Guide to the Records of the YIVO Ethnographic Committee
undated, 1885-1941
RG 1.2

Processed by Eleanor Mlotek in 1980. Edited by Marek Web with the assistance of a grant from the Gruss Lipper Family Foundation. Additional processing by Sarah Ponichtera in 2012.

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



©2012 YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. All rights reserved.
Center for Jewish History, Publisher.
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Sarah Ponichtera in May 2012. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: YIVO – Yidisher visnshaftlekher institut (Yiddish Scientific Institute).
Title: Records of the YIVO Ethnographic Committee
Dates:undated, 1885-1941
Abstract: The Records of the YIVO Ethnographic Committee is a sub-group of the Record Group 1, Records of YIVO - Vilna. The activities of the Ethnographic Committee consisted of collecting folklore materials, preparing and analyzing folklore questionnaires, corresponding with folklore collectors throughout the world, and maintaining a museum. This collection also includes surviving fragments of the collections of the S.Ansky Jewish Historical and Ethnographic Society which was active in Vilna from 1920 until 1940, and of Invayskult, also known as the Jewish Bureau of the Byelorussian Academy of Science in Minsk (founded in 1925 and dissolved in the 1930s). Record Group 1.2 includes both administrative files of the aforementioned institutions and folklore and historical materials, which were gathered in these institutions' archives.
Languages: The collection is in Yiddish, Russian, Polish, and German. There are one or two items in Hebrew and Lithuanian.
Quantity: 5 linear feet (18 boxes).
Identification: RG 1.2
Repository: YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
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Historical Note

Ethnography played a central role in the development of Jewish studies in the early twentieth century, and the resources in this collection reflect the importance of the subject in the eyes of YIVO scholars and the many zamlers, or collectors, who assembled these materials on a voluntary basis. In 1891, Shimon Dubnow called for increased efforts in understanding and preserving the history of Eastern European Jewry, and S. Ansky demonstrated the practice of ethnography in his famous Expedition of 1912-1914 and incorporation of folkloric ideas in his immensely popular play, The Dybbuk. Ethnography had long been a preoccupation in Yiddish culture, playing a major role in maskilic literature, but during this period it became institutionalized and incorporated contemporary scientific practices.

YIVO Ethnographic Committee

YIVO – the Yiddish Scientific Institute – was founded in Vilna in 1925. It was organized in four permanent sections: Philology, History, Economics and Statistics, and Psychology and Education; the Ethnographic Committee was a sub-section of the Philological Section. At its inception in 1925, the Ethnographic Committee was established in cooperation with the S. Ansky Jewish Historical Ethnographic Society, with both organizations sharing in its financial support. The work of the Ethnographic Committee consisted of preparing and analyzing folklore questionnaires, correspondence with a network of hundreds of voluntary collectors throughout Europe, the United States, Canada, South America and other parts of the world, issuing instructions to collectors, acknowledging receipt of materials, organizing special circles of collectors in various towns and cities, arranging contests for the best folklore collections. It was a popular success, attracting hundreds of people to participate in its mission of documenting their communities. The Committee also maintained a museum and presented special exhibits. Members of the Ethnographic Committee included Shloyme Bastomski, folklorist and teacher, Dr. Max Weinreich, philologist, member of the Executive Committee of YIVO, N. Weinig, folklorist, Nekhama Epstein, folklorist, and Zalman Reisen, lexicographer, member of the Executive Committee of YIVO. N. Khayes, folklorist, served as secretary of the Committee. In 1930, the name of the Ethnographic Committee was changed to Folklore Committee. Throughout the history of its existence, the Ethnographic Committee was a flashpoint for tensions between YIVO and the S. Ansky Jewish Historical Ethnographic Society, which competed for influence and increasingly scarce resources for ethnographic work. The two organizations eventually parted ways, with the Ethnographic Society focusing more on material culture and the maintenance of a museum, while YIVO focused on written documents and scholarly materials.

Ansky Jewish Historical Ethnographic Society

The S. Ansky Jewish Historical Ethnographic Society was the successor of the Society of Friends of Jewish Antiquity founded in 1913 by L.V. Frenkel and the Historic Commission, founded by the Hevrah Mefitsei Haskalah to document the effects of the first World War on Jewish communities. It is a separate entity from the Historic-Ethnographic Commission, which was founded by the Hevrah Mefitsei Haskalah in 1892. After 1908 it became known as the Jewish Historic-Ethnographic Society of St. Petersburg. This society published Evreiskaia starina (The Jewish Past) from 1909-1918 and sponsored Ansky’s expeditions in 1912-1914. It was shut down by the Bolshevik government in 1917. In 1919, following World War I, S. Ansky renewed the work of the Society of Friends of Jewish Antiquity, now called the Jewish Historical Ethnographic Society of Lithuania and White Russia. After Ansky’s death, in 1920, the Society and its Museum were named after him, and drew partial support from Ansky’s bequest of one sixth of his estate. The society found itself at odds with YIVO from time to time, but also involved some of the same people, notably Max Weinreich, Zalmen Reyzin, and Tsemakh Shabad. After 1939 the ethnographic materials of the S. Ansky Society were merged with YIVO. The society comprised an Executive Committee and the following sections: Music, Folklore, History, Art and Museum, Ansky, Catalogue, Literary, and Pinkes (Town Chronicles). The Society also maintained a museum, library and archive.


Invayskult was the department of what would now be known as Jewish Studies at the Belorussian Academy of Sciences, located in Minsk. It was founded at the same time as the Academy of Sciences itself, in 1924. Invayskult was also known as the Jewish Division, or Yidopteil. They published the scholarly journal Tsaytshrift, which attracted contributions from notable Yiddish scholars such as Max Weinreich. In the early years, Invayskult frequently corresponded with YIVO, and oriented their research toward Eastern European, and especially Lithuanian Jews, who were considered "Lithuanian-Belorussian." Invayskult was dissolved in the 1930s.


