Mendel Gottesman Library Holds Ceremony Recognizing Donation of Early American Newspapers
The Mendel Gottesman Library recently held a ceremony recognizing a donation of 350 American newspaper clippings from 1734 through 1869 that contain insights into Jewish life between the Colonial and Civil War eras.
The dedication ceremony for the collection, donated by former Professor Ronald Rubin of Borough of Manhattan Community College shortly before the pandemic, was delayed due to the global health crisis and only held Dec. 11. Rubin had accumulated these selections while researching his 2019 book, “Strangers & Natives: A Newspaper Narrative of Early Jewish America 1734–1869.”
At the event, Shulamith Berger, curator of special collections at the Mendel Gottesman Library, explained how these items provide unique perspectives on early Jewish communities in America.
“One of the highlights of these primary sources is the immediacy of the information for both researchers and students,” said Berger. “Observers will read these documents in the way a contemporary would have read it, and it places the Jewish material directly in the context of American life and the happenings of general society.”
The collection, among many things, includes an article from 1790 detailing correspondence between American President George Washington and the Newport Hebrew Congregation, and an 1853 feature describing services held by Manhattan’s Congregation Rodeph Shalom at their original location in the Lower East Side, which is currently owned by the Congregation Chasam Sofer.
Rubin, a patron of YU since 2008, has donated over a hundred artifacts from across historical eras, including a Mikraot Gedolot dating to 17th century Basel, Switzerland, which was commissioned by the Christian Hebraist Johannes Buxtorf. YU previously honored Rubin for his numerous contributions to the library’s collections and to the scholarship of American Jewry in 2012.
The collection is kept in the rare book room on the 4th floor; students can access it by submitting a request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Photo Caption: An 1823 copyright notice, one of the earliest uses of Hebrew print in an America paper
Photo Credit: Yeshiva University