Page 79 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 28

Basic HTML Version

K
a g a n o f f
— A
m e r ic a n
J
e w is h
H
is t o r ic a l
S
o c ie t y
73
and public use and expand its professional staff. After many
years of searching, and at the kind invitation of Brandeis Uni-
versity, the Society constructed its own building in Waltham,
Massachusetts, adjacent to the University campus. The new build-
ing was dedicated in May, 1968, and consists of a three-story struc-
ture with complete humidity and temperature control. In addition
to a reading room, four carrels, and extensive stack areas, the
Society also has three exhibit galleries where it can place the
materials it has accumulated over the years on public view.
The Society3s Varied Collections
From its very beginning, the Society’s objective was the collec-
tion and preservation of all material shedding light on the history
of the American Jewish community. These collections represent
the largest accumulation in one institution. They also reflect the
conscientious effort to gather materials not generally found in
other libraries, thereby enhancing our knowledge of the Amer-
ican Jewish experience.
As of 1970 the library contained 42,000 books and pamphlets.
These include titles dating from the 17th century to contemporary
times. Material published before 1850, which is considered of
extraordinary historic significance, is included in the Rosenbach
Collection, named after Dr. Abraham S. W. Rosenbach, a former
president of the Society who compiled the first comprehensive
bibliography of such material published in 1926. This listing has
appeared as Volume 30 of the Society’s journal,
Publication of the
American Jewish Historical Society.
The Library Committee of the Society attempts to interpret
in the broadest possible manner what areas should be included in
its acquisition policy. The collections comprise approximately
6000 Hebrew titles of which 80% are rabbinic books. They in-
elude books by American rabbis and scholars published in the
United States or abroad, and also any title, regardless of author-
ship, with an American imprint. In the last ten years the Society
has attempted to obtain all classic rabbinic works photo-offset
in the United States, as no other library was making an effort to
do so.
In addition, the Society has approximately 10,000 Yiddish
titles which have appeared in the United States as the product
of American or other authors. All the other books and pamphlets
are primarily in Western languages; they deal with materials of
historic content and indeed anything creative produced by
American Jews. Thus the Society’s holdings include a compre-
hensive collection of the belletristic writings of American Jewish
authors.