Cecile E. Kuznitz, “An-sky’s Legacy: The Vilna Historic-Ethnographic Society and the Shaping of Modern Jewish Culture” in The Worlds of S. Ansky (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2006), 320-345.

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Scope and Content Note

This collection comprises the records of several organizations in Vilna that engaged in ethnographic study from the turn of the century through WWII. Of particular note are the administrative records of Ansky’s ethnographic expedition of 1912-1914, such as budgets and planning documents, as well as postcards and letters from the public in response to an article about the expedition in Der Moment, the Warsaw daily Yiddish newspaper in Series II. Series II also contains the records of the Society of Friends of Jewish Antiquity, covering the years 1885-1919, as well as its successor the S. Ansky Jewish Historical Ethnographic Society, which covers 1913-1940. Series I contains the YIVO Ethnographic Commission, which started later, but operated simultaneously with the S. Ansky Jewish Historical Ethnographic Society, from 1923-1940. The collection contains both administrative records from these societies and the written contents of their collections, such as folk songs, folk tales, descriptions of customs and ethnographic reports. There are inventories of the museums that several of these organizations operated, giving a sense of what physical objects these societies collected and displayed, as well. Series I also contains a number of folders containing pornographic materials (nos. 34-39), although these have not been catalogued on an item level, and so could not be included in the container list. Series III contains ethnographic materials originating from Invayskult, in Minsk, such as folk songs, stories, and proverbs, but unfortunately lacks the institutional context of administrative records found in the other two Series. Series IV consists of unsorted materials, which largely originate from YIVO, and resemble the materials found in Series I.

The addenda contain additional materials created by the YIVO Ethnographic Commission. Addendum I, which consists of five boxes, includes songs with musical notations as well as the song lyrics, ethnographies, riddles and rhymes typically of the rest of the collection. It also contains correspondence from YIVO and the Ethnographic collection with ethnographers, and articles on ethnographic topics by YIVO scholars. Addendum II contains ethnographic materials likely collected by the S. Ansky Jewish Historical Ethnographic Society, including many types of songs as well as ethnographic descriptions of towns.

Please note that the dates for folklore materials are ambiguous; they may refer to the date the information was recorded, or the date of creation of the song or folktale, according to the zamler's research. Those dates are noted with the term "circa." Unmarked dates definitely represent the date of a document's creation.

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The series are arranged by provenance, and the subseries by provenance or subject.

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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

This collection constitutes one part of RG 1, the Records of YIVO in Vilna. The other parts contain administrative materials and materials on other sections of YIVO. In addition, folklore materials collected by the Anski Expedition can be found in other institutions, notably the Russian Museum of Ethnography and the Vernadskii National Library of Ukraine, but also archives, libraries, and museums in St. Petersburg, Kiev, Minsk, and Moscow.

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Records of the YIVO Ethnographic Committee; RG 1.2; box number; folder number; YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.

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Acquisition Information

These records were among the Jewish collection looted by the Einsatzstab Rosenberg in Vilna under the Nazis and brought to Germany in 1942. Placed after the war in the U.S. military Offenbach Archival Depot, these documents were returned to the YIVO in New York in 1947.

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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


Series I: Ethnographic Committee of YIVO, undated, 1909-1940

In Yiddish and Polish.
74 folders
Scope and Content:

Folklore materials collected by the many individual zamlers (collectors) working for the YIVO Ethnographic Committee constitute the bulk of Series I. These diverse materials include folk plays, lyrics to folk songs (these have been extensively analyzed by Chana Mlotek), tales, jokes, anecdotes, and legends, pornographic stories, sayings, proverbs, nicknames of geographical places, descriptions of local religious customs, children’s rhymes and games, and research notes on ethnographic subjects. Series I also includes administrative materials, such as the Strategic Plan that outlines the goals of the Ethnographic Committee as well as other committees in the Philological section, correspondence with zamlers, and YIVO publications such as reports, questionnaires distributed for use by the zamlers, and analytical articles on ethnography. There are also a few linguistic materials, including notes on pronunciation and grammar, and Yiddish translations of Polish words.

Subseries 1: Administrative Records, 1923-1939

In Yiddish.
11 folders
1 1 Strategic Plan for the Philological Section of YIVO and its four sub-committees: Ethnographic Committee, Terminology Committee, Linguistic Committee and Orthography Committee. 1930

1 2 Correspondence with collectors 1923-1927

1 3 Correspondence with collectors 1928

1 4 Correspondence with collectors 1929

1 5 Correspondence with collectors 1930-1939

1 6 Questionnaires 1925-1927

Topics of questionnaires include: Jewish legends, Purim, Passover, Lag b'Omer, Shavuot, Exaggerations and Lies, childrens' folklore, High Holidays, Khevre Kadishah, and Upshernish (first haircut). Draft questionnaires on the topics: relations between Jews and non-Jews, Jewish legends, Jewish folktales, Sabbath Shirah, and wedding customs. Printed instructions for collectors of ethnographic material; announcement of contest for the best collection of folklore of WWI; Joint circular letter from the Ethnographic Committee and the Jewish Historical Ethnographic Society of Vilna appealing for ethnographic material.

