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 [...]
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.
In this group of Flickr “sets” the Magnes presents online for the first time a wide selection of digitized items from its Western Jewish Americana and Global Jewish Diaspora archival collections. The decision to give direct access to (often unprocessed) archival digital files reflects the attempt to integrate digitization technologies and social networking with traditional [...]
Theresa Ehrman (b. 1884-d. 1961) was a teenager when she travelled from San Francisco to Paris to live with Michael and Sarah Stein. She could hardly have imagined what would await her. The daughter of Jennie Rosenthal Ehrman and Herman Ehrman, Theresa grew up in San Francisco, where she nurtured her talent as a pianist. [...]
Since its inception in 1962, the Magnes has strived to represent the Jewish experience in all of its manifestations: material culture, the visual arts, music, historical documents, and of course text. This has resulted in a multi-faceted collection that provides a wide-angled perspective on culture and history in the Global Jewish Diaspora. This diversity of holdings also presents a challenge. How can materials traditionally stored in distinct repositories – Archives, Libraries and Museums – all coexist under the same roof? How can they best be preserved? And, most importantly, what kind of access can be provided to them?
Access to a collection is determined by how the collection itself is described to the public. The question, then, is how can archive, library and museum collections be described within one and the same context. In this post, I am sharing with our readers a series of thoughts that were debated over the last two years among the Magnes staff: in which “collections” do the holdings of the Magnes belong? And, more to the point, what constitutes a “collection”?
We are working hard this summer to ensure that the Magnes’ amazing archives, manuscript and rare book holdings are properly inventoried, processed, and described for our researchers and users . We are blessed with a wonderful summer intern, Stella Liberman, who is diligently inventorying our rare book collection. With her valuable work, the Magnes will [...]
We use the term ephemera to describe all sorts of works printed or written on paper that had only a temporary usefulness and were never intended to last very long. Our collection contains everything from memorial and devotional plaques to calendars, pictures, synagogue seating plans and donation recorders, all of them collected and sold or donated to the museum at one time or another by curators, donors, volunteers, and members of the community seeking an appropriate home for their treasures and curiosities.
Ephemera offer a look into all sorts of interesting corners of the Jewish community – ephemera blog # 1 introduces us to the Jewish community of Tlemcen, Algeria.
Check out the new US House of Representatives’ tribute to Representative Florence Prag Kahn (the first Jewish woman to serve in Congress). The Magnes archives contributed many images to this digital exhibit. It is so lovely to see them out there! For more information about the Julius and Florence Kahn papers here at the Magnes [...]
Today I was researching letters in the Magnes holdings that Jewish immigrants to the American West sent to their families back home (in Europe or elsewhere). There are some wonderful examples of such letters in our collections. I particularly like one sent by Johanna Mayer Hirschfelder to her family back in Europe in 1856. In [...]
I have been processing the papers of the Haas-Bransten family, members of the San Francisco Jewish “aristocracy,” and was struck by this clipping from one of the scrapbooks: Now, Edward Bransten Sr. was an extraordinary man. He was born in San Francisco in 1870 to Joseph and Jane Brandenstein (the name change to Bransten came [...]