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Department of Manuscripts and The Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts - National Library

The Department of Manuscripts and the Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts share a common reading room.
Depart of Manuscripts
Address: Hebrew University Campus Safra, Givat Ram, Jerusalem    GET MAP
Phone:   972-2-658-5055 
Fax: 972-2-658-69201771
Until 1934, this was the only institution that would accept archival material in Palestine. Over the years, it has accumulated documents for the study of the Jewish people in its homeland and in the Diaspora, with special emphasis on the last few generations. It also actively solicits records and information from Jewish genealogists.
Archives are catalogued by subject matter; manuscripts are not, and are kept separately. Ask the librarian to help you check the manuscript list. Do not overlook this resource; many researchers have had great success here.
The collection of betrothal and wedding contacts is indexed. These are listed by year and name of community where the event occurred. Ask about mohel registers, also, as well as British consular files (call number ARC4 1513). The consular files include lists and documents of Jewish residents of Acre, Damascus, Haifa (Caiffa), Hebron, Jaffa, Jerusalem, Safed and Tiberias. See ISRAEL STATE ARCHIVES for an explanation of the value of the consular records. Ketubot = marriage certificates are on the JNUL website.
A microfiche has been prepared of all the finding aids to the Manuscripts and Archives Collection. It may be ordered from Interdocumentation BV, P.O. Box 11205, Leiden, The Netherlands. The archives director answers mail inquiries and can send requested photocopies by mail for the cost of postage and copying. Upon request, he has been able to find students who can be hired to do translations and other research.
This department has many valuable collections, but the catalogue cards are written in Hebrew. The card catalogue for the pinkassim, translated into English, is found in Appendix H. Another collection, Toledoth Israel Bibliography, also has much valuable genealogical material. Ruth Rigbi of the Israel Genealogical Society and Esther Ramon, president of the society, copied all of the entries and translated them into English. The list may be found in Appendix I.
A great number of private archives, family records, family trees and genealogies are held by the JNUL. See Appendix J for a list of these resources.
The material is in Hebrew, English and other European languages.
The Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts
Address: POB 34165 Jerusalem 91341    GET MAP
Phone:   972-2-6585022 
Fax: 972-2-6511771

The Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts (IMHM) has undertaken the task of collecting microfilm copies of all Hebrew manuscripts extant in public and private collections. Over 70,000 reels, representing more than 90% of known Hebrew manuscripts are available for the use of scholars and interested laymen. The IMHM located in the Jewish National and University Library offers scholars a unique facility to study, compare and collate Hebrew manuscripts found in distant locations on different continents. All the vast printed resources of Hebraica and Judaica are available in the same building. Adjoining the IMHM are the Department of Manuscripts of the JNUL housing 10,000 original MSS and the Hebrew Palaeography Project which is conducting research on the codicology and palaeography of medieval dated Hebrew MSS.

Community Records including vital records--Pinkassim
Included in the microfilm collection are many pinkassim of communities or community organizations. Since everything in this division is written in Hebrew, knowledge of the language is essential for on-site research. If one does not read Hebrew, photocopies may be made for later translation. The Institute has lists of the place names represented, as well as an index by country. The director is a native Canadian, so English speakers will have no difficulty communicating with him. Below is a partial list of pinkassim, arranged by country. For additional information, consult the librarian.
Austria: Vienna
Czechoslovakia: Holleschau, Nikolsburg, Prague
Germany: Altona, Alzey, Allenstadt, Berlin, Besenbach, Brandenburg, Buedesheim, Cleves, Darmstadt, Frankfurt-am-Main, Fuerth, Halberstadt, Hanau, Hannover, Hidesheim, Koenigsberg, Mainz, Mattenbuden, Nuernberg, Offenbach, Portenheim, Ruedesheim, Worms
Greece: Janina, Saloniki
Hungary: Nyirbator
Israel: Hebron, Jerusalem, Petach Tikva, Netivot
Italy: Florence, Modena, Reggio, Torino, Verona
Latvia: Pilten
North Africa: Perregaux, Sefrou
Poland and Lithuania: Berestowice, Bialystok, Brest-Litovsk, Bucaczowce and Eastern Galicia, Choroszcz, Cracow, Dubno, Grodno, Karlin, Kiedan, Kobryn, Komarno, Kovno, Kozlov, Lanckornoa, Petrykow, Pinsk, Poznan, Radonitz, Schmiegel, Schoenlank, Shadek, Sniatryn, Troki, Vilna, Wegro, Wilimpol, Wlodawa, Zaldow
Romania: Bendery, Bucharest, Transnistria
Turkey: Tire (near Izmir)
USSR: Balta, Berdichev, Brovary, Dubosary, Horki, Kamien, Kiev, Koidanov, Kopyl, Minsk, Mozyr, Ozarycze, Peschanka, Radorkowvicze, Romanovo, Siebez, Slutzk, Smitovice, Starkonstantinov, Turetz, Uman
Yemen: San'aa

Verdadsky Library (Kiev) Manuscripts
In 1994 the Institute began to microfilm manuscripts at the Vernadsky Library in the Kiev Academy of Sciences. Included in that collection are a number of register books valuable to genealogists (see list below). The work is still in progress; check with a librarian to determine which films are available.

