A month after the move from Judah L. Magnes Museum‘s former home on Russell Street, and the creation of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life at The Bancroft Library of the University of California, Berkeley, our staff is settled in its new quarters and is wasting no time in anticipation of the grand re-opening a year from now. We recently launched our new website, we are working on developing a new facility in downtown Berkeley, and we are very focused on integrating the archives, library and museum collections with the UC Berkeley Library system.
This week, our weekly staff meeting was held in Richmond, in the Regatta storage facility, where the Western Jewish Americana archives are stored temporarily as they are being processed and integrated into the UC Berkeley library system and into the Bancroft Library‘s collections.
The largest and most diverse group of research materials within the Bancroft Library is the Western Americana collection. It documents the history of human activity in North America primarily west of the Rocky Mountains from the earliest days to the present time, with greatest emphasis on California. Thus, the Western Americana collections provide an unparalleled opportunity to explore the social, political, economic, environmental, and cultural development of the western half of the United States, made possible through the collection’s wide range of primary and secondary resources. The transfer of the Magnes collection to the Bancroft integrates sources for the study of the history of Jewish settlers and immigrants to California into Western Americana.
It’s wonderful to see the archives in one place, so clearly organized and marked. As records start to appear in the UC Berkeley library catalog and archives become easily available to researchers, a new chapter in the history of American Jewry lay in wait, ready to be written.
I am indebted to the staff of the Bancroft Library for giving us a new home, appreciating the mission of the Magnes and believing in its potential.