Distributing Knowledge: Warsaw as a Center of Jewish Publishing, 1850-1914

Natan Cohen

Bar Ilan University

Thanks to the initiatives and investments of individuals in the relatively “young” community, Warsaw became already in the mid nineteenth century, a vibrant center for distribution of knowledge. Jewish printers, publishers, book sellers and collectors contributed a great deal to the Jewish (i.e. Hebrew and Yiddish) book market in Eastern Europe, as well as to the culture of knowledge in Polish. With the passage of time a growing number of journals and newspapers, in various fields of interest and for all levels of readers, were printed there and distributed over broad geographical distances.

By the end of the nineteenth century Warsaw became already a center of Jewish culture with the prestigious library of Jewish studies (established in 1879) and with a growing number of writers and intellectuals functioning in one, two or all three languages (Yiddish, Hebrew and Polish) living there. They exposed the Jewish reading public to belle-letters of high quality, to popular scientific works and to new political movements. New publishing houses competed with each other on behalf of the Jewish reader, in order to supply him or her with the best quality printed matters on the one hand, while newspaper editors competed with each other for the wider (if not lower) reading public, on the other hand.


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