Fordham University’s Jewish Studies program and the New York Public Library (NYPL) have announced a joint research fellowship in Jewish studies for the 2017-2018 academic year. The pilot program is open to scholars from outside of New York City seeking to conduct research at NYPL’s Dorot Jewish Division.
“It’s very exciting and it strengthens our connection with another major cultural institution,” said Magda Teter, Ph.D., Shvidler Chair in Judaic Studies and professor of history.
The Fordham-NYPL Fellowship Program in Jewish Studies is made possible by the Eugene Shvidler Gift Fund and additional gift funds to Jewish studies.
“The library has quite a number of fellowships, but there’s not something special for the Dorot Division,” said Stephen D. Corrsin, Ph.D., curator of both the Dorot Jewish Division and the Slavic, Baltic, and East European Collections.
The Dorot Division was formed two years after the library was founded in 1895 and was the library’s first special collection, he said. With over 300,000 books and serials, it stands as one of the most significant collections of Judaica in North America.
“I know that scholars will find all sort of things here. Sometimes it’s serendipitous, sometimes they’re looking for something specific,” he said.
From a collection of 15th-century books published at the dawn of the printing press called incunables to microfilms of 20th-century Jewish newspapers from around the globe, the library presents a rare chance for scholars to study materials that have yet to be digitized, Corrsin said.
“We get people dropping by who just want to see something unusual, and if we have a facsimile we’ll bring it out,” he said. “But we wouldn’t bring out an incunable for a tourist. The scholar has a presumed need for the original item.”
Teter said that while Fordham Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections continues to grow its Judiaca collection, the library doesn’t yet have the resources to support the world class Jewish scholarship that the Dorot Division can provide. But Fordham can now facilitate visas for international scholars to gain access to the division; in turn, the University will then showcase their findings at lectures and faculty seminars.
“Research in the humanities and social sciences is underfunded and this program will enable scholars who we would love to come to New York City to come and share their research,” said Teter. “The New York Public Library will be their research lab and Fordham will be the place where their exciting conversations happen.”
In addition to the fellowship program, the University will host its first joint Fordham-NYPL program on March 29 with a talk by NYPL Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center Fellow Natan Meir, Ph.D., on “Stepchildren of the Shtetl: Destitute and Disabled Outcasts of East European Jewish Society, 1800-1939.”