to the Jews (1656), The Jew’s Jubilee (1688), William Penn’s Judas and the Jews combined (1673), and Prynne’s A short demurrer to the Jewes (1656).

Also of note is a service book of the Roman rite, printed in Bologna in 1537, on vellum with gold initials. There is a presentation copy, inscribed by the author of Manassah ben Israel’s Mikveh Yisra’el: hoc est spes Israel (1650) and a Spanish translation of the same work that once belonged to Robert Southey. Finally there is an Old Testament, in Hebrew and English, presented by Mrs. Eliza Davis to Charles Dickens, and bearing the latter’s bookplate.

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Mocatta Pamphlet Collection

The Jewish Guardian The Mocatta Pamphlet collection comprises some extremely rare titles and covers a wide range of subjects including rabbinica, Zionism, and the State of Israel. A complementary collection of microfiche produced by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, containing copies of over 440 rare pamphlets from the late 16th to the late 19th centuries are also held in Special Collections.

The oldest Jewish periodical in England still in circulation, the Jewish Chronicle was launched in 1841. It remains to this day the most influential periodical in the Anglo-Jewish community, and a valuable research tool. UCL Library holds an almost complete set of the publication from 1844, the only publicly accessible set in the Greater London area.

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Montefiore Family Papers

Special Collections image 9 volumes

Letterbooks, diaries, account books and testimonials 1827-1884, of the philanthropist Sir Moses Haim Montefiore, 1st Bt (1784-1885), and letters of his nephew Nathaniel Montefiore, mainly to members of his family, c1850-1883.

Tributes and Testimonials on deposit from the Montefiore Trust

Outline handlist available
Handlist of testimonials available

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Society for the Promotion of Christianity amongst the Jews Archives (S.P.C.J.)

approx 38 boxes

Papers of the Society of the Promotion of Christianity amongst the Jews, comprising foundation papers, minutes, certificates, library records, centenary papers, acquired printed papers, mission records, correspondence and miscellanea.

Draft handlist available

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Soup Kitchen for the Jewish Poor - MS ADD 8

2 volumes

Minutes of meetings of donors to the Soup Kitchen for the Jewish Poor, Spitalfields 1854-1872. The collection consists of: minutes of Finance Committee meetings, 1858-1871; correspondence and papers, 1857-1888, including printed accounts, 1857-1858, 1869-1872, 1883-1884, letters, 1871, 1887, and printed notices of meetings, 1888.

Noted in D.K. Coveney, Descriptive catalogue of the manuscripts in the Library of University College (London, 1935).

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Trades Advisory Council Archives

27 volumes, 14 box files, 4 loose pamphlets

A democratic organisation encompassing Jewish traders, industrialists and professional men. The Trades Advisory Council was established in 1938 to advise the Board of Deputies of British Jews. It aimed to strengthen goodwill in industry and commerce, concerning itself especially with removing friction between Jewish and non-Jewish manufacturers, merchants and traders.

Special Collections holds the councils archives to 1983, comprising papers created by the organisation and other material relating to its concearns.

Draft handlist available

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Lucien Wolf Papers

27 boxes, 16 box files, 4 outsize boxes

Genealogical notes and notes on Anglo-Jewish history of the journalist Lucien Wolf, plus the Peace Conference diary of 1919.

Draft handlist available

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Last modified 9 January 2009

 
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