1 7 Miscellaneous papers undated

1 8 Letter concerning the study of Jewish folk medicine; report on folklore activities. 1930

1 9 Inventory of folklore items and list of collectors 1926

1 10 Publications: Etnografishe anketes Heft 1: Yomtoyvim (Ethnographic Questionnaires, No. 1 on Holidays), Vilno, 1928; Vos iz azoyns yidishe etnografye? Hantbikhl far zamler (What is Jewish Ethnography? A Handbook for Collectors), Vilno 1929 1928-1929

1 11 Yedies fun yidishn visnshaftlekhn institute (News of YIVO), No. 12, May 21, 1926; No. 13, June 18, 1926 with reports of the Ethnographic Committee 1926


Subseries 2: Folklore Materials, undated, 1909-1939

In Yiddish, Polish, Russian, German, and Lithuanian.
59 folders

Folk Plays

1 12 Folk plays received from collectors’ circles undated

"Two Goliath Plays collected in Turzysk and Lodz; Jacob and Esau Play from Nowy Sacz; Sale of Joseph Play from Turzysk; Joseph Play from Bereza Kartuska; Purim Play from Turzysk, performed by orphans in private homes; Play of the Turks, from Lodz; Glory of Joseph Play, from Turzysk. "

1 13 Copies of folk plays 1909

Photostat of an Ahasuerus Play, printed in Deutsches Museum. Zeitschrift fur Literatur, Kunst und Offentliches Leben, No. 41, October 5, 1854; Sale of Joseph or Joseph Play copied by A. Litvin, 1909.

1 14 Folk plays received from collectors’ circles undated

Handwritten fragments of Purim Plays: the German and Hassid Play; description of a Robber Play; unidentified play



1 15 Several pages of songs and editorial notes by S.Z. Pipe (YIVO research fellow in folklore) on the songs and Purim plays published in the YIVO volume of folklore, Filologishe shriftn fun yivo (Philological Studies of YIVO), V, 1938 1938

1 16 137 songs circa 1926-1928

A listing of all songs is appended in the Yiddish catalogue

1 17 4 songs undated

A listing of all songs is appended in the Yiddish catalogue

1 18 9 songs undated

A listing of all songs is appended in the Yiddish catalogue

1 19 8 songs circa 1930

A listing of all songs is appended in the Yiddish catalogue

1 20 195 songs undated

A listing of all songs is appended in the Yiddish catalogue

2 21 55 songs circa 1925-1928

A listing of all songs is appended in the Yiddish catalogue

2 22 360 songs undated

List of 360 published Yiddish and Hebrew songs (excepting the collections of S. Ginsburg and P. Marek, N. Prylucki, Elyakum Zunser and the Mitteilungen zur judishe Volkskunde), compiled by Dr. Max Grunwald, editor of the Mitteilungen; Yiddish songs in transliteration, compiled by Dr. Max Grunwald, ms., 90 pages: “Shling-shlang;” Lid fun rotseyakh” (Song of the murderer); “Tsvishn undz zol es blaybn” (Let it remain between us); “Di heylike medine” (The holy land); “Dayn hofnung, yidele, gib nit oyf” (Poor little Jews, don’t lose hope); “Ni lozt zikh den zany a khokhem?” Can’t you be a wise man?); “Di ayznban” (The railroad); Khayim Shmerl dem gabeles” (Hayim Shmerl, the son of the synagogue trustee); “kortn shpiler” (Cardplayers); “Di vayber” (Women); “Lid fun khtsos” (Song of midnight); “Azoy geyt dos gelt” (How money disappears) “Lid fun got vunder” (Song of God’s wonders); Song of the Sabbath and holiday dishes; “Gildn-tsetl” (Banknote); “Do velt hot zikh ibergekert” (The world is upside down); “Lid fun shadkhn” (Song of the marriage broker); “Politik” (Politics); “A yerushe fun mayn zeydn” (A legacy from my grand-father); “Voyler yung” (playboy); “Di moderne velt” (The modern world); “Shlimezalnitse” (The unlucky woman); “Der dales” (poverty); “Lokshn” (Noodles); “Shiker-lid” (Song of the drunkard); “Der Khosid mint daytsh” (The Hassid and the German); “Lid fun arestant” (Song of the prisoner); “Lid fun kimpetorin” (Song of the woman in childbirth); Song of a dying girl; “Shiker” (Drunk); “Di brokhe” (The blessing); “Siphon and beer”

2 23 Sheet music and songs circa 1918-1925

Published sheet music of “Nokhn yor” (After the year) by Nakhum Sternheim (with photograph of author); songs by Morris Ostrinsky: “Mayn Lebn” (My life); “Mayn mantl” (My coat); printed song of the underworld (“Eyn mol in a zumerdikn ovnt” (Once on a summer evening); two songs by Z. Neiman: “Guter bruder Khayim” (Good brother Haim); “Aydidodl: “Berta Zaslavska, Yiddish translation, with music by Strok, “Di naye beygelekh” (The new song); “Oy vey Lomzhe” (Alas Lomza); parody sung to the melody of “Tula radian maya” by Avrom Naimovitsh (A. Rives), 1930; Lucy and Misha German, “A harts fun a mame” (A mother’s heart); “Lid fun Zlaty Rubin: (Song of Zlaty Rubin); picture of Ben Tsion Vitler, 1934; pages of a notebook with songs: “Di frantsoyzn” (The Frenchmen); Song of the blind man; “Shma yisroel” (Hear, O Israel); “Der aker boyer” (The plower); “Loz im op” (Let go of him); List of Yiddish songs in a notebook.

