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The American Antiquarian Society hosted an internship in the summer of 2016 to explore the Society’s Judaica holdings in detail, specifically targeting the later years of AAS’s collecting scope from 1841 to 1876. An overview of Judaic Resources was already available on the AAS website and the online catalog provided ready access to works from the early years of Jewish life in America (for which the Society has well over half of all known imprints). Items from the last thirty-five years of the Society’s collecting scope are not yet fully cataloged, though, and lack the bibliographic citations and subject access that would allow researchers to easily find Jewish material. It was unknown exactly how many works of Judaica—defined as something written or printed by a Jew, or dealing with Jewish subject matter—were located within AAS’s holdings from those later years, what type of sources this material constituted, and how scholars might utilize these holdings.

To help answer these questions, Princeton University undergraduate Claire Jones was hired for the summer as AAS’s first subject-specific intern through the Princeton Internships in Civic Service (PICS) program with funding generously provided by AAS chairman, Sid Lapidus. Her work resulted in:

  • Identifying approximately 450 Judaica titles already at AAS (roughly a quarter of all the known American Judaica printed during those last thirty-five years of AAS’s collecting scope).
  • Assisting the Society to target strategically and acquire dozens of additional titles with an emphasis on Jewish-authored publications.
  • Writing a series of blog posts providing an entertaining behind-the-scenes perspective on her research process and discoveries.

American Judaica, 1841-1876, is the culmination of her efforts to identify, improve upon, and publicize AAS’s mid-nineteenth century Jewish sources. It reflects the collection as it stands in the fall of 2016 – hopefully many additions will have to be made as AAS’s collection of Judaica grows!

AAS Credits

Creator: Claire Jones, intern

Web Designer: Caroline Stoffel, online services librarian

Photographer: Nikki Grdinich, photographer

Editor: Tom Knoles, Marcus A. McCorison Librarian

Supervisor & Editor: Elizabeth Watts Pope, curator of books

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