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Moritz Guedemann Collection

Identifier: AR 25515

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains personal and professional material by and about historian and rabbi Moritz Guedemann. Personal materials relating to him and his family include correspondence belonging to his parents and grandparents, written in German with Hebrew characters. Also found in the collection are some of Guedemann's educational documents, as well as some official documents, such as marriage certificates and prenuptial agreements, for both Guedemann and his ancestors.

Professional materials concerning Guedemann's activity as a rabbi and as a historian include correspondence with rabbis, businessmen, politicians, and others, as well as with Jewish organizations and communities. The collection also contains manuscripts, typescripts, printed material, notes and fragments, and offprints of his writings, as well as some other materials. Two highlights are a manuscript Synagogenordnung by Samson Raphael Hirsch, for the synagogue in Nikolsburg, Moravia, and a privately-bound Sammelband prayer book of Guedemann's, containing a collection of manuscript, typescript, and printed German and Hebrew prayers.


  • 1780-1967
  • Majority of material found within 1811-1917


Language of Materials

This collection is in German, with some English, Hebrew, and Latin. Much of the manuscript German is written in the old script. Also, some material is written in German using Hebrew characters.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open to researchers.

Access Information

Collection is digitized. Follow the links in the Container List to access the digitized materials.

Use Restrictions

Substantial reproduction or publication of documents (except for single copy reproduction for personal use) will require written permission of Mark D. Guenette. Any copy shall bear the notation "Copyright c1995. Mark D. Guenette. All Rights Reserved."

Biographical Note<extptr actuate="onload" altrender="Portrait of Moritz Guedemann (1835-1918)" href="" show="embed" title="Portrait of Moritz Guedemann (1835-1918)"/>

Moritz Guedemann (February 19, 1835 - August 5, 1918) was born in Hildesheim, Germany to Bona (1790-?) and Josef Guedemann (1781-1847). The surname Guedemann was given to his grandfather Moses in the early nineteenth century when the Westphalian government required that all Jews take last names.

In 1854, Guedemann began attending the newly-founded Juedisch-theologisches Seminar (Jewish Theological Seminary), Breslau, while also studying philology and oriental languages at the University of Breslau. In keeping with the academic trends of the time, his doctoral dissertation was a Latin translation and annotation of a philosophic-pedagogic text in Arabic and Persian by the great medieval Persian Sufi poet, Moslih-Ed-Dini Sa'di. After his graduation, Guedemann became rabbi of Magdeburg in 1862. In 1863 he married Fanny Spiegel (d. 1894). He started as a maggid (preacher) in Vienna's Leopoldstadt synagogue in 1866, and became the rabbi in 1868. Despite his conservative and often unpopular views, such as opposition to organ music in services, when the position of chief rabbi of Vienna was created in 1891, Guedemann, along with his colleague Adolf Jellinek, was the first to hold the title.

After the death of his first wife, Guedemann married Ida Sachs, with whom he had four children (Franzi, Josef, Bona, and Leo). In 1914, after the death of his daughter Franzi, he withdrew somewhat from public life, and he died in Baden be Wien, in 1918.

Guedemann researched and wrote extensively on Jewish apologetics and on the history of Jewish education. His early ambivalent attitude to political Zionism became strong opposition with his publication of Nationaljudentum in 1897. Despite this, Theodore Herzl actively although unsuccessfully tried to win Guedemann's support for a Jewish state.

For a detailed look at his rabbinical and scholarly work, see Schorsch, Ismar, "Moritz Güdemann: Rabbi, Historian and Apologist," Leo Baeck Institute Yearbook (1966) 11(1): 42-66.


1 Linear Feet (1 box) and 4 oversize folders (OS 148)


This collection contains personal and professional material by and about historian and rabbi Moritz Guedemann. Personal materials relating to him and his family include correspondence and educational and official documents. Professional materials include correspondence, writings, and other related papers.

Related Material

The LBI Archives holds Guedemann's memoir "Aus meinem Leben," which has been digitized (ME 220). It also holds over six hundred of Guedemann's handwritten sermons, dating from 1860 to 1918, which have also been digitized (AR 7067).

The LBI Library holds dozens of books by and about Guedemann.

Photographs of Guedemann and his second wife Ida have been digitized and can be found here.

Separated Material

The book "Das Judenthum in seinen Grundzuegen und nach seinen geschichtlichen Grundlagen dargestellt" (1902), by Moritz Guedemann, was removed to the LBI Library.

Processing Information

Three boxes (1.5 linear feet) of material originally comprised AR 7067. One box (0.5 linear feet) of non-sermon material was removed and, together with an addendum of 1 linear foot (1 box), comprises this collection. The remaining material, two boxes of sermons (one linear foot) now comprises the entirety of AR 7067.

Materials were refoldered and reboxed, and interleaved with acid-free paper as needed. Envelopes were removed, unless they contained name/date information not on the letter, or additional writing.

Pages with annotations from four very fragile books by Guedemann, all also held by the LBI Library, were removed and the books discarded: "Jüdische Apologetik" (1908), and the three volumes of "Geschichte des Erziehungswesens und der Cultur der abendlaendischen Juden waehrend des Mittelalters und der neueren Zeit" (1880, 1884, 1888).

Guide to the Moritz Guedemann (1835-1918) Collection undated, 1780-1967 bulk 1811-1917 AR 25515
Processed by Kevin Schlottmann
© 2012
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
as part of the Leon Levy Archival Processing Initiative, made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation

Revision Statements

  • December 2015:: dao links added by Emily Andresini.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States