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Jewish Studies: Yizkor Books

Guide to Library research and resources in Jewish Studies

The Price Library of Judaica Memorial Books Portal

The first Jewish memorial book was produced in Nuremberg in 1296, providing a record of Jewish communities slaughtered in the crusades across Europe. The book’s main purpose was liturgical, enabling relatives to say prayers for the dead, but its format provided the basic model on which  all later memorial books were based. After the Second World War, the memorial book was given a dramatic revival as hundreds were published, often in limited print runs, by Holocaust survivors living in Israel, Argentina, and the United States. Post-war memorial books were usually produced in large format, often in excess of 400 pages and mostly written in Hebrew or Yiddish. A typical memorial book contains reminiscences, biographies, historical accounts, literary pieces, lists, photographs & maps. Each book provides an incredible primary resource for genealogists, biographers, and historians.

The Isser and Rae Price Library of Judaica owns a large collection of memorial books (yizkor books or yizker buchen). The collection probably amounts to over 600 books, but the exact number is not known because each individual book is separately cataloged and the subject fields do not link them. A preliminary list of 471 titles has been compiled and can be consulted by clicking the link below.

Other Resources

A large number of memorial books can be read online through the JewishGen Yizkor Book Project, as well as those held in the New York Public Library which have been digitized as part of the Yizkor Books Online Project.

The largest recorded collection of memorial books (1040 titles) is housed at the Yad Vashem Museum in Jerusalem.

The largest U.S. collection (1000+ titles) is held in the Morris and Emma Schaver Library-Archive at the Holocaust Memorial Center in Michigan. 

For a list of libraries which are believed to own more than 450 titles and an estimation of their holdings visit the JewishGen website at:

At present, due to the way memorial books are usually cataloged in OCLC, these libraries’ exact holdings are unknown; it is also unknown precisely which institutions hold which titles.

Bibliographic Resources

Edited and translated by Jack Kugelmass and Jonathan Boyarin, From a Ruined Garden includes the comprehensive bibliography of memorial books and gazetteer of place names.

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