Guide to the Papers of Khaykl Lunski (ca. 1881-ca. 1942)
bulk 1900-1935

RG 58

Processed by Ezekiel Lipschutz. Edited by Rivka Schiller with the assistance of a grant from the Gruss Lipper Family Foundation. Additional processing by Rachel S. Harrison.

YIVO Institute for Jewish Research

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, NY 10011

Phone: (212) 246-6080

Fax: (212) 292-1892



©2011 YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. All rights reserved.
Center for Jewish History, Publisher.
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Rachel S. Harrison in December 2011. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Khaykl Lunski
Title: Papers of Khaykl Lunski (ca. 1881-ca. 1942)
Dates:bulk 1900-1935
Abstract: The Papers of Khaykl Lunski are comprised of Lunski’s manuscripts and correspondence and documents from the administrative files of the Strashun Library and the S. Ansky Historical Ethnographic Society in Vilna. These materials were part of the YIVO Archives in Vilna before 1941, which were recovered by YIVO in New York in 1947. The papers were reassembled in the YIVO Archives in New York circa 1950.
Languages: The collection is in Yiddish and Hebrew, with some Russian, Lithuanian, Polish, German, English and French.
Quantity: 1.3 linear feet
Identification: RG 58
Repository: YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
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Biographical Note

Khaykl Lunski was born on June 29, 1881(?) in Slonim, Russia (now Belarus). His father was a melamed (religious schoolteacher) and was descended from a rabbinical family from Koenigsberg (Krolewiec). From a young age, Lunski received a traditional Jewish education, attending kheyder and then the yeshivas of Slonim and Lida. In 1892 he came to Vilna, where he spent two years as a shammes (beadle) in a small synagogue.

In 1895 Lunski began working for the Strashun Library, the Jewish library run by the Vilna kehilla (community), for which he collected books, rare manuscripts and historical documents. He remained there as a librarian until the liquidation of the library by the Nazis in 1941. In 1918, he assisted S. Ansky in establishing the Jewish Historical Ethnographic Society in Vilna and collected thousands of documents, books, pictures, pinkasim (record books of Jewish communities), and folklore materials for the Society and for its publications. He became secretary of the Jewish Historical Ethnographic Society in 1919 and was also an active member of the Bibliographic Center of the YIVO in Vilna.

Lunski’s literary career began with some Zionist poetry, which he published in Luah Eretz-Yisrael (Calendar of Israel) in 1905. He began his Yiddish literary activities in 1917, publishing an essay in the Vilner Zamlbukh (Vilna Collection). In later years he published essays, articles, books on the history of Vilna Jews during World War I, biographies of rabbis and religious scholars, including the rabbi of Slonim and the Vilna Gaon, a memoir of S. Ansky, a catalogue of the Strashun Library, and several other works. He also collected thousands of books for the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Just prior to the Second World War, Lunski was in the process of writing a history of the Jewish community of Slonim. In all probability, this work was lost during the war.

During the Nazi occupation of Vilna, the Strashun Library and YIVO Library and Archives were liquidated. Lunski and other members of Vilna’s Jewish intelligentsia were forced, along with other Jews from the Vilna Ghetto, to work for the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, a Nazi unit involved in looting Jewish cultural property in the occupied countries. Lunski was made to sort, pack, and ship thousands of Jewish books and archival materials from the Strashun Library, mainly to the NSDAP Institut zur Erfoschung die Judenfrage in Frankfurt a/Main. He continued writing while in the Vilna Ghetto, writing about the gravestones in the old Jewish cemetery in Vilna and about Jewish publishing in Vilna. He also kept a ghetto diary. These works also appear to have been lost.

The information concerning Lunski’s death is contradictory. Shmerke Kaczerginski claimed that Lunski was deported to Treblinka together with his daughter Khana, while other accounts say that he was beaten to death in September 1942.


Abramowicz, Hirsz. Profiles of a Lost World: Memoirs of East European Jewish Life before World War II. Detroit, Michigan: Wayne State University Press, 1999.

Jeshurin, Efim, ed. Vilne: A zamelbukh gevidmet der shtot Vilne. (Vilna: A Collection Dedicated to the City of Vilna). New York: Vilner 367 Brentsh, Arbayter Ring, 1935.

Kruk, Herman. The Last Days of the Jerusalem of Lithuania: Chronicles from the Vilna Ghetto and the Camps, 1939-1944. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2002.

