Johns Hopkins has been awarded a $500,000 challenge
grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities that
will provide the
Sheridan Libraries an endowment for collections and a
librarian to support the university's
Helen R. Stulman Jewish Studies Program.
The Stulman Jewish Studies Program was established in
2002 to coordinate the many academic activities at Johns
Hopkins dedicated to the study of Jewish history,
literature, language, politics and religion. Drawing on
faculty from nearly every department in the humanities and
social sciences, the program gives students the opportunity
to explore more than three millennia of Jewish culture,
ranging from biblical to contemporary. The creation of this
interdisciplinary program has brought with it a rapid
expansion of research and teaching in Jewish studies, an
expansion that has in turn placed new demands on the
The libraries' holdings in biblical studies, Northwest
Semitic philology, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and archaeological
sites from antiquity have long been nationally significant,
said Winston Tabb, dean of the university's libraries. With
recent gifts and acquisitions, the library is creating new
strength in modern European Jewish history, medieval
Jewish-Christian relations, early modern Spain, Jewish art,
Yiddish languages and literatures, and the Holocaust, he
said. The integration of these gifts into the libraries'
collections and the expansion of acquisitions in the
various fields of Jewish studies will be the primary
responsibility of the new librarian.
"The addition of a librarian with specific linguistic
skills and field knowledge will be a critical asset to the
library, enabling it to provide the Stulman Program's
faculty and students world-class library resources," Tabb
said. "The university will also benefit from a fundamental
contribution to humanities scholarship, given the
interdisciplinary nature of Jewish studies."
Increased expenditures will solidify collections in
Eastern European Jewish history, the Jewish experience in
North America, and Jewish literature in Hebrew and Yiddish.
An enhanced acquisitions program also will support the
purchase of related rare books, manuscripts, archives and
other vital primary research materials.
According to David Nirenberg, director of the Stulman
Program, the benefits of establishing a Jewish studies
librarian and collections endowments at the Sheridan
Libraries will extend far beyond Johns Hopkins.
"The creation of regionally and nationally prominent
collections will also support the missions of Baltimore
Hebrew University, the Jewish Museum of Maryland, and
academic and research institutions throughout the world,"
he said. "And because the libraries' collections are also
available to the public, they will be a rich resource for
the Baltimore community."
The competition for the NEH Challenge grants is keen;
only 11 of 48 requests were funded, and Johns Hopkins'
proposal was the only grant that focused on building
endowment resources for an academic research library.
Under the terms of the challenge, Johns Hopkins will
receive $500,000 from the NEH if it can raise $2 million
for the program from nonfederal sources by July 2009. The
libraries and the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences will
join fund-raising efforts to meet the challenge.