From Napoleon and Mark Twain to explorers, travelers, and diplomats: trace the history of the Holy Land

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Topic

Human Aspect

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Manuscripts (72)

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Harry Truman Declares

Autograph Letter Signed

1 page

SMC 646

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An Invitation to the Birth of Israel: On Friday, 5 Iyar 5708, at 4:00 p.m, Independence Will Be Declared

Typed Letter

1 page

SMC 219

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Palestine, Truman Says, is a “Matter of Considerable Disturbance” to be Determined by U.N.

Typed Letter Signed

1 page

SMC 686

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Homesick General Eisenhower Writes of a WWII Visit to Jerusalem and Levant at Christmas

Autograph Letter Signed

3 pages

SMC 708

Homesick Eisenhower writes to his wife to thank her for Christmas gifts and to express his longing to see her. He omits his recent promotion as Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces.
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Theodor Herzl Sets Out to Establish the First Zionist Congress and Vows

Autograph Letter Signed

3 pages

SMC 731

Theodor Herzl tries to garner support for his vision of a Jewish State amongst the Hasidic Jews of Europe. Herzl sets forth his ecumenical vision, where Jews would be free to practise (or to not practise) their religion in their own way, with no "falling out over matters of religion." Herzl mentions the first Zionist Congress, confident that the Jews will obtain their ancestral homeland of Palestine.
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Theodore Herzl Admits to Exhaustion But Swears to Continue

Autograph Letter Signed

1 page

SMC 732

Theodore Herzl admits to exhaustion but vows to continue the "great campaign" for as long as he is able.
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Ben-Gurion: Had a Jewish State Been Established in 1937, Millions of Jews Would Not Have Died in the Holocaust

Typed Letter Signed

1 page

SMC 765

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David Ben-Gurion Compares, Favorably, the Fledgling IDF to George Washington's Revolutionary Army

Typed Letter Signed

1 page

SMC 766

At a critical juncture, when Israel was vastly outnumbered, Ben-Gurion compares the fledgling IDF to "an army that had been established by the owner of an estate in Virginia." Though Ben-Gurion compares the IDF to George Washington's Revolutionary Army and wishes to learn from it, he also claims that the Jewish people's situation is "different from any other nation."
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David Ben-Gurion on the Pioneer Generations and the Need for U.S. Immigration

Autograph Letter Signed

1 page

SMC 769

David Ben Gurion tells his correspondent that Israel was founded by pioneers but now needs immigrants from free countries, most notably the United States, to come and populate it.
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Age Is Not an Impediment to Visiting Israel, David Ben-Gurion Argues

Autograph Letter Signed

1 page

SMC 771

David Ben-Gurion encourages Ida Camelhor Silverman, an eighty-six year old Hadassah officer, to visit Israel, citing the Biblical Sarah and Moses Montefiore as examples of people who travelled to Israel at advanced ages. Two years after receiving this letter, Silverman actually settled in Israel, where she would die two years after making Israel her home.
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Hayim N. Bialik on the Jewish Persecutions in the Diaspora and the Determination to Make a Home in Zion

Autograph Letter Signed

2 pages

SMC 782

Writing in 1934, Bialik affirms that the latest persecutions of the Jewish people necessitate the creation of a Jewish state.
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Albert Einstein on the

Autograph Letter Signed

1 page

SMC 792

Here, Einstein writes a conciliatory letter, appreciating that Selig Brodetsky is not alienated by his gruff manner in handling and discussing the Hebrew University, a cause so dear to his heart. At the time a mathematician at the University of Leeds, Brodetsky would go on to become the Hebrew University's president twenty years later.
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Jerusalem Consul Wallace and Chief Rabbi Salant Solicit American Funds for the City's Institutions

Document Signed

8 pages

SMC 836

The situation of two of Jerusalem’s loftiest institutions - the Talmud Torah House and the General Hospital - are in dire straights, Rabbi Salant and Consul Wallace attest: this, the unhappy result of the “terrible loss of employment and income of our brothers in Russia who have heretofore been great supporters.” They appeal to American Jews for funding.
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A