Balta, Podolia Bar, Podolia
Baranovka, Volyn
Berdichev, Kiev
Demievka, Kiev
Feodosia (Kafa),
Igumen, Minsk
Kanev, Kiev
Korets, Volyn
Letichev, Podolia
Lutsk, Volyn
Medzhibozh, Podolia
Milan, Italy
Miropol, Volyn
Mitau (Jelgava), Latvia
Nesvizh, Minsk
NikolaevOstropol, Volyn
Pavoloch, Kiev
Peschanka, Kiev
Rubezhevichi, Minsk
St. Petersburg
Siena, Italy
Slavuta, Volyn
Smoliany, Mogilev
Staro konstantinov, Volyn
Suwalki, Vilna
Talnoe, Kiev
Troianov, Volyn
Vinnitsa, Podolia
Vitebsk, Belarus
Volozhin, Vilna
Zaslav, Volyn

Collection on Genealogy and family history--family trees
The Manuscript Department has the following small collection of family trees (1993). Ask the librarian to direct you to the proper catalogue listing.
Bachar (Bulgaria)
Oppenheimer (Grenau-Hannover)

Manuscript collections--Montefiore Censuses of the Jews in Palestine
Copies of the 19th century Montefiore Censuses of the Jews of Palestine are located here; the originals are in Jews College, Albert Road, Hendon, London. The is the best source for 19th century Palestine records.

The censuses, written in Hebrew script, were taken in 1839, 1849, 1855, 1866 and 1875. They reportedly include most Jewish residents in the country, but many small settlements (in the Galilee especially) do not appear. Not every location appears in every census. For the benefit of the researcher, an index is appended to the 1839 census. It lists places of origin as they appeared in Hebrew in the census, together with their spelling in Roman characters. A designation of the countries they were in both then and in 1987 also is noted, in the event that a change had occurred.

Special forms were printed in English and Hebrew, with columns for name of head of family, where he was born, his age and what year he made aliyah (emigration to Israel), his financial position and trade, if any. In addition, the name of his wife and the number of children (those over 13 and those under 13) were also recorded. In many cases, children's names were specified.

The Montefiore Census included entries for widows and orphans, both male and female, as well as separate forms for communal organizations. These included yeshivot (schools of advanced Jewish study) and talmudei torah (religious schools), synagogues, committees for visiting the sick, chevrot kadisha, and more. Each listed the names of committee members and their position on the committee, as well as a description of the budget and activities of the group.

An excellent guide to the 1839 census is A Census of the Jews of Eretz Israel 1839 (Assouline 1987). It has a brief English introduction and an index. Robin Naftalin, a member of the Israel Genealogical Society who has used the censuses, notes that the town listed in the census as Shekhem is known today as Nablus; an Ashkenazic congregation may appear in the censuses as Germans, while a Sephardic congregation may appear as Portuguese or Ma'arav; the kollelim (organizations by geographic origin) are mainly Ashkenazic and are listed but there is no detailed list of kollel names. Also included among the censuses is a 1840 enumeration of the Jews of Alexandria, Egypt; it may be found on reel number 1, listed under 556. See Appendix K for more details on the Montefiore Censuses. See The 19th-Century Montefiore Censuses (Rosenstein 1992) in Appendix L.

In 1839, the Jewish population of Palestine was predominantly Sephardic; most residents had come from locations in the Ottoman Empire. Many of these places are no longer part of Turkey, but are in states that achieved independence after World War I, such as Bulgaria, Greece and the former Yugoslavia. Although the Ashkenazic population comprised less than one-third of the total Jewish population, its members came from many more localitiesmost of them under Russian rulethan did the Sephardim.

As with Sephardic places of origin, many of the Ashkenazic birth places changed hands, some more than once. Parts of Poland once under Russian rule became part of an independent Poland after World War I, but returned to Russian domination after World War II. Galicia, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the last century, became Poland after World War I and was divided between Poland and the USSR after the Second World War.

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