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New grant to the Center for Jewish History

Digital capture of an oversize painting, part of the extensive digitization work being done in the Gruss Lipper Digital Laboratory. Courtesy of the Center for Jewish History

Posted: 25 March 2019

The Center for Jewish History in New York City is a partnership of five Jewish heritage and research organizations. The partners’ collections comprise the world’s largest and most comprehensive archive of the modern Jewish experience outside of Israel. The collections span a thousand years, and include documents, books, photographs, recordings, art and cultural and ritual objects. Our grant will support the Center’s digitization and preservation work to unlock archival material and make it accessible to audiences around the globe.

Read more about this grant here.

The Center for Jewish History’s press release:

Center for Jewish History awarded multi-million dollar grant from Arcadia Fund

NEW YORK, N.Y. — The Center for Jewish History has been awarded a $2.5 million dollar endowment challenge grant from Arcadia – a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin. This funding will ensure the sustainability of the digitization and preservation efforts of the Center, the foremost repository of Jewish history outside of Israel.

“In the collections, the lives of community leaders, artists, soldiers, survivors, housekeepers and others congregate to tell the story of the Jewish experience, with its broad sweep of persecution, resilience and hope,” said the Center’s director of archive and library services Rachel Miller. “The funds raised for this challenge will enable the transmission of those lives and stories to future generations,” added CEO and president Bernard Michael. “We look forward to working with Arcadia on this important endeavor, which will further scholarship around the world.”

This generous funding will support ongoing and new initiatives to increase discoverability of the five miles of archival collections held by the Center’s in-house partners. The work is primarily carried out by experts in the Center’s state-of-the-art network of laboratories: the Gruss Lipper Digital Laboratory, the Werner J. and Gisella Levi Cahnman Preservation Laboratory, the Shelby White and Leon Levy Archival Processing Laboratory, and the Metadata Laboratory. “We are proud to support this effort to make a vast and unique collection freely available online,” said Peter Baldwin, co-founder and chairman, Arcadia.

Through these laboratories, the Center also enhances the digital content shared on well-known platforms like Wikipedia and collaborates with the Jewish Heritage Network on open access projects such as Judaica Europeana 2.0, a network of archives, libraries and museums working together to integrate digital access to the most important collections of European Jewish heritage and make them discoverable to more people.

At the end of the three-year 1:1 matching period and campaign, a total of $5 million dollars will allow for greater public engagement with the collections housed at the Center.

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The Center for Jewish History illuminates and preserves the history, culture, and heritage documented in the collections held by its five in-house partner organizations: American Jewish Historical Society, American Sephardi Federation, Leo Baeck Institute, Yeshiva University Museum, and YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. The partners’ archives comprise the world’s largest and most comprehensive archive of the modern Jewish experience outside of Israel. The collections span a thousand years, with more than 5 miles of archival documents (in dozens of languages and alphabet systems), more than 500,000 volumes, as well as thousands of artworks, textiles, ritual objects, recordings, films, and photographs.

Arcadia is a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin. It supports charities and scholarly institutions that preserve cultural heritage and the environment. Arcadia also supports projects that promote open access and all of its awards are granted on the condition that any materials produced are made available for free online. Since 2002, Arcadia has awarded more than $570 million to projects around the world.