YIVO presents the Digital Archive on Jewish Life in Poland
The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research has launched a website with digitalized archives on Jewish life in Poland. Thousands of historical documents are now are accessible to the public.
The new website gathers everyday artefacts relating to Eastern European Jews before World War II. The collection consists of documents, and writings (poems, letters, school essays, play manuscripts, sheet music), as well as posters of political and cultural events and birth certificates. All of these are supported by galleries and multimedia. The gathered documents, videos, audio clips are in Yiddish, Polish, Hebrew and Russian and are all described in English.
This isn’t predigested history. It includes, for example, scraps of paper that people wrote folk songs on and sent to YIVO. It’s an attempt to show Polish Jewish life in all its diversity. It enriches our understanding to see something that the real people we’re reading about held in their hand; maybe that’s all that’s left of them — of an entire world. - said YIVO director of digital initiatives Roberta Newman
YIVO was established in Vilna in 1925, which was a Polish city until World War II. The YIVO Institute’s aim and mission was closely connected with the daily life of Polish Jews. Over the next 15 years, the institute published over 2000 documents and created an important archival collection and library. During the war, Vilna was invaded by Nazis who looted YIVO's collection and transported it to Frankfurt, where an institute for the study of the Jewish people was supposed to be created. With a help of the U.S. Army, it was possible for the institute to retrieve the surviving materials.
At the moment, the YIVO Digital Archive is in possession of about 4000 pages of documents which are accessible to the public. They plan to post a total of 1.5 million pages of the materials that remain in the former Vilna, now Vilnius, Lithuania, over the next seven years.
To get familiar with the materials, visit the YIVO Digital Archive on Jewish Life in Poland.
Source: New York Times, YIVO, ed. & translated: Katarzyna Maksimiuk, 23.05.2014