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Introduction

The Robert D. Farber University Archives & Special Collections Department houses Brandeis University's unique and rare primary sources, which support teaching, research, and scholarship at the university and beyond. The department comprises three integrated units: the University Archives, which contains materials related to Brandeis University; Special Collections, which contains rare books and manuscript material on many different subjects; and Judaica.

The Archives & Special Collections Department offers a range of services to the Brandeis and broader research communities. In addition to acquiring, preserving, and providing access to primary source materials in all formats, departmental staff provide classroom instruction on primary source research methods; respond to reference requests and support the research of Brandeis students, faculty, staff, alumni, and unaffiliated scholars; mount physical and electronic exhibitions; participate in university special projects and capstone events; sponsor lectures and outreach programs; offer consultation on the management and disposition of university records; and provide digital access to selected items and collections.

Researchers and scholars from Brandeis and around the world make use of the department's collections for scholarly and commercial publications, theses and dissertations, exhibitions, documentary films, curricular development, classroom research projects, artistic productions, and a variety of other educational and creative purposes. In recognition of the unique and special role that primary sources play in the contemporary educational setting, departmental staff seek out innovative ways in which to expand the use of these materials in the academy and wider research community.

The Robert D. Farber University Archives & Special Collections Department was founded with the generous support of the late Leonard L. Farber, a former chairman of the Brandeis University Board of Trustees, for whom the university's Leonard L. Farber Library was named.

University Archives

Brandeis University (est. 1948) is the first and only Jewish-sponsored, nonsectarian institution of higher learning in the United States. Its founders embraced a firm commitment to social justice and renounced discrimination based on race, creed, or ethnic origin. From its inception, Brandeis University has attracted many leading scholars, intellectuals, creative artists, and innovators to its doors. The first and second master plans were designed by renowned architects Eero Saarinen and Max Abramovitz. These men transformed a bucolic campus with a horse stable for a library into a distinctive modernist landscape. Early faculty members included Leonard Bernstein, Irving Howe, Max Lerner, Herbert Marcuse, Abraham Maslow, and Eleanor Roosevelt. Senator John F. Kennedy was filmed on the Brandeis campus the same day he announced his run for the U.S. presidency. Guest speakers such as Angela Davis (class of 1965), Robert Frost, Martha Graham, David Ben-Gurion, Martin Luther King, Jr., Margaret Mead, and, more recently, the Dalai Lama have visited the campus—some more than once.

Though a relatively young university, Brandeis has a rich and noteworthy history. The University Archives’ collections document the growth, development, and achievements of the university and its faculty, staff, students, and alumni. In addition to its photograph collection of more than 100,000 images, the department houses a broad array of university and student publications, theses and dissertations, faculty papers, sound and moving image collections, university records, alumni publications and papers, artwork, posters, architectural plans, maps, and memorabilia.

The University Archives is dedicated to the late Robert D. Farber (1948-1995). Farber received his bachelor's degree in studio arts from Brandeis University in 1970 and became a successful painter. Two of Farber's paintings are on permanent exhibit at the Archives.

Archives staff are available to offer departments basic records management advice and to provide guidance in preparing appropriate materials for transfer to the University Archives.

The University Archives is housed on Level 2 of the Goldfarb Library and is open Monday through Friday, 9am - 5pm (closed on holidays). Access to collections and reference assistance are available by appointment. Please contact (781) 736-4686 or ascdepartment@brandeis.edu.

University Archives Mission Statement

Guide to Archival Resources


Special Collections

Special Collections at Brandeis University houses a broad range of rare and unique primary-source materials. The department acquires items in all formats, the bulk of which fall into several categories: rare books, manuscripts, archival collections, periodical collections, and visual collections.

In addition to incunabula, the rare books collection comprises first and critical editions, fine press publications, and early printings on subjects including American and European Christianity, bibliography and lexicography, classical studies, early exploration, English and American history and literature, English and French law and politics, Hebraica and Judaica, the history of science, Renaissance music, Shakespeare, and Leonardo da Vinci.

The department’s manuscripts—which date from the thirteenth through the twentieth centuries—are broad in their topical and geographical scopes. In addition to late-medieval Judaica and Hebraica, the collection includes books of hours, early European and Middle Eastern manuscripts, Japanese manuscripts, and original drafts of classic twentieth-century literary works such as Catch-22.

Special Collections houses a number of archival collections that document important areas of study, primarily in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries: American and European political leaders and social reformers; the Holocaust, anti-Semitism, and Jewish resistance to persecution; conflicts in the United States and abroad; Jewish-American and émigré writers, composers, and performing artists; left- and right-wing movements in the United States and Europe; and Zionism.

Special Collections is also the repository of important artistic, photographic, and periodical collections. In addition to housing one of the world’s largest collections of Honoré Daumier lithographs, the department is home to the Carl Van Vechten photograph collection, the Spanish Civil War and World War I and World War II Propaganda Posters collections, and the Dime Novel collection.

Access to collections and reference assistance are available by appointment.

For assistance, please contact (781) 736-4622 or woodrum@brandeis.edu.

Special Collections Mission Statement

Guide to Special Collections


Judaica

An integral component of Special Collections, the Judaica Collection comprises more than 200,000 works housed throughout the library. The collection documents all aspects of Jewish history, religion, and culture, with a particular focus on the Bible, rabbinics, Jewish philosophy and mysticism, Hebrew and Yiddish literature, and the Holocaust.

The microfilm, microfiche, and electronic collections include a wide array of English, German, Hebrew, and Yiddish newspapers; reproductions of Hebrew manuscripts; works on Israel, Zionism, and American Jewish history; the personal papers of Abba Hillel Silver and Chaim Weizmann; rabbinical texts; important bibliographic databases; and other relevant research tools and collections.

Many rare and unique Judaica materials are located in Special Collections. Examples include incunabula, rare books, and manuscripts; artifacts; collections documenting the Leo Frank case and the Dreyfus Affair; the personal papers of Louis D. Brandeis, E.M. Broner, Helmut Hirsch, Rose Jacobs, and Stephen S. Wise; and many others.

For assistance, please contact (781) 736-4688 or rosenblo@brandeis.edu.

Guide to Near Eastern and Judaic Studies