The Jacobi Monographs and their Use
Paul Jacobi (Könisberg, 1911 – Jerusalem, 1997) was a doyen of Jewish genealogy in his time. He held that a core-group of some 80 élite families dominated Ashkenazi Jewry from its beginnings. To test his theory, he investigated over 450 families to varying levels of detail, using the considerable resources available to him in Jerusalem. Of these, he took over 100 studies, which called “Monographs”, to completion. These have now (March 2019) been published in a 4-volume series, entitled The Jacobi Papers: Genealogical Studies of Leading Ashkenazi Families (Avotaynu, New Haven CT, 2019) – click here for details (soon to be activated).
Each of Monographs (or Chapters) comprises one family through the male line from its earliest known progenitor, duly listing spouses as well as the known descendants of married daughters, whose own families lack a specific Monograph. Each Monograph takes the same form. It begins with “General Notes”, explaining the etymology of the family name, its historical and geographical origins and the family’s inter-relationships with other families in the series (sometimes shown in the form of an “excursus”). In addition, each Monograph includes a bibliography, indices of the given names of the particular family examined and of the affiliated families within that Monograph.
Most important for genealogists are the “Tables (charts) of Descent” and the biographies of leading personalities on various family trees. There are also the “Biographical Notes” on every known member of the family and his or her spouse(s). These Notes include all family names and surnames (frequently more than one) and given names (on occasion, up to five), which are written in German transliteration from Hebrew, Yiddish or other languages. Then, the dates of birth, residence and death are given, as well as the person’s publications, if any, and finally the bibliographical and other sources for information on each person. Sometimes more than a page is devoted to a single individual, while others may be attributed just one line or simply an abbreviated note – “p.d.” [provenance doubtful].
Use of the Monographs
Jacobi’s Monographs, contained in 114 type-written loosely-bound work-books, are available for study and research in the Manuscript Reading Room at the National Library of Israel, on the Hebrew University’s Givat Ram Campus in Jerusalem.
The original work-books and OCR copies of them are available for consultation at the Library. They cannot be sent elsewhere or be copied/reproduced in any form (microfilm, microfiche, Xerox, etc.) for use outside the Library.
The Genealogical Institute (IIJG) holds the rights to the entire Jacobi collection. Persons interested in purchasing rights to a specific Monograph should contact the Director of the Institute at < firstname.lastname@example.org >.
In researching so many families and generations, Dr. Jacobi devised a unique system of “Absolute Generations” to record the individuals in the monographs, synchronize them with their own and other kinship groups; and, finally, place them within wider frames of reference, both historical and societal.
Click here for list of Jacobi Monographs.