Judaica / Holocaust & Genocide Studies Collections

These collections consist of over 3,000 works dating back more than 500 years. They include materials from over sixty locations across six continents and support emerging areas of study at Western Washington University. In addition to serving Western’s research and instruction needs, the collections engage diverse constituencies on and off campus through public programming, library exhibitions, community partnerships, and more.

The Judaica Collection

Numbering approximately 2,000 volumes, the Judaica Collection brings together a wide range of rare and significant titles documenting the global Jewish experience. Highlights include a book printed in 1505 in Constantinople; Sefer Elim (1629) by Joseph Solomon Delmedigo, a rabbi and mathematician who studied with Galileo; two early publications by the first Hebrew printing press in Calcutta; and the Bibliyoteḳah ʻIvrit (“Hebrew Library”), a subscription series important to the development and popularization of Modern Hebrew literature.

Sefer Elim

The collection includes texts in fifteen languages other than Hebrew. Yiddish and German are especially well represented. Also present are rare publications in diasporic languages such as Ladino and Judeo-Arabic.

Current collecting initiatives aim to expand the collection in partnership with local Jewish institutions to document the history of Judaism in Washington and the Pacific Northwest.

Holocaust & Genocide Studies Collection

Begun by American minister and theology educator Edward S. Setchko, this collection of over 1,000 volumes was acquired in 2018 to support the work of WWU’s Ray Wolpow Institute for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Crimes Against Humanity. At present, it consists primarily of printed materials documenting antisemitism, Jewish ghettos, and World War II concentration camps. Also available are accounts by Holocaust survivors, as well as other memoirs and histories of Jewish communities.

Wilne Untern Nacy-Joch

An emerging strength of the collection are its holdings on the Shearit’ ha-Pleta (“surviving remnant”), Displaced Persons (DPs), and post-war refugees. Notable examples include issues of the journal Fun letstn khurbn (“From the last extermination”), published between 1946 and 1948 in the Munich DP camp in the US Zone of Germany, and a small but growing collection of original and translated Yizkor (memorial) books. Compiled by survivors and emigres, Yizkor books chronicle the history and daily life of destroyed Jewish communities through original essays, photographs, and other material. 

Further collection development will align these holdings with the teaching and research needs of WWU faculty and students. Anticipated acquisitions include material documenting the Holocaust outside of Central and Eastern Europe; the Nazi persecution of non-Jewish groups; and the global history of genocide.

The Judaica Collection and Holocaust & Genocide Collection have been developed primarily through gifts. We welcome the opportunity to consider donations. For more information, please contact us at speccoll@wwu.edu or email the Judaica Project Archivist, David Schlitt (david.schlitt@wwu.edu).