2 24 Concert Program undated


Folktales, Jokes, Anecdotes, Legends

2 25 15 jokes; 2 riddles undated

2 26 11 tales circa 1930

2 27 2 folk tales undated

2 28 17 anecdotes and tales circa 1926-1938

2 29 2 incomplete tales undated

2 30 31 anecdotes, tales and legends circa 1939

2 31 25 anecdotes circa 1931

2 32 93 tales and legends concerning rabbis undated

2 33 39 tales and anecdotes undated


Sayings and Proverbs

3 40 Sayings and proverbs circa 1929-1930

4 41 Sayings and proverbs undated

4 42 Sayings and proverbs undated

4 43 Sayings and proverbs circa 1922-1938

4 44 Sayings and proverbs undated

4 45 Sayings and proverbs circa 1939

4 46 Sayings and proverbs circa 1935-1939

4 47 Sayings and proverbs circa 1927-1929


Geographic Nicknames of Countries, Cities and Streets

4 48 Geographic nicknames of countries, cities and streets; legends circa 1932-1935



missing 49 Missing - Descriptions and notes on customs undated

Customs of Tishe B’Av (Ninth Day of Ab; fast day commemorating the destruction of the Temple)

missing 50 Missing - Descriptions and notes on customs undated

Customs, superstitions; Tishe B’av

missing 51 Missing - Descriptions and notes on customs undated

Customs, superstitions

missing 52 Missing - Descriptions and notes on customs undated

Customs, superstitions, folk medicine

missing 53 Missing - Descriptions and notes on customs undated

Description of the town Druskenik during World War I; impressions of his his town by Benish Karlsbrin.

missing 54 Missing - Descriptions and notes on customs undated



Riddles and Tasks

4 55 Riddles and tasks circa 1927


Children’s Folklore

5 56 Collection of 53 children’s songs; 38 children’s songs and games; 12 songs about kheyder (Jewish religious school); five children’s tales circa 1937

5 57 Collection of 53 children’s songs; 38 children’s songs and games; 12 songs about kheyder (Jewish religious school); five children’s tales undated

5 58 Children's games undated

5 59 Children's counting rhymes in Polish undated

5 60 Children's counting rhymes in Polish undated


Holiday Folklore

6 61 Memoirs of the Purim rabbi Drilitsh of Turzysk; poem about the Purim rabbi; Purim Kiddush (parody of the benediction pronounced on bread or wine on Sabbaths and holidays) circa 1927

6 62 38 handwritten descriptions on the observance of Purim in Ostrow collected by Z. Tamuz undated

On the observance of Purim in the city of Ostrow and other localities: Ozdziutycze, Lutomiersk, Kalwarija, Woronowo, Makow, Kock, Kolno, Kobryn, Radziewice, Grodno, Cracow, Radom: Purim pastry, Purim dishes; Purim customs; the Purim rabbi

6 63 Purim songs; songs about eating; Passover song undated


Miscellaneous Genres

6 64 Songs, customs, remedies undated

6 65 Customs, bibliography of published folklore material; review of play Bay nakht oyfn altn mark (A Night in the Old Marketplace) by I.L. Peretz circa 1932

6 66 Fragments of songs and other materials (unidentified) circa 1922

6 67 Incomplete article on folklore creativity (3 pp.) undated

6 68 Parts of S.Z. Pipe's papers 1930

Concerning the origin of a Galician worker’s song; the transcription and orthography used in his paper on children’s songs; fragment of article on arranged matches by marriage brokers; a note on S. Ansky’s lecture concerning French remnants in the Yiddish children’s songs of Zamosc; tales of lying collected in Sanok

6 69 Anecdotes; notes on Germanic words of Oszmiany; comments on words in The YIVO Philological Studies, vol. I; 8 folk tales; notes on questions of Dialects; memoires of Purim players; notes on vampirism; note concerning The rich man, Reb Itsele Zabludovski of Bialystok. circa 1928-1930


Subseries 3: Linguistic Materials, undated, 1924-1930

In Yiddish and Polish.
5 folders
6 70 Notes on Yiddish grammar undated

6 71 Notes on Yiddish pronunciation in Chelm; 10 sentences of the Nowy Sacz dialect; Yiddish spoken in Belsk; cards containing idiotikon, words and words and expressions with explanations circa 1926-1928

6 72 Cards with notations of Polish words with Yiddish translations circa 1930

6 73 Cards with hand printed names (presumably for gravestones). circa 1924

6 73a Miscellaneous undated

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Series II: S. Ansky Jewish Historical Ethnographic Society, undated, 1885-1940

In Yiddish, Russian, Polish, and German.
65 folders

The subseries are arranged by provenance. Materials within each subsereies are arranged by subject.

Scope and Content:

The records of the Ethnographic Expedition led by S. Ansky, including meeting minutes, budgets, plans, and public responses, comprise the bulk of the first subseries, which is small in size but great in significance. This subseries also contains the minutes of the museum committee for the Jewish Historical Ethnographic Society, and the correspondence of the society, including correspondence from S. Dubnow. The second subseries contains the records of the Society of Friends of Jewish Antiquity, one of the predecessors of the Ansky expedition. It includes meeting minutes, correspondence, publications and other administrative records. However, the bulk of this series consists of the records of the S. Ansky Jewish Historical Ethnographic Society in Vilna, including organizational plans, meeting minutes, correspondence with Polish authorities, appeals for ethnographic materials, financial accounts, records of the museum and its holdings, dealings with the Ansky estate, and correspondence with many Jewish cultural organizations in Vilna, as well as 8 folders of ethnographic materials that it collected.

Subseries 1: Jewish Historical Ethnographic Society, St. Petersburg, 1890-1925

In Russian and Yiddish.
5 folders
6 74 Minutes of the Museum Committee of the Jewish Historical Ethnographic Society 1918-1925

6 75 Correspondance of the Society, including letters from S. Dubnow; the Crimean Khan Massud Giray; from Engineer Kaletski 1890-1925

6 76 Minutes of the Jewish Ethnographic Expedition in the name of Baron Horace Guinzburg (Ansky Expedition), March 24-25, 1912; March 2, March 5, 1913; April 30, 1916 1912-1916

6 77 Reports, budgets, financial reports and plans of the Ansky Expedition; letter to Lev Vladimirovitsh name to be corrected of the Ansky Expedition, concerning the “Cold synagogue” in Mohilev 1913

6 77a Postcards and letters from individuals in response to a notice in “Moment” about the Ethnographic Expedition, requesting the Society to send them the instructions for collecting ethnographic materials 1913


