Brandeis Special Collections on the Internet Archive — Part II in an Occasional Series
We at Brandeis University Archives & Special Collections are dedicated to the preservation of the materials within our collecting remit. We are equally dedicated to making these materials freely and widely accessible. One of the ways we have been expanding this accessibility is by making many of our materials available online. As a member of the Boston Library Consortium, Brandeis University participates in the Open Content Alliance (OCA) project, which digitizes public-domain works from around the world. These digitized items are then made available on the Internet Archive (IA) (“a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music and more”) where they are beautifully presented, free and openly accessible to anyone with an internet connection. This occasional series will highlight some of the 1,836 (and growing) valuable, unique and highly requested research materials owned by Brandeis and scanned through the OCA project.
Selection of Recently Digitized Titles
Sefer Torat ha-Elohim/The Law of God
Isaac Leeser was a 19th-century American Jewish leader and the leader of Philadelphia’s Sephardic synagogue Mikveh Israel. In addition to publishing many textbooks for children and translating the Sephardic prayer book, Leeser founded the first American rabbinical school and the newspaper The Occidental. In 1845 he published the first Jewish translation of the Bible in the United States. Leeser’s work was based primarily on German Jewish translations and on traditional Jewish Bible scholarship, while aiming to make its style as close to the King James translation as possible. The Leeser translation soon became widely accepted and remained the standard Jewish translation until the publication of the Jewish Publication Society translation in 1917. In 1996, the Brandeis University National Women’s Committee (now known as the Brandeis National Committee) donated a copy of Leeser’s 1845 translation of the “Five Books of Moses, Torat ha-Elohim / The Law of God,” to the Library. “The Law of God” was the millionth book added to the Brandeis Libraries’ collection in 1996. We thought it fitting that this volume would mark our one thousandth contribution to the Internet Archive.
“Art and Artists of Our Time”
“Art and Artists of Our Time” is a six-volume set written by the distinguished 19th century critic Clarence Cook. Cook (1828–1900), considered to be the first professional art critic in the United States, was editor of the Pre-Raphaelite journal The New Path and longtime art critic for the New York Tribune. The six volumes of “Art and Artists of Our Time” are profusely illustrated with engravings that reproduce the works of the most admired artists of the period (the book was published in 1888) and present a revealing glimpse into contemporary artistic taste, with its emphasis on aesthetics and morality over formalism.
Jane Eyre: An Autobiography
The first edition of “Jane Eyre,” published on October 16th, 1847, sold out within a few months, which was unprecedented at the time. A first edition of this book is extremely rare, because most copies of this edition were read to pieces. A second edition was published in January, 1848, and the third edition in April of 1848. The three-volume format was a popular one for novels at the time of publication.
Boston Theater Company
The History of the Boston Theatre is a four-volume set describing and illustrating the productions mounted by theater companies in Boston, season by season, between 1854 and 1901. The copy in the Brandeis collection, digitized and available on the Internet Archive, is unique: bound in with the existing pages are portraits of actors (many with original inscriptions), theater programs, theater reviews clipped from journals, and hand-written correspondence, making the set even richer for research. Some of the correspondence, programs, portraits and signatures tipped in to the Brandeis set after it was published indicate that the additional materials might have been added by Wilmot Evans, a prominent Boston banker and politician. The set was given to Brandeis by Mr. and Mrs. Herman A. Mintz. Herman Mintz was a Boston attorney and founding partner of the prominent law firm Mintz Levin. Mr. Mintz had a special interest in Boston theater.