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Hebrew printed books: Catalogues and guides

Access to the British Library’s collections of Hebrew books is mainly through Explore the British Library, and printed catalogues and indexes in the Asian and African Studies Reading Room.

Hebrew printed books in Explore the British Library

Some 30,000 printed books in Hebrew and other Jewish languages using  Hebrew script (e.g. Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-Spanish or Ladino, Judeo-Persian, Judeo-Tatar and Yiddish) are now accessible online in Explore the British Library. These include a proportion of books acquired in the past few decades, as well as some of our incunabula (books printed before 1501) and antiquarian material.

You can search Explore the British Library using roman characters and the Hebrew vernacular.

NB: Explore the British Library now holds records for all the works listed in

  • Zedner, J. Catalogue of the Hebrew printed books in the Library of the British Museum. London, 1867 (reprinted 1964) - ca. 10,100 volumes, mostly in Hebrew, but also in Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-Spanish, Yiddish, etc., acquired 1759-1867.

Some full-text Hebrew printed books are also available on microform.

Hebrew printed books in hard copy catalogues and indexes

If you cannot find what you are looking for in Explore the British Library, please refer to the catalogues listed below. Copies of these are available in the British Library’s Asian and African Studies Reading Room.

British Library collections

Van Straalen, S. Catalogue of Hebrew books in the British Museum acquired during the years 1868-1892. London, 1894 - comprises nearly 8,000 entries of works in Hebrew and related languages. Bibliographic records from this catalogue are being transferred to Explore the British Library (in progress).

Rowland Smith, D. ed. Second supplementary catalogue of Hebrew printed books in the British Library 1893-1960. 2 vols. London: British Library, 1994 - contains details of about 9,000 Hebrew printed works acquired 1893-1960.

Card catalogue of Hebrew books acquired between 1960 and the early 1990s - comprises some 10,000 works arranged in three sections: romanised titles, authors and subjects. A second edited and updated copy of this catalogue is placed in the Hebrew Section. Readers are advised to contact the Hebrew curator for bibliographic assistance.

Incunabula in the British Library

Offenberg, A.K. Catalogue of books printed in the XVth century now in the British Library BMC Part XIII: Hebraica. The Netherlands: Hes & De Graaf Publishers, 2004 – describes in great detail 100 Hebrew incunabula held in the collection. Contains plates and many indices. Brief records for most of these items will be found in Explore the British Library.

Incunabula: the printing revolution in Europe, 1455-1500. Unit 16-17. Reading: Research Publication (Primary Source Media, c.1996) - microfiche edition of Hebrew incunables in the British Library collection. ORB 40/247.

General reference

The bibliography of the Hebrew book, comprising over 100,000 titles printed between 1473 and 1960, is accessible (on-site only) via Electronic Resources & Journals in our Reading Rooms: Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections, Non-English language resources.

Vinograd, Yeshayahu. Thesaurus of the Hebrew book.  Jerusalem, 1995.  2 vols - lists books printed in Hebrew letters from 1469 to 1863; on open access in the Asian and African Studies Reading Room.

Contact

Ilana Tahan, M.Phil., Lead Curator, Hebrew and Christian Orient Studies
Asian and African Studies
The British Library
96 Euston Road
London
NW1 2DB
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7646
Fax: +44 (0)20 7412 7641

E-mail: ilana.tahan@bl.uk