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The Parkes Institute

James Parkes

Read about Reverend Dr James Parkes who was a tireless fighter against antisemitism in all forms

Early Work

The Parkes Institute is a community of scholars, archivists, librarians, students, and activists based on the life work of the Reverend Dr James Parkes (1896-1981), one of the most remarkable figures within twentieth century Christianity.

Ordained by the Church of England in 1926, through his work with the International Student Service and the Student Christian Movement as early as the 1920s Parkes campaigned against the rise of racist nationalism in Europe.

A tireless fighter against antisemitism in all forms, including from within Christianity, he helped rescue Jewish refugees during the 1930s and campaigned for the Jews of Europe during the Holocaust. During the Second World War he helped found the Council of Christians and Jews and worked throughout his career in promoting religious tolerance and mutual respect between those of all faiths and none.

James Parkes wearing his World War 1 uniform
Parkes served as an infantryman in the British Armed Forces

Later Work

James Parkes was a pioneer in the study of antisemitism, but also in the history of the Jews from aniquity through to the modern era. An author of over 400 works, he was one of the first to contextualise the Jewish experience in its widest context thereby highlighting not only the distinctiveness of the Jews but also their 'normality' in the wider world.

As part of his international campaigning and scholarship, he built up the Parkes Library and associated archive which transferred to the University of Southampton in 1964. It is now one of the largest Jewish documentation centres in Europe and the only one in the world devoted to Jewish/non-Jewish relations, fulfilling Parkes’s ambition for it to be an international hub of research and outreach.

Learn more about Reverend Dr James Parkes through the University of Southampton Special Collections

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