The University is home to the Parkes Institute Library and Archive, the only collection in the world devoted to the study of relationships between Jewish and non-Jewish peoples.
The Parkes Institute is a unique, world-class centre for the study of Jewish/non-Jewish relations through the ages. The Institute's teaching and research crosses a broad range of disciplines, including History, English, German and Music. It draws extensively on internationally significant archives and research resources held in the Special Collections of the University Library.
The inspiration behind the Parkes Institute is the legacy of Reverend Dr James Parkes, a Christian scholar and activist who devoted his career to fighting anti-Semitism and seeking out its origins. His collection of books and other materials formed the foundation for today's Parkes Library and Archive. It now contains over 25,000 printed items and it has one of the largest collections of Jewish archives in Europe, with some 900 separate collections of manuscripts, totalling 3.5 million individual items.
The printed collections include works by most of the important writers on Jewish history from the 15th century to date. Important sections deal with the history of Jewish communities, Jewish-Christian relations, anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, the development of Zionism, Jewish culture and sociology, and Judaism. The manuscript holdings include archives of prominent Anglo-Jewish families, politicians, soldiers, refugees, poets, writers and religious figures.
Professor Chris Woolgar, Head of Special Collections at the University, says: "The Parkes Library's collections are an outstanding assemblage of primary source material, which throw exceptional light on Jewish life and the community's relations with others. Readers come from across the world to work on the collections and to research with colleagues in the Parkes Institute. The connection to the Jewish community through research and outreach work is a vital one."