University of Leeds Special Collections

Roth MS 220, an account of the Holy Places in Palestine, 1958

The University of Leeds Special Collections is housed in the Brotherton Library, Leeds, and is open to public access. It contains a number of historic Jewish collections.

Archive Description

One of the largest Jewish collections is the Cecil Roth Collection of around 360 manuscripts from 13th-20th century, collected by the British Jewish historian Cecil Roth. They contain a large number of early modern written texts including prayer books, marriage contracts, letters and deeds in Hebrew and other languages. These extraordinary records document the daily lives of Jews and their culture around the world.

Other collections include:

  • The Esther Simpson correspondence and papers includes her personal papers, photographs, press-cuttings and correspondence.
  • Papers relating to the Leeds Academic Assistance Committee founded in 1933 to support academic refugees from Germany.
  • The Papers of Janina and Zygmunt Bauman contains material relating to Jewish organisations including Yad Vashem and the Leeds based Holocaust Survivors Friendship Association.
  • The Holocaust Survivors’ Friendship Association Collection encompasses interviews with Jewish people evacuated to Leeds during the Second World War and information about their subsequent lives.
  • Czech Torah Scroll no.68 is from Brno, the Czech Republic and dates from 1890. It’s on loan from the Memorial Scrolls Trust and contains the Pentateuch.
  • The Marilyn Fetcher Collection contains Shifra papers, correspondence and photographs.
  • The Porton Collection of printed material dates from 1553-1980. It covers all aspects of the religion and culture of the Jewish people and includes works in Hebrew, Yiddish and English. The foundation of the collection is the library of Rabbi Moses Abrahams to which was added part of Joseph Porton’s library, a Leeds printer and stationer.
  • The Travers Herford Collection is a small collection of books published 1935-1948 on Jewish history acquired by Robert Travers Herford, a rabbinical scholar.

Access Information

The collections are open to the public, although some items have special handling requirements. External visitors are required to register with the Library and on their first visit will need to provide photographic identification with confirmation of signature and present address.

The collection also requires advance notification of at least two days. Notifications and questions can be sent to the Library through an online form.

Online Accessibility

Part of the Cecil Roth Collection has been digitised and is available on their website. The Special Collections catalogue is also available online.

Street Address

Special Collections
Brotherton Library
University of Leeds
Woodhouse Lane
Leeds, LS2 9JT

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