Category Archives: Knowledge entries

Useful Archives Worldwide

American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati, Ohio
Bagnówka: galleries of nearly 60,000 images (and select videos) from Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine
Bibliothèque Medem, Paris, France
The Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People, Jerusaelm, Israel
The Central Zionist Archives, Jerusalem, Israel
Centropa: Jewish Witness to a European Century
Dartmouth Jewish Sound Archive, Dartmouth University
Early Hebrew Newspapers, a digitization project of the Jewish National and University Library, Jerusalem, Israel
Florida Atlantic University Judaica Sound Archive
Ghetto Fighters’ House: Holocaust and Jewish Resistance Heritage Museum, Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot, Israel
Hebrejská knihovna kabalistikých textu (Hebrew Kabbalistic Books)
HebrewBooks.org
Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religions Libraries, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, New York, Jerusalem
Index to Yiddish Periodicals
The Israel Genealogical Society
JewishGen
The Jewish Museum, New York
Jewish Music Resources on the Internet
Jewish National and University Library, Jerusalem, Israel
Jewish Public Library of Montreal, Montreal, Canada
Jewish Theological Seminary Library, New York
Jewish Women’s Archive, Brookline, Mass.
Judah L. Magnes Museum Library and Archives, Berkeley, California
Language and Culture Atlas of Ashkenazic Jewry
Mendele: Forum for Yiddish Literature and Yiddish Language
Michael Davidson Early Hebrew Printing Homepage
The Museum of Family History, The Yiddish World
Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Warsaw, Poland
National Yiddish Book Center, Spielberg Digital Yiddish Library
New York Public Library–Dorot Jewish Division, New York
Penn Libraries Judaica Collections
“People of a Thousand Towns”: The Online Catalog of Photographs of Jewish Life in Prewar Eastern Europe
RAMBI, The Jewish National and University Library’s Online Index of Articles on Jewish Studies
Robert and Molly Freedman Jewish Sound Archive
Simon Wiesenthal Center Library and Archives, Los Angeles, California
Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C.
Yad Vashem
Yeshiva University Libraries, New York
Yiddish Poetry, Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation, Monash University
Yiddish Sources
YIVOLibraryBooks.org, full digital texts of hundreds of religious and other rare books from YIVO’s collections

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Maps (Yivo)

The Yivo Encyclopedia of Jew in Eastern Europe (ייִװאָ-ענציקלאָפּעדיאַ פֿון ייִדן אין מיזרח-אײראָפּע) conmtains many useful historical maps, including histories of the Pale of Dettlement, Holocaust maps, maps of shtelekh, towns and cities with Jewish populations before the Holocaust. 

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Traditional Musics of Eastern European Jewry (YIVO)

By the later sixteenth to early seventeenth centuries in Bohemia and then in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, Jewish musicians began to form their own guilds. The formation of guilds raised the social status of Jewish musicians, and led to the abandonment of the older termleyts (scoffer, clown), applied in Central Europe to singers, instrumentalists, clowns, and dancers, in favor of the new, more respectable term klezmer (from kele zemer, musical instruments or vessels of song; pl., klezmorim), designating exclusively an instrumentalist. The term klezmer made its way to Germany only in the eighteenth century, with the influx of Jewish musicians from Bohemia and Poland. Klezmerwas a more favorable term for a Jewish musician, in contrast to the derogatory muzikant. This distinction persisted until the later nineteenth century, when Jews gained admission to conservatories in Russia and Austria-Hungary in significant numbers.

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Archives (YIVO)

Hundreds of state and local archives throughout Eastern Europe hold millions of documents that reflect the experience of Jews over many centuries. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and other East European Communist regimes, government archives became more accessible. Although it is true that numerous documents were lost during World War II, the documents that still exist are enormously rich and valuable. Particularly with the case of the former Soviet Union, the data remain largely unexplored by researchers interested in Jewish history.

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Holocaust Diaries (YIVO)

The experiences of countless East European Jews are documented in the body of several hundred extant diaries kept by Jewish men, women, and youth throughout the years of the Holocaust. The writings now exist in archives—mostly in Israel, Europe, and the United States—and in private hands. Their numbers attest to the likelihood that thousands of Jews set about recording their personal experiences and the experiences of their communities under German occupation, although it is impossible to determine the total number of journals with precision.

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The Holocaust (YIVO)

The term Holocaust is a designation for the catastrophic losses suffered by the Jews of Europe (and, to a far lesser extent, in North Africa) as a result of actions taken by the government of Germany or its allies between 1933 and 1945. The word came into common usage in the United States during the 1960s in the wake of the trial of Adolf Eichmann. It has since become current in most European languages (although in Russian, until recently, the term katastrofa was more common and remains widespread). Since the 1980s, the scope of the word as used in the United States has been expanded to encompass the losses suffered by any identifiable civilian group as a result of German government actions during the period in question, including Sinti and Roma (Gypsies), Poles, male homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, persons with mental retardation, and others. This wider usage, incorporated in the mission statement of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, has generally not caught on in other countries. Nor has it become common, as it has in the United States, to use the word more broadly as a synonym for genocide, or even as a designation for virtually any instance of catastrophic mass death. In Hebrew, the encounter between the Third Reich and the Jews was called ha-sho’ah (the catastrophe) even before German forces began systematic mass killings in 1941. In Yiddish, the encounter is usually called khurbn (destruction).

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Yiddish (YIVO)

Yiddish is the historic language of Ashkenazic (Central and East European) Jewry, and is the third principal literary language in Jewish history, after classical Hebrew and (Jewish) Aramaic. The language is characterized by a synthesis of Germanic (the majority component, derived from medieval German city dialects, themselves recombined) with Hebrew and Aramaic. The word for the sun (zun) comes from Germanic, the word for the moon (levóne) from Hebrew, and the word for “probably” is from Aramaic (mistáme). The most basic fusion formula entails the insertion of a Semitic root into Germanic grammatical machinery, evident in such verbs as khásmen(en) (to sign) and táynen (to claim, express the view).

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Pale of Settlement (YIVO)

The territories of the Russian Empire in which Jews were permitted permanent settlement. Although large in size (approximately 472,590 square miles or 1,224,008 sq km), and containing areas of dynamic economic growth, the Pale (known in Russian as cherta postoiannogo zhitel’stva evreev;the English word pale was borrowed from the term applied to the area of English settlement in Northern Ireland, where the lands of the “wild Irish” were considered “beyond the pale”) was considered the greatest legal restriction imposed on the Jews of the empire.

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