The Center for Jewish History welcomes researchers, scholars and visitors of all backgrounds.
The Lillian Goldman Reading Room, often described as the heart of the Center, is the gateway for exploring the diverse history of the Jewish people through the collections housed at the Center for Jewish History. It was designed to provide modern convenience in a dignified, traditional ambience. The open-stack collection has reference texts and general information, as well as all major publications of the Center partners.
In addition, the Reading Room has developed an extensive electronic resource library that is available through public computer terminals. Archive and library collections consist of 500,000 volumes in multiple languages (e.g., Hebrew, Yiddish, Russian, German, Polish, French) from many time periods, as well as over 100 million documents, including organizational records and personal papers, photographs, multimedia recordings, posters, art and artifacts. Professional staff is on hand six days per week to provide access to these collections and assist researchers with their work.
Fellowship programs and graduate seminars developed by the Center with the guidance of its distinguished 15-member Academic Advisory Council attract promising doctoral students in Jewish Studies. High school students come in groups to learn the rudiments of serious research. Parents bring their children to study together the fragments and memories of prior generations.
The Reading Room's open-stack collection has basic texts and general information, as well as major publications of the Center partners. In addition, the Reading Room has developed and maintains an electronic resource library that is available through the public computer terminals. Electronic bibliographies compiled by the Center for its patrons are also available on the terminals. For patrons using microfilm or microfiche the Center offers access to Scan Pro 2000 digital microfilm readers that enable patrons to save images as JPGs, PDFs and other image file formats as well as allowing for printing.
Professional staff is on hand to help researchers access the library collections (rare books and volumes covering diverse periods and languages) and the archives (millions of documents, papers, posters, photographs, media and ritual objects), which are now under the same roof for the first time. Regarding inquiries, please be patient. The average response time for email reference inquiries is 1-3 weeks. At its discretion, the Center will not fulfill inquiries that it deems unreasonable.
To speak with a librarian or archivist about your visit to the Lillian Goldman Reading Room, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, call (212) 294-8301 extension 5101, or click here to chat. For those patrons requiring more in-depth research assistance than can be provided on a walk-in basis, The Center for Jewish History is also happy to arrange one-on-one research appointments through the book a librarian program.
Monday-Thursday: 9:30am - 6pm
Fridays: 9:30am - 2pm
Sundays: By advance appointment only
Monday-Thursday, last call for paging is 4:00pm. Friday, last call for paging is 12:00pm.
The Center for Jewish History welcomes groups and classes of all ages. Visitors may explore primary source materials, learn about historical and genealogy research and gain skills that can be applied to any library/archive by visiting the Center’s Outreach Department. Over the past year, we have provided personalized sessions for: school groups of various ages, summer camps, scouting troops, professional organizations and senior citizens centers, all of whom have visited the Ackman & Ziff Genealogy Institute and the Lillian Goldman Reading Room as part of this initiative. Potential sessions can include:
If you are interested in learning more please fill out the form here and we will be in touch.
Information on general tours can be found here.
The Center for Jewish History welcomes you to the Lillian Goldman Reading Room, where you can view the expansive and diverse collections of our five partner institutions, the American Jewish Historical Society, the American Sephardi Federation, the Leo Baeck Institute, the Yeshiva University Museum, and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. In these collections, each item represents a moment in Jewish history that must be preserved.
We need your help to ensure that the items you are handling will be available to future generations of researchers. We ask users to exercise extraordinary care in handling all materials in the Lillian Goldman Reading Room. In addition, every user is expected to abide by the following policies designed to preserve the collections. Should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to discuss these with our professional staff.
A valid picture ID must be presented at the front desk upon entering the building. A Reading Room Pass will be issued prior to admittance into the Reading Room. On his/her first visit to the Lillian Goldman Reading Room, each researcher will also be required to create an account for requesting materials.
Please note: Lockers are no longer available for daily use. All coats, backpacks, bags, laptop cases, and suitcases must be deposited at the coat check in the lobby.
At the coat check, you will be provided with a clear plastic bag for any personal items you may need during your research visit, such as: laptop/tablet, phone, pencils (no pens or markers), notebook/notepad, personal care items, etc. You may bring wallets or small pouches with personal items, but these also must be placed in the plastic bag. If you have questions, please feel free to ask a reference librarian.
Reference services staff reserve the right to inspect plastic bags upon entry and/or exit, and to restrict entry or access to materials if you cannot comply with these guidelines.
Young children must be supervised at all times by a parent, and any children in the library must be able to understand and obey all rules of the reading room.
We encourage the use of primary sources for middle and high school attendees, and they are welcome to use our collections. However, use of any materials is contingent upon being able to provide a photo ID for issuance of a reading room pass. Therefore, middle and high school attendees that cannot produce a photo ID for admittance will have to use materials with a parent/adult who does have appropriate identification.
Personal books are allowed at the discretion of the reference librarians. Should you need to bring in a book of your own, see the reference staff.
If you have a phone, it must be kept on silent or vibrate. Should you desire to photograph materials for research purposes, please see a reference librarian for the appropriate forms and permissions; permission to photograph is contingent upon adherence to the Center for Jewish History policies regarding digital photography. A camera is available for short-term use by readers; please see the reference librarian for details.
Research materials may not be removed from the Lillian Goldman Reading Room, and must be returned directly to a staff member. Archival boxes will be given to each researcher one at a time. Materials are to be used one folder at a time, keeping the folders flat on the table. The documents must be kept in order within folders, and the folders must be kept in order within the boxes. Please keep your elbows off of the documents. Researchers may use 2 books OR 1 rare book at a time. Certain rare materials require appointments for viewing. Researchers may be required to use white cotton gloves, page turners, or book cradles while handling certain materials. These special handling considerations are at the discretion of the reference librarians.
