The David Simonsen Archives

- an introduction

David Simonsen

Link to the digital letter facsimiles 

David Simonsen*s Archives (1853-1932) was aquired by The Royal Library in 1932. All in all, it is estimated to contain app. 100,000 documents, was aquired at the same time. Several attempts were made to make their vast contents more readily accessible to scholars. However, none of these attempts came to fruition, and no comprehensive finding aid has been available. The archives were kept in approximately 200 worn-down and acidulous cardboard folders, labelled, e.g. “Private correspondence 1890-1924. Jewish relief work 1890-1924.” Particularly remarkable letters had been extracted and sorted according to the name of the sender. The present list of correspondents is the result of a cooperative effort between the Department for Oriental and Judaica Collections and the Manuscript Department (by Karen Marie Jensen). The principles of organization used in the Manuscript Department have been followed, and the David Simonsen Archives are now subdivided in: 

Correspondents - preliminary (Oct. 2006) register with Hebrew names and some additional information about sender/recipient (app. 29.800 letters (56.600 documents/pages) )
Manuscripts (David Simonsen’s own works) and other materials (preliminary registration; in Danish)
”Dispatches” (communiqués, bulletins, memoranda, press releases)
”Files” (materials regarding specific topics)
Accounts
Printed matters
Press cuttings
Miscellaneous

To these groups of material should be added three registers, presumably covering notes regarding telegrams etc., sent in connection with the relief efforts by David Simonsen in the course of World War I. They may also have been a help in keeping track of the messages conveyed by Simonsen between parties in war-faring countries (cf. below re. “Others to others). They have been digitized (Sept. 2014) and can be found as David Simonsen Archives: Other items: Archival records (bound). Besides giving an indication of the vast network of David Simonsen, they may be of interest to scholars and genealogists interested in the whereabouts of singular individuals in the course of the war. 

So far (May 2016), almost two-thirds of the letters are available online (correspondents with names starting with letters A-Me, and R, with a few additions). The publication of the remaining part of the collection is dependent on additional funding.

In principle, the person who has signed a letter is considered to be the sender, unless the letter is by a collective or an institution. The great majority of the documents are in Danish, German, English, French, Hebrew and Yiddish. However, there are also documents in Swedish, Italian, Polish, Russian, Hungarian, and probably also other languages.

Letters to and from the same individual or organization or company are kept together, but for the present, the list of correspondents gives no information as to the number of documents in each folder.

It should be emphasised that not all senders or addressees have been identified. Letters “ from others to others”, that is, where neither the sender nor the recipient is David or Cora Simonsen, are listed in a separate document. Many of these letters were originally attachments to other letters, from which they have been separated, or they have been sent to David Simonsen when he worked together with the Red Cross and acted as an intermediary between individuals in belligerent states during World War I. They will gradually be included in the digital collection; at first only letters discovered to have been "misplaced", later all the other letters as well.  Registers pertaining to the other groups of material in the archives will also be made public on the website as soon as they are available.