Theater program for play Shnirele perl (A String of Pearls), that displays an abstract figure of Reb Melech standing on the shtetl street lit only by the light of the moon
Sholem Asch (writer),
Robert Van Rosen (designer)
"A String of Pearls: A play in 4 acts," program, 1925

The Dorot Jewish Division at The New York Public Library is the oldest publicly accessible collection of Jewish materials in the United States. Comprising more than 250,000 items spanning almost 800 years of Jewish civilization and traditions across the globe, the Division’s collections are internationally recognized for their rich legacy, magnitude, and breadth. Since its founding in 1897, the Dorot Jewish Division has served as a central reference hub by the compilers of modern Jewish encyclopedias and dictionaries. In 2022, when the Division marked its 125th anniversary, plans were put in place to make a range of materials from the collections more widely accessible to researchers around the world through a major online exhibition, which is now available to all.

The artifacts in this online exhibition have been chosen for their historical significance, originality, and artistry, including materials that reflect the history and vibrant culture of Jewish communities all over the world, from the Renaissance to the 20th century. Explore more than 100 items from the collections in our online exhibition, including rare manuscripts; treasures of early book printing; materials describing the meeting of tradition and modernity in the 18th and 19th centuries; vital documents that bear witness to the tragedies of the 20th century and the resilience of Jewish communities; and items that offer insight into Jewish life in New York and the United States.

From February 17 to April 3, 2024, a selection of items from the exhibition was on display in the McGraw Rotunda on the third floor of The New York Public Library's Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.

This exhibition is organized by The New York Public Library and curated by Lyudmila Sholokhova, Curator of the Dorot Jewish Division.

Installation views

125 Years of the Dorot Jewish Division is open through April 3, 2024 in the McGraw Rotunda in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.

Photograph of the entire exhibition display case with the introduction panel next to it.
Photograph of the entire exhibition display case.
Photograph of a close-up of the display case showing matchbook assortment.
Photograph of a close-up of the display case showing a program cover.
Photograph of a close-up of the display case showing a religious scroll.
Photograph of a close-up of the display case showing three books, two of which are open and one of which is closed.
Photograph of a close-up of the display case showing a miniature book.

Large Print Labels

Large Print Logo

Access the exhibition's large print labels here:

125 Years of the Dorot Jewish Division

A physical copy can be found at the information desk in the McGraw Rotunda.

Learn More about the Dorot Jewish Division

desks in Dorot division

The Dorot Jewish Division administers, develops and promotes one of the world’s great collections of Hebraica and Judaica. The collection contains a comprehensive and balanced chronicle of the religious and secular history of the Jewish people in over a quarter of a million books, microforms, manuscripts, newspapers, periodicals, and ephemera from all over the world. Reference and research services are available in a dedicated Jewish studies reading room on the first floor of the Library’s landmark Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.

Primary source materials are especially rich in the following areas: Jews in the United States, especially in New York in the age of immigration; Yiddish theater; Jews in the land of Israel; Jews in early modern Europe, especially Jewish-Gentile relations; Christian Hebraism; antisemitism; and world Jewish newspapers and periodicals of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Explore some of the Dorot Jewish Division's collections in our Digital Collections online now:

Plus, read some of the Division's blog posts that relate to this exhibition:


Curatorial Acknowledgements

This project has not only provided a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the Dorot Jewish Division, but has also been a chance to collaborate with a great cohort of talented and dedicated colleagues at The New York Public Library, curators at other libraries and museums in the United States and abroad, and researchers across the globe who graciously shared their expertise. It has proven to be a nurturing and inspiring experience and I would like to take a moment to thank everyone whose hard work, professionalism, enthusiasm, support, encouragement, and attention to detail made this exhibit possible. It was a pleasure and honor to work with you all!