Subseries 2: Society of Friends of Jewish Antiquity, undated, 1885-1919

In Russian, Yiddish, and German.
8 folders
6 78 Minutes and notarized acknowledgment of the meeting of the Board of the Society, January 24, April 28, 1914 and list of signatures of members of the Society (n.d.); Minutes of March 12 (no year) and list of members of the Society; Agenda of meeting of the Art and Handicraft Committee, May 20, 1917 1914-1917

6 78a Ustav Obyshestva Liubitelei Evreiskoi Starini, Vilno; Printed appeal of the Society; letter concerning the goals of the Society 1913

6 78b Application to the Governor of Vilno from a group of Jewish elite, merchants, a lawyer and doctor about including the Society of Friends of Jewish Antiquity in the registry of licensed societies, with its statute, December, 1912 1912

oversized 79 Correspondence 1913-1919

Correspondence, 1914-1919, including a letter to the Society (no name given), Moscow, January 6, 1914, concerning the establishment of the Jewish Museum by the Soceity; carbon copy of a letter from the Society to the Mitteilungen des Gesechaft fur Judisches Folkskunde, Hamburg, regarding the initiation of an exchange; ledger of materials received by the Society; bound copies of letters between the Society and individuals and organizations in Russia and beyond, 1913-1917; listing of members of the Administrative and Review Committees

7 80 Receipt by the Society for 22 museum items (artifacts) from the Taharas Hakoydesh Synagogue; list of items/artifact; carbon copy of a letter to G.M. Antokolsky about dedicating a room in the museum in honor (in the name of) M.M. Antokolsky 1914

7 81 Missing 1885

Materials (official and Jewish item) related to the meat and candle excise-tax; as well as the legal (juridical) expertise regarding the right of Jews to own real property

7 82 Correspondence from L. Epel, referring to early Zionist activities 1894-1901

7 83 Letters from the Petersburg Committee of the Jewish Literary Society to the J.L.S in Riga 1910

Describing a program of lectures by Noyekh Shtif about Mendele Moykher-Sforim (S.Y. Abramovitsh) and Sholem-Aleichem (S. Rabinovitsh) in order to obtain an official permit, May 9, 1910

7 84 Publications: Geselschaft zur Erforosching Judisches Kunstdenknellen, Frankfurt – am – Main, August 1900; October 1901 “Kodu” – Museum issue 1912 1900-1912

7 85 Various papers: accounts, invitations, letters, notes undated


Subseries 3: S. Ansky Jewish Historical Ethnographic Society, Vilna, undated, 1890-1940

In Yiddish, Polish, and Russian.
53 folders


7 86 Statute of the S. Ansky Jewish Historical Society (n.d.); Plan of the organization of the Archive undated

7 87 Minutes of meetings: October 20, 1925; December 12, 1925; March 28, 1929; February 8, 1932; February 22, 23, 1933; June 12, 1933; November 18, 1934; January 19, 1935; December 2, 1936; March 16 (no year); undated minutes; Minutes of the Jewish Historical Ethnographic Society in Kaunas, October 23, 1937; February 23, June 9, September 8, 1938 1925-1938

7 88 "Reports and memoranda to the Polish authorities; correspondence with the Vilno municipal authorities concerning the work of the Society" 1925-1927

7 89 Correspondence with individuals and organizations; invitations to meetings; printed appeals for materials, 1914-1929; list of photographs of S. Ansky’s collection presented to the Museum by Alter Kacyzne and English Frenkel, 1925; circular letter May 13, 1925 concerning a planned exhibit of all forms of Jewish art 1914-1929

7 90 Correspondence of the Society and its Akademisher Seminar far yidishe geshikhte (Academic Seminary for Jewish History) 1932-1939

7 91 Appeal to all communal leaders in the cities and towns of Poland about collecting material, 1927; newspaper clippings of the Vilno Tog, December 1926 containing appeal by the Historical Ethnogrpahic Society, April 19, 1927 1926-1927

8 92 Notes, register of letters, draft of desiderata sought on Jewish life during World War I and under the German occupation after the war; invitations to meetings of the Society. undated

8 93 Agreement between the Society and the Printer Benyomen Matz concerning publication of the songs collected by the composer Abraham M. Bernstein; statement on the important collections, the publications Pinkes and Muzikalisher Pinkes undated

8 94 List of correspondence, December 1932, March 1933, 1939-1940 1932-1940

8 95 Membership notebook 1932

8 96 Financial accounts: January 1, February 10, February 11, 1928 1928

8 97 List of donors and objects received by the Museum, Archives and Library, together with minutes of April 15, 1939 1939

8 98 Ansky Museum in the building of the Jewish Kehillah, Vilno, 1913-1941. Administrative correspondence; statement about the Museum and about the artist Mark Antokolski (n.d.); cards listing photographs of the Society 1913-1941

8 99 Financial report of the Ansky Fund for a commemorative evening for S. Ansky, Vilno, December 8, 1920 1920

8 100 Inventory of objects in the Ansky Museum undated

8 101 Ansky estate materials 1925-1936

Correspondence between the executors of Ansky’s will with the Ansky Historical Ethnographic Society, Vilno, concerning transferring the Ansky Museum to the Society and establishing it in rooms of YIVO (also containing a list of the subject headings of the Ansky folklore collection), 1930-1933; correspondence between the S. Ansky Historical Ethnographic Society, Vilna, and the Jewish Historical Etnographic Society, Museum Committee, Leningrad, 1925, concerning Ansky’s works (with mention of Ansky’s remaining archive in St. Petersburg and Kiev); copy of a legal document authorizing Icchok Greenbaum to be the sole executor of Ansky’s will (n.d.); letter from the Association of the Jewish People’s Bank in Lithuania, informing the Society that the Ansky Archives were placed in a locked room of the Bank, 1927; list of folklore and ethnographic materials of the Ansky Archive received from Kaunas, 1929; list of Ansky’s collection of ritual objects received from Alter Kacyzne for the Society’s Museum, 1936; list of 56 objects received by the Museum from the Society, 1933.

