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American Academy for Jewish Research, records

 Collection
Identifier: I-508

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of correspondence from the formative years of the American Academy for Jewish Research from 1930 to 1936, fellows files and correspondence, ledgers and notebooks of membership dues and fellowship grants, minutes of the various committee meetings, Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research, and photographs.

Significant correspondents include Salo Baron, Isaac E. Barzilay, Robert Chazan, Louis Finkelstein, Louis Ginsberg, David Weiss-Halivni, Arthur Hyman, Saul Lieberman, Alexander Marx, Harry Orlinsky, and Harry Austrin Wolfson.

The papers are valuable to researchers studying the following aspects of Jewish history: Jewish learning, Jewish philosophy, Jewish research, Jewish religion, Jewish scholarship, Jewish way of life, and Judaic studies.

Types of material include agendas, correspondence, diskettes, invitations, ledgers, memoranda, minutes, notebooks, photographs, programs, and publications.

Publications (Series IV) contain the Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research and a book published by AAJR entitled "Maimonides' Treatise on Resurrection." The series does not include the monograph series. Individual volumes held by AJHS are listed with call numbers in the section "Fellowship and Scholarship."

The collection is in English, Dutch, French, German, and Yiddish.

Dates

  • undated, 1928-2001
  • Majority of material found within 1940 - 1999

Creator

Language of Materials

The collection is in English, Dutch, French, German, and Yiddish.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers by permission of the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society, except items that are restricted due to their fragility.

Use Restrictions

Information concerning the literary rights may be obtained from the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society. Users must apply in writing for permission to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection. For more information contact:

American Jewish Historical Society, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY, 10011

email: reference@ajhs.org

Historical Note

The American Academy for Jewish Research (AAJR) was organized in the autumn of 1919 and was formally established on June 15, 1920. The Academy represents the oldest organization of Judaic scholars in North America. The AAJR began as a small group of progressive European-born and trained scholars that came together in North America. Its mission statement is "to foster and promote the cause of Jewish learning and research." At its first meeting in 1919, the Academy established its objectives:

"1. The holding of periodical meetings at which learned papers are presented and discussed. 2. The formulation and carrying into effect of scholarly undertakings of a cooperative character. 3. The issuance of publications. 4. The promotion of relations of fellowship and cooperation among scholars and learned organizations in the United States and those in other countries. 5. The furnishing of opinions upon scholarly projects submitted to the Academy. 6. Such other means as may, from time to time, be determined by the Academy.1"

The original officers were: Professor Louis Ginzberg, President; Professor Gotthard Deutsch, Vice-President; Professor Henry Malter, Secretary; Professor Jacob Z. Lauterbach, Treasurer.2

The early leaders of the AAJR is a listing of the giants of Jewish research in the Americas - Salo Baron, Louis Ginzberg, Saul Lieberman, Alexander Marx, Louis Finkelstein, Harry Orlinsky and Harry Wolfson. The scholars and fellows were concentrated in the Northeast portion of the United States and made New York City the headquarters of the Academy and the center of its activities.

When the Academy was founded, the major centers of Jewish learning were still in Europe. But within 25 years, the European centers would exist no more, and Judaic branches of learning would flourish in the United States.

During the early 1920s, the meetings of the Academy were limited to its scholarly members. On December 27, 1928, the AAJR held its first public meeting, a sign that a wider audience was ready for serious scholarly presentations on Jewish topics. The high goals which the Academy set for itself became apparent from the stature of the three speakers at the first public meeting in 1928: Professors Max Margolis, Harry Wolfson, and Salo Baron. At the meeting, the acting president, Professor Alexander Marx, outlined the purposes of the Academy and specific projects which the Academy hoped to undertake.

The Academy was incorporated under the laws of Maryland on December 20, 1929. Once incorporated, the AAJR became a non-profit organization. Its officers were: President - Professor Louis Ginzberg; Vice-President - Professor Alexander Marx; Recording Secretary - Reverend Dr. Leo Jung; Corresponding Secretary - Professor D.S. Blondheim; Treasurer - Professor J.Z. Lauterbach. The first public meeting was held at The Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York City on December 27, 1929. Since that time, Annual Meetings of Members and Fellows have been held in the last week of December, and other special meetings throughout the year.

In June 1933, the Academy established a Research Fellowship for one displaced foreign scholar, and since then has maintained other Research fellowships. The Academy also supports Jewish scholar residents abroad and distributes annual grants-in-aid for publication of scholarly works.