Congress for Jewish Culture, ed. Leksikon fun der nayer yidisher literatur. (Lexicon of the New Jewish Literature). New York: 1963.

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Scope and Content Note

The materials in this collection are composed of Khaykl Lunski’s written works, as well as materials he collected for the Strashun Library. These include biographical profiles of rabbinic figures such as the Vilna Gaon, articles on the history of the Jewish community of Slonim, materials pertaining to various religious, social welfare, and educational institutions, administrative notes, minutes, bulletins, salary records, and bibliographic notes of the Strashun Library, correspondence with writers, rabbinical figures, educators, historians, religious institutions in Palestine, personal and family correspondence, and newspaper articles regarding Lunski.

The collection is 1.3 linear feet and dates from 1885-1941, the bulk of which are from 1900-1935. The majority of the materials are in Yiddish and Hebrew, although there are some materials in Russian, Lithuanian, Polish, German, English, and French.

Khaykl Lunski’s papers were presumably mixed with other looted collections from the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg unit. In 1945, these and other Jewish materials from Eastern Europe were placed by the U.S. Army in the Offenbach archival depot, from which they were subsequently redistributed among archives and libraries. The Lunski papers, together with volumes from the Strashun Library, were recovered after the war and brought to YIVO in New York in 1947. They were originally part of the collection arranged as RG 3, Collection of Yiddish Literature and Language, by Ezekiel Lifschutz, ca. 1950, who also created a finding aid in Yiddish. RG 3 is arranged as a reference collection in which documents from various individual collections that refer to Yiddish writers are assembled in folders according to the writer’s name. In 2007-2008 the finding aid for RG 3 was translated into English by Chava Lapin and edited by Rivka Schiller.

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The collection was formerly part of Record Group 3, from which it was extracted to form a separate record group, RG 58. The folder arrangement was maintained. RG 3 is a segment of a larger block of the Vilna YIVO records within which all folders are numbered consecutively. Record Group 3 begins at folder 1701 and continues through folder 3402, within which the folders of RG 58 are numbered from 2311 to 2350B. The Lunski materials are arranged in one series.

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

Permission to use the collection must be obtained from the YIVO Archivist.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish part or parts of the collection must be obtained from the YIVO Archives. For more information, contact:
YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011

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Related Material

The Papers of Khaykl Lunski were originally part of RG 3, Yiddish Literature and Language Collection, with which they share a provenance. RG 55, Yiddish Writers and Journalists Union, was also originally part of RG 3, as was RG 57, Papers of Nahum Shtif. The YIVO Archives also has other archival and library materials from the Strashun Library, of which Lunski was the long-time librarian, as well as several books by Lunski.

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Separated Material

There is no information about materials that are associated by provenance to the described materials that have been physically separated or removed.

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Papers of Khaykl Lunski; RG 58; folder number; YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.

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Acquisition Information

Recovered by the YIVO Archives in New York in 1947.

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Processing information

Ezekiel Lipschutz compiled and wrote a Yiddish finding aid for RG 3, Collection of Yiddish Literature and Language, ca. 1950. This finding aid was translated from Yiddish by Chava Lapin and edited by Rivka Schiller, 2007-2008 with the assistance of a grant from the Gruss Lipper Family Foundation. The Papers of Khaykl Lunski were extracted from RG 3 to form their own record group, RG 58.

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Access Points

Click on a subject to search that term in the Center's catalog. Return to the Top of Page

Container List


Papers of Khaykl Lunski, 1885-1941

43 folders
Folder TitleDate
2311 Biography of Lunski's grandfather Rabbi Mordechai Weitzel 1916

Chief of Bet-Din of Slonim, written by Lunski

Folder TitleDate
2312 Yidishe gedoylim fun noentn over (Great Jewish Personalities in the Recent Past) undated

manuscript, by Lunski

Folder TitleDate
2313 History of Slonim; Jews in Slonim undated

manuscripts, by Lunski

Folder TitleDate
2314 Materials about institutions 1901-1920

documents about the Magid
by-laws of the Shomrei Torah Society
resolutions at the meetings of the Valk-kloyz of Ha'azinu
materials about: Agudas Akhim
Agudas Marbitsey Toyre
Jewish Teachers' Seminary
Old Peoples’ Home
Burial Society “Bring Salvation”
about needy persons who have asked for help

