Who was collecting Hebrew books in the capital of Russian Empire and why

Cover Page

Cite item


By the beginning of the 20th century a unique collection of Hebrew manuscripts (more than 20000 units) and first printed books was formed in the capital of the Russian Empire. These books ended up in St. Petersburg as part of several private collections, such as the collection of a Protestant paleographer and Biblical scholar Konstantin von Tischendorf, of the Karaite leader Avraam Firkovich, of the Archimandrite Antonin Kapustin, of the Barons Günzburg, of a First Guild merchant Moses Aryeh Leib Friedland and of an Orientalist Professor Daniel Chwolson. The history of these collections and the motives of the collecting activity of their owners are the subject of this article.

About the authors

Shimon M. Iakerson

Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, Russian Academy of Sciences

Author for correspondence.
Email: shiakerson@yandex.ru

Dr. Sci. (History), Leading Researcher of the Department of Middle Eastern and Near Eastern Studies, IOM RAS

Russian Federation, Dvortsovaia naberezhnaia 18, St. Petersburg, 191186


  1. Beit–Arié, Malachi. “Hebrew Manuscript collections in Leningrad and their importance to the History of the Hebrew Book”. Jewish Studies. Forum of the World Union of Jewish Studies. 31, 1991, pp. 33–46 (in English).
  2. Beit–Arié, Malachi. “The Accessibility of the Russian Manuscript Collections: New Perspectives for Jewish Studies”. Jewish Studies in a New Europe: Proceeding of the Fifth Congress of Jewish Studies in Copenhagen 1994. Copenhagen, 1998, pp. 82–98 (in English).
  3. Chwolson, Daniel. Chwolson Catalog der Hebrāischen Bücher… Wilna, 1897 (in Hebrew).
  4. Chwolson, Daniel. Chwolson, O nekotorykh sredneverovykh obvineniiakh protiv evreev [On Some Medieval Accusations against the Jews]. Moscow, 2010 (in Russian).
  5. Codices hebraicis litteris exarati quo tempore scripti fuerint exhibentes. Tome I. jusqu`a 1020. Malachi Beit–Arie, Colette Sirat, Mordechai Glazer avec la collaboration de Tamar Leiter, Shimon Iakerson, Michele Dukan, Edna Engel, Monique Zerdoun Bat–Yehouda. Brepols (Monumenta Palaeographica Medii Aevi... Series Hebraica), 1997 (in English).
  6. Dubnov, Semen. Kniga zhizni. Materialy dlia istorii moego vremeni. Vospominaniia i razmyshleniia [The book of life. Materials for the history of my time. Memories and Reflections]. Moscow, 2004 (in Russian).
  7. Firkovich, Abraham. Sefer Avne-Zikkaron. Sbornik nadgrobnykh evreiskikh nadpisei na Krymskom poluostrove [Memorial stones. Collection of gravestone Jewish inscriptions on the Crimean peninsula]. Wilna, 1872 (in Russian).
  8. Gerd, Lora. “Archimandrit Antonin Kapustin i ego nauchnaia deiatelnost. Po materialam peterburgskikh arkhivov” [Archimandrite Antonin Kapustin and his academic activity. Based on materials from St. Petersburg archives]. In: Rukopisnoe nasledie russkikh vizantinistov v arkhivach Sankt-Peterburga [Manuscript heritage of Russian Byzantinists in the archives of St. Petersburg]. St. Petersburg, 1999, pp. 8–35 (in Russian).
  9. Gessen, Vladimir. K istorii evreev: 300 let v Sankt-Peterburge [Towards the history of the Jews: 300 years in St. Petersburg]. St. Petersburg, 2005 (in Russian).
  10. Günzburg, David and Stassof, Vladimir. L’Ornement Hébraique. Berlin, 1905 (in German).
  11. Harkavy, Abraham and Strack, Hermann Leberecht. Catalog der Hebraischen Bibelhandschriften der Kaiserlichen Offentlichen Bibliothek in St. Petersburg. Erster und Zweiter Theil. St. Petersburg, Leipzig, 1875 (in German).
  12. Iakerson, Semen. Evreiskie sokrovishcha Peterburga. Svitki, kodeksy, dokumenty [Jewish Treasures of Petersburg. Scrolls, codices, documents]. St. Petersburg, 2008 (in Russian).
  13. Ivask, Udo. Opisanie russkikh knizhnikh znakov. Ex-libris [Description of Russian book marks. Ex-libris]. Moscow, 1905 (in Russian).
  14. Katsh, Abraham. “The Antonin Genizah in the Saltykov-Schedrin Public Library in Leningrad”. In: The Leo Jung Jubilee Volume. Essays in his honor on the occasion of his seventieth birthday. Ed. by Menahem M. Kasher. New York, 1962, pp. 115–131 (in English).
  15. Katsh, Abraham. “The Friedliana Library in the Leningrad Institute of Asiatic People”. Perakim (Organ of the American Hebrew Academy), vol. III (1963), pp. 1–23 (in Hebrew).
  16. Lisitsina, Alina. “Rukopisi iz kollektsii Ginzburgov v Rossiiskoi gosudarstvennoi biblioteke” [Manuscripts from the Günzburg collection in the Russian State Library]. Otechestvennye archivy [Domestic archives], no. 3, 2010, pp. 38–44 (in Russian).
  17. Lisovoi, Nikolai. “Arkhimandrit Antonin Kapustin — issledovatel sinaiskikh rukopisei (po stranitsam dnevnika)” [Archimandrite Antonin Kapustin — researcher of the Sinai manuscripts (Through the pages of the diary)]. In: Tserkov v istorii Rossii [Church in the history of Russia]. Collection 4. Moscow, 2000, pp. 197–207 (in Russian).
  18. Vereshchagin, Vasilii. Russkii knizhnyi znak [Russian book mark]. St. Petersburg, 1902 (in Russian).
  19. Vikhnovich, Vsevolod. Karaim Avraam Firkovich. Evreiskie rukopisi. Istoriia. Puteshestviia. [The Karaite Abraham Firkovich. Jewish Manuscripts. History. Journeys]. St. Petersburg, 2012 (in Russian).
  20. Wiener, Samuel. Bibliotheca Friedlandiana. Catalogus Librorum Impressorum Hebraeorum in Museo Asiatico Imperialis Academiae Scientiarum Petropolitanae asservatorum. Fasc. I–VI. Petropoli, 1893–1918 (in English).

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

This website uses cookies

You consent to our cookies if you continue to use our website.

About Cookies