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Penn Libraries News

University of Pennsylvania Libraries Announces Inaugural Endowed Curator of Judaica Digital Humanities

Emily Esten

The University of Pennsylvania Libraries is pleased to announce that Emily Esten has been named the inaugural Arnold and Deanne Kaplan Collection of Early American Judaica Curator of Digital Humanities. 

The new role—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.”

As the inaugural Kaplan Curator, Esten will spearhead 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. Esten will also be responsible for curating, building, and researching the Arnold and Deanne Kaplan Collection of Early American Judaica.

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. Esten will collaborate 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.

Esten holds a master of fine arts in public humanities from Brown University and bachelor’s degrees in history and digital humanities from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Esten served as the Judaica Digital Humanities Project Coordinator at the Penn Libraries from 2019 to 2020, and previously held roles at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate and Brown University. 

In addition to her new role at the Penn Libraries, Esten is also the Web Manager for Contingent Magazine and the Director of Communications for the National Emerging Museum Professionals Network.