Leo Baeck Institute works to preserve and promote the history and culture of German-speaking Jews.
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Help LBI keep the past present with a financial donation or by contributing historical materials.
Start at the Online Catalog of the Leo Baeck Institute, which will show you results from the collections at the Leo Baeck Institute. There also will be options to search the collections of our partners at the Center for Jewish History.
More information can be found in the Guide to LBI's Online Catalog.
If you find you need further assistance, you may contact the Dr. Robert Ira Lewy Reference Service.
While LBI does not provide translation services directly, we sometimes work with materials donors to transcribe and/or translate parts of their collections. Sometimes, the donors support this work with a financial donation to the institute. We encourage you to contact us if you have such materials in your possession. The Ackman & Ziff Genealogy Institute at the Center for Jewish History maintains lists of translators who specialize in relevant language such as German, Yiddish, and Hebrew, including archaic scripts such as Sütterlin.
The LBI’s core mission is to preserve and make publicly available materials pertaining to the history and culture of German-speaking Jews. This includes correspondence, manuscripts, official documents, photographs, and ephemera. In general, we believe that if a family deemed materials important enough to save over decades or generations since their emigration from Germany, then the materials are likely of historical interest and should be preserved.
By donating your family’s materials to the LBI, you ensure that they will be preserved, both physically and digitally, for generations to come and made accessible not only to future researchers and educators, but to your own family members and descendants. Entrusting them to the LBI also enriches their value and meaning by placing them in the context of thousands of other family collections in the LBI archives, the LBI’s 80,000 volume library, and the global view of Jewish history presented by the collections of the other partners in the Center for Jewish History.
The public can access digitized materials through the online catalogs and websites of the Center for Jewish History. Researchers who demonstrate a special need may also view the original materials in the Reading Room at the Center for Jewish History. Additionally, LBI and its partner organizations at the Center for Jewish History may include the materials in exhibitions, or LBI may loan the materials to museums for exhibits.
All donors receive an acknowledgment letter including, upon request, a statement of the approximate value of the collection based on a guideline of $500 per linear foot of materials. For an assessed value of more than $5,000, a professional independent appraisal is required, to be paid for and arranged by the donor.
All donors sign a Deed of Gift which stipulates ownership of the collection and any special conditions. Usually the donated materials and all rights owned by the donor are transferred to the LBI. However, sometimes donors wish to retain copyrights or place access restrictions on the collection, for example making it available only to qualified researchers or keeping it closed until a specific date. Donor information is retained by the LBI but remains confidential unless the donor wishes to release it.
Yes. While having your family papers professionally cataloged and digitized means they can be accessed online at any time, some donors and their family members occasionally want to view original materials, and LBI makes every reasonable effort to accommodate such requests.