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Judaica Collections

Collection Description:

The University of Pennsylvania's Judaica collections constitute one of the world's largest and richest resources on the history and culture of Jews. The collections are dispersed, mainly, among five library locations: the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center, the Library at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies Library, the Fisher Fine Arts Library, the University Museum, and the Biddle Law Library. The combined holdings currently total between 350,000-400,000 volumes in 24 languages and dialects and in a range of formats from manuscripts to electronic resources. Quantitatively, this amounts to one of the largest Judaica collections in the world. Qualitatively, these holdings cover almost every period and area of Jewish life from the Biblical era to contemporary America and support both undergraduate education and advanced research.

Collection Strengths:

The Judaica Collections' strengths include Biblical literature, history of Biblical interpretation, Jewish history, Judaica Americana, Jewish law, and modern Hebrew and Yiddish literature.
  • The Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center maintains the Weigle Judaica and Ancient Near Eastern Studies Reading Room (401 East) for heavily used materials in Judaic Studies, including Biblical Studies and ancient Near Eastern culture. The Henry Charles Lea Collection located at the Annenberg Rare Book and Manuscript Library on the sixth floor in Van Pelt is a rich source for materials on Jews and the Inquisition.
  • The Library of the University Museum is the major campus repository for works on the anthropology and archaeology of the ancient Near East and the Biblical world; the Fisher Fine Arts Library has an important collection on Jewish art; and the Biddle Law Library has a collection on Talmudic law.
  • The largest component of the University's collections of Judaica can be found at the Library at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, a post-graduate research center, located at 420 Walnut Street in Center City Philadelphia. The general collection at the Library at the Katz Center contains approximately 200,000 volumes, including 8,000 early printed books, as well as manuscript codices and facsimiles. Also held at the Library of the Katz Center are archaeological artifacts excavated during a joint expedition carried out by Dropsie College and the University of Pennsylvania in the 1930s at the Mesopotamian settlement of Tepe Gawra (in contemporary northeastern Iraq). The Archives at the Katz CAJS serves as the repository for approximately 500 linear feet of personal papers and institutional records, including those of Dropsie College. The print collection is especially strong in the areas of Biblical studies, post-Biblical rabbinics, Jewish history, and Judaica Americana. In addition to serving the Fellows of the Center, the Library at the Katz CAJS is open to Penn faculty and students who wish to consult in person its specialized resources, and to the general public (by appointment only). For electronic access to the Library collection at the Katz CAJS use Franklin, Penn's on-line catalog.

Rare Materials:

For the most part, rare Judaica are held at the Library of the Katz Center, but a number of important early Hebrew printed works and a significant collection of Holocaust Memorial (Yizkor) books are housed in the Annenberg Rare Book & Manuscript Library.