Microfilm readers are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. During busy times, priority will be given to patrons using microfilm computers to view microfilm. Reference Services staff reserves the right to limit excessive use of microfilm computers when other users are awaiting their turn. Patrons wanting to use microfilm may be required to read and sign an acknowledgment of copyright restrictions (Title 17, “Fair Use”) before being permitted to use Center microfilm. If microform or digitized copies of research materials are available, these will be provided rather than the originals. Any Microfilm/microfiche user who takes a break should not leave the microfilm at the machine, as any other user can use the machine while he/she is away.
Please note that some collections are subject to restrictions placed on the materials by donors, depositors, or staff.
Photocopies may be obtained by filling out a Photocopy Request Form. Copies are made only by staff members. Photocopying services may not be possible for fragile materials. Staff reserves the right to be the final arbiter of what may be photocopied. Requests for permission to publish materials from collections must be submitted in writing.
With the exception of collections held by YIVO Archives*, the partners of the Center for Jewish History prefer the use of flash-free personal digital photography in lieu of photocopies, in order to safeguard the condition of our materials. Many archival collections and printed books cannot be photocopied due to concerns about condition, and digital photography is often the only option for reproduction of these materials. Therefore, we strongly encourage all readers to bring a camera, tablet, or smartphone in order to take photos of materials; please do not assume that photocopies will be available or permitted. If you do not have a device capable of photography, please see the Reference Services staff for assistance; we have devices you may borrow to facilitate photography. Please note that scanners are not permitted in the Reading Room.
For general guidance on using digital images in your archival research, including workflow and organizing your images, please see this helpful guide from Cornell University Library: http://guides.library.cornell.edu/
*YIVO archives prefers to make these determinations on a case-by-case basis; digital photography is closely supervised when permitted. Please see the Reading Room or Reference Services staff for more information, so we may refer you to a YIVO archivist for consultation.
Payment is only accepted in US Dollars. Checks or money orders in US Dollars drawn on a US Bank should be made out to: Center for Jewish History.
Please note: The Center for Jewish History reserves the right to rate changes.
The Center and our partners reserve the right to determine the format of any duplication requests; your copies may be provided as either a paper photocopy or a digital file. This decision will be made based on the condition of the materials and the size of the request, among other factors. Charges will be estimated by staff and provided to you for review and approval before the duplication is initiated.
THE COPYRIGHT LAW OF THE UNITED STATES (TITLE 17, U.S. CODE) GOVERNS THE MAKING OF PHOTOCOPIES OR OTHER REPRODUCTIONS OF COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL. UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS SPECIFIED IN THE LAW, LIBRARIES AND ARCHIVES ARE AUTHORIZED TO FURNISH A PHOTOCOPY OR OTHER REPRODUCTION. ONE OF THESE SPECIFIED CONDITIONS IS THAT THE PHOTOCOPY OR REPRODUCTION IS NOT TO BE "USED FOR ANY PURPOSE OTHER THAN PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP, OR RESEARCH." IF A USER MAKES A REQUEST FOR, OR LATER USES, A PHOTOCOPY OR REPRODUCTION FOR PURPOSES IN EXCESS OF "FAIR USE," THAT USER MAY BE LIABLE FOR COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT. THIS INSTITUTION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO REFUSE TO ACCEPT A COPYING ORDER IF IN ITS JUDGEMENT, FULFILLMENT OF THE ORDER WOULD INVOLVE VIOLATION OF COPYRIGHT LAW.
The Center provides computers for visitor use in the Lillian Goldman Reading Room and Genealogy Institute. Use of these computers is limited to:
DVD players for use with Center for Jewish History material only are available via a laptop from the IT department under the following conditions:
Kindly reserve the laptop 7 days prior to your visit noting that you will be using a DVD. In your request state from which of the partner collections the DVD will be provided (AJHS, American Sephardi Federation, Leo Baeck Institute, YIVO Institute for Jewish Research or Yeshiva University Museum). Before reserving, make sure you have clearance for use of the DVD from the partner organization.
Users may connect their own laptop computers in the Lillian Goldman Reading Room and in the Genealogy Institute.
The Center's computers may not be used in any of these ways:
Staff and volunteers may help you access Internet sites, but the Center is not responsible for the accuracy of Internet information.
The Center is a special-purpose institution, committed principally to Jewish studies and genealogical research, and we have a limited number of computers; therefore, visitors should browse only Internet sites related directly to those special purposes.
The Center provides unfiltered Internet access. Users are responsible for accommodating themselves to the consequences of Constitutionally protected communication, even if they might observe or hear objectionable materials while on the Center's premises. We do ask our visitors to be considerate of others regarding any electronic views or sounds that may be disturbing to others.
Parents/legal guardians need to assume responsibility for determining what information resources they want their children to access. The Center assumes that parents/legal guardians have provided guidance to their children about Internet use.
The Center will not release information on the Internet use of any person using a Center computer; however, the Internet is not a secure medium and the Center has no control over the information that others may obtain regarding Internet use.
The Center reserves the right to limit or revoke all computer, Reading Room, and/or Center Genealogy Institute privileges for users who violate Center user policy.
The Lillian Goldman Reading Room/Ackman & Ziff Genealogy Institute will no longer accept donations of books or other collection materials for partner organizations. If you have materials you would like to donate to one of the collections, please send a list of items you would like to donate to the appropriate contact listed. Only donations within the scope of the individual collections will be accepted. All donations are accepted/declined at the sole discretion of partner organizations.