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Yiddish collection

Collection Details

Yiddish collection held at Asian and African Studies [Institution record]

Description of Collection

Content description

Manuscripts : a total of 39 works dating from 15th-19th centuries, on bible, ethics, liturgy, lexicography, drama, medicine, letters, etc.

Early and antiquarian books: ca. 500 works printed before 1800; ca. 1000 works printed during 19th century.

Modern printed books : ca. 6000 works published during 20th century.

Periodicals : some 230 serial titles of which 7 are current subscriptions.

History and development

Only few Yiddish MSS originate in the British Museum Foundation collections, particularly Sloane and Harley, the rest were acquired in the 19th century. More than half come from the Gaster MSS collection which was acquired in 1927.


19th-20th centuries printed books from Central and Eastern Europe and the USA; Yiddish periodicals issued in the USA

General arrangement and access regulations

The collection is organised into the following categories : manuscripts, rare, antiquarian and modern printed books, periodicals and some current official publications.

Subjects of the Collection

Regions of Asia

Near & Middle East and North Africa.



Languages of material



Arts, Education, Geography, History, Language, Literature, Medicine, Music, Philosophy, Politics and government, Religion, Sociology.

Languages as linguistic focus


Collection Material and Size of Collection

Material Types

Books, Manuscripts, Serials.

Total size of collection

39 manuscripts, ca.7500 printed books, ca.230 serial titles

Size of collection - vernacular

39 manuscripts, ca.7500 printed books, ca.230 serial titles

Collection Management Information

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

Annual intake

ca. 100 monographs

Content date range

1500 to present

Collection Catalogue Information


There is no 'single gateway' to APAC collections, either on the Web or in the British Library's reading rooms. The majority of APAC's modern printed accessions (except for certain Asian languages) are available via the Library's OPAC, but records for the historic printed collections very largely await retrospective conversion (being still to be found in hard-copy printed catalogues, card catalogues and on microfilk or microfiche). The India Office Records class lists are available in the APAC Reading Room in hard-copy (some have been published, but most not). Recently collection-level records have been contributed to the Access to Archives (A2A) project led by the Public Record Office. Catalogues of European Manuscripts, and Prints, Drawings & Photographs are soon to be mounted on the Library's OPAC. For further details see under the records for APAC's individual collections.

Catalogue transliteration schemes

The Library of Congress transliteration schemes are used for the majority of Asian languages. For further details and the exceptions see under the records for APAC's individual collections

Catalogue scripts

Hebrew script is available on the Library's OPAC. Chinese and Japanese characters are used in the Allegro-C database.

Collection printed catalogues

Catalogue of the Hebrew and Samaritan manuscripts in the British Museum
Margoliouth, G.
London, 1899-1915
3 vols. [N.B. does not include the Samaritan MSS]

Catalogue of the Hebrew and Samaritan manuscripts in the British Museum, Supplementary volume (vol.4)
Leveen, J.
London, 1935.

Catalogue of the Gaster manuscripts in the British Library
Allony ,H. & Loewinger, D. S.
Jerusalem, 1960

Catalogue of the Hebrew printed books in the Library of the British Museum
Zedner, J.
London, 1867 (reprinted 1964)

Catalogue of Hebrew books in the British Museum acquired during the years 1868-1892
van Straalen, S.
London 1894.

Yiddish printed books from the BL General Catalogue acquired before 1975
British Library
London, 1992
(computer print-out)

Catalogue of Yiddish printed books (until the year 1800) held in the Bodleian Library, Oxford and in the British Museum (later British Library), London
Lutzki, Morris
New York, 1954
(bound Xerox copy)

A handlist of Hebrew, Yiddish and Judaic serials in the British Library
Tahan, Ilana
London, 1994
(computer print-out)

Links to other collections

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