Scholarly papers are read at annual meetings and other public meetings. AAJR sponsors publications primarily in the fields of Biblical and Talmudic research, medieval Jewish literature and law and Jewish history of all periods. Research fellowships and grants for Jewish scholars here and abroad have been made since the Academy's first meeting in 1928. In addition to the 63 volumes of its annual Proceedings, containing numerous outstanding studies in Judaica and related fields, the Academy published a number of Festschriften and Memorial Volumes dedicated to the memory of the great Jewish sages of the past and in honor of eminent scholars of recent times. The Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research was one of the leading journals on the international Jewish studies scene.

Academy membership consists of: o Fellows, scholars who are active in the field of Jewish Learning, o Patrons and contributing members, persons interested in Jewish learning, o Members, persons actively or sympathetically interested in Jewish learning.

Fellowship and Scholarship

Fellows are nominated and elected by their peers and constitute the most distinguished and most senior scholars teaching Judaic studies at American universities. The Academy sponsors the following programs: the Baron Prize for the best first book in the fields of Judaic studies, a bi-annual retreat for fellows, and several academic sessions conducted each year at the annual meeting of the Association for Jewish Studies. As the oldest organization for Jewish scholarship, it is committed to enhancing Judaic studies throughout North American universities by creating a dynamic fellowship for its members and by providing programs and opportunities for more junior scholars and students entering the field.3

Because the Fellows of the Academy are no longer confined to the Northeast, the AAJR has regularly offered a series of sessions at the annual conference of the Association of Jewish Studies.

The AAJR boasts a long and distinguished history of intellectual, moral and financial support of Judaic studies across North America and worldwide. The Academy has maintained its importance through the annual election of fellows, its Proceedings, and its support of publication.

The Academy's published works include: the annual Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research; six volumes of Texts and Studies (AJHS DS101.A343 vol. 2: Saadia anniversary volume) of famous medieval Jewish personalities and on medieval laws appeared since 1941, and Iranian Jewry's Hour of Peril and Heroism by Vera Basch Moreen (1986). In addition, the Academy established the Epstein Series with earnings from the endowment fund allocated for publications and numerous volumes of this series have been published since 1952. Other publications include: a three-volume Harry A. Wolfson Jubilee (AJHS BM42.H27) publication; The Marranoes of Spain; two volumes of the Union Catalogue of Hebrew Manuscripts and their Locations; Medieval Jewish Life, and Hebrew Manuscripts in Austria, catalogued by Arthur Z. Schwartz.4

A three-volume Jubilee Tribute to Professor Salo W. Baron (AJHS DS102.4.S24) was published. A critical edition of some of the works of Maimonides and a translation into Hebrew of the essays of Harry A. Wolfson has been published and others are planned.5

A monograph series has also been started: the first in the series, Yacov ben Elazar Kitab al Kamil, by Nehemia Allony; the second, Economics and Toleration in Seventeenth Century Venice, by Benjamin C. Ravid; and finally, Affricated 'Sade' in the Semitic Languages, by Richard C. Steiner.6

Funding and Prizes

The AAJR's "Special Initiatives" Fund encourages, promotes, and enables innovative projects in all areas of Jewish studies that explore new directions or establish creative formats for investigating under-studied or original topics. The AAJR is interested in financing projects with unusual features that would otherwise not find funding.7

The Academy also invites submissions for the Salo Wittmayer Baron Book Prize. The Prize ($5,000) is awarded annually to the author of an outstanding first book in Judaic studies. Only three Prizes have been award so far and it is expected that the Prize will become a recognized honor in the field of Jewish studies.

Footnotes

1-2 Introductory Statement, Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research, vol. 1, 1928, page 1

3 http://www.aajr.org

4-6 Program from the 62nd Annual Meeting, 1989

7 http://aajr.org/announcements.html

Extent

7.5 Linear Feet (15 manuscript boxes)

Abstract

Consists of correspondence from the formative years of the American Academy for Jewish Research from 1930 to 1936, fellows files and correspondence, ledgers and notebooks of membership dues and fellowship grants, minutes of the various committee meetings, Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research, and photographs. Correspondents include Salo Baron, Isaac E. Barzilay, Robert Chazan, Louis Finkelstein, Louis Ginsberg, David Weiss-Halivni, Arthur Hyman, Saul Lieberman, Alexander Marx, Harry Orlinsky, and Harry Austrin Wolfson.

Arrangement

The collection is arranged into five series as follows:

Acquisition Information

Donated by Helen and Isaac Barzilay, 1993-1995 (Proceedings); Lauren Shedletsky, 1997 (Proceedings); Sheila Allen, February 2011 (archives).

Related Material

American Academy for Jewish Research collection (ARC 9) at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America
Title
Guide to the Records of American Academy for Jewish Research, undated, 1928-2001 (bulk 1940s-1990s)   *I-508
Status
In Progress
Author
Processed by Marvin Rusinek
Date
© 2011
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English.

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

Contact:
15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States