I would like to express my immense gratitude to my dear colleagues at The New York Public Library: Declan Kiely, Director, Special Collections and Exhibitions; Becky Laughner, Manager of Exhibitions; Natalie Ortiz, Administrative Coordinator, Exhibitions and Special Collections; Amanda Raquel Dorval, Curatorial Associate, Exhibitions; Tereza Chanaki, Library Page, Exhibitions; Carl Auge, Installation Manager; Ryan Douglass, Museum Maintainer; Jake Hamill, Museum Maintainer; Kels Glaser, Installation Assistant; Christopher Alzapiedi, Installation Assistant; Jason Baumann, Susan and Douglas Dillon Director for Collection Development and Global Studies;  Jennifer Fermino, Vice President, Communications and Marketing; Amy Geduldig, Assistant Director, Public Relations; Charles Arrowsmith, Managing Editor, Creatives Services; Sara Beth Joren, Senior Publicist; Margaret Young, Senior Manager, Budget Operations; Fay Rosenfeld, Vice President, Public Programs; Carmen Nigro, Assistant Director, Map, Dorot Jewish, and Local History & Genealogy Divisions; Deborah Straussman, Senior Registrar; Caryn Gedell, Associate Registrar, Exhibitions; Martin Branch-Shaw, Associate Registrar, Special Collections Transport; Steven Crossot, Manager, Imaging Operations; Virginia Bartow, Senior Manager, Special Collections Cataloging; Tomasz Kalata, Assistant Director, Cataloging, and other members of the Cataloging team; Miriam Gloger and Jacob Shulman, Yiddish and Hebrew catalogers. I’d like to thank a wonderful team of conservators who provided an exemplary care for materials selected for the exhibit, especially Mary Oey, Associate Director, Conservation; Emily Muller, Book and Paper Conservator; Hanako Murata, Senior Photograph Conservator; Addison Yu, Library Technical Assistant. I’d like to thank members of the Copyright team, especially Dina Selfridge, Digitization Coordinator, Access and Discovery Services, and Kiowa Hammons, Manager, Rights Clearance. 

Special thanks to Tony Marx, President; Brent Reidy, Andrew W. Mellon Director of the Research Libraries; Denise Hibay, Astor Director for Collections and Research Services; Yvonne Hoeft, Director, Foundations and Grants; and Emily Stevens, Senior Manager of Special Initiatives, Foundations and Government Grants, for supporting and implementation of the idea and vision of the exhibition. 

My colleagues and fellow curators and librarians at The New York Library have been indispensable in providing their expertise and support. I’d like to thank Hiba Abid, Curator for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies; Bogdan Horbal, Curator, Slavic and East European Collections; Paloma Celis Carbajal, Curator, Latin American, Iberian and Latino Studies; Ian Fowler, Curator of Maps, History and Government Information; Julie Golia, Associate Director, Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Books & Charles J. Liebman Curator of Manuscripts; and Tal Nadan, Specialist III at Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.  

I am profoundly thankful to my colleagues in the Dorot Jewish Division who have been a source of inspiration and exemplary service for the collection: Amanda (Miryem-Khaye) Seigel, Jeanne-Marie Musto, Nora Doliver, Cathy Sorokurs, and Tsz Lee. 

I would like to extend my thanks to the colleagues, curators, and researchers who responded to my inquiries with patience and grace and encouraged my work in the project, especially Sharon Liberman Mintz, the Curator of Jewish Art at the Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary; Dr. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Professor Emerita at New York University and Ronald S. Lauder Chief Curator of the Core Exhibition at POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw; Dr. Vladimir Levin, Director of the the Center for Jewish Art, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Shani Avni, Ismar David Visiting Assistant Curator, Cary Graphic Arts Collection at the Rochester Institute of Technology; Simona Di Nepi, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Curator of Judaica at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Alla Sokolova, Curator, The Centre “Petersburg Judaica”,  Dr. Marcin Wodziński, Professor of Jewish Literature and History at the University of Wrocław; Dr. Jeremy Dauber, Atran Professor of Yiddish Language, Literature and Culture and Director of Columbia's Institute of Israel and Jewish Studies; Dr. Rivka Elitzur-Leiman, the Fordham-NYPL Jewish Studies Research Fellow; and Dr. Gennady Estraikh, Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, Yiddish Studies at New York University. 

My special appreciation goes to Michele Tocci, President, the David Berg Foundation, and Michael Glickman, Founder, jMUSE & The Jewish Museums Project, for inspiring, encouraging  and supporting the idea of the exhibition from the very beginning to its completion.  

Lyudmila Sholokhova, Curator, Dorot Jewish Division