Friday, October 3, 2008

Germany: Three on-line databases for Judaic Studies to be introduced at Frankfurt Book Fair, October 16, 2008.

Germany: Three on-line databases for Judaic Studies to be introduced at Frankfurt Book Fair, October 16, 2008.

The International Library Centre in cooperation with Judaica Department at the Frankfurt am Main University Library, introducing three online databases in the field of Judaic Studies at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

The exhibition Noah’s Ark of Remembrance will demonstrate the availability to the international academic community of direct access to digitization projects in Jewish studies in the German-speaking world. According to Dr. Rachel Heuberger of the Judaica Department of the University Library Frankfurt am Main, “the exhibition shows how libraries are using new media to even further expand their sphere of influence.” At the Book Fair exhibition the digitalization process will be demonstrated first hand by specialists.

Worldwide access to these materials should greatly accelerate research on a wide variety of Jewish topics, including art, architecture and other cultural pursuits. As these databases come into use, ISJM will welcome feedback from users about the types of material available and new research questions that can be posed. Additionally, ISJM welcomes informal or official updates and reports from researchers about new observations and discoveries in regard to Jewish monuments.

With this digitalization project Germany is taking the lead in expanding research opportunities in some aspects of Judaic Studies. According to Dr. Heuberger, “combined, these magazines and newspapers represent a uniquely comprehensive source of information in the field of Jewish studies on the Internet. Scholars, and indeed anyone in the world who is interested, can have direct access to this research materials at any time.” By comparison, digitalization of American Jewish periodicals lags far behind. Readers are encouraged to send in links to newly digitized research materials.

According to information provided by the Frankfurt Book Fair to ISJM, the Frankfurt Library databases present the following classes of information:

Editions in Yiddish

The wide-ranging database makes Yiddish literature available on the internet free of charge. The collection comprises around 800 valuable books held by the library. The works reflect the diversity of Yiddish literature from the 16th to the beginning of the 20th century in Western, Central and Eastern Europe - from translations of the scriptures for women, to everyday and utility literature such as educational introductions and medical manuals, and also including the classics of national Jewish fiction and poetry.

Printed in Hebrew characters, the texts include many extremely rare books as well as some unique specimens. The oldest book in this collection dates back to 1560 and is from Cremona, followed by a printing from Basel from 1583. The illustrations in some of the works, the so-called Minhagim books, have served over the centuries as depictions of Jewish customs.

Compact memory - Jewish periodicals in the German-speaking world

The internet archive provides online access at no charge to the most important Jewish periodicals and newspapers from the 19th and 20th century through to 1938. The publications cover all religious, cultural and political aspects of Jewish life in Central Europe, making this a significant reservoir of sources for research into the Judaism of modern times.

The online database has achieved international recognition with its inclusion in the UNESCO archives portal whose quality seal is displayed on the homepage.

Virtual collection of Judaica

With its development now under way since 2007, this database will make available on the internet in full text versions a total of 18,000 predominantly German-language books on Judaism with approx. 2 million pages dating from the 17th century to 1932. At the present time, the database already includes 3,000 volumes with approx. 400,000 pages. As a result of the Third Reich and the Second World War, the Frankfurt University Library’s historic collection of Judaica - known internationally as the Freimann Collection after its former curator - is no longer complete. The aim of the DFG-funded project is to record and digitize all parts of the collection which, as a “virtual Judaica collection” is to be made available worldwide to all those who are interested. The virtual reconstruction of the historic collection provides a resource that in its completeness will be an indispensable tool for research.

With three digitization projects, the Frankfurt am Main Jewish Museum will present “Jewish Life in Frankfurt am Main - Online”:

Infobank Judengasse online - detailed information on the history of the Frankfurt street, the Judengasse, the people who lived there, its houses and life in the ghetto.

Ostend - the east district – an overview of a Jewish quarter – the history of a Frankfurt district and its Jewish inhabitants
Frankfurt am Main 1933 - 1945 - an account of the Nazi years
in Frankfurt.

For further information, see:

Rachel Heuberger:
Die Bestände der Judaica- Sammlung auf dem Weg ins Internet

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