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Ernesto Weiss book collection

Bibliographic material obtained from the family off Ernesto Weiss, teacher, botanist, unionist, and politician (Trieste 1888 - Trieste 1967)

Preparation and location of the collection

The library is housed in the depots of the General section of the Europe Library and contains the volumes that belonged to Ernesto Weiss, Jewish-origin scholar of botany and bryology and brother of the famous psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Edoardo. After graduating in science, Ernesto taught for years at the middle schools of Trieste, before having to renounce this until after the war, due to his refusal to join the fascist movement. He was heavily involved in politics, culture and trade unions, also operating at a national level to renew the school system and analysing Jewish topics.

The collection reached the University a few years after his death, it is thought through his daughter, Laura, although the University archives unfortunately provide no details on the acquisition, except for generic notes in the 1969-70 General Library inventory, where there is a list of materials accompanied by generic indications of “gifts” and “Weiss”, which initially led to their being incorrectly attributed to his more famous brother, Edoardo.

Consistency and characteristics

The collection numbers around 760 items (some signed), including a dozen or so newspaper files and around fifteen antique books included in the General Library collections from August 1970. More than half the titles are in German, 275 in Italian, fifty or so in English and around twenty in French.

Apart from the value of the individual items, which may be relative, the library constitutes an important testimonial of the intellectual vivacity and political passion of its owner and contains books on a wide variety of subjects, ranging from chemistry and physics to law, pedagogy, Jewish studies, philosophy and politics.

Optimisation of the collection

Situated in a specific section of the General Library, the collection has been fully catalogued, with specific regard to miscellaneous items, which are grouped by subject (pedagogy, economics, biography, Jewish studies) in factitious groups with the inclusion of all the documents contained in the catalogue. The collection’s volumes can also be searched cumulatively, insofar as they are linked to the name of the owner.

Part of the Weiss library (approximately 1,800 volumes and brochures) is held in Trieste, at the Saranz Institute, which it reached subsequently together with the archive materials: in 1986, gifted by Laura, Ernesto’s daughter, and then in 1987, after Laura’s death, through the testament executor.

Important titles

Some of the most important documents include an 1896 edition of a brochure by Theodor Herzl, also available for consultation as an electronic version on the Goethe Universität website.

The most important items also include a 1777 Eneide edition, an 1820 edition in two volumes of La Gerusalemme liberata, an essay by Tommaseo about Antonio Rosmini, a 1903 illustrated volume on the Prague ghetto, the translation by Dante Lattes of the essay History of the Jews in Venice by Cecil Roth and a 1907 essay against child labour

Links to documents in the Ernesto Weiss Fund

Modern books (published after 1830)

Antique books (published before 1831)

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