Ephemera

1 page

SMC 837

Song of Praise written and performed in Hebrew on the occasion of the arrival of the U.S. Consul, General Lew Wallace, to Jerusalem.
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1898 French Railway Travel Poster Advertising Palestine

Ephemera

1 page

SMC 856

A scarce travel poster for the French railway, Chemins de fer de Paris à Lyon et à la Méditerranée, or PLM, to Palestine, by the noted poster artist Hugo D’Alesi.
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Rare Travel Poster: Cook's Nile and Palestine Tours

Ephemera

1 page

SMC 861

This Thomas Cook travel poster advertising the Nile and Palestine tours is a rare 1901-1903 reprint of the original, produced in the 1870s.
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Manuscript from Mark Twain's Missing 1867 Notebook, Announcing His Intention to Travel Abroad

Autograph Manuscript

2 pages

SMC 911

In this leaf from one of Mark Twain's missing notebooks, the young author writes of his upcoming journey to Europe and the Levant. Twain would chronicle the trip in The Innocents Abroad, a book that which would launch his career as a writer.
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Joshua Chamberlain and William Seward Assist the Jaffa-Adams Colonists in 1867

Autograph Letter Signed

3 pages

SMC 985

Three weeks before many of the stranded colonists would leave Jaffa with Mark Twain on the Quaker City, Governor of Maine Joshua Chamberlain here passes on Secretary of State William Seward's interest in extending aide to 156 American Christian colonists in Jaffa.
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Harry Truman Manuscript on the “Settlement of the Palestine Question”

Autograph Manuscript Signed

1 page

SMC 994

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Napoleon, at the Siege of Acre, Orders His Troops and Generals to be Paid

Document Signed

1 page

SMC 999

Bogged down at the Siege of Acre on what, only weeks before, he thought would be a quick victory on his way to Jerusalem, Napoleon here orders that his generals and the infantry, lancers and sappers, be paid.
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1858 Senate Report Regarding the

Typed Manuscript

30 pages

SMC 1012

The 1858 Senate report, which details the murder and rape of the Dickson family in their agricultural colony. The author, Jonathan Steinbeck was a descendent of members of the colony, and the "Outrages at Jaffa" is alluded to in his East of Eden. Herman Melville, inspired by the tragic events, wrote his epic poem Clarel.
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Napoleon Bonaparte Authorizes a Soldier to Join the Egyptian Campaign in Syria

Document Signed

1 page

SMC 1040

Signed as General-in-Chief, Bonaparte signs papers for a soldier to join his campaign in Syria. The campaigns were deployed for French commercial interests, with the additional motivation of disrupting Britain's.
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Abraham Lincoln Appoints Edward Joy Morris Minister to the Ottoman Empire - and by Extension, Palestine

Document Signed

1 page

SMC 1099

In the midst of the Civil War, Lincoln replaces the Southern minister to the Ottoman Empire with Edward Joy Morris.
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On His Penultimate Day in Office, President Ulysses S. Grant Announces His Intention to Travel the Globe

Autograph Letter Signed

2 pages

SMC 1142

Just before setting off on a two-year world tour, Grant arranges for bank dividends to be sent to his son and namesake, U.S. Grant, Jr. so that the latter can manage his affairs during the world tour.
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Benjamin Harrison Names Solomon Hirsch Minister to Turkey, the Third Jew to Hold That Diplomatic Rank

Autograph Letter Signed

2 pages

SMC 1531

Solomon Hirsch tops President Benjamin Harrison's list of diplomatic appointees. Harrison was indebted to the German-born Hirsch, who carried his home-state of Oregon as Republican.
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President Cleveland Appoints Nageeb Arbeely to Replace Anti-Semitic Selah Merrill as Consul at Jerusalem

