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Fiddler on the Web

Dartmouth Jewish Sound Archive gets boost from Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund

The Dartmouth Jewish Sound Archive (DJSA) boasts over 4,000 tracks online, and a recent $10,000 grant from the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund will go toward processing nearly 100,000 additional recordings that are waiting to be added.

"The grant will allow us to expand the archive, and promote it to scholars and historians," said DJSA co-founder Lewis Glinert, Professor of Hebraic Language and Culture. "We are also interested in learning where to find more recordings and old albums. Right now, there are people throwing away some irreplaceable Jewish 78s or LPs. They shouldn't toss them in the trash. We want them. We're working to preserve this part of Jewish culture and history."

Founded in 2002, the DJSA contains recordings from 1904 up to the 1960s, ranging from Yiddish humor to rare recordings of cantorial performances. The archive grew out of a private collection assembled and digitally restored by Alex Hartov, Associate Professor of Engineering at the Thayer School and DJSA co-founder. Glinert provided the conceptual design of the online archive for teaching and research purposes. Their project was launched with support from Dartmouth's Computing Technology Venture Fund and a grant from the Provost's Office. The archive is open to anyone at Dartmouth, and it's also accessible by special permission to outside scholars.

"Several hundred people have asked for access," says Hartov. "Among them are musicologists, historians, scholars of the Yiddish theater, cantors, linguists and yeshiva students. One very common request is from cantors who want to consult the collection to study the interpretation of liturgical music by famous cantors of the past. Another is from artists wanting to revive some old Yiddish songs and want to hear old performances."

One example of how the archive is used comes from an email from a cultural affairs officer at the US Embassy in Kiev. He requested access to the archive to support his work with the Jewish community and scholars in the Ukraine. Since that time, Hartov reports that more inquiries have come from the Ukraine.

"There is a global interest in this collection," he says. "I'm excited to see it grow."

See the archive online at: www.dartmouth.edu/~djsa

By SUSAN KNAPP

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Last Updated: 12/17/08