Guide to Research and Reference Services

Moses Mendelssohn’s Eyeglasses

Researchers can search LBI’s extensive library, archival, art, and photograph collections online, and significant portions of these collections have already been digitized.  Thus, you can conduct much of your research independently from home.

However, you may find that after identifying a resource online you have further questions about it.  For instance, detailed inventories have been created for many archival collections and placed online, but some of these collections have not yet been digitized, which may leave open questions about whether the items are pertinent to your research.

In cases like this, LBI provides reference support in the reading room of the Center for Jewish History as well as through the form below.  The Center for Jewish History also provides live chat with a librarian at Unfortunately, LBI cannot accept reference inquiries by phone.

To ensure the fastest and best response to your request, please make sure you do the following before submitting an inquiry through the form below:

1.) Search the collections online

Use this online search at to find items from all Center for Jewish History collections, including digital and non-digital content from LBI collections.

2.) Determine whether a digital resource is available

A large percentage of the archival and photograph collections as well as many art objects and rare books are available in digital form. Search results at will include a link to the digitized materials if they exist. Alternatively,  a search conducted at will return only results for items that have been digitized.

3.) Ask a Librarian or genealogist at the Center for Jewish History Online

Visit to chat live with a librarian or Genealogist at the Center for Jewish History.  CJH librarians can help you with basic inquiries about resources at LBI and the other partner organizations of the CJH.


Still haven’t found what you are looking for?


4.) Consider a visit to the reading room of the Center for Jewish History

If you identify an archival collection or book that interests you, but it has not been digitized, you can access it at the Center for Jewish History. Patrons in New York City typically receive the fastest access to library books and non-digitized archival collections in the Lillian Goldman Reading room of the Center for Jewish History.


Not in New York?


5.) Submit an inquiry using the form below

If you have identified an undigitized archival collection or other holding and cannot visit the Center for Jewish History to examine it yourself, please submit an inquiry using the form below.  LBI staff can answer basic questions about its contents for you or, for a fee, provide photocopies.

6.) Note the call number of the collection or item you are interested in.

The call number is is a unique identifier that contains information about the location of the object.  It is listed in search results, catalog entries, and at the top of each “Finding Aid” for archival collections (e.g., “AR 5098”).

7.) Include specific subjects and proper names with your inquiry

Make sure  you let us know if you are interested in a specific person, family surname, town, business, etc…

8.) Please be patient

The average response time for inquiries is 1-3 weeks.  LBI staff cannot perform substantive research for you and may only determine what materials we hold that are pertinent to your request.  LBI reserves the right to decline research requests that place undue strain on staff resources.

Contact Leo Baeck Institute — Research and Reference Inquiries

  • What is the general topic of your question? Or, if your question concerns a specific collection or work in our catalog, it would be especially helpful if you entered the title or call number here. For example "AR 7002, the Jacob Jacobson Collection."
  • Let us know how we can help you. Please be as specific as possible about what information you seek.