The Brooklyn College Library Archives and Special Collections has received a $150,000 grant from the National Historical Publications & Records Commission (NHPRC) to create a new film archive on Hasidic Jewish culture in the United States.

This 12-month project will launch in fall 2021 and entails digitizing and cataloging 62 hours of film footage shot for the 1997 award-winning documentary A Life Apart: Hasidism in America, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The footage can be characterized as audiovisual field notes on the religious practices, cultural mores, family life, intercommunal relations, and the Americanization process of these distinctive immigrant lives from 1936 to 1996. It includes interviews with scholars, community members, and neighbors from the Brooklyn neighborhoods where the majority of America’s Hasidim live.

“This is another important collection that we are proud to feature in Brooklyn College’s archives,” said Colleen Bradley-Sanders, associate professor and Brooklyn College archivist. “Our hope is that the material can serve as a valuable resource for anyone who is interested in this important history, no matter their faith or religious background.”

This project, which received support from the CUNY Research Foundation, complements another important collection in the college’s Archives and Special Collections. In summer 2019, the archives unveiled the YWCA of Brooklyn Collection, made possible by a two-year processing grant from the NHPRC. It contains materials from the organization from its opening in 1888 to 2010, when the collection was transferred to Brooklyn College. Other collections include Brooklyniana, The Historic Manuscript Collection, The Rare Book Collection, The Robert L. Hess Collection on Ethiopia & the Horn of Africa, and the Stuart Schaar Collection on the Middle East and North Africa.

E-mail the Brooklyn College Archives and Special Collections to learn more. Digitized materials are available through the college’s digital assets platform once the archive goes live.

For students looking to learn more, Brooklyn College also offers a course, The Hasidic Movement: Its History and Literature (JUST 3037/HIST 3104), which explores the historical development of the movement along with its central mystical doctrines and literature.