The Historical Archive of the Hebrew University: German-Jewish Knowledge and Cultural Transfer, 1918-1948


In 2018 the Hebrew University will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the laying of its corner stone. Perhaps unlike any other research institute, the history of the Hebrew University embodies the complex interactions between science and politics in the conflictual twentieth century. This 3-year project, which started in 2016, is dedicated to the material preservation and systematic cataloguing of the holdings of the archive of the Hebrew University from 1918 until 1948. These objectives are combined with an exploration into the history of the Hebrew University.

The various materials kept in the archive include documentation of the work of the university’s different decision-making bodies (Board of Governors, the Senate, the Standing Committee); files documenting the establishment and development of the different institutes and departments of the university; documentation of the on-going activity of the university in the pre-State era, which was deeply embedded in the political situation of Palestine and the conflict; and personal files of the university’s faculty and administration, covering different aspects of their employment at the institution.

The research conducted by the project’s team focuses mainly on the various aspects of transfer of knowledge from Germany to Palestine (more than half of the initial faculty originated from or trained in German speaking countries); questions of place and space, or specific figures from the university’s first faculty. One of the project’s planned products is a multi-lingual catalogue for the archive (currently existing only in Hebrew) which will make it more accessible for international scholars. It also aims at digital presentation of selected sections in honor of the 100th anniversary of the placing of the cornerstone. The project's team also publishes a blog about their findings - check the left menu for their posts!  


In Cooperation With

Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach

Archive of the Hebrew University

Supported by the Gerda Henkel Stiftung



PI: Prof. Yfaat Weiss

Project Coordinator: Adi Livny

Researchers: Dr. Shira WilkofDr. Enrico LuccaAnna KawałkoYael Levi, Bilha Shilo

Research Assistants: Omri Davidson, Tom Eshed, Shaul Marmari



Conference: Universities and Nation Building, 13-14 November 2016



Universities and Nation Building, a conference review by Yonatan Shilo Dayan, H-Soz-Kult, 10 March 2017.

Forschen um der Wahrheit willen. Die deutsche Tradition prägt die Hebräische Universität Jerusalem bis heute, a piece on the project written by Enrico Lucca, Jüdische Allgemeine 15/16, 14 April 2016 (in German).

Description of the project at the Gerda Henkel Foundation's website (in German).