During World War II with the Nazi rise to power, more than 2,000 titles from the Wissenschaft des Judentums or Science of Judaism texts housed at the Frankfurt Library in Germany were either destroyed or dispersed. More than half of the lost titles, cataloged at Leo Baeck Institute (LBI) located at the Center for Jewish History in New York, will now be digitized to reconstruct the collection, thanks to a digital humanities grant awarded to the Center from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
This $300,000 project will begin in September and will take approximately 2 years to complete.
“The Wissenschaft des Judentums volumes housed at LBI will fill in the missing gaps of Frankfurt’s collection, thereby virtually recreating a pre-Holocaust Jewish library,” says Carol Kahn Strauss, Executive Director of Leo Baeck Institute.
“This collection is considered the library of Jewish scholarship and through digitization will be reconstructed and accessible for future generations,” says Michael S. Glickman, COO of the Center for Jewish History.
According to Jim Leach, Chairman of the NEH, “The NEH grants awarded will promote new areas of research and make the breadth of human experience more understandable and knowledge more accessible.”
This initiative is jointly funded by the NEH and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation or DFG), the German government’s funding mechanism for the humanities. The project will digitize 1,000 books from the Wissenschaft des Judentums (Science of Judaism) movement that are housed in the LBI collection at the Center and combine them with related volumes at Frankfurt University, whose extensive holdings amounted to the largest Judaica library in Europe before the Holocaust.
The funds will also pay for the bibliographic cataloging and metadata encoding necessary to integrate the digitized books into Frankfurt’s catalog as well as optical character recognition to make the full text of the books machine searchable.
As a result, scholars will be able to search, cover to cover, the world’s foremost collection on an influential period of Jewish scholarship as it existed before 1933 and access the content from anywhere in the world instantly.
See Also: We First Mentioned the “Science of Judaism” Project in a July 27, 2011 INFOdocket Post About New National Endowment for the Humanities Funding