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Archive for the 'History' Category

Dispatches from the Magnes Working Group on Modern Jewish Culture: An Inquisition Effigy Doll

The Working Group on Modern Jewish Culture is an exciting new initiative of The Magnes, supported by the Townsend Center for the Humanities at the University of California, Berkeley. The Working Group meets monthly, and benefits from the participation of faculty, Magnes curators, and graduate students in Jewish Studies and other area studies. Its ongoing [...]

Between History and Mistery: Imaging “The Synagogue of the Chinese Jews” (1827)

I am delighted to share a guest post by Albert Wu, PhD candidate in the Department of History at UC Berkeley. It resulted from conversations we started at THATCamp Bay Area 2011 (a digital humanities conference we both attended), and continued with a shared exploration of the holdings of The Magnes, both online and on [...]

Processing Sherith Israel: Alexander Badt, Secretary and Temple Historian Extraordinaire

One item I found in processing the cemetery records of Sherith Israel was an intriguing plot book from the congregation’s old Giboth Olam Cemetery (located at what is now Mission Dolores Park in San Francisco). What makes the volume so intriguing is a lengthy note written on its first page: The note reads as follows: [...]

Processing Sherith Israel: Bundles of Fun

I have been working on the financial records of Congregation Sherith Israel. The congregation has had a number of secretaries and collectors over the 160 years of its existence. The one that dominates this collection is Alexander Badt, secretary of Sherith Israel for more than three decades. He steered the congregation’s daily operations through the [...]

“This Night, We All Recline.” The Magnes Collection Passover Survival Guide

The symbology of Passover, the Festival of freedom, liberation, emancipation, or self-determination – depending on how one interprets the Hebrew definition of the celebration, חג החרות, chag ha-cherut – is difficult to escape. Ritual objects and material culture do not shy away from these interpretations, and instead enhance them by pointing to the practical implications [...]

Nahl Brothers in the Magnes collection

I encountered the above portraits while processing the Glazier family papers.  They were done by the Nahl Brothers in 1869 in San Francisco.  The subjects are probably Simon and Clara Glazier. The Nahl Brothers were important artists of the Gold Rush era and painted many portraits of life in the California gold mines. They also [...]

An archival treasure: Harris Weinstock’s travel diaries

I confess to a certain obsession with Harris Weinstock’s travel diaries, which are part of our collection of Harris Weinstock papers (formerly collection # WJHC 1969.035). I am currently cataloging this collection and working out the conservation issues presented by the diaries, so I am getting a nice close look at them. Weinstock kept during [...]

Between Past and Future: The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life Comes to Bancroft (Bancroftiana, Fall 2010)

Frances Dinkelspiel tells the history of the Judah L. Magnes Museum and the establishment of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life at The Bancroft Library in the Fall 2010 edition of Bancroftiana, Newsletter of the Friends of The Bancroft Library.

The Wimpel (Torah Binder) Collection

A “Torah binder” is a Jewish ceremonial textile used to keep a Torah scroll closed tightly when it is not being used for synagogue reading. In some Jewish communities in Germany and Eastern Europe, Torah binders were made from the linen or cotton cloth used to cover new-born males during the Circumcision ceremony (brit milah). The [...]

Celebrating Archives, National Parks, and the Great American Historical Record

To mark American Archives Month and California Archives Month, as well as the history of our National and State Parks and the history of the Jews of the Western United States, here are a few images of Yosemite from the wonderful archival collections of the Magnes.