The Leo Baeck Institute recently completed a project to digitize the collection of architect and art historian Rachel Wischnitzer, courtesy of a METRO digitization (micro)grant which covered scanning of the materials by Internet Archive. Over 10,000 pages/scanned images from the collection are now publicly available online.

The Rachel Wischnitzer Collection contains correspondence, lecture notes, photographs, lantern slides, and negatives documenting Rachel Wischnitzer’s career as an art historian, curator, professor, consultant, and author. Also included are correspondence, records, and photographs pertaining to her husband Mark Wischnitzer’s work as a historian, editor, and Secretary General of the Hilfsverein der Deutschen Juden.

Rachel Bernstein Wischnitzer (1885 – 1989) was an architect and art historian. She was one of the most important Jewish art critics of the century. Her husband Mark Wischnitzer (1882-1955), was a sociologist and historian, who was one of the editors of the Russian-language edition of the Jewish Encyclopedia (Evreiskaia entsiklopediia). The couple moved to Berlin in the 1920s, where they together launched the Hebrew and Yiddish illustrated companion journals Rimon and Milgroym. During her time in Berlin Rachel Wischnitzer was also art and architecture editor of the Encyclopaedia Judaica, from 1928 to 1934, and worked with the Jewish Museum Berlin, in part as a curator, from 1928 to 1938.

Rachel and Mark Wischnitzer, together with their son, Leonard (born in 1924), fled Nazi Germany in 1938, emigrating at first to Paris. From there Rachel and Leonard left for the United States in 1940, with Mark joining them in the following year. In her fifties, Wischnitzer returned to formal academic study at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University, where she earned a master’s degree in 1944. During that time she was a research fellow of the American Academy for Jewish Research. Later, she was a professor at Stern College for Women of Yeshiva University, from 1956 until she retired in 1968. Mark Wischnitzer was also on the faculty of Yeshiva University as professor of Jewish history in the graduate school.

Digitized items include correspondence between Rachel Wischnitzer and other individuals in her field, including historians, artists such as Marc Chagall, art historians, museum professionals, scholars, and rabbis. It also includes photographs of synagogues she loaned to the Rose Art Museum for the exhibit “Two Hundred Years of American Synagogue Architecture,” and lecture notes and other materials from her tenure at Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women.

Finding Aid with links to the digitized materials: http://findingaids.cjh.org/?pID=3741534

Link to the collection at Internet Archive (archive.org): https://archive.org/details/rachelwischnitze00unsead

For more information on METRO Digitization Grant Funding opportunities, see https://metro.org/services/digital-services.