The world’s first endowed position in Judaica digital humanities was established by a series of gifts from Arnold and Deanne Kaplan in 2019. “The addition of an endowed Kaplan Curator expands the Penn Libraries’ ability to build on our existing collections of Early American Judaica and facilitate new scholarship at the University of Pennsylvania and beyond,” says Constantia Constantinou, H. Carton Rogers III Vice Provost and Director of Libraries. “The Kaplans’ gifts encompass not only world-class collections but also the funds for digitization and continued study through research fellowships, ensuring long-lasting support for researchers and scholars.”
The Kaplan Curator will join the Penn Libraries’ planned Center for Research Data and Digital Scholarship, an emerging multidisciplinary hub led by Nicky Agate, Assistant University Librarian for Research Data and Digital Scholarship. The Center will serve as a locus for textual and data analysis, data curation, data visualization, geographic information systems, software creation and management, web platform design, and digital start-ups across disciplines. The Kaplan Curator collaborates on experimental, sustainable projects and methods that expand the capacity of the Center, while building collaborative relationships with researchers and scholars involved with digital scholarship and Judaica across the Penn campus and beyond.
As the inaugural Kaplan Curator, Emily Esten spearheads projects that facilitate access to and use of Penn's Judaica collections, promoting them and making connections between them and dispersed Judaica content around the globe. She is also responsible for curating, building, and researching the Arnold and Deanne Kaplan Collection of Early American Judaica. In addition, she is coordinating the roll-out of the next phase of the Scribes of the Cairo Geniza project.
In addition to her role at the Penn Libraries, she is the Web Manager for Contingent Magazine and the Director of Communications for the National Emerging Museum Professionals Network. Previously, she worked at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate and at Brown University.
Emily holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, with majors in history and digital humanities, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a Master's Degree in public humanities from Brown University.