8 102 Lists of tale types of the 24 folders received by the Society stories undated

Legends about the Polish insurrection; legends about Chmelnitski and Gonter; legends about Christian kings and magnates and their attitude to Jews; legends about conversion; about Blood libel accusations; historical legends legends of recruitment and khapers (snatchers of young boys for impressments into the Czarist army); legends about Elijah the Prophet, hidden saints; legends about the attitude of saints to Russia; rabbinic stories; songs, rhymes, customs, tales of the badkhn (professional wedding entertainer) and the custom if kale bazetsn (enthronement of the bride); Purim plays

8 103 List of publications received by the Society 1920-1939

8 103a Register of incoming printed matter undated

8 104 Posters of lectures 1932

8 105 Newspaper clippings of reviews and news releases concerning the publication Yor ayn yor oys (From year to year), edited by N. Yanosevits of the Jewish Historical Ethnographic Society of Lithuania. 1939

8 106 Receipts, membership registrations; orders for the Pinkes; notes, stationery of the Society undated



9 107 Letter from the Historical Ethnographic Society, Vilno, to the Ansky Committee, Warsaw, 1927, one of the heirs of the Ansky estate, inquiring about the Committee’s income, resources and relationship with the Society 1927

9 108 Correspondence with Gezelshaft fun yiddisher muzik (Society of Jewish Music), Moscow, concerning the publication Muzikalisher pinkes compiled by A.M. Bernstein 1929

9 109 Correspondence with Society “Central,” Warsaw, concerning the publication Muzikalisher pinkes 1929-1931

9 110 Correspondence with Vilbig (Jewish Education Society) and CBK (Jewish Central Educational Committee), Vilno, concerning a loan of materials; aid for the library in Radom burned by vandals; a tour of the Historical Ethnographic Museum. 1921-1926

9 111 Correspondence with Yidisher kongres in poyln (Jewish Congress in Poland), Vilna: circular letter concerning the forthcoming congress for Jewish self-aid in Poland 1938

9 112 Correspondence with The Kehillah (Jewish Community) 1919-1940

Concerning shelves for the Ansky Library in the Kehillah; report of the Ansky Historical Ethnographic Society and request for a subsidy for the Society and Museum; budgets of the Ansky Museum; report on the support rendered by the Kehillah, August 1919; acknowledgment of payment for work by the Kehillah; inquiry by the Voyevode (Administrative District), of the Vilna Kehillah, February 17, 1928; correspondence and minutes on transferring the Museum to rooms of the Kehillah, November 1934

9 113 Correspondence with YIVO 1925-1938

Minutes of joint meetings about coordinating the work of both institutions; agreement between both institutions May 5, 1928, October 7, 1930; YIVO minutes February 11, March 21, April 21, 1926; minutes of the Ethnographic Committee May 16, 1926; agreement between the Society and YIVO December 3, 1930; abrogation of subsidy by the Society to the Ethnographic Committee of YIVO October 7, 1938; bibliography of articles about YIVO 1929-1930

9 114 Correspondence with the Museum of the Jewish Kehillah, Lwow; report and budget 1925-1934

9 115 Correspondence with the Khevre Mefitsey Haskole (Society for the Propagation of the Enlightenment). Vilno. 1918-1919

9 116 Correspondence with Keren Kayemet Leisrael (Jewish National Fund), Vilno. 1928-1939

9 117 Correspondence with Biblioteka Narodowa (National Library), Warsaw 1931

9 118 Correspondence with Jewish Emigration Bureau, Hicem, Chisinau, Rumania 1928

9 119 Correspondence with German military authorities in Vilno 1916-1918

9 120 Correspondence with Gesamtarchiv der Deutschen Juden, Berlin 1930

9 121 Correspondence with Instytut Propagandy Sztuki (Institute for Propagation of the Arts), Warsaw 1937

9 122 Correspondence with Bureau of Jewish Social Research, N.Y. 1922-1927

9 123 Correspondence with Kasa im. Mianowskiego-Instytut Popierania Nauki (Mianowski Foundation), Warsaw 1929

9 124 Correspondence with Komisarz Rzadu (Government Deputy), Vilno 1921-1928

9 125 Correspondence with Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. 1937-1938

9 126 Correspondence with Starostwo Grodzkie (Municipal Authority for Vilno) 1928-1935

9 127 Correspondence with Zaklad Narodowy im. Ossolinskich, Lwow 1928

9 128 Correspondence with Zwiazek Propagandy Turstycznej Ziemi Wilenskiej 1938

9 128a Draft of statute for Zwiazek Zydowski Stowarzyszen Szerzenia Popierania Kulutry I Sztuki w Wilnie: undated

