Saturday, May 01, 2010

Hebraica and Semitica in the Library of Congress

THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS has an illustrated guide to its Hebraic Collections online. Other Semitic languages besides Hebrew are represented as well. It includes photos of Bible, Talmud, and Zohar manuscripts (etc.) here and a cuneiform tablet and an Aramaic incantation bowl here. There is also a collection of images of selected cuneiform texts here. And the contents of the Hebraica collection are surveyed here:

Beginning with Jacob H. Schiff's 1912 gift of nearly 10,000 books and pamphlets, the Library has developed and expanded its Hebraic holdings to include all materials of research value in Hebrew and related languages. Today, more than 150,000 items are available. Included are works in Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino, Judeo-Persian, Judeo-Arabic, Aramaic, Syriac, Coptic, and Amharic. The collection includes an extensive range of monographs; a broad selection of Hebrew periodicals both current and retrospective, popular as well as scholarly; and a variety of Yiddish and Hebrew newspapers reflecting all shades of opinion. A comprehensive collection of Holocaust memorial volumes documents Jewish life in Eastern Europe before the Second World War, and a large collection of rabbinic bio-bibliographical works in Hebrew is available. Holdings are especially strong in the areas of Bible and rabbinics, liturgy, Hebrew language and literature, responsa, and Jewish history. Access to online sources of Judaica is also available.

Among the 2,000 rarities in the collections are cuneiform tablets, manuscripts, incunabula, kettubot, micrographies, miniature books, and amulets. The more than 200 manuscripts include a Hebrew translation of the Koran, a selection of decorated Jewish marriage contracts, an early Ethiopian psalter in Ge'ez, various commentaries on the Holy Scriptures, and the Washington Haggadah, a 15th-century Hebrew illuminated manuscript. Also included are examples from among the first books printed in Portugal, Turkey, and on the African continent. With 24 Hebrew incunables--books printed before the year 1501--and an additional 15 in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division, the Library of Congress ranks as one of the world's most important public collections of Hebrew incunabula. Also unique are more than 1,000 original Yiddish plays, in manuscript or typescript form, written between the end of the 19th and the middle of the 20th centuries, intended for the American Yiddish theater.
Via this Payvand article on the online LOC Iranian material.