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Uncovering UCL’s Jewish Pamphlet Collections: an update

By Vanessa Freedman, on 29 April 2015

The first phase of the project to catalogue the Jewish pamphlets at UCL Special Collections is now nearing completion, with over 3,000 pamphlets catalogued. There are now detailed records in Explore for each pamphlet, making this rich collection available for use by scholars and the general public.

The pamphlets catalogued so far date from the 17th century onwards, the greater part from the 19th century, approximately 150 from the 18th century, a handful from the 17th century, and the rest from the 20th century.

Advocacy of Jewish freedom

‘The Author listening to the speech of Baron Lionel de Rothschild …’. Frontispiece of Advocacy of Jewish freedom / by “William Thornborrow”. London, 1848. From the collection of the Guildhall Library. Ref: SR MOCATTA PAMPHLETS BOX 9

The pamphlets come from the collections of various individuals and organisations including philanthropist, historian and bibliophile Frederic David Mocatta (1828-1905); Canadian rabbi Aaron David Meldola de Sola (1853-1918); Asher Myers, editor of the Jewish Chronicle (1848-1902); historian Albert Montefiore Hyamson (1875-1954); scholar and founder of British Liberal Judaism Claude Goldsmid Montefiore (1858-1938); the Guildhall Library; the Jewish Museum of London; Jews’ College Library; and the Offenbach am Main Archival Depot (located in the American Sector of postwar Germany, its objective was to collect books, manuscripts and archival materials taken by the Nazis and return them to their country of origin).

The pamphlets catalogued so far relate to a wide range of subjects including: the Jewish community in the United Kingdom and the colonies, its legal status, economic and social conditions and educational and religious institutions; anti-semitism; missionary activities focused on the Jews; and Zionism. There is some interesting liturgical material, such as special services marking the dedication of particular synagogues and events of major national interest, such as the safe recovery from childbirth of Queen Victoria. There are also several 18th century celebratory Hebrew poems from Italy and the Netherlands.

Esther's suit for the Jews

‘Esther’s suit for the Jews’. Frontispiece of Esther’s suit to King Ahasuerus in behalf of the Jews. In a letter to a member of Parliament. London, 1753. Ref: SR MOCATTA PAMPHLETS BOX 8

On Thursday the 14th of May, there will be an evening pop-up event at UCL to present some of the most interesting items from the collection: details to follow.

Anyone wishing to consult the collection should make an appointment with UCL Special Collections at least two weeks in advance.

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