Collecting Kentucky Jewish History: Covenant and Collaboration

Abigail Glogower, Sarah Dorpinghaus, Heather Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


“Building Kentucky's Archives and Collections,” a panel at the 2018 Kentucky Jewish History Symposium, featured four presentations by professional archivists on their efforts to cultivate Jewish collections and audiences at their historical societies and university libraries. Following the presentations, moderator Rabbi Dr. Gary P. Zola, executive director of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati, opened the Q&A section by enumerating the dangers that await Jewish historical materials housed in non-Jewish archives. Unless deposited at Jewish institutions and stewarded by archivists specially trained in Jewish history, he worried, such history risks being “lost” either through neglect or misapprehension. This anxiety over the preservation of Jewish history is telling for it cuts straight to core ideological and methodological debates on archiving minority history in general and Jewish history in particular: To whom does Jewish history matter? Where does it belong? Can Jewish communities trust non-Jewish institutions to responsibly store, organize, and facilitate access to their histories? The answers posited by Zola and the American Jewish Archives are that Jewish history matters primarily to Jews, belongs in Jewish institutions, and should not be entrusted to non-Jewish ones. In this essay, the Jewish and non-Jewish Kentucky archivists on that panel argue otherwise: that Jewish history matters to local histories; that its preservation should be a shared endeavor founded on mutual respect between a minority community and area archival institutions; and finally, that this approach to collecting Jewish history offers immense intellectual and logistical benefits for Jews and non-Jews alike.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-251
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Jewish Identities
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History and Philosophy of Science
  • Literature and Literary Theory
  • Philosophy
  • Religious studies


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