May 26, 2022

University of Washington Building Digital Library of Sephardic Language

From The Seattle Times:

Devin Naar wasn’t hired at the University of Washington to teach Sephardic studies. The young scholar, only in his late 20s at the time, actually came to the university in 2011 to teach modern Jewish history.

Then the local Sephardic community found out that Naar could speak and read Ladino — the language of the diaspora resulting from Spain’s expulsion of the Jews in 1492, a mixture of Spanish, Arabic, Turkish, Greek and other languages picked up in the lands where they settled.


The Ladino collection is among the nation’s largest, second to the one housed at Yeshiva University in New York. Among the finds is a rare book of ethics published in Istanbul in the 1740s and a 1916 book of advice to immigrants to the U.S., which among weightier matters carries a useful explanation of how to eat ice-cream cones. (Ice cream, Sephardic Jews had seen before. Ice cream cones, not so much.)


Naar and his small team are digitally scanning their Ladino materials to create what they believe will be the world’s first interactive, online Ladino library and museum. They have started to upload materials, along with English translations of key passages and historical context.

Much More About the Collection (Interesting!) in the Complete Seattle Times Article

Direct to Sephardic Studies Digital Library (via U. of Washington Libraries Digital Collections)

See Also: By the Numbers: Building the Sephardic Studies Digital Library (via U. of Washington Sephardic Studies Program

See Also: Direct to U. of Washington Sephardic Studies Program Homepage

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.