User perspectives: Discovering the situation for Jews and Jewish Refugees during the twentieth century using the Anglo-Jewish archives

The University of Southampton holds one of the largest collections of Jewish archives in Western Europe. The holdings partly grew out of the association with the Parkes Library, originally the private library of Reverend Dr James Parkes. Parkes devoted his life to investigating and combating the problem of anti-Semitism and since the arrival of Parkes’ Library at the University in 1964 the study of Jewish/non-Jewish relations has developed significantly.

Books within the Parkes Library

Books within the Parkes Library

Alice Caffull, a former University of Southampton Modern History and Politics undergraduate student, and now a Master’s Jewish History and Culture student, explains how she has used the Anglo-Jewish archives for her research.

“I consulted the “Refugee Voices” Association of Jewish Refugees collection in both my undergraduate and postgraduate degree because of my interest in personal testimony and memoirs. I used this collection in various essays and found it an easy-to-navigate and fascinating source. I study MA Jewish History and Culture and therefore the wealth of Jewish history contained within the archives is extremely useful and exciting for me. I spent a whole module (an Individually Negotiated Topic module) on the diaries of Samuel Morris Rich, a Jewish teacher who kept a diary from 1905 until his death in 1950. I really enjoyed getting into the content of these diaries and assessing the situation for Jews particularly before the First World War through his diaries.

MS 168 AJ 217/4 Diary of Samuel Morris Rich, 1908

MS 168 AJ 217/4 Diary of Samuel Morris Rich, 1908

The archives were also one of the main reasons that I stayed at Southampton to do my Master’s degree, as well as of course for the fantastic Parkes Institute. For my MA dissertation I will be spending many more hours in the Archive, looking at Rabbis Hertz and Schonfeld’s papers, the papers of James Parkes and Carl Stettauer, and the records of various Councils and committees such as the Council for Christians and Jews. These will hopefully aid my discussion of the work of the Salvation Army in England with refugee groups in the first half of the twentieth century, a previously unstudied topic. Through these documents I am looking for information on the work of Christian and Jewish groups together, and for any references to the work of the Salvation Army within wider Christian and philanthropic movements at this time.”

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