Columbia University to Trace Seforim’s Footprints

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Columbia University has initiated a groundbreaking project called “Footprints, Jewish Books through Time and Space,” which traces the history and movement of seforim from owner to owner since the inception of print until the mid-nineteenth century. Until now, the only project of this kind was limited to tracing seforim of the fifteenth century.

“Jewish books in particular tell a fascinating story about the spread of knowledge and faith in a global Diaspora,” Footprints says. “Every literary work represents a moment in time and space where an idea was conceived and documented. But the history of a book continues long after composition as it is bought, sold, shared, read, confiscated, stored, or even discarded. This history is the essence of Footprints.”

Little is known about major patterns of cultural and intellectual exchange among Jews of different regions and between Jews and their neighbors, about the reading habits of Jewish communities and the roles of geographic hubs in directing print culture, the website said. Footprints works to close this research gap in the history of Jewish book circulation by building a large database of information related to the circulation of copies of printed editions of seforim. This will serve as the backbone for collaborative research projects and be a significant resource for researchers, teachers, and students of Jewish history.

Researchers at Columbia University are also investigating the footprints of the 4,500 volume library of the Schneerson Collection in Moscow which was recently scanned and put online.

{Matzav.com Israel News Bureau}

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