The Gelman Library has diverse and wide-ranging holdings in the field of Hebrew and Judaic studies, including modern Judaica, rare books, and archival materials. Foremost among these is the I. Edward Kiev Collection, the leading university collection of pre-modern Hebraica and Judaica, and of Hebrew and Jewish bibliographic literature, in the Washington Research Library Consortium.
The I. Edward Kiev Judaica Collection
The I. Edward Kiev Judaica Collection was established in 1996 by Dr. Ari and Phyllis Kiev with the donation of the private library of Dr. Kiev’s father, Rabbi I. Edward Kiev (1905-1975), one of the preeminent Judaica librarians of the 20th century. In 1998, the Kiev Room was dedicated to house the collection – along with supplementary collections of Jewish graphic art, archives, printed and recorded music, ephemera, artifacts, and ritual objects. The continued growth of the Kiev Collection is supported by the Kiev Foundation and outside donations.
At the time of his death, Edward Kiev’s library consisted of nearly 18,000 volumes in various areas of Judaic Studies, from rabbinics and biblical archaeology to Jewish history and modern Hebrew literature. The Kiev Collection now holds more than 28,000 volumes, composed largely of English, Hebrew, and German works published between the 18th and the 20th centuries. There is also a selection of early Judaica, including a hand-illuminated incunable edition of Josephus, De antiquitate Judaica (Venice, 1486) and A. Margarita’s Der gantz jüdisch Glaub (Augsburg, 1530), together with various works of early Christian Hebraism. The entire range of modern German-Jewish scholarship is represented, from the Wissenschaft des Judentums in the 19th century to émigré publications from the Nazi period.
The collection’s Hebraica include books printed over the course of five centuries and around the world, especially Eastern Europe. There are books from some 250 towns in 30 countries, among them works issued by Soncino and Bomberg in Italy in the early 16th century.
Aside from works in Hebrew, there is much Yiddish literature, together with selected texts in other Jewish languages, including Aramaic, Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-Persian, Judezmo (Ladino/Judeo-Spanish), Judeo-Tat and Karaite Tatar.
Judaic Bibliography and Reference
The Kiev Collection is especially rich in Hebrew and Judaic bibliographies and reference literature, a field in which Edward Kiev was a recognized authority. This literature, some of it very rare, includes many auction catalogues and bibliographic pamphlets.
Over 900 titles of serials and periodicals in Hebrew, Yiddish, English, and German are held in the Kiev Collection, many in lengthy runs and others in shorter runs or only a few issues. These include major scholarly journals as well as out-of-the-way publications, some very rare.
Graphic Arts and Pamphlets
The Kiev Room holds additional collections donated by the Kiev family, including the Kiev Foundation Graphic Arts Collection, containing printed ephemera, lithographs, engravings, cartoons, and other exempla of Jewish art as well as a wide range of anti-Semitica. The Kiev Foundation Pamphlet Collection holds booklets, pamphlets, offprints, auction catalogues and brochures, some extremely rare or unrecorded. These collections complement the many hundreds of items in all of these categories preserved in the I. Edward Kiev Papers.
Manuscripts and Archives
The manuscript collections include the personal papers of I. Edward Kiev, as well as correspondence from distinguished figures in the Reform movement of American Judaism. Among the primary sources are diaries and correspondence from Stephen S. Wise (1874-1949), an international Jewish leader and champion of the Zionist cause. Wise co-founded, among other major organizations, the World Zionist Congress, and he established the Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City, later merged with Hebrew Union College. There are also letters from the father of American Reform Judaism and founder of Hebrew Union College, Isaac Mayer Wise (1819-1900), to the Hungarian-born American Reform rabbi Adolph Hubsch (1830-1884).
Also held in the Kiev Room is the small collection of David Simon Blondheim Papers related to the Eleanor Dulles archive in the Special Collections Research Center. The Ari Kiev Papers, donated by Dr. Ari and Phyllis Kiev in 2008, are held in the Special Collections Research Center.