Donating Family Books to Libraries, Archives #general

Helene Kenvin <hekenvin@...>

I have seen posts on this list about donating genealogy materials (especially
family books) to libraries or archives, but I've not been able to find these
discussions in the Jewishgen email archive. I'd appreciate it if y'all would
tell me which key words to use or point me in the direction of the suggestions
that were made.

I am thinking about the New York Public Library (Genealogy or Jewish Division?),
the Center for Jewish History (Genealogy Division), Yeshiva University, the
Jewish Theological Seminary, the Library of Congress, possibly Beit Hatfutsot
(Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv). Any other thoughts?

I assume that I should write the institutions in advance, to ask if they are
interested in the material.

With thanks, Helene Kenvin


Excellent question, Helen! Yes, I too have been wondering about where
to donate my voluminous research. The Hebrew University and, possibly,
Yad Vashem - both in Jerusalem - as well as Beit Hatfutsot in Tel Aviv -
also have genealogical departments.

I lean to Beit Hatfutsot as the best choice, but they are woefully
underfunded. I think the time has come to put our collective heads
together and come to some agreement. I would like to have's principals weigh in on this discussion.

Henny Moed Roth
JewishGen researcher #19142
Member, Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles

Ann Rabinowitz

I think that the question that Helen asks has been discussed umpteen
times amongst many of us who have been doing research for some time.  
I know that there has been no real resolution.  Perhaps it is a
situation whose time has come to be resolved as so many researchers
are coming of an age to make plans for the "adoption" for their 
life's work in family research.

In my own situation, I donated my genealogy books to several JGS
libraries including those in America and overseas as well as
donating databases to several different organizations such as the
Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People in Israel
and to a number of Holocaust museums.  Where possible, I donated
information to the JewishGen kehilalinks and other things on
JewishGen.  In case you weren't aware of it, the Mormon Family
History Library accepts family histories which you can see by going
to their catalogue.   

In addition, those things such as databases that I had not been
able to complete up to now I arranged with other interested
researchers to complete for me in the future.  I also solicited
family members to see if others could continue my research and
therefore be the recipients of what I had done. 

At the moment, I am going through my photographic collection or
other graphic representations and disbursing those to appropriate
parties either in my family, other researchers or to kehilalinks
where appropriate.  You may see postings I will be making for these
for specific families in the near future on JewishGen.

This cannot be done all at once, but has to be carefully planned
over time.  In addition, there is no one place to donate materials,
especially since many institutions neither have the monetary resources
or staff (or even interest) in what you may have to give them.  It is
important to first determine possibly what you have (and the condition
it is in), what community resources there are which relate to family
history research and then go >from there and investigate with these
resources what they are able to accept.

The best thing to do is collaborate with others, speak to other
researchers and gain knowledge about this topic . . . perhaps by
discussing it on the JewishGen digests or having your JGS discuss this
at a meeting or it can be a topic at an IAJGS Conference.  All are
valuable resources to pinpoint.

Ann Rabinowitz

Rose Feldman <rosef@...>

I can give you a little update about Israel.

The collection at Beit Hatfuszot (the Diaspora Museum) is not open to
the public and I think it isn't even catalogued. What a shame.

There are two public libraries that do give genealogical help twice a week:

The first is the National Library in Jerusalem which has also includes
the Jacobi collection of manuscripts. Their collection is situated
next to the room where the help session are held.

The second one is just beginning and getting organized at Beit Ariela,
the main branch of the Tel-Aviv public library system.

But before mailing books, I suggest contacting the librarian in charge
to make sure they don't have the books already.

Rose Feldman
Israel Genealogy Research Association

Harvey Finberg <hjfinberg@...>

I donated a copy of a family history to Leo Baeck and the Library of
Congress some years ago. Without permission, Leo Baeck digitized the
book and put it on the web. I now understand that to remove it >from
the web, I must write them and request removal. Library of Congress
donation policy indicates it may be digitized. Consider the amount of
personal information on living people before you donate a book that
may appear on the web without your express permission.

Vera Finberg
Fairfax, VA

ABELES, Lochovice, Czech Republic; KOHNER/KLAUBER, Vseruby Czech Republic
and Budapest; THIEBEN, Rousinov okres Rakovnik, Czech Republic;
BLOOMGARDEN, Kybartai, Lithuania

Matt Friedman

The suggestions regarding what to do with genealogical data have been
excellent. In particular the suggestion to donate to more than one
archive is a good one.  We don't know where future researchers will live.  
Providing the availability of materials to several locations will provide
greater physical access as not every document held by an archive is
available on-line.  To build on the idea I suggest creating a catalogue
of your main collection and making that widely available.  Finally,
I strongly endorse the American Jewish Archives.  I worked there when I
was a student at the Hebrew Union College and can attest to the quality
of the collection and professionalism of the staff.