Learn about the new Special Collections Center
The Campaign for Penn's Libraries
Learn about the new Special Collections Center

The Robert and Molly Freedman Jewish Music Archive

Robert and Molly Freedman

About the Collection

Robert and Molly Freedman's 35-year dedication to the study of Yiddish music has resulted in what is largely regarded as the world's premier private collection of this genre. The University of Pennsylvania Library is the beneficiary of their years of commitment to collection and cataloging, having recently acquired the Freedmans' archive of more than 3,000 Yiddish folk and art songs, theater music, comedy, and klezmer music in songbooks, reference works and sound recordings.

In what scholars consider an incomparable resource, the Freedmans have created and maintained a database of more than 25,000 entries which exhaustively index the bulk of the collection. The database, in English and Yiddish, is capable of referencing artists, titles, literary and Biblical references, poems and other catagories of particular interest.

According to Dr. Kathryn Hellerstein, who heads Penn's Yiddish program, the database makes this a singularly valuable resource: "Thanks to the archive's ingenious index, it is possible to compare various settings and renditions of familiar songs as well as to discover unknown settings of Yiddish literature to music. Popular or highbrow, famous or obscure, the music in this collection is a key to Jewish life in Europe and America in the twentieth century."

The collection, known as the Robert and Molly Freedman Jewish Music Archive, is housed in the Library's Annenberg Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

Visit the Annenberg Rare Book and Manuscript Library and its online exhibition gallery