Page 80 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 28

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Especially important for historic research is the library’s exten-
sive collection of periodicals, with over 2000 titles in Western
languages, Hebrew and Yiddish, starting with the first publication
in 1823. A section of the library is devoted to the reports,
bulletins and other published material of national and local
Jewish institutions. In addition, a geographic cross section of
synagogue, community center, and similar agency publications
are retained for research purposes. These number approximately
100,000 items.
T h e Society also possesses two other significant collections of
material, both presented by Dr. Abram Kanof of New York
City. One consists of approximately 500 Yiddish theatre posters
dating from the last decade of the 19th century—a major resource
for the study of the cultural life and adjustment of the East
European immigrant to American society. The second comprises
over 2000 titles of Yiddish theatre sheet music, representing
approximately 95% to 98% of all such published items. I t should
be pointed out that both collections have been utilized to a very
large extent by scholarly institutions, art museums and educa-
tional publishers interested in this aspect of American Jewish
life.
The Society also collects general American newspapers con-
taining information or data relating to Jews. To date there are
over 2000 individual issues, primarily from the 18th and first
half of the 19th centuries. The library has also accumulated
several thousand photographs of prominent American Jews and
also scenes depicting American Jewish life. And finally, the
Society has been the recipient of a substantial number of original
paintings dating from the earliest known group of family paintings
in America of the Franks family, done in the 1720’s, through the
20th century.
A survey of the Society’s library published material would indi-
cate that approximately two-thirds has been presented as gifts.
Among the prime benefactors have been Dr. Rosenbach, who
has been responsible for the extensive collection of early American
imprints; Dr. George Alexander Kohut, who has been the source
for early American rabbinical titles, and Max J. Kohler, who
presented substantial material relating to the subject of immigra-
tion in the United States.
The Society’s most important possession is its manuscript col-
lections, which render it the prime resource for research in
American Jewish history. They now number approximately two
million items, and circumscribe the whole gamut of American
Jewish history and accomplishment. Some of the more important
collections will herein be enumerated.