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Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit

Collection Details

Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit held at Cambridge University Library [Institution record]

Description of Collection

Content description

The Taylor-Schechter Genizah Collection is a priceless accumulation of centuries-old Hebrew manuscript material and Judaica, recovered from the Cairo Genizah in 1896-97.

The 140,000 fragments of documents and texts now at Cambridge are mainly in manuscript, many of them on vellum. They include a wide variety of secular as well as religious material and are written in several languages.

Taken together, the Collection's fragments make up a literature of the sacred, the heretical and the mundane which reaches back to Biblical times and extends forward to the 19th century.

History and development

The Collection was the gift in 1898 of the noted scholar Dr Solomon Schechter - who later became President of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America - and his friend and patron, Dr Charles Taylor, Master of St. John's College, Cambridge.


The Taylor-Schechter Collection has served to usher in a whole new era of Jewish learning. There is hardly an area of Hebrew and Jewish studies that has not been revolutionized by findings that originated in the Genizah Collection.

The sacred is represented in splendid quantity and variety by thousands of fragments of Bible, Talmud, Midrash, Law and Liturgy, reflecting many periods of Jewish thought and custom.

Many lost Hebrew books were recovered from among the fragments, such as the original version of the Wisdom of Ben Sira, a work dating from the second century BCE.

General arrangement and access regulations

The material is classified in an old, new and additional series. Information about the classification scheme is available on the Unit's website.

Subjects of the Collection

Regions of Asia

Near & Middle East and North Africa.


Egypt, Israel.

Languages of material

Arabic, Hebrew.


History, Language, Literature, Philosophy, Religion.

Names relevant to the collection:

  • Taylor, Charles
  • Schechter, Solomon
  • Reif, Stefan C.

Collection Material and Size of Collection

Material Types


Total size of collection

140,000 fragments of documents and texts

Size of collection - vernacular


Collection Management Information

The collection is being actively developed, and the average intake has stayed the same.

Content date range

500 to 1800 AD

Collection policy

Retention policy

Collection Catalogue Information


A list of published catalogues is available on the wesite of the Unit. These catalogues are arranged by subject or by language. Some thematic areas are also covered by GOLD (Geniza online database), which includes listings of documents and images of individual items. The database is available at: http://www/Taylor-Schechter/GOLD/

Catalogue transliteration schemes

LC, individual schemes.

Links to other collections

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