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Guide to the Records of the TSYSHO (Tsentrale Yidishe Shul Organizatsye) RG 48

Processed by Fruma Mohrer with the assistance of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Finding aid edited, encoded and posted online thanks to a grant from the Gruss Lipper Family Foundation.

YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
15 West 16th Street
New York, NY 10011
Email: archives@yivo.cjh.org
URL: http://www.yivo.org

© 2006 YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. All rights reserved.

Electronic finding aid was converted to EAD 2002 by Dianne Ritchey Oummia and Yakov Sklyar in October 2006. EAD finding aid customized in ARCHON in 2012. Description is in English.

Collection Overview

Title: Guide to the Records of the TSYSHO (Tsentrale Yidishe Shul Organizatsye) RG 48

ID: RG 48 FA

Extent: 3.75

Arrangement: Note: As the records of the Pedagogical Museum in Vilna had been filed by topic with no regard for provenance, they were rearranged in 1982, item by item. Several new record groups were separated by this process, among them the records of the TSYSHO school system.


The TSYSHO, Tsentrale Yidishe Shul Organizatsye (Central Yiddish School Organization) was a secular Yiddish school system active in Poland from 1921 to circa 1940. Based in Warsaw, the TSYSHO maintained a network of elementary schools, high schools, and teachers' seminaries. An important branch office existed in Vilna, the Tsentraler Bildungs Komitet (Central Education Committee) or TSBK. Most of the records of this collection relate to the TSBK in Vilna and its schools. A much smaller quantity relates to the central office in Warsaw, to the YSHO (Yidishe Shul Organizatsye - Yiddish School Organization), Vilna province, and to TSYSHO schools throughout Poland.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The records of the TSYSHO school system reflect the activities of the TSYSHO central office in Warsaw, the Central Education Committee (TSBK) branch in Vilna and individual schools throughout Poland, from 1919-circa 1940. Most of the materials relate to the TSBK office and schools. The records consists of correspondence, correspondence logs, circulars, minutes, reports, speeches, questionnaires, lists, financial statements, student notebooks and classwork, diplomas, invitations, announcements, clippings, school timetables and curriculum outlines.

Historical Note

TSYSHO is an acronym for Tsentrale yidishe shul organizatsye (Central Yiddish School Organization). Founded in 1921 at a Yiddish teachers' conference in Warsaw, the TSYSHO was a secular, Yiddishist and socialist school system which consisted of a central office in Warsaw, a branch office in Vilna called the TSBK (Tsentraler Bildungs Komitet) and a network of schools which included kindergartens, elementary schools, high schools, teachers' seminaries and evening schools. The founders of the TSYSHO were either members of the Bund party or the left Poalei Zion. Their purpose was to promote the ideals of socialism and Yiddishism by providing a strong administrative center and organizational framework for an already existing group of Yiddish schools.

Among the leading figures in the TSYSHO central board were: Beinish Michalevich, Jacob Pat, Jacob Leshtchinsky, N. Buchsbaum, Chaim Kazdan, Shlomo Mendelson, and S.F. Gilinski. The Central office exercised control in both administrative and educational matters. Its administrative functions consisted mainly of collecting and distributing funds to TSYSHO schools to support teachers' salaries, school building maintenance, teachers' courses, summer camps and children's feeding programs.

In the educational field, the central office took part in setting curriculum standards by preparing curriculum outlines, choosing or publishing textbooks and pedagogical journals. Preparation of curricula included complication of Yiddish vocabulary lists to meet the needs generated by new subjects. Among the publications were the well-known pedagogical journals: Di naye shul (The New School), Shul un lebn (School and Life), Shul vegn (School Ways).

Extra-curricular activities included a teachers' placement service, teachers' conferences, national level exhibits and psychological research programs. Noteworthy are the Mendele Moykher Seforim Exhibit of 1936, the Sholem Aleikhem exhibit of 1937, the Education Conference in Vilna, 1937, and the Conference of History Teachers, Vilna, 1939. In addition the Tsentraler bildungs komitet, in Vilna, sponsored the Yiddish Teachers' Seminary conferences in 1922 on Yiddish, natural sciences, Hebrew and history. The research activities consisted of psychological surveys conducted among TSYSHO children to test physical, mental, and emotional development.

The TSYSHO curriculum emphasized Yiddish language and literature, Jewish history and culture, sciences, mathematics, music, physical education, art, physical skills such as woodworking, upholstery and gardening. Polish language, literature, geography and history were required by the government. Hebrew was included but did not play a major role; all subjects were taught in Yiddish.

The TSYSHO had three types of financial sources. A compulsory tuition fee of about 2-4 zlotys a month was introduced in all schools and became a regular source of income. Professional labor unions sympathetic to the Yiddish school system also contributed regularly. Third, relief societies from the United States, England and Canada sent subsidies, especially in the 1920s. The Joint Distribution Committee, the most significant of these organizations, sent substantial amounts until the depression period when the subsidies were stopped. Throughout its existence. TSYSHO suffered from severe financial insecurity and received no support from the Polish state.

Although obtaining legal recognition was high on the list of priorities and delegates were frequently sent to the Polish Ministry of Education to request state approval the TSYSHO School was never successful in its objective. The government's attitude was negative and suspicious because of TSYSHO's socialist affiliations. Existing schools were frequently closed by the state on trumped up charges such as poor physical and hygienic conditions. Some individual schools, for example, the Yiddish Teachers' Seminary in Vilna succeeded in obtaining some kind of legal recognition.

The years between 1920 to 1929 were a time of growth, whereas those from 1926-1934 were marked by a decline in the number of schools as well as a drop in the quality of education. In 1935, the professional labor unions promised renewed support for TSYSHO and the period from 1935-1937 was marked by new development.

The figures below are taken from Jewish Schools in Poland, 1919-1939 by Miriam Eisenstein and The History of Jewish School Systems in Independent Poland (in Yiddish) by Chaim Shloyme Kazdan:

YearSchools Students192110413,4571925 182 192921624,0001933-1934 68 1934-1935169 15,4861936-193717,000

The TSYSHO central office probably closed its doors in September 1939 with the outbreak of the war. During the Warsaw ghetto period, clandestine classes were conducted in children's kitchens. In 1940-1941, Yiddish schools were permitted by the Germans on a very limited scale.

The TSBK Schoolboard in Vilna

The Tsentrale buldungs komitet, or Central Education Committee, was formed in 1919. Earlier that year the Vilna Jewish Community Council had taken over the entire Jewish school system. As the Yiddish secular schools took exception to the Community Council's administrative policy, a separate school board was formed which became the center for all Yiddish schools in the city.

The Central Education Committee (TSBK) was similar to the TