Page 53 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 24

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THE L I BRARY OF THE DROP S I E
COLLEGE
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1909, two years after the founding of The Dropsie College
for Hebrew and Cognate Learning in Philadelphia, the Dropsie
College Library was established. L ittle could Moses Aaron
Dropsie, founder and benefactor, and Dr. Cyrus Adler, first
president of the College, have known tha t in the course of the
next fifty-seven years the nucleus of their personal libraries,
which numbered about 5,500 volumes, would grow into one of
the most un ique libraries in this area, w ith approximately 85,000
volumes and 350 current periodicals.
Moses Aaron Dropsie, student and collector of rare and varied
literature, had donated his collection of invaluable law books,
accumulated during a lifetime of studying the law. Also included
in his collection were importan t Dropsie papers and valuable
volumes of general literature and theology.
Dr. Cyrus Adler, former librarian of the Smithsonian Ins titu ­
tion at Washington, D. C., donated several thousand volumes
in Semitic languages and literature. He later donated some
Oriental manuscripts, many Geniza fragments and some Demotic
and Coptic papyri he had brought back from his many travels in
the Near East.
These two collections were temporarily housed in the cramped
quarters of the old Gratz College. When the building of
Dropsie College was erected in 1912, the library was formally
dedicated with a nucleus of 5,500 volumes, covering Biblical and
Rabbinical literature, Semitic languages and Jewish history.
At this time the Maecenas of Jewish libraries, Judge Mayer
Sulzberger, presented a small collection of Oriental manuscripts
and archeological objects. During the early years he continued to
present the library with numerous Oriental manuscripts, Baby­
lonian Assyrian cuneiform tablets and twenty Hebrew incuna­
bula.
Although the Dropsie College Library is not the oldest Jewish
library in America, it houses and incorporates two of the oldest
private Jewish libraries in the United States. One of these libraries
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