Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life

Dr. Lara Michels, the archivist in charge of the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life at Bancroft Library, recently spoke to the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society about the collection.  Since 2010, when the Judah L. Magnes Museum was absorbed by UC Berkeley and the Bancroft Library, Dr. Michels has been conducting a complete inventory and cataloguing of the Magnes collection, no mean feat for any archive.  Her presentation to SFBAJGS highlighted parts of the collection she thought could be particularly helpful for genealogical research.

One of the most significant parts of the archive is a massive collection of materials relating to Congregation Sherith Israel of San Francisco, dating from early burials in the 1850's (in cemeteries which are now part of Mission Dolores Park) to minutes and membership lists from the mid-20th century and later.  The history of the congregation can be followed in detail over a century and a half.  Another important item is a near-complete name index to The Emanu-El, a Jewish community newspaper that was the precursor to The J of today.  Dr. Michels is almost finished cataloguing the Magnes Collection; by early 2012 she hopes to have the complete inventory listed on the Web site.

Close on the heels of Dr. Michels' presentation, I read about the Magnes Fellowship in Jewish Studies, which was established to support for one academic year graduate students at the University of California at Berkeley whose research would benefit from the use of source materials in the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life. Recipients of the Fellowship, designated as Magnes Fellows, must be graduate students enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley who demonstrate high academic distinction and are beyond the first year of graduate study.  The amount of the award will cover fees and stipend for the graduate student for a year.

The applicant's statement of purpose must describe how the research project will make use of the Magnes Collection.  The selection committee, appointed by the Director of the Bancroft Library and including Jewish Studies Program faculty, will determine the recipient based on statement of purpose, transcripts of undergraduate and graduate coursework, and two letters of recommendation from instructors.  The application deadline is by 5:00 p.m. of the first Monday in February.  For 2012 the date is February 6.

All applications and awards will be made within the framework of existing fellowship programs.  For questions call Diana Vergil at (510) 642-3782.  Awards will be announced at the Annual Meeting of the Friends of the Bancroft Library held in the spring of each year.

For application forms and instructions see http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/info/fellowships.html.

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