9 129 Correspondence with Miscellaneous Organizations 1920-1938

American Relief Administration in Russia, Ekaterinoslav, 1922; Bibljoteka Judaistyczna Wielkiej Synagogi w Warszawie, 1933; Ernst Dannappel Buch und Kunstantiquariat, Dresden, 1935; Ksiegarnia Ksiaznica Atlas we Lwowie; Ershte yidishe koedukatsye-shul a.n. fun Dovid Pinski by der gezelshaft; “Shul kult,” Vilno; General Federation of Jewish Labour in Erez Israel Archive and Museum of the Jewish Labor Movement, Tel Aviv, 1937; Gezelshaft “Fraynd fun yidishn teater,” Vilno; Gimnazyum, Liceum “Tuszyja,” Vilno; Glowny Urzad Statystyczny, Warsaw; Histadrut Tsionit Bavilna, 1938; Haaretz, Tel Aviv, 1936; Hebrajska Szkola Powszechna un G-ra Epszteina; Der Heine-Bund, Eine Judische Buchgemeinde, Berlin, 1932; Izba Przemyslowa-Handlowa w Warszawie, 1936; Jewish Daily Forward, N.Y.; Jewish People’s Relief Committee, N.Y.; Jewish Printers; Joint Distribution Committee, Paris, 1937; Kanseliarii Vilenskago Komiteta po dlami petshati, Vilno, 1920; Kasa Chorych m. Vilna, 1933; Khevrot durshi Hauniversita haivrit berushelayim, Vilno; Khevre Havad Haironi; Kolnoa, Tel Aviv, 1934; Komiter Miejski Organizacji Sjonistycznej w Wilnie, 1932; Kvutsa Tsfira, Vilno, 1928; Linguaphone Institute w Polsce, Warsaw, 1934; Morning Freiheit, N.Y., 1933; Munz, Marek, Lwow, 1935; Nasza Prasa, Warsaw; Dos Naye vort, Warsaw, 1933; Parovoi Drotshego-Vinokyrennii zavod “Vilna,” 1938; Tarbut Teachers’ Seminary, Vilno, 1938; Rzeczpospolita Polska/Delegacja Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej w Specjalnej; Komisji Mieszanej, Moscow, 1925; Topelmann, Alfred, 1932; Di tsayt, Vilno, 1924; Tsentrale yidishe shul-organizatsye, poyln, lite un vaysrusland, Vilno 1920; Tsionistisher akademisher farband far arbetndn erets-yisroel, Erets Vedror; Urzad Wojewodzki Wilenski, 1933; Di velt, Warsaw, 1934; Wilenski Zwiazek Kupcow Zydowskich, 1933; Zwiazek Wlascicieli Mieszkan m. Wilna; Yidisher shul-un kultur-farband “Shul Kult,” Vilno; Zaklad Ubezpieczen Pracownikow Umysl. W Warszawie, 1934; Zwiazek Nauczycieli Hebrajskich, Vilno, 1935; Zydowski Komiter Pomocy Bezrobotnym w Wilnie, 1926; Zydowskie Towarzystwo Krajoznawcze w Polsce, Vilno 1935; Zyd. Towarzystwo Naukowe, Wilno; Zyd. Towarzystwo pop. Sztuki, Stow.; Zyd. Art. Plastykow w Wilnie, 1935


Folklore Materials

9 130 Wall sign announcing a lecture by Prof. S. Dubnow, sponsored by the Historical Etnographic Committee of the Jewish National Council of Lithuania, Kaunas undated

9 131 Legal contract for seats in the large synagogue in Vilno for Moshe Zismor and his wife 1895

9 132 Parody of a kale-bazetsn (enthronement of the bride) heard in Janowa in the 90’s circa 1890

9 133 Fragments of Jewish folklore circa 1931

3 stories sent in by Rabbi Ch. Kacni Pumpinai, Panevezys; songs “Faryomert, farklogt;” “Oygn fun a mentshn iz vi fentster fun a shtub;” “Atsvihem kesef bezohav mayse yoday odem”

9 134 Two songs (missing) undated

“Zits ikh mir oyfn benkele;” “Vyo vyo, fedele”

9 135 Postcard announcing recital of the badkhn D. Wortsman, Warsaw (with photograph) undated

9 136 Stories about the lives and influence of eminent Lithuanian rabbis circa 1931

9 137 Folklore Materials circa 1940

Treatise of the Historical Ethnogrpahic Museum on the Jews in Georgia (Gruziya), Vol. I, Tiflis, 1940; copy of article “Historical Documents on the Jews in Georgia” by Prof. N. Berzenishvili; resume of article on the terms “Ebrael,” “yisraeli” and “uria;” comments on a book about Jews in Georgia; lecture held by M. Mamistvalishvili at a public meeting of the Stalin Government University in Tiflis

9 137a Notes of lecture by Hirsh Abramovitsh on the “Era of the Pogrom in Kishineff,” March 31, 1928 circa 1928

9 138 Letters without signatures undated

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Series III: Invayskult, undated, 1907-1941

In Yiddish and Russian.
33 folders
Scope and Content:

Contains ethnographic materials from Russian Jewish culture, such as song lyrics with a Soviet theme or origin, proverbs and folktales from the region, rhymes and dialectical terms.

Subseries 1: Songs, undated, 1907-1940

In Yiddish and Russian.
15 folders
10 139 A few pages of the Information Bulletin of the Minsk Academy for the Circle of Friends of the Museum circa 1929

10 140 First stanzas of 260 Yiddish folk songs which are found in the Jewish Museum in Leningrad undated

10 141 Texts of 134 songs transcribed from recording on phonograph disks circa 1929

10 142 Typewritten copies of 49 miscellaneous Yiddish songs with editorial corrections circa 1923-1936

10 143 15 anti-religious and workers’ songs circa 1907-1939

10 144 30 ballads circa 1939

10 145 43 love songs and lyrical songs circa 1913-1939

10 146 30 recruit songs, songs of orphans and songs about Stalin circa 1937-1939

10 147 22 songs by the Jewish folk poet M. Warshavski, songs about Stalin, etc. undated

11 148 19 love songs and ballads circa 1911-1940

11 149 7 songs of the underworld and ballads circa 1933

11 150 15 table and drinking songs circa 1929, 1936

11 151 159 drinking songs, songs about education and Enlightenment, and other types of songs circa 1913

11 152 76 miscellaneous songs about orphans, drowned lovers, etc. circa 1937-1939

11 153 47 miscellaneous songs including love songs, ballads, dialogue songs between mother and daughter, etc. circa 1930


