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March 17, 2006

Library acquires private collection documenting the history of Tel Aviv

The Stanford University Libraries has acquired the Eliasaf Robinson Collection on Tel Aviv, which documents the founding and early history of Tel Aviv, the first modern Jewish city. Robinson, an antiquarian bookseller in Tel Aviv, built the extensive collection over nearly four decades, concentrating on materials that date from before 1948, the year that the State of Israel proclaimed its independence with Tel Aviv as its first capital.

In addition to books, the collection holds thousands of archival documents and photographs of institutions, individuals, political activities and public events, as well as ephemera related to business, entertainment and culture, said Zachary Baker, curator of Judaica and Hebraica collections. It also contains maps, architectural plans and proclamations and posters created for political and civic events, including the first posters created by Tel Aviv's municipal government.

Among the collection's rare contents are 10 kushans—Ottoman land deeds—for the first lots purchased in 1909 by Jewish settlers, who built Tel Aviv as a new Jewish suburb outside of the Arab city of Jaffa. (Tel Aviv and Jaffa were combined in 1950.) The collection also is significant for its documentation of the revival and enforced use in Israel of the Hebrew language, a tongue that had no native speakers at the turn of the last century, Baker said.

The acquisition of the Eliasaf Robinson Collection on Tel Aviv, the most important private collection on the Israeli city, complements other holdings in the library and comes at a time when there is growing interest in Israel studies among scholars here and at other universities, Baker said. The library, which is now cataloging the materials, intends to digitize significant portions of the collection and make it accessible online, he said.

The collection "will be of great interest to a wide range of faculty and students in many fields, such as Middle Eastern and Israel studies, urban studies, the history of popular and material culture, and many other related disciplines," said Aron Rodrigue, the Eva Chernov Lokey Professor in Jewish Studies and chair of the Department of History.

The acquisition was made possible in part with the support of the Koret Foundation Funds and the Jewish Community Endowment Fund of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties.



Barbara Palmer, News Service: (650) 724-6184,


Zachary Baker, Stanford University Libraries: (650) 725-1054,


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