The Jewish Museum of Prague
by Henry Wellisch
(Meet the author)
As we all know the
Jewish Museum in Prague has a large collection of Jewish records going
back well into the 18th and in some cases into the 17th century. In
JUDAICA BOHEMIAE Vol. VII , Jan Herman published under
the Title: The Jewish Community Archives from Bohemia and Moravia
a detailed description of these holdings. This important publication
is available in larger Jewish and University libraries.
The contents of the
archives are divided into three analytical tables. The most important
one is table Nr. 1. It is organized by community, type of record and timeframe.
The table is divided into 42 vertical columns. Following is a description
of the content of these columns. Please note that the items listed
below are under the control of the Jewish Museum in Prague with the exception
of columns 25, 26 and 27. These are the birth, marriage and death registers
which have been transferred to the Czech State Archives. Many of
the records listed are not at the Museum itself and it is necessary to
request items in advance.
A typical entry: BRNO:
Vertical Column 6: 1848-1936. This means that for this community the chronicles
and historical references to local Jews are available for the years 1848-1936.
Analytical Table 1
Vertical column Nr.:
The constitution of the Jewish community, and
its regulations, including material concerning the founding of the community
or the legalization of an existing community.
The area of the community, including the names
of incorporated localities, the amalgamation of several communities into
one, or the division of large communities into several smaller ones.
Minutes of meetings and invitations to meetings
of the elders.
Chronicles and pinkas books, for the most part
old volumes, or books from smaller communities where the whole business
of the community was recorded.
Statistics: lists of members of the community,
employees of the community, names of Jews from elsewhere, lists of Jewish
Community chronicles and historical references
to local Jews.
Elections to the organs of the community and to
regional and state organs.
Registration of incoming material, minutes, lists
of documents in the registry before deposition in the archives.
Registry. In some communities documents were filed
according to the registry number for incoming material and not according
to the subject dealt with; in such cases the material is found in column
9. Where material was filed according to subject matter, it can be found
in cols. 11, 14-20, 22-24, or 28. Registry material usually comprises letters
received, copies of letters sent (or a book of copies), orders and decrees
received, circulars, material concerning compulsory military service,
certificates of respectability and of indigence, times of prayer-meetings
Postal delivery bocks: lists of documents sent
by post or delivered by hand.
Religious matters: concerning the local rabbi,
relations with the regional and district rabbis (personal papers will be
found entered in col.15). rabbinical qualifications, the religious premises
belonging to the community, such as the mikvah, the beth hamidrash, etc.:the
kosher butchery, synagogue services, services for the military and the
election of rabbis.
Mazkirim (books of prayers in remembrance of the
Sermons, speeches etc. Special sermons by the
local rabbi. political and other speeches.
Social care: care of the sick and the poor, assistance,
efforts to aid the distressed, old people's homes, hospitals, poor-houses,
alms, care of soldiers, of orphans, of beggars. Care of refugees (war victims,
refugees from Nazism and from pogroms). Distribution of Passover flour,
mazot and etrogim.
Personal papers of community employees, their
enrolment and dismissal, and salaries.
The Zionist movement and aid for Erez Yisrael.
Land owned by the community, excerpts from the
Real estate owned by the community, the maintenance,
sale and purchase of such property, builders' and other plans. Plans of
the Jewish community. Privately-owned Jewish houses, letting of properties
Anti-Semitism and persecution of the Jews. The
Nazi persecution, emigration caused by pogroms and wars, anti-Semitic literature,
anti-Jewish campaigns. Limitations placed on the Jews and persecution before
emancipation: anti-Jewish measures taken by the Church, enforced concentration
in ghettos, reduction in the numbers of Jews, and their expulsion, complaints
against Jews and government protection of the Jews.
The finances of the Jewish communities. Budgeting
income and expenditure, statements of balance of accounts, bank business,
insurance of community property, loans, cheque books, receipts, bonds.
Donations to the community, collections organized by the community, and
Catalogues of community property.Endowments. The
management of endowments, legacies and estates.
Taxes. The religious tax (after emancipation),
state and local taxes, War loans (World War I), military requisitioning.
The military rates, Feudal taxes and rates (before emancipation): tribute,
serf labour tolls, feudal officials' salaries, domestic salaries. payments
in kind, exemption taxes, consumption taxes, etc.
Register documents. Birth, marriage and death
certificates, marriage business, permission for marriage, banns. Change
(Located at Czech State Archives)
Marriage registers. (Located
at Czech State Archives)
(Located at Czech State Archives)
Entrance to and withdrawal from the religious
community. The acceptance and expulsion of members.
Books, lists and plans of seating in the synagogue.
The synagogue: building matters. Purchase of land
and buildings. Repairs, demolition and sale of synagogue buildings.
The synagogue: official books and registry material.
Minutes of committee meetings. invitations to meetings, regulations, correspondence.
The synagogue: business matters. Account books,
bills etc.; lists of donations, of donations on calling to the Torah, of
members subscriptions, rental of seats, pinkas and miscellaneous expenses.
Inventories of synagogue equipment. Lists of articles
for religious use.
The burial society: constitution and regulations,
agenda including relevant correspondence.
The burial society: lists of the deceased and
of graves, plans of graves and copies of epitaphs.
The burial society: official books and registry
material. Correspondence, lists of members, invitations to meetings, minutes,
chronicles, establishment and abolition of cemeteries, election of burial
The burial society: business. Account books, bills
etc., lists of donations, lists of subscriptions and gifts. Purchase and
sale of land for cemeteries, building matters. Pinkas. Endowments. Taxes.
Inventory of burial society property. Burial taxes and the sale of plots
Educational matters. Religious instruction. The
Jewish school and its registry, inventories of equipment, school business,
school chronicles, building matters, school fees, teachers' and pupils'
library catalogues, chronicles, books of honour. The Talmud Torah school.
Local school board.
The school: class registers, lists and qualifications
of pupils. Catalogues.
Official books and documents concerning local
Private papers. For the break-down of this material
see Analytical Table 3.
Analytical Table 2
List of Jewish institutions
and societies whose written archive material has been partially preserved
among that of the Jewish religious communities of Bohemia and Moravia (mainly
fragments of correspondence between the institution (society) concerned
and the appropriate Jewish community. Table 2 breaks down the data found
mainly in cols. 9, 14 and 20 of Table 1. Local societies (col. 41) are
not given in this table.
The name of the Jewish
organization or society is followed by the name of the place in which it
functioned (where that could be ascertained), and the name of the Jewish
community in whose archives the material was found.
Analytical Table 3
This index of names consists essentially of a breakdown of the data found in columns 19, 22 and 42 of Analytical Table 1. They are mainly a collection of papers, endowments and individual correspondence of individuals. The place names refer to the archives concerned, the number to the catalogue of the Jewish community archives of Bohemia and Moravia and the dates to the period of time covered.
The index of names can be accessed through the following links:
A - J
K - R
S - Z
E-mail the author
Other links to the Jewish Museum:
Museum in Prague - the official website for the museum
Jewish Museum marks 90th birthday (news article - Aug.
City Server: Culture: Museums (scroll toward end of page)
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