Subseries 2: Proverbs and Folktales, undated, 1918-1941

In Yiddish and Russian.
15 folders
11 154 35 wonder tales transcribed phonetically circa 1930

11 155 25 stories, jokes about Jews and Christians circa 1940

12 156 13 anecdotes circa 1918

12 157 13 lying and chatterbox stories circa 1940

12 158 4 stories, not included in story books, about Jews and Karaites, etc. undated

12 159 33 anecdotes about simpletons, Hassidic tales, children’s song, nicknames of cities circa 1938

12 160 7 stories and jokes circa 1941

12 161 Notebook with 97 anecdotes about Hershele Ostropolyer and other folk jesters undated

12 162 Hassidic tales, tales of rabbis circa 1940

12 163 Anecdotes about the fools of Chelm undated

12 164 228 anecdotes, tales and jokes circa 1927

12 165 47 historical stories and legends, with annotations undated

12 166 16 folk tales undated

12 167 11 allegorical and moral stories undated

13 168 Proverbs circa 1939

Five notebooks containing 5,767 Yiddish proverbs and sayings collected by Z. Baukonski, Leningrad


Subseries 3: Miscellaneous, undated, 1926-1938

In Yiddish and Russian.
3 folders
13 169 Various genres of folklore; Correspondence to Invayskult 1926-1928

Expressions for tools and utensils; 4 stories and anecdotes; 5 songs; songs by E. Zunser and V. Zbarzher

13 170 Yiddish folklore checked by the Soviet censor; typewritten copies of first stanzas of songs in transliteration undated

13 171 Miscellaneous stories, anecdotes, proverbs and counting-out rhymes (printed in Oktyaber, Der emes, 1937-1938) 1937-1938

13 172 Page proofs of M. Beregovski’s 2nd volume. 1938

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Addendum I, undated, 1926-1933

In Yiddish, Hebrew, and Russian.
31 folders.
Scope and Content:

This series consists primarily of YIVO ethnographic materials, such as correspondence with scholars and zamlers, the folklore materials collected by those zamlers, and manuscripts of articles on ethnography. It also contains musical notations, and articles on Yiddish theater in New York.

14 173 Musical notations of 312 songs undated

14 174 List of above (by Chana Mlotek), including both original and current identification numbers of the songs. undated

15 175 Songs and rhymes collected by the Ethnographic Commission circa 1926-1928

15 176 Rhymes and rhyme schemes undated

15 177 Fragments of articles about Dostoevski, algebra, childrens' songs, financial accounts, and dialect 1930-1939

15 178 Riddles undated

15 179 Chaim Yavitch's description of the town Rozhishche (Rozhishch, Rozhitshtch, Rozishtchov, Rozishts, Rozyszdze) in manuscript 1931

16 180 Correspondence from the Ethnographic Commission, Terminological Committee, Folklore Committee, Philological Section 1926-1931

16 181 Correspondence with Heny Mifelev 1938

16 182 Correspondence with Pomerantz 1939

16 183 YIVO Correspondence from figures including Prylucki, Kalmanovitch, and others 1930-1938

16 184 YIVO Correspondence re: folklore collection, from the Oysfir-byuro, the Administration Committee, etc. 1938-1939

16 185 Epshteyn's corrected proofs of I.L. Cahan's manuscript on folks-mayses 1940

16 186 YIVO Correspondence re: folklore collection from the Ethnographic Committee, Philological Section, Organization Committee 1930-1933

16 187 YIVO Correspondence re: folklore collection from the Philological Section, Ethnographic Committee 1926-1939

17 188 Ethnographic Commission Correspondence Jun - Aug, 1926

17 189 Ethnographic Commission Correspondence Feb - Apr, 1926

17 190 Ethnographic Commission Correspondence Aug - Oct 1926

17 191 Reports on the linguistic and philological sections undated

17 192 Dr. Meir ben Avraham Halevi's article on blood libels undated

17 193 Naftali Veynik's article on the Polish folksong "Wojna Zydowslea" undated

17 194 Kh. Khayus' article on beliefs and customs connected with death undated

17 195 Hebrew article titled "ha-tnoyim shel ha-kadosh barukh-hu" undated

17 196 I. L. Cahan's article on folksgezangen un folkslid undated

18 197 Articles and notes on Yiddish theater in New York undated

18 198 Stories about rabbis from the An-sky Ethnographic Institute; Correspondence from the zamler Oyzer Pipe undated, 1932-1939

18 199 Manuscripts regarding Yiddish theater in New York undated, 1932-1939

18 200 Cards and forms from the YIVO Bibliographic Commission circa 1927

18 201 Folklore, including: rhymes, songs, rhyme schemes, Jacob and Esau play, nicknames, Purim rhyme. Correspondence from the Organizational Committee, 1927, and the Philological section, 1933. undated, 1927-1933

18 202 Ethnography and research notes made by Sh. Pipe (aspiranutur) 1929-1931

18 203 YIVO correspondence from the Philological Section, Organizational Committee, Folklore Committee, and cards from H. Sheskin. 1926-1930

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Addendum II, undated, 1928-1930

In Yiddish and Russian.
10 folders.
Scope and Content:

This supplement contains songs that have been organized in some fashion and are frequently numbered, but not dated. They are sometimes ascribed to an individual writer or performer. Most documents are stamped by the S. Ansky Jewish Historical Ethnographic Institute; one or two bear a YIVO stamp.

18a 1 Folksongs undated

18a 2 Folksongs undated

18a 3 Love songs undated

18a 4 Childrens' songs undated

18a 5 Workers' songs and political songs undated

18a 6 Folksongs undated

18a 7 Ethnographic descriptions of towns undated

18a 8 Ethnographic descriptions of towns undated

18a 9 Planning documents of the Ethnographic Commission (budgets, meeting minutes) 1928-1930

18a 10 Folktales undated

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