Document Signed

1 page

SMC 1595

The wildly unpopular Consul at Jerusalem, Selah Merrill, is replaced by the Greek-ancestry-Syrian-born naturalized-American, Najeeb J. Arbeely.
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Dr. Cyrus Adler Lectures in 1893 On His Presidentially-Mandated Tour of the Levant

Ephemera

1 page

SMC 1601

Handbill for Dr. Cyrus Adler's lecture about his three-year tour of the Levant.
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Herzl Directs U.S. Zionists to Force McKinley to Protest Turkish Discrimination of Jews in Palestine

Typed Letter Signed

2 pages

SMC 1680

In 1900, the Ottoman Empire officially barred Jews from visiting the Holy Land. The Italian government immediately protested this violation of human rights, which distinguished between Jewish and Gentile Italian citizens. Here, Theodor Herzl aims to introduce the debate to Congress or Senate so that a country as powerful as the United States would emulate Italy's example, inspiring other countries to follow suit.
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From

Autograph Quotation Signed

1 page

SMC 1682

Mark Twain's handwritten irreverent soliloquy from the Tomb of Adam in the Holy Land from Innocents Abroad.
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Mark Twain's Last Day in New York Before Leaving on the

Autograph Letter Signed

2 pages

SMC 1686

A letter written in the wee hours of the morning after an evening and night spent drinking. Twelve hours later, Twain would be aboard "The Quaker City."
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Rail Ticket for the Historic Jaffa-Jerusalem Railroad

Ephemera

1 page

SMC 1723

Rail Ticket, in French and Arabic, for the Jaffa-Jerusalem Railroad, 2nd Class. Palestine, no date. Punched and cancelled.
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President Franklin Pierce Appoints the First United States Consul to Serve in Jerusalem

Document Signed

1 page

SMC 1741

President Franklin Pierce appoints Boston physician John Warren Gorham as the first United States Consul at Jerusalem on October 20, 1856.
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Signed Photo of Edmund Allenby Entering Jerusalem

Signed Photograph

1 page

SMC 1772

In direct contrast to Kaiser Wilhelm II's entrance to Jerusalem on horseback, Edmund Allenby respectfully dismounted before entering the Holy City. He was the first Christian to rule Jerusalem in centuries.
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At the End of His Life, Albert Einstein Writes Check to His Beloved Hebrew University

Check Signed

1 page

SMC 1814

The Hebrew University was a dream towards which Einstein devoted a considerable amount of time, including serving on its board, speaking at its inauguration, and bequeathing all of his papers to it. Nearing the end of his life, he wrote this check, in 1955 for $10 (equivalent to $90 in today's money) to the American Friends of the Hebrew University.
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Ulysses S. Grant Comments on the Refugees Who Have Fled to Constantinople

Autograph Letter Signed

6 pages

SMC 1849

In Istanbul, Grant was struck by scenes of the refugees – many of them, Bulgarian Jews – who had fled the notoriously anti-Semitic Russian invaders during the just-concluded Russo-Turkish War. Grant also discusses the gift of an Arabian horse from the sultan and the logistics involved in shipping it back to the United States.
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President William McKinley's Appointment of the Antisemitic Selah Merrill as Consul at Jerusalem

Document Signed

1 page

SMC 1879

President William McKinley reinstalls Selah Merrill as consul at Jerusalem. Merrill held the post for about thirty years prior to this, his last appointment, and was widely known to revile the Jews in the Holy Land.
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Rabbi Isaac Leeser's Review of Convert and Early American Zionist Warder Cresson's

Autograph Manuscript

4 pages

SMC 1921

Rabbi Isaac Leeser reviews the American Zionist Warder Cresson's book The Key of David. Leeser explictly states that he does not "wish to be considered as endorsing all Mr. C. advances." Nor does he regularly read his work. However, he continues, it makes for enjoyable reading to those who are "fond of high-seasoned polemical writings."
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President Millard Fillmore Acknowledges the Gift of

Letter Signed

1 page

SMC 2034

The Unitarian President Fillmore thanks the Presbyterian Rev. Septimus Justin for "a beautiful picture of 'ancient Jerusalem.'" Although he has only had time to glance at it, the appears to him to be well-executed.
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Passport for the Early Explorer of Jerusalem, the Reverend Eli Smith, Signed by James Buchanan

Document Signed

1 page

SMC 2068

Reverend Eli Smith, who had joined Reverend Edward Robinson as an Arabic-speaker during the latter's exploration of Biblical Jerusalem, travels to the Holy Land yet again, this time with a passport signed by then Secretary of State, James Buchanan.
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Early Carte-de-Visite Photo of Longtime U.S. Consul to Jerusalem, Selah Merrill

Carte de Visite

1 page

SMC 2230

Selah Merrill, known primarily as the longtime U.S. Consul to Jerusalem, famous for his antipathy for the Jewish people there, as well as anyone outside of mainstream Protestantism, was also, ironically, a chaplain with the 49th Colored Infantry during the Civil War. This rare carte-de-visite photo dates from his year's service in that capacity.
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Mordecai Manuel Noa and Isaac Leeser Propose Relief for the Poor Jews of Palestine

Autograph Document Signed

1 page

SMC 237

Mordecai Manuel Noa and Isaac Leeser propose relief for the poor Jews of Palestine, albeit through different channels. This typifies their differences of opinion and approach where the restoration of the Jews to the Holy Land was concerned.
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Prime Minister Winston Churchill on Orde Wingate: A Man of Genius Who Might Have Become a Man of Destiny

Autograph Letter Signed

2 pages

SMC 293

On his way to the second Quebec conference, Winston Churchill remembers that a year ago, he, Orde, and Lorna Wingate were on their way to the first conference. Churchill offers his condolences to the newly-widowed Lorna.
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Winston Churchill Thanks Ormsby-Gore for Accepting Post to the Permanent Mandates Commission

Autograph Letter Signed

1 page

SMC 294

Winston Churchill Thanks Pro-Zionist Ormsby-Gore for Accepting Post to the Permanent Mandates Commission Responsible for Palestine.
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David Ben Gurion Predicts That the Six Day War Will Not Be Israel's Last

Autograph Letter Signed

1 page

SMC 302

Ben-Gurion claims that as long as the USA and the USSR fight the Cold War by proxy in the Middle East - by arming Arab countries - there will be no peace in the region, and Israel will have to continuously fight for its survival.
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President Herbert Hoover Silent on 1929 Hebron Massacre

Typed Letter Signed

1 page

SMC 330

Writing to a minister's wife who was horrified by the 1929 anti-Jewish Hebron massacre in Palestine, President Herbert Hoover responds coolly to her "interesting observations."
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Chaim Weizmann in 1943:

Autograph Letter Signed

3 pages

SMC 376

Writing during World War Two, Chaim Weizmann assures Lorna Wingate that her husband Orde is on the mend after a bout of typhoid. In the interim, he comments that many things are happening in Palestine that would provoke the British, though he hopes they will not allow themselves to be provoked. It would be "nothing short of a miracle if we do get something out of this war," he ruefully remarks.
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Chaim Weizmann Agrees to Stand as Godfather to Orde Wingate's Son

Autograph Letter Signed

2 pages

SMC 378

Chaim Weizmann agrees to stand as Godfather to the son of Major General Orde Wingate, Orde Jonathan Wingate.
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Chaim Weizmann, in 1944, on the Jewish Brigade, and Rumors of a Jewish State

Autograph Letter Signed

3 pages

SMC 379

Chaim Weizmann writes to Lorna Wingate, the widow of Major-General Orde Wingate, to tell her that the British government finally approved the creation of the Jewish Brigade. Weizmann's feelings are mixed, though, as WIngate - who died five months earlier - would have made this Brigade "a powerful force."
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Chaim Weizmann Analyzes British Partition Plans and Prerequisites for Statehood; Blasts American Jewry

Autograph Letter Signed

5 pages

SMC 380

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Ben-Gurion Predicts Victory Under Dayan in 6-Day War; Discusses How Many Arabs Equal One Israeli Soldier

Autograph Letter Signed

1 page

SMC 385

Moshe Dayan is appointed minister of defence; Ben Gurion predicts that Israel will triumph over Egypt, Jordan, and Syria in the coming Six Day War.
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Einstein Declares He is for a Jewish Homeland, But Not a Separate State

Typed Letter Signed

1 page

SMC 392

Rather than an independent Jewish state, Einstein would like to see a "secured bi-national status in Palestine with free immigration," adding that it defies common sense to "ask to be given the political rule over Palestine where two thirds of the population are not Jewish."
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James A. Garfield's Appointment of the Anti-Semitic Selah Merrill as Consul at Jerusalem

Document Signed

1 page

SMC 438

Merrill, who held the post of U.S. Consul at Jerusalem for almost three decades – appointed by three Republican presidents – is here installed in that position for the first time by James Garfield. Cleveland would remove Merrill, but he was re-appointed by Harrison and McKinley. He is generally considered to be the greatest reviler of the Jews to ever occupy the post of consul at Jerusalem.
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David Ben Gurion on Anwar Sadat's Wanting Peace in 1971: He Isn't Convinced

Autograph Letter Signed

1 page

SMC 508

David Ben Gurion places responsibility for peace with the Egyptians at their feet, but also remarks that "a great deal depends on Russia."
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Edward Robinson Writes to His Publisher to Inquire About His

Autograph Letter Signed

1 page

SMC 545

Edward Robinson, eager to sail home to America, inquires with his publisher as to the progress of his manuscript for Biblical Researches in Palestine. His work would be the cornerstone and genesis of biblical archaeology.
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Lew Wallace's Signed

Calling Card

1 page

SMC 594

The author of Ben Hur's calling card, identifying Lew Wallace as the American Minister to Turkey.
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General Edmund Allenby Commemorates His Victorious Entrance Into Jerusalem One Year Later

Autograph Letter Signed

1 page

SMC 595

General Edmund Allenby, in celebrating the Allied victory of World War I, humbly commemorates the year anniversary of his conquering of Jerusalem.
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David Roberts Sends Sketches of Holy Land to Archaeologist to Refute Famous Argument About Temple Mount

Autograph Letter Signed

1 page

SMC 645

Ahead of a meeting of the Royal Institute of British architects in London, David Roberts sends his sketches to the archaeologist J.J. Scoles, with whom he would collaborate to debunk James Fergusson’s thesis that the Dome of the Rock was the original Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
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Chaim Weizmann Thanks Clark Clifford for His Help In Getting President Truman to Recognize Israel

Typed Letter Signed

2 pages

SMC 647

Clark Clifford, President Truman's aide, argued against Secretary of State George Marshall "as if it were a case to be presented to the Supreme Court." Truman immediately recognized the Jewish State, and Weizmann, on his first day as President of Israel, thanks him.
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David Ben-Gurion on God’s Promises to His People: Strength and Peace – One Given, the Other, Coming

Autograph Letter Signed

1 page

SMC 664

Two years before the Yom Kippur War, and quoting from Psalms, David Ben Gurion tells a correspondent that there is definitely trouble brewing with Egypt, yet God promises his people two things: strength and peace. The former is obtained, and the latter, Ben-Gurion has faith, is coming.
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Horatio Nelson Rejoices at the Raising of the Siege of Acre - And Napoleon's Fleeing

Autograph Letter Signed

2 pages

SMC 108

Nelson jubilantly reports that the French are being pushed back from Acre and from Zante (Greece), pleased at Napoleon "the villain's" ignominious end.
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T.E. Lawrence on Palestine: No One Trusts the British for More Than Two Minutes

Autograph Letter Signed

1 page

SMC 110

Primarily discussing his book "The Seven Pillars of Wisdom," T.E. Lawrence confides in Brig. General Sir Gilbert Falkingham Clayton that no person of any "race or creed" living in Palestine trusts the British for "more than two minutes." If they would, he ruefully comments, "things would be more stable there."
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T.E. Lawrence Wants to

Autograph Letter Signed

1 page

SMC 111

T.E. Lawrence writes to his superior at the Arab Bureau, General Clayton, to ask if he should send a letter he wrote to Sir Mark Sykes, the man responsible for divvying up the Middle East between the English and the French. Here, Lawrence mentions to Clayton that the "Jewish section" should be cleared up, and when they fight the French, the French section will fall into English hands, as well.
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General Charles

Autograph Letter Signed

4 pages

SMC 112

Here, Charles Gordon, writing to friend and fellow explorer, Sir Samuel Baker, is positive of the location of not only Calvary, but of other archaeological sites purporting to be of biblical significance, though disputed, by his own admission.
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General Charles

Autograph Letter Signed

3 pages

SMC 113

Charles Gordon reveals that he will be going to Palestine. There, he will fulfill a cherished ambition, searching to establish authoritatively the locations of the site of the crucifixion, the line of division between the tribes of Benjamin and Judah, the identification of Gibeon, and the whereabouts of Christ’s tomb.
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Mark Twain Names His Lecture Tour About Holy Land Trip:

Autograph Letter Signed

1 page

SMC 117

Twain's use of the title, The American Vandal Abroad – a play on The Innocents Abroad - suggests that perhaps American tourists to the Holy Land weren't always so innocent. Twain recorded, aghast, how these religious pilgrims sliced off souvenirs from venerable biblical sites in Palestine.
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Mark Twain's Mockup of Title Page and Dedication of

Autograph Manuscript Signed

2 pages

SMC 119

Mark Twain's handwritten mockup of the title page and dedication of More Tramps Abroad with a note about Innocents Abroad.
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Young John F. Kennedy Condemns Harry Truman's Reversal to Support the Partition of Palestine

Autograph Manuscript

2 pages

SMC 149

At a dinner of Jewish veterans, John F. Kennedy, then a congressman from Massachusetts, condemns Harry Truman's withdrawal of support for the partition of Palestine as "one of the most unfortunate reversals in American policy. Kennedy also called for the US to lift the arms embargo in order to give Israel a chance to protect herself in the ensuing war.
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Chaim Weizmann and Albert Einstein Sign a Hebrew University Postcard

Signature

1 page

SMC 155

Rare Hebrew University postcard signed by Chaim Weizmann and Albert Einstein, who, as much as anyone, made the dream of a Hebrew University in Jerusalem a reality.
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Robert Frost Declares Himself a

Autograph Manuscript Signed

1 page

SMC 167

Robert Frost expresses his identification with, and friendship for, the "brave… little" nation of Israel. He also recommends reading the story of Nehemiah, possibly as a prelude to the modern-day restoration of the Jews to Israel.
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Thomas Cook, Holy Land Tourism Pioneer, Receives Testimonial

Autograph Letter Signed

1 page

SMC 184

Thomas Cooke thanks a member of the clergy for a testimonial of his tour, and asks if any corrections are necessary.
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A Broadside Advertising

Broadside

1 page

SMC 186

Broadside advertising Henry Dickson's museum of Palestine. Dickson, having lived in Palestine for five years, offers his spectators not only curiosities from the country, but insight as to the dress and custom of the Arab people. He also retells the story of the fateful night in which his family were "beaten, robbed and murdered."
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Theodor Herzl Sends Postcard From Jerusalem to Menachem Ussishkin Ahead of Meeting With Kaiser Wilhelm

Card Signed

2 pages

SMC 207

In 1898, Theodor Herzl came to Jerusalem to ask Kaiser Wilhelm to appeal to the Turks for the creation of a Jewish state under a German protectorate. He sent Menachem Ussishkin a postcard from the Holy City.
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