From the book collection of a political activist to the archives of a Russian opera singer, we have acquired a wide variety of new material this month.
We have been given a run of “The Owl“, the magazine of the City of Leeds Training College, part of Leeds Beckett University, for 1936-1940. The magazine includes articles on a wide range of subjects: “Finland – Democracy or Dictatorship?”; “Colour Photography”; “How to Press Wild Flowers”; “The Romance of Mining”. It also contains stories, poems and artworks, and reports on the activities of various college societies such as the Art Club, Music Society, and sports clubs including lacrosse, rugby and hockey. The magazine presents a fascinating glimpse of an enclosed but outward-looking community.
Lionel “Rusty” Bernstein (1920-2002) was a prominent activist in the African National Congress and the South African Communist party. Bernstein was one of Nelson Mandela’s co-defendants in the Rivonia Trial of 1963, and the only one to be acquitted, following which he moved to Britain to continue campaigning at a distance. We have a small collection of books owned by Bernstein on the anti-apartheid struggle, including contemporary campaign literature and biographies of key players.
The Porton Collection began life as the library of Rabbi Moses Abrahams, which was given to the United Hebrew Congregation in Leeds after his death. It was later augmented by the library of Joseph Porton, a Leeds printer. Given to Leeds City Libraries in 1938, the collection is now deposited in the University Library. It covers all aspects of the religion and culture of the Jewish people, including theology, history, biography, art, travel and society, with works in Hebrew, Yiddish and English. Treasures of the collection include a 1705 edition of the Jewish Bible; John Selden’s “Uxor Ebraica” (1673), a treatise on Jewish marriage law; “Sefer Me’amez koaḥ” (1588), a collection of funeral orations by Moses ben Baruch Almosnino, and “Tela Ignea Satanae” (1681), an anthology of Jewish anti-Christian texts collected by Johann Christoph Wagenseil.
The Leeds Russian Archive has acquired a collection of photographs, letters, printed matter and ephemera about the legendary Russian bass, Fedor Shaliapin (Chaliapine) (1873-1938), and his artist son, Boris (1904-1979), from the estate of the Israeli (originally Soviet) journalist, broadcaster and film historian, Shimon Chertok (1931-2006). Shimon visited Leeds in the 1980s and we acquired a collection of historical photographs from him then. LRA has material about Shaliapin in several other collections. We plan also to acquire Shimon’s fine collection of photographs by the Russian/Soviet portraitist of the famous, Moisei Nappelbaum (1869-1958).