REDISCOVER - Szeged Jewish Community Archives - Cataloging, Indexing and partly Digitization


In this article Rediscover project would like to give a glimpse of another project dealing with Jewish heritage in Hungary, Szeged.

This project seeks to catalog, index and partly (ca. 15 meters out of a total of 25 meters) digitize the documents of the Szeged Jewish community. The spectrum of the archive is extremely wide, containing official and private documents from a time span of 200 years, writings and drawings of the world-famous rabbis Lipót and Immánuel Löw, the plans of the Szeged New Synagogue, paintings, photos, cassettes and liturgical textiles. These are highly endangered, unique and irreplaceable records of the past, that need to be preserved and made internationally researchable. Most of the records are fragmented and damaged.

The project vastly contributes to the availability of rare primary sources in the fields of Hungarian and Jewish history, as well as the history of economic development of Central and Eastern Europe. We will digitize, index and archive the documents according to the archival standards.

The spectrum of the archive is extremely wide, containing official and private documents from a time span of almost 200 years.

The archive contains various record groups of the Neolog Community of Szeged. It also contains various writings of the former rabbis and significant members, as e.g. Lipót and Immánuel Löw, Jenő Frenkel, Immánuel Zucker as well as the families Holtzer, Back, Kotányi, Pick. The surviving records of the Orthodox Congregation of Szeged are also kept at the Community.

In 2018 we have found the long lost architectural plans of the Szeged New Synagogue. It is extremely important that the documentation of the building of the New Synagogue of Szeged be restored, digitized and made researchable since it contains the drawings, plans and correspondence of rabbi Immánuel Löw, architect Lipót Baumhorn, synagogue textile designer József Schlesinger and others. We plan to have a next project on this.

The size of the documents is A/5 to A/3. Their material is paper or cardboard. A significant part of the documents are damaged and fragmented and need restoration. The documents are in Hungarian, Hebrew, and German. The indexing will be done in Hungarian and partly in English.

Except for the financial help in our current project, the Szeged Jewish Community has not yet received any kind of financial aid for this project. The implementation of the project is supported by the mayor of Szeged as well as the director of the University Library of Szeged.

Years ago, the Hungarian Research group of Yad Vashem Archives (leader: László Karsai and Judit Molnár) together with Kinga Frojimovics (Director of the Hungarian Section in Yad Vashem Archives) has made a basic categorization and has also put onto microfilm the documents of the Szeged Jewish Community related to Holocaust. A copy of these microfilms is in the Szeged Jewish Community and another copy, together with a digitized copy of it is in the Yad Vashem. Except for this project, no categorization, indexing or digitization has been carried out.

The main object of the project is the protection of this priceless Jewish and Hungarian cultural heritage: we intend to make the whole archive accessible for both Hungarian and international academic researchers and genealogists (in accordance with the Hungarian Archival Law - Data Protection Act).

The documents of the Szeged Jewish community are the remaining chronicles of the history of the community as well as records of the connections to almost all other Jewish communities of Hungary and other foreign Jewish communities and the majority population.

The archive contains the documents of the Neolog Community of Szeged (for a detailed list, see attachment):

  • vital records
  • conscription records
  • documents of various associations within the community
  • family documents
  • testaments
  • voter registration records
  • Obituaries
  • speeches
  • list of deportees and of those who returned
  • brit milah certificates
  • school records
  • maps
  • diaries
  • cemetery records etc.
  • various papers of the former rabbis and significant members (e.g. Lipót and Immánuel Löw, Jenő Frenkel, Immánuel Zucker)
  • papers of the industrial families Holtzer, Back, Kotányi, Pick

Records of the Orthodox Congregation of Szeged

besides written documents, the archive also contains:

  • paintings
  • photos
  • music sheets
  • statues
  • LP records, CDs, cassettes
  • inscriptions on various materials such as wooden nameplates, marble plates
  • board games from 1854

Programme co-funded by European Union funds (ERDF, IPA, ENI)