Jewish Heritage Collection





The University Library and the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies are the joint beneficiaries of a generous gift from Constance and (the late) Theodore Harris of Beverly Hills, California, who in late 2003 and early 2004 gave an extraordinary collection of some 2,000 items to the University of Michigan. The collection is dedicated to their grandsons, Mark and Dave Harris who grew up in Birmingham, Michigan. The Harris Collection was formed to reflect Jewish life, and it does so in an unusual assemblage of artwork, books, printed ephemera such as pamphlets and postcards, and objects of everyday and religious significance ranging from dolls and serving dishes to menorahs and mezuzahs.  The collection has nearly doubled in size, and continues to grow through the generosity of Constance Harris and other donors.  It is housed in the Special Collections Library and can be viewed upon request in its Reading Room on the eighth floor of the Hatcher Graduate Library.






There are currently over 1,800 books in the Jewish Heritage Collection.  They are fully cataloged and can be most easily found by the following search in MIRLYN, the University of Michigan Library's catalogue:

From the Mirlyn search page ( choose "Advanced" search, then "Special Collections" as a location and "Jewish Heritage Collection" as a collection to generate a full list.  

The books in the collection tell about Jewish life, and also demonstrate it because they can be used as ritual objects and teaching devices. One of the strengths of the collection is its number of Haggadahs in it, which currently stands at over 260.  These illustrated manuals for celebrating the Passover Seder serve as a distinct reflection of the eras and cultures for which they were created.



 Bookplate for Jewish Heritage Collection


At the heart of the Harris Collection lies artwork that will support both the serious study of Jewish artists and of how Jewish life has been portrayed in images from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries. It encompasses work by fine artists alongside magazine caricatures and political cartoons. They are as disparate as eighteenth century engravings and museum posters from the 1990s, representing artists who are might be fine European silversmiths or Ethiopian refugees in Israel.  COMING SOON:  a full list of the artwork is being constructed.


More than 500 postcards on Jewish themes and about 175 calendars are in the collection.  There are other paper ephemera such as brochures, flyers, aqdvertisements, etc. on various subjects.  A full description is coming soon. 


About 275 objects are in the Jewish Heritage Collection, including ritual items (menorahs, besamim, groggers, cloths to cover Challah and Matzoh), children's toys, household items, and historical objects.  A full description is coming soon.



Page maintained by Peggy Daub
Last modified: 07/17/2013