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British Library’s Hebrew collection

The British Library’s Hebrew collection is held within the British Library, Britain’s national library. It is open to researchers and contains a large collection of manuscripts, printed books and serials on Jewish topics.

Archive Description

The Hebrew Collection was assembled over a 250 year period, initially by the British Museum and since 1973 by the British Library. Its holdings contain material written and printed in Hebrew characters, ranging from manuscripts copied over 1,000 years ago to the most recent monographs and serials. The collection – one of the most important in the world – encompasses all facets of Hebrew literature and a wide range of religious and secular area studies.

The collection includes around 3,000 manuscript volumes and about 75,000 printed book titles – mostly in Hebrew and related languages that use the Hebrew script including Aramaic, Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-Italian, Judeo-Persian, Judeo-Spanish, Yiddish and various others. The collection also holds some 7,000 manuscript fragments, deriving mainly from the Cairo Genizah, nearly 1,000 Hebrew and Yiddish periodical and newspaper titles, in addition to considerable numbers of microforms of manuscripts, printed books and periodicals.

Access Information

Access to the British Library’s collections require a valid reader pass which can be applied for online or in person. Manuscripts, printed items, and other physical material can be ordered and consulted during opening hours in designated reading rooms, namely the Asian and African Studies reading room for manuscripts and printed books and the Rare Books and Music reading room for printed material.

In order to access Hebrew manuscripts and rare printed material, the British Library recommends that you email the Lead Curator of Hebrew & Christian Orient Studies at least one week in advance. Lead Curator Ilana Tahan can be contacted at ilana.tahan@bl.uk. More information on the collection can be found in the Library’s online collection guide.

Digital Accessibility

All the Hebrew manuscripts have been fully digitised and are available free of charge on the British Library’s Digitised Manuscripts site. The full archive and manuscript holdings of the British Library can also be searched on its online catalogue.

Street Address

The British Library
Asian and African Collections
96 Euston Rd
London NW1 2DB

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