The Brisman Collection in Jewish Studies was named after Shimeon Brisman (1920-2004), a librarian, rare book seller, and expert in Hebrew bibliography. While he worked at the University of California, Los Angeles, Brisman was instrumental in creating their Judaica Collection, helping them to acquire the stock of Bamberger and Wahrmann Bookstore and other large collections.
Through Brisman, UCLA sold its duplicate books to Washington University Libraries to help support the newly founded Jewish Studies Department. The Libraries also purchased Brisman’s personal book collection in 1972; the duplicates from UCLA and Brisman’s books make up what is now known as the Brisman Collection.
Many of the collection’s nearly 3,600 volumes are located in the circulating collections, but 900 rare books are in Special Collections. The collection includes an impressive array of bibliographic works, modern Yiddish prose and poetry, rabbinical commentary, and liturgical literature. The rare books in the collection span from the 16th to 20th century and feature book stamps, ownership signatures and markings, and bookplates, making it a fantastic resource for provenance research. The items in the collection capture Jewish history, culture, and thought and serve as a valuable resource for modern-day scholars.