Special Collections is home to a variety of materials that are relevant to the interdisciplinary field of Jewish Studies. Materials, spanning the 16th century to the present, document and discuss Jewish life, culture, and religious thought from a multiplicity of Jewish perspectives. Also relevant are texts, often controversial, by non-Jewish authors. The bulk of the holdings span the 1840s to 1960s. Many works are pamphlets, often hard to locate elsewhere.
The primary languages represented are English, German, Hebrew, and Aramaic; however, the collection also includes works in Yiddish, Hungarian, Italian, Latin, French, and Spanish.
Ancient, classical Rabbinic, medieval, modern and contemporary texts are represented, including both original works and high quality, limited edition facsimiles. Facsimiles include illuminated manuscripts of, for example, Bibles and Passover Haggadot. Facsimiles of texts, for example of fragments from the Cairo Genizah and of the Dead Sea Scrolls, are also present. (A bibliography of facsimile manuscripts is included in this guide.)
From the Library of Temple Emanu-el B’ne Jeshurun
About 300 works, most published between 1840 and 1940, were donated to Special Collections from the library of Milwaukee’s Reform Temple Emanu-el B’ne Jeshurun. Most of these works, primarily pamphlets, are in English or German, but other languages are also represented. Sermons, catechisms, scholarly essays and addresses, reflections on Jewish education, culture and political developments are among the holdings.
From the Rabbbiner Seminar zu Berlin
Over 200 pamphlets bearing the ownership stamp of “Bibliothek des Rabbiner-Seminar zu Berlin” are held in Special Collections. The majority are in German – but some are in English, Hungarian, Italian, and French. Works, covering an impressive range of topics, date from approximately 1832 until 1937.
These texts, as well as the pamphlets from the library of Temple Emanu-el and others, were preserved through a generous grant of the Helen Bader Foundation.
The Morris Fromkin Memorial Collection
The Morris Fromkin Memorial Collection consists of printed sources primarily documenting American social justice from 1860 to 1950. This collection includes books and pamphlets on the subjects of “The Jewish Question,” anti-Semitism, early Zionism, conditions in Palestine, and Jewish charitable and cultural organizations. Of particular note is a small collection of scarce pamphlets (1920s- 1950s) on the relationship between Jews and Communism.
Although this collection contains relevant materials from as early as 1880, the bulk of the Jewish Studies materials in the Morris Fromkin Memorial Collection spans the 1920s through the 1960s.
Also of relevance are works by controversial figures such as Father Charles E. Coughlin and John Lincoln Rockwell, as well as rebuttals to anti-Semitic literature.
Arts and Literature
The Book Arts collection includes a number of works on Jewish and Biblical themes, both contemporary and facsimile of older works. Some illuminated and illustrated manuscripts are found in the Book Arts collection, while others are elsewhere within Special Collections. A variety of other artists’ books on Jewish themes are also included.
Additional genres represented include visual arts, poetry, novels, and several works pertaining to music, particularly Yiddish songs.
Special Collection holds a number of works pertaining to World War II atrocities, concentration camps (including personal narratives), and Nazism, including American Nazi Party publications, and Nazi-era German publications.