September marks the beginning of the second year of our research project, and thus, naturally, offers a time to reflect, look back at the project’s first year, take stock, and plan ahead.
The project can look onto a good deal of achievement in year 1. The core project team – Hannah Holtschneider, Mia Spiro, and Deborah Butcher – launched with gusto into a thorough exploration of the range and breadth of materials collected and cared for by our project partner, the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre. Over the course of the first six months of the project Deborah worked her way through many shelves of boxes, and through the catalogue, describing materials relating to the main project themes. In spring we paused for an evaluation of our findings. The richness of our findings opened many avenues of investigation, a delightful position to be in, indeed! We are very grateful to the AHRC for giving us the opportunity to survey, explore and map as an explicit goal of this project.
Secondly, together with the SJAC we explored possibilities and opportunities to digitise aspects of the archive’s collections, so that researchers can access some documents remotely and better plan their visits to Glasgow. We also ran a ‘digitsation pilot’ at the University of Edinburgh to gain a thorough understanding of the practicalities of scanning, editing, and preparing images of archival documents for presentation online.
We decided to focus our research on three areas which a) relate well to each of our specific areas of expertise, and b) analyse materials which have not previously been part of academic studies:
Deborah is now working on Jewish women’s history, firstly relating to women’s roles and work in the Friendly Societies and WIZO.
Mia is concentrating on the collections relating to Jewish refugee artists with a particular focus on the letters and personal papers of Hannah Frank.
Hannah‘s work on the life and work of Rabbi Dr Salis Daiches with a particular focus on his role in provincial Jewry occupied much of the first year of the project. This is now coming to fruition in a short monograph. Her main focus for the second and third years of the project is researching the family archive donated by Dorrith Marianne Sim (née Oppenheim) who came to Scotland in July 1939 on a Kindertransport.
The SJAC is selecting a representative sample of documents for digitisation. The actual digitisation process is scheduled for 2017, and the digital resources of documents available at the SJAC will be accessible via the University of Edinburgh’s gateway to research collections.
The second year of the project also launches work on public outreach. Over the course of this year we are planning a series of events which engage non-academic audiences with our research. Watch this space!