The Ludwig Rosenberger Collection of Judaica

The Rosenberger Collection of Judaica in the University of Chicago Library is the result of a lifetime of book collecting by Ludwig Rosenberger, a retired Chicago businessman. Born in Munich in 1904, Rosenberger left Germany for Palestine in 1924 in the midst of the political and social tension of the Weimar Republic. After spending four years in Palestine, he immigrated to the United States, establishing a housewares marketing firm in Chicago.

Ludwig Rosenberger's relationship with the University of Chicago Library dates from the early 1960s when he contributed a collection of early Hebrew books which he had acquired as part of a bloc purchase and did not wish to retain for his own library. As Rosenberger, a man with a close personal attachment to his books, considered a permanent location for his library, this special relationship with the University and an appreciation of its research facilities played a key role. He wished to see the library maintained as an entity and placed in the context of a research-oriented institution. A number of schools had expressed strong interest in the collection, but Rosenberger announced in 1980 that he was donating the books to the University. In the spring of that year the books were moved to Regenstein Library where a special room to house the collection was dedicated in May, 1981.

The collection, as detailed in Rosenberger's published catalog and supplement, includes over 17,000 entries in 225 topical sections. While the exact number of volumes has not been ascertained, it has been estimated at 22,000.

The collection's chronological and geographic ranges are broad, from incunabula (a total of twenty-six) to contemporary works, from Western Europe and the United States to India and Yemen. Its strongest concentrations, however, are in eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century materials from Germany, France, and the English-speaking world. Thematic areas of greatest depth are emancipation, antisemitism and Jewish responses to ít, Zionism, and socialism/Marxism.