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Rabbi Henry Joseph Messing Collection

Identifier: AR 25813

Scope and Contents

The collection contains materials that pertain to the life and work of Rabbi Henry Joseph Messing. Series I is divided into three subseries: Subseries 1 and 2 include Rabbi Messing's sermons and religious manuscripts in English and German respectively. Subseries 3 contains non-liturgical manuscripts, including articles, poetry, and a play titled "His Son."

Series II is made up of newspaper clippings collected by Rabbi Messing. They include Jewish-American newspapers like The Jewish Times, The American Hebrew, and Der Zeitgeist. The annotated newspapers shed light on the creative process of Rabbi Messing as he used them as inspiration for his sermons.


  • Creation: 1869-1911

Language of Materials

The collection is in English, German, and some Hebrew.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Conditions Governing Use

There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact:

Leo Baeck Institute, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011


Biographical Note

Rabbi Henry Joseph Messing (March 10, 1848-September 12, 1913) was born to Rabbi Joseph Messing and Feigela Messing (née Barchand) in Gostyn, Prussia (Gostyń, Poland). His two older brothers included Rabbi Aaron Messing (1840-1916) and Rabbi Meyer Messing (1843- 1930). All three brothers immigrated to the United States in 1867, where they all became congregational rabbis. Henry J. Messing spent his first years serving in the Midwest and Pennsylvania. In 1878, he was appointed Senior Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregation in St. Louis, Missouri. He spent more than 30 years in St. Louis (1878-1913), and there he wrote most of his works. In 1880, Rabbi Messing opened the Hebrew Free and Industrial School Society, the first Jewish community school in the city. He passed away in 1913.


1 Linear Feet (1 linear foot)

1 Folders (1 shared oversized folder)


The collection contains mainly sermons and manuscripts by Rabbi Henry Joseph Messing, one of the earliest reform rabbis in America. The collection is arranged into two series and three subseries. Materials in the collection include sermons, manuscripts, non-liturgical texts, newspaper clippings, and notebooks.


The collection is arranged in two series:

  1. Series I: Sermons and Manuscripts, undated, 1869- 1911
  2. Subseries 1: English Sermons and Religious Manuscripts (Nr. 1-315), undated 1871-1911
  3. Subseries 2: German Sermons and Religious Manuscripts (Nr. 501- 512), undated, 1869- 1901
  4. Subseries 3: Non-Liturgical Manuscripts (Nr. 601-616), undated, 1871- 1911
  5. Series II: Newspaper Clippings, undated, 1869- 1885

Separated Materials

Israelitisches Gebetbuch Für Die Häusliche Andacht by Benjamin Szold was removed from the collection and placed in box AR 25813b. The book includes a handwritten inscription by Rabbi Henry J. Messing to his future wife, Jeannie May.

Processing Information

During processing, the arrangement of the collection was based on the original numerical order. The original order was as follows: item # 1-315 include sermons in English, item # 501-512 sermons in German, and item # 601-616 contain non-liturgical works. Each previous grouping now represents a separate subseries in Series I, with an addition of a Series II to encompass clippings of newspaper articles collected by Rabbi Henry J. Messing. Most of the documents have been previously numbered, however there are some gaps where documents are missing.

Guide to the Papers of Rabbi Henry Joseph Messing
Agata Sobczak
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States