JTS Digitizes and Makes Historical Recordings Available Thanks to Federal Grant

August 15, 2023

JTS is delighted to share that it was the recipient of a prestigious grant from The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), an affiliate of the National Archives, to digitize and make accessible a treasure trove of audio-visual files. After a year of work involving archivists, librarians, and technical experts, many of the items in our collection are now available. The timing of this grant was crucial, as many of these valuable recordings were in danger of degradation and being lost forever. 

The 18-month grant, which was generously awarded to JTS in July 2022, enables expanded research on the Jewish experience and advances the understanding of American history and culture in the mid-20th century. The recordings included in the collection encompass a wide range of topics, including programs featuring leaders in American politics, law and ethics, public interfaith programs, lectures, symposia, arts and literature programs, and interviews with and about theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel.  

“Receiving this grant from the NHPRC was a momentous achievement for JTS,” said Naomi Steinberger, JTS Director of Library Services, who serves as the Project Director for this grant. “If not digitized, many significant materials would have further degraded and become entirely defunct and inaccessible. We are thankful to the NHPRC for preventing that from happening.” 

The digitized recordings will provide researchers, scholars, students, and the public unprecedented access to a diverse array of Jewish cultural material.  

The digitization process, leveraging state-of-the-art technology, will not only ensure the longevity of the original recordings but also enhance accessibility. Once completed, the digital archive will be available to the public, fostering a broader understanding and appreciation of Jewish culture and its impact on society.  

Some of the highlights from the collection include recordings of renowned Jewish scholars, esteemed religious leaders, and notable cultural figures whose contributions have left an indelible mark on Jewish history.  Items that will be digitized include recordings from the “Eternal Light” program and interviews with prominent people such as Elie Wiesel, Chaim Potok, Norman Podhoretz, Simon Wiesenthal, Irving Howe, and more. Audio files related to the work of Abraham Joshua Heschel and numerous interviews with female scholars are also included. 

JTS is grateful for NHPRC’s confidence and support, which promises to be a milestone achievement in preserving and promoting Jewish cultural heritage.