Leo Baeck Institute Archives
The Leo Baeck Institute was founded in 1955 by leading German-Jewish émigré intellectuals including Martin Buber, Max Grunewald, Hannah Arendt and Robert Weltsch, who were determined to preserve the vibrant cultural heritage of German-speaking Jewry that was nearly destroyed in the Holocaust. They named the Institute for Rabbi Leo Baeck, the last leader of Germany’s Jewish Community under the Nazi regime, and appointed him as the Institute’s first President, overseeing independent centers in New York, London, and Jerusalem. LBI – New York is a founding partner of the Center for Jewish History in Manhattan and maintains an office in Berlin and a branch of its archives at the Jewish Museum Berlin.
The LBI archives preserve over 2,000 memoirs, 25,000 photographs, hundred of audio interviews, and millions of pages of correspondence, genealogical materials, and business and civil records that touch upon virtually every aspect of the German-Jewish experience. Entrusted to LBI by refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe and their descendants, these papers document the lives and work of luminaries such as Albert Einstein and Joseph Roth as well as ordinary people from all walks of life since the 18th century.
An overview of collections can be found here.
LBI’s 80,000-volume library is internationally recognized as the world’s foremost collection focused on the history of German-speaking Jews. Rich in rarities including early Renaissance-era pamphlets, first editions of works by Moses Mendelssohn, Heinrich Heine, and Franz Kafka, and limited edition art books, the Library also collects the latest publications in the field. A comprehensive collection of periodicals encompasses publications ranging from congregation bulletins to the major émigré paper, Aufbau.
The LBI is located at the Center for Jewish History on the north side of 16th Street between 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue.
The Center for Jewish History is home to the Lillian Goldman Reading Room, Ackman & Ziff Family Genealogy Institute, the David Berg Rare Book Room and the Collection Management & Conservation Wing. Public programs create opportunities for diverse audiences to explore the rich historical and cultural material that lives within the Center's walls.
Contents of this repository at the Center for Jewish History can be found here.
LBI Office Hours: Open to visitors by appointment.
MON–THU: 9:00 AM–5:00 PM ET
FRI: 9:00 AM–3:00 PM ET
The LBI is closed on national and Jewish holidays.
Reading Room & Genealogy Institute: Mon-Thurs: 10 a.m - 4 p.m.
Lillian Goldman Reading Room: by appointment only
Ackman & Ziff Family Genealogy Institute: Walk-ins are permitted, based on availability, though appointments are recommended.
Research is conducted in the Lillian Goldman Reading Room, which is accessible via the elevator.
Wheelchairs are available to those who need them. Please ask the Front Desk when you arrive. If you need additional assistance call (212) 294-8301.
Researchers can search LBI’s extensive library, archival, art, and photograph collections online. Significant portions of these collections have already been digitized. Thus, you can conduct much of your research independently from home.
However, you may find that after identifying a resource online you have further questions about it. For instance, detailed inventories have been created for many archival collections and placed online, but some of these collections have not yet been digitized, which may leave open questions about whether the items are pertinent to your research.
In cases like this, LBI's Dr. Robert Ira Lewy Research and Reference Service provides researchers support in the Lillian Goldman Reading Room of the Center for Jewish History as well as via email, using the form here.
The Leo Baeck Institute is a not-for-profit research center open to the public. The vast majority of patrons who use LBI collections for private study, research, or scholarship can do so for free. There are however, two kinds of fees that LBI may charge for certain categories of use and special services: reproduction fees, and usage fees.
While obtaining copies for research purposes will only incur reproduction fees, publication or exhibition of an item from LBI collections typically involves one fee for reproduction (such as a high-resolution digital scan) and a second fee for usage.
Reproduction Fees: High resolution images or photocopies/low resolution scans can be requested for a fee. Please note that a large percentage of the collections are freely available in digital form as low resolution images already.
Usage Fees: Publication or exhibition of items from LBI holdings for commercial usage may be subject to fees.
Contact: To request a reproduction and/or permission for commercial usage of any item from the LBI collections, please contact Registrar Michael Simonson.
Time Frame: Requests will be answered typically within 10 business days. Faster service is available upon request for an additional charge.
Complete Policies and Schedule of Fees: see here.