Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The collection is a compilation of gifts from numerous donors, of documents relating to Judaism in numerous countries and the United States. Documents include betrothal contracts, bills of divorcement, eulogies, memorial plaques, candle labels, Jewish calendars, sukkah decorations, certificates of ritual slaughter, prayers, poems, sermons, and other types of documents.
The Judaica Collection at the Smithsonian is the oldest of its type in the United States. The archival collection is comprised of various documents, prints, sukkah decorations, marriage contracts, and memorial candle labels from Europe and the Middle East. The bulk of the collection was transferred in the 1960's to the National Museum of History and Technology (later, the National Museum of American History). A portion of the collection (artifact-related) still resides in the National Museum of Natural History. For a detailed description of items found in the collection see Cohen Grossman, Grace and Richard Ahlborn. "Judaica at the Smithsonian: Cultural Politics as Cultural Model." Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology, Number 52, 1997.
The first Judaica collections were acquired by the Smithsonian specifically for the World's Columbian Exposition in 1890. The next large Judaica collection was acquired in 1902 with the purchase of a torah case and Sukkah ornaments from Ephraim Deinard, bibliophile, Hebrew author and independent book dealer. A native of Latvia, Deinard immigrated to the United States in 1888. By 1913, Deinard had amassed a large collection of Judaica from Europe and the Middle East. He eventually deposited, between 1920 and 1927, almost 600 objects to the Smithsonian. The collection remained on loan until 1955 when Deinard's heirs donated the collection. It was 10 years later with the opening of the National Museum of History and Technology (National Museum of American History), that there was a renewed interest in collecting Judaica objects. A small number of Judaica objects have been acquired since then. The archival collection is housed at the Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection was donated by the following donors:
J.H. Kantrowitz.,Purchase,1889; Mrs. S. Sulzberger, Gift; Leopold Luchs, Gift; Dr. Cyrus Adler ,Gift; Mayer Sulzberger, Purchase; Rev. Henry Cohen, Gift.,1897; William Wesley and Son, Purchase; Father S. Krauss, Gift.,1902; S.S. Howland, Bequest.,1902; Ephraim Deinard, Purchase.,1902; Mrs. Simon Kann,Gift.,1920; Henry S. Hartogensis,Gift,1920; Ms. L. Lieberman,Gift,1924; Ephraim Deinard,Gift; Cara Goldberg Marks, Michael Neil Marks.,Gift; Michael Harris, Gift, 1982; Richard E. Ahlborn,Gift, 1986; Sylvia E. Lipkowitz, Gift, 1987; and Neeman, Zipora,Gift, 1988.
Collected from various donors by the Division of Cultural History (now Division of Cultural and Community Life). One donor, Ephraim Deinard, donated the vast majority of the collection, having acquired the documents during travels to the Near East, North Africa and Europe. Transferred to the Archives Center in 2008.
Division of Cultural History Judaica Collection, 1639-1980, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Conditions Governing Use
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012