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Guide to the Salo W. Baron Papers, 1900-1980
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Collection Overview
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The Baron Papers comprise the personal, professional, and research material of Salo Baron and occupy approximately 398 linear feet. As of July 1992 the papers total 714 boxes and are arranged in 11 series, including correspondence, personal/biographical, archival materials, subject, manuscripts, notecards, pamphlets, reprints, and books, manuscripts (other authors), notes, photo and audio-visual.
Salo Wittmayer Baron was instrumental in establishing Jewish Studies as an academic discipline in the United States. An extraordinarily prolific historian, Baron also played an exceptional role in American Jewish organizational life. Baron was born in 1895 in Tarnow, now in Poland but then part of Austrian Galicia. His parents, Elias Baron and Minna Wittmayer Baron, were orthodox Jews, and Elias Baron was a banker and Jewish community leader. Salo Baron had two sisters: Gisa (1892-1943) and Tanya (Tania, "Toni") (1898-?). Both Gisa and the parents died in the Holocaust in 1943. Studying at the University of Vienna, Baron earned doctorates in history (1917), political science (1922), and law (1923). Baron also completed a rabbinical degree from the Jewish Theological Seminary in Vienna in 1920. After teaching at the Juedisches Paedagogium in Vienna from 1919 to 1926, Baron left for the United States, where he joined the faculty of the Jewish Institute of Religion in New York. Baron was offered the newly-created Miller Chair of Jewish History, Literature, and Institutions in 1930 by Columbia University, where he remained for the rest of his career (emeritus after 1963). In 1936 Baron and Morris R. Cohen founded the Conference on Jewish Relations (later called the Conference on Jewish Social Studies), which publishes the journal Jewish Social Studies. The author of more than a dozen monographs and over 500 articles on Jewish history, Baron had an extraordinary range and scope. He was at home in ancient, medieval, and modern history and could read twenty languages. His magnum opus was A Social and Religious History of the Jews, which filled 18 volumes. Baron saw his scholarship as a corrective to what he termed "the lachrymose conception of Jewish history." His work focused on the social history and cultural accomplishments of the Jews rather than on suffering and pogroms. Baron also sought to reintegrate religious experience into the historical fabric of Jewish life. Beginning with his work on the Permanent Minorities Commission of the League of Nations in 1925, Baron served on various international committees during his long career. He founded and directed Jewish Cultural Reconstruction, an organization dedicated to identifying and reclaiming Jewish cultural patrimony plundered by the Nazis. At the invitation of Ben Gurion, Baron testified at the Eichmann trial in 1961. In addition, Baron directed or served as trustee for several academic institutions and organizations in this country and in Israel.
ca. 398 linear ft.
Property rights reside with the repository. Literary rights reside with the creators of the documents or their heirs. To obtain permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Public Services Librarian of the Dept. of Special Collections.