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Gaster Papers


Correspondence and papers of Dr Moses Gaster, his family, and the family of his wife Lucy (née Friedlander), 1796-1973, dating largely from the 1870s to the 1930s, also including some material on Gaster's life and work which post-dates his death. Many papers relate to Gaster's activities in his official posts, notably as Haham, to his interests in Jewish affairs and Zionism, and as a scholar, but the collection touches upon a wide range of topics in late 19th and early 20th century history, including the history of Rumanian Jewry and Anglo-Jewry. The bulk of the collection comprises Gaster's correspondence, which includes letters from Jewish and Zionist organisations in Britain, Europe and Jerusalem, from newpapers, periodicals and publishers, and from a large number of individuals outside Gaster's family, including eminent British, European and American Jewish scholars, rabbis and public figures, such as members of the Adler, Gollancz, Mocatta, Montefiore and Rothschild families, and with non-Jewish public figures, but it also includes a wide range of other material. The main series mostly cover much or all of Gaster's adult life. Some material of the same type or on the same subject is separated between different sections of this large collection.

Correspondence series include letters from organisations and individuals outside Gaster's family, one sequence sorted alphabetically by correspondent; one sequence sorted chronologically, 1874-1939, with a few other items, the earliest dating from 1854; a sequence of undated letters, sorted alphabetically; letters received by Gaster on the emigration of Rumanian Jewry, including to England, 1900; Gaster's out-letters and copies of letters written by him, 1887-1939; copies of letters from Gaster to the Zionist Chaim Weizmann dating from the 1900s and 1910s; letters not written by or addressed to Gaster, 1870-1939 and undated.

A series of bound volumes contains press cuttings and other items, largely printed, including circulars and pamphlets, with some letters received and written by Gaster, and relates to various subjects, although much of the material was apparently bound haphazardly; the contents, overall dating largely from 1879-1939 but with items of 1796, 1838-1849, and 1867, include persecution of Jews in Rumania and elsewhere; emigration; Anglo-Jewish matters and the Anglo-Jewish Association; hospitals and schools; lectures, weddings, and other functions; the Board of Deputies of British Jews; Shechita; the Slaughter Bill, 1911; the Spanish-Portuguese congregation, including Bevis Marks Synagogue and Gaster's 25th anniversary as Haham, 1912; Independent Order of B'nai B'rith; letters congratulating Gaster on his engagement, marriage and birth of his children, and on the 'Gaster Anniversary Volume' ; Zionism, including the Jewish Colonial Trust, and Zionist Congresses in 1905, 1907 and 1913; Palestine; the Royal Asiatic Society; the Folklore Society.

Printed ephemera, dating from the 1870s to the 1930s, includes invitations to lectures, weddings and other events; visiting and greeting cards and condolences.

Papers, 1890-1896, on the Ramsgate affair relate to Gaster's association with the College there, the controversy over his management, and events leading up to his departure in 1896.

Papers relating to Zionism include copies of letters between Gaster and Theodor Herzl at the turn of the 20th century and other Zionist correspondence and papers up to the Balfour Declaration of 1917; file of letters and telegrams, some copies, from Winston (Leonard Spencer) Churchill, 1906-1908; volume of minutes of Council meetings of the London Zionist League, 1904-1910; microfilms of Zionist sources, among them Herzl letters held elsewhere.

Pamphlets, 1944-1950, relate to the Anglo-Jewish Association, a London conference of Jewish organisations, Palestine, the Jews in Britain, and Jewish Relief Units in Germany.

Working papers include notebooks, many undated, relating to Gaster's studies (from the 1870s) and later research; typescript and some manuscript reviews, sermons, letters to the press, obituary articles or notices, speeches and articles by Gaster; loose press cuttings of Gaster's reviews and articles, and cuttings on Gaster himself and his areas of interest; reproductions of texts and manuscripts and working notes by Gaster on his scholarly research.

Papers on Gaster's life, work and estate include a photostat manuscript catalogue of Gaster's Hebrew, Samaritan and other manuscripts and printed books, with annotations postdating Gaster's death in 1939; papers relating to Gaster's manuscripts which passed to the British Library, John Rylands Library and Rumanian Academy, including manuscript and typescript descriptions of manuscripts, and correspondence, 1925-1926, 1941, 1961-1962, on their disposal; papers dating from the 1940s to the 1960s on the estate of Gaster's wife (d 1940) and disposal of her books and on Gaster's will, estate and the disposal of his books and manuscripts including his Judaica, the sale of his Rumanian library to the School of Slavonic Studies, the disposal of Samaritan and Hebrew manuscripts to the John Rylands Library, his papers at University College London; material, including press cuttings and papers to 1971, on Gaster's publications, including a copy of his 'History of the Ancient Synagogue ... in Bevis Marks ... 1701-190' (published in 1901); papers to 1961 on the 'Gaster Centenary Publication' (first published in 1936), the centenary of Gaster's birth in 1956, and his publications; papers on Gaster's life and work following his death in 1939, including a file of Vivian Gaster's correspondence on his father to 1973.

Personal papers include Gaster's appointment diaries; congratulations on Gaster's engagement (1889); various rolled or printed addresses to Gaster as Haham, from Jewish communities; certificates, including one for Gaster's election as Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, 1930; letters of congratulation and cuttings on Gaster's 80th birthday (1936); typescript autobiographical notes and reminiscences by Gaster; papers on Gaster's death, 1939, including a scrapbook of cuttings.

Family papers include a genealogical roll of the Gaster family; two photograph albums, largely undated but apparently dating from the latter 19th century, many items unlabelled but some taken in Bucharest, Breslau and London and some identified as members of the Friedlander and Gaster families; correspondence, comprising letters from Gaster's family in Rumania, 1873-1939 and undated; Gaster's original letters to his family in Rumania, from 1874; letters from Gaster to his wife and children, 1885-1939 and undated, and a diary of Gaster on a journey to Palestine, 1907; letters to Moses Gaster from his wife Lucy, between Moses and Lucy and their children, and from the Friedlander family to Moses and Lucy Gaster, 1888-1939; letters from Lucy to her parents, Michael and Bertha Friedlander, before and after her marriage, 1880-1922; Friedlander family correspondence including letters from Michael Friedlander to his wife Bertha, from 1866, and to the Friedlanders from the Gasters; other letters received by the Friedlanders from their family and others, largely 1870-1927 and undated. Other Friedlander papers comprise papers of Michael Friedlander, including notes, and working papers and correspondence relating to Jews' College, including its administration and courses; and the diary of Bertha Friedlander (wife of Michael Friedlander and mother of Lucy Gaster, née Friedlander), 1893-1898.



Personal papers






Visiting cards, greeting cards, cards of thanks and condolence, invitations, menus, place cards, table plans and guest lists, dance cards, programmes, orders of service, postcards, announcements, tickets, membership cards, price lists, forms, library slips, calendar, pressed flowers.

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Title Names starting with Sha

UCL Special Collections

Records included here:


Wedding invitation

3 Oct 1916



Circumcision invitation

16 Dec 1924



At Home invitation

18 Oct 1925

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