It's been several years since I've actually written something about Anglo-Jewish authors, and I would like to remedy that in Expensive Book. Needless to say, the first line of attack is Google Books (a.k.a. the primary mechanism for reducing the "expensive" in Expensive Book). And here's where the vagaries of Google Books' source libraries start to make things interesting. There are quite a few nineteenth-century Anglo-Jewish periodicals out there--but, except for random volumes of publications like the Hebrew Review, they don't crop up in Google Books. No sign, for example, of The Voice of Jacob, later the Anglo-Jewish Magazine. (One wouldn't expect The Jewish Chronicle, a newspaper, to show up). What appears instead?
- The Children's Jewish Advocate
- The Friend of Israel
- The Hebrew Christian Witness: An Anglo-Judaean-Christian Magazine
- The Hebrew Christian Witness and Prophetic Investigator
- The Jewish Expositor and Friend of Israel
- The Jewish Herald and Record of Christian Effort for the Spiritual Good of God's Ancient People
- Jewish Intelligence
- Jewish Missionary Intelligence
- The Scattered Nation and Jewish Christian Magazine
- The Star of Jacob
- The Voice of Israel
Guess what all of these periodicals have in common! These are either magazines targeting evangelicals who specialize in missions to Jews, or Jews who have converted to Christianity. Strictly speaking, I'm excited that these are available, because such periodicals are also exceptionally difficult to find (not least because the ones targeted at "Hebrew Christians" tended not to last very long...). However, that doesn't get around the fact that they aren't periodicals published by and for observant Jews, whether liberal or orthodox. Google Books does much better, not surprisingly, with nineteenth-century Jewish periodicals from the United States. If I were asking students to work with Anglo-Jewish texts for research projects, I would have to do a lot of hand-holding to get them to differentiate between periodicals directed at Jews and periodicals directed at converts--especially because several of the titles are not self-explanatory. (The Friend of Israel? The Voice of Israel? Magazines with Hebrew and English titles?)
Obviously, the gaps have nothing to do with Google, and everything to do with the historical priorities of the libraries that own the books. Now, if Yeshiva University1 (or another Jewish college with a strong collection) would just sign on...
1 Yeshiva owns the nearest available copy of Charlotte Montefiore's Caleb Asher, one of the very few examples of a nineteenth-century Anglo-Jewish novel in the controversial mode, so I imagine that I will be trekking there relatively soon. Needless to say, Caleb Asher hasn't been made available in Google Books. (Neither has Anna Clay Beecher's Gwendolen, the "sequel" to Daniel Deronda, which I'd also like to read.)