Folder TitleDate
2315 Rebbes and Rabbis undated

the Minsk "Godl"
the first anniversary of the great Gaon, R. Raphael Gordon

Folder TitleDate
2316 Magid of Kelm and the Gaon of Vilna and his followers 1912, undated

miscellaneous sheets and notes, by Lunski

Folder TitleDate
2317 The Gaon of Vilna, R. Eli, son of Shloyme Zalman undated

proofsheets, by Lunski

Folder TitleDate
2318 Outcry against the Russian Law of 1855 calling for the creation of Jewish schools undated

copy of the edict

Folder TitleDate
2319 Strashun Library 1899-1941

bibliographical notes
proposed rules for the administration of the library
minutes of an administrative session
copy of a bulletin: To American Jewry, to American writers and Vilna Landslayt
letters to the library administration and to M. Strashun
notes on the history of the library
notes on books received
salary records
description of the library, 3/18/1941

Folder TitleDate
2320 Correspondence 1898-1939

copies of letters to:
Shimon Hakohen, 1898
Yosef Opatoshu, 1939
letters from:
Rabbi Yitshok Blaser to Yekusiel Mankevitch, 1905
A. M. Bernstein, 1925-1930

Folder TitleDate
2321 Correspondence 1903-1912

letters from: Khaya, Lifshe and Abraham Yankev Brock (Bruk)
to: Khaya Brock (Lunski's future wife)
Refoel Nathan Kuliszewski
Fanny Abramowitz

Folder TitleDate
2322 Correspondence 1902-1940

letters from:
Benjamin Lunianski, 1910
Chaim Liberman, 1936-1940 (also copy of a reply by Lunski)
Hayim Libovits, 1911
Yom Tov Lewinski
J. A. Daynovski, 1936-1937
from Mordkhe Note Wigodski, 1902
Rabbi Nisn Waksman
Mordkhe Vaytsl, 1910
Yitshok Broydes, 1933
Rabbi Shmuel Yehoshua Vaytsl
K. Likhtenshteyn, 1933
Yankev ben Yankev

Folder TitleDate
2323 Correspondence 1894-1938

letters from:
L. Etinger to S. Dubnow, 1894
Gershon Pludermacher
Rabbi S. Fried
Hillel Zeitlin, 1923, 1936
Pinkhas Kon, 1926-1927
Rabbi Shimon Kaniak, 1934-1936
Yosef Kaplan, 1914
Pesakh Kaplan, 1928-1935
Yitskhok Rivkind, 1938
Sara Reisin
letters by Lunski and copies of letters to:
Pupko, 1937
Z. Reisen
Khana Shapiro, 1926 (a few words at the Shloyshim)

Folder TitleDate
2324 Correspondence 1887-1938

letters from:
Pinye Abramowitz
A. Z. Baron
Mendl Buski
Eliezer Bukstein
Shloyme Berman
Sheyne and M. Garfinkl
Itke Dworetzki
Hirsh Harbowski
Rivke Heilpern
Roza Hirsh
Rabbi M. Halinski
Nathaniel Woliwelieki
A. Volfson
Yitskhok Volfson
David Hakoen Triviush
Hayim Libovits
Shamay Lisvitski
F. Margolin
Yitskhok Stotland
Tsvi Moyshe Skidl
Yosef Poretski
J. Palatnik
J. Frenkel
David Yidl Kafion
Sholem Mordkhe Katzenellenbogen
Hayim Klein
Rabbi Eliezer Lipa Klepfish
Mordkhe Raduminski
Kh. Shapiro
Tsvi Sharubin (?)
Yitskhok Yankev Shvartzberg
Berl Schumache
Yitskhok Shtatlikh
A. L. Sheynhoyz

Folder TitleDate
2325 Correspondence 1885-1933

letters to Lunski, sender unknown

Folder TitleDate
2326 Family correspondence 1905-1913

from Rabbi A. J. Bruk, Lunski's father-in-law and his sisters-in-law, Lifshe and Sore

Folder TitleDate
2327 Family correspondence 1900-1926

from brothers Abraham and Aaron, mother Dina, sisters Zlate and Eydl, wife Khaya, father Shmuel Osher Haleyvi

Folder TitleDate
2328 Family correspondence 1928-1935

from his daughter Khana

Folder TitleDate
2329 Family correspondence 1901-1906

letters from Mordkhe Note and Yisroel Simkhe Haleyvi Lunski

Folder TitleDate
2330 Family correspondence 1911-1934

from his son Moyshe

Folder TitleDate
2331 Family correspondence 1899-1913

from his brothers Shloyme and Shmuel Osher

Folder TitleDate
2332 Family correspondence 1904-1934

from family members

Folder TitleDate
2333 Family correspondence 1900-1934

from close relatives without signatures

Folder TitleDate
2334 Family correspondence 1900-1912

to his wife Khaya

Folder TitleDate
2335 Family correspondence 1898-1936

copies of letters to his mother, mother-in-law, sisters, brothers and children

Folder TitleDate
2336 Correspondence 1902-1939

copies of letters to:
Reb Aaron
A. Aysenshtat
Yosef Berger
H. Berman
Yitshok Broydes
S. Ginzburg
Nathan Gensh
Rabbi Khayim Oyzer Grodzienski
Shmuel Hurwitz
Israel Heilprin
Rabbi Shmuel Yehoshua Vaytsl
Moyshe Zabalski
Yankev ben Yankev
A. Litwin
Hayim Libovits
Nakhmen Mayzel
A. Morewski
S. Niger
Eliyohu Soyfer
Dr. Eliasohn
S. Poznanski
J. Pupko
Shoshana Persits
Hillel Zeitlin
Franz Kabler
Yefim Jeshurun
H. Kameniecki
Rabbi Shimen Kaniak
H. Rubinow
Dr. Yitskhok Rivkind
Yitskhok Rubinstein
Dr. Emanuel Ringelblum
Hirsh Sharubski
Dr. Yankev Schatzki
Rivke Schenkman
M. Strashun

Folder TitleDate
2337 Correspondence 1919-1926

letters to:
the Writers Union, 1919-1926
Library of the Hebrew University (copy)
to the trustees of the Vilna Burial Society
some of the letters to his landlord

Folder TitleDate
2338 Private documents 1916-1924

medical records
official reports and certificates

Folder TitleDate
2339 Bibliographical notes 1903-1935

about books in the Strashun Library
about Lunski's own books
notes about the students of the Gaon of Vilna, personalities of Slonim and notes about authors
copies of letters to: Refoel Rabinowicz
Hayim Jeshurun
greetings in honor of Prof. Moshe Schorr's 60th birthday

Folder TitleDate
2340 Khumesh (Pentateuch) dictionary 1900-1935

dictionary, 1900-1909
care of sick
debts, 1926
address book

Folder TitleDate
2341A Bibliographical notes on Jewish books 1911-1915

Folder TitleDate
2341B Documents about various communal matters undated

Folder TitleDate
2342 Notes on books 1929

Lunski's letters about his difficulties in the Strashun Library

Folder TitleDate
2343 Transcription of musar (secular) books undated

Folder TitleDate
2344 Letters and announcements from various social institutions 1905-1936

Jewish National and University Library
Jewish Historical Ethnographic Society
Hevrah Mefitsei Haskalah (Society for the Promotion of Culture)
Friends of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem

Folder TitleDate
2345 Minutes and correspondence of the S. Ansky Society 1918-1936

Folder TitleDate
2346 Correspondence from Palestine institutions 1903-1914

copy of a letter by Lunski to Koylel Khabad in Jerusalem about his late father
other correspondence

Folder TitleDate
2347 Private documents 1919-1930

draft of a will
epitaph for Lunski's mother's gravestone
protest against Soviet requisition of flour in Vilna, 1919

Folder TitleDate
2348 Correspondence 1903-1923

letters from Jacob Waisbord at Hotel Amdurski to Mankiewicz, 1903
from Zvi Kriviski to his father
from the Teachers' Seminary, Vilna, 1923

Folder TitleDate
2349 Notes by Enokh Weinstein 1930-1931

about the Kovl Khalutz

Folder TitleDate
2350 Notes by Lunski 1917-1919

memoirs concerning Ratner
Pesakh 1919 (about A. Veiter)
memoirs of the year 1917

Folder TitleDate
2350A Newspaper journal articles by and pertaining to Lunski 1914-1939

Folder TitleDate
2350B Miscellaneous fragments 1905-1934

a call to the landslayt of Syni and Suwalki for them to help in the publication of remaining writings of Rabbi Moshe Betzalel Luria, notes, copies, parts of letters, a list of the yeshiva students and teachers in Vilna, 1915-1917

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