In one box are several volumes from the League of
Nations, dated 1932; in another, folders full of
photographs from the early days of Israel. Thomas Izbicki,
collection development coordinator for the
Milton S. Eisenhower
Library at Homewood, removes one of the photos.
Here is a smiling woman, carrying a basket of wheat.
"This is a harvest festival," he says, noting that the
older style Israeli flag in the picture dates it as very
Izbicki returns the photo to its box and notes the
extensive stacks of similar boxes — more than 500 in
all that comprise the archive and library of the David S.
Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies and which are now
part of the Sheridan Libraries' collections. The Wyman
material, which provides a rich, early look into Zionism
and the founding of Israel, is one of two new collections
that give a boost to the Krieger School of Arts and
Sciences' Jewish Studies
The other is the Collected Personal and Company Papers
of Louis and Jacob Blaustein, the father and son
industrialists who founded the American Oil Company in 1910
in Baltimore. They are credited with creating the first
drive-through gas station and using the first metered gas
Jacob Blaustein was an adviser to four presidents and
served as a delegate to the United Nations. He was also
president of the American Jewish Congress. The Blaustein
collection includes 800 boxes of material covering the time
span from 1910 to Jacob Blaustein's death in 1970. The
papers were a gift to Johns Hopkins from his family.
David Nirenberg, head of the Jewish Studies program
and a history professor currently on sabbatical leave, says
the collection of books, periodicals, manuscripts, photos
and prints from the Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies
provides the program with valuable source material.
"This is an immense collection, and we have only begun
to work our way through it, but we already know how
valuable it is for anyone interested in the early history
of Zionism, the Palestine Mandate and Israel," he says.
"This is a big jumpstart to our library in these new areas.
Overnight, it gives us a world-class collection for
teaching and research."
The Wyman Institute is based on the research of
Professor David S. Wyman and strives to bridge the gap
between the scholarly community and the general public. The
institute is based at Gratz College in Melrose Park, Pa.
Rafael Medoff, director of the Wyman Institute, says
his organization was open to contributing the materials to
Johns Hopkins not only because of the opportunity to build
a relationship with the new Jewish Studies program here but
also because of the number of prominent Baltimoreans who
spoke out for the rescue of Jews from the Holocaust,
including Sen. George Radcliffe, a Johns Hopkins
The initiative for bringing the Wyman collection to
Johns Hopkins came from Baltimore attorney Shale Stiller, a
Hopkins trustee and member of the Wyman Institute's
Advisory Committee. As of Feb. 25, Stiller will be
president of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.
"Our institute is very enthusiastic about our
relationship with Johns Hopkins," says Medoff, adding that
part of the ongoing association will be an annual event
co-sponsored by the Wyman Institute and the Jewish Studies
The staff of the library now is challenged with the
task of processing the two collections, which are distinct
and valuable for different reasons. The Blaustein papers
alone contain 28,000 folders.
Cynthia Requardt, curator of Special Collections, says
that both collections require special care in sorting and
processing to make the information they contain as
accessible as possible. The library has received special
funding from the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation, the
Morton K. and Jane Blaustein Foundation and the Henry and
Ruth Blaustein Rosenberg Foundation to create an online
searching tool for the Blaustein collection, which, when
completed in about one year, will allow researchers from
around the world to search a description of the
"This is a rich resource documenting the diplomatic
activities and business acumen of this extraordinary
family," Requardt says. "The online finding aid will enable
researchers around the world to be introduced to the
potential of this collection."
The Wyman material comprises more than 15,000 books,
225 bound and unbound periodicals, 10,000 pamphlets and
more than 1,000 government documents in eight languages.
Although most of the material is in English, about
one-third is in Hebrew and Yiddish, a fact that has slowed
down the process of sorting and processing the collection
because no one on the library staff is fluent in either
language, Izbicki says.
As the Wyman material is being cataloged, some of it
will make its way into the general collections, while the
more rare material will be housed in Special Collections.
"A lot of the more standard print resources will be in
general circulation, as long as [the material is] not
brittle," Izbicki says.
Izbicki, who is also an adjunct assistant professor of
history, says the most surprising aspect of the collection
to him is the wealth of material on agriculture and farming
techniques. "They were really thinking about the
agriculture problems when they were thinking about the
establishment of Israel," he says.