Jacobi Index

Progress report | Handwritten Material

Jacobi Papers Indexing

Progress Report

(December 2008)

Since the launching of this project in summer 2006, four preliminary activities have had to be undertaken before the actual indexing of the original Jacobi material could begin:

Digitalizing the Data – The microfiche copies of Jacobi’s original manuscripts, produced by the Jewish National and University Library, were found to be inadequate for the task at hand. A need was recognized to digitalize the original manuscripts in color (employing an advanced system of Digital Computer Imaging), not only to preserve the originals but also to make their deciphering easier, by computer enhancement and manipulation. About one-quarter of the material has been digitalized thus far.

Deciphering the Manuscripts – Jacobi wrote up his researches in English, in an excruciatingly difficult hand-writing. A three-person team of indexers, whose mother tongue is either German or English, has been assembled under Rabbi Shalom Bronstein (formerly of Philadelphia and a seasoned genealogist). This group has been engaged in a major exercise attempting to master Jacobi’s hand-writing (and other idiosyncrasies of abbreviation and style). Despite immense and enduring frustrations with the manuscripts, the team now feels that it is “ready to go”.

Formatting the Results – In order to present the results in an appropriate and user-friendly way, the team has held extensive consultations with computer experts, who have designed a custom-made computer program and database format to meet the special needs of the project.

Inventorying the Collection – In the absence of an orderly hand-list of Jacobi’s manuscripts, it was found necessary to review, analyze and record the contents of the 50 boxes of Jacobi’s original material held in the Manuscript Room of the National and University Library. This work was completed recently and an annotated inventory of all 47 boxes, prepared by Shalom Bronstein, is now available.

Shalom Bronstein and his team are now ready to embark on deciphering of the digitalized material, a process which will be long, eye-straining, labor-intensive and taxing on all involved.

The digitalization of the remaining three quarters of the material will continue as required and in accordance with the availability of funds.

It is now clear that the project as a whole will be a lengthy and costly undertaking but that the rewards for Jewish genealogists and family historians, indeed historians generally, will be considerable.

Click here for the annotated inventory of the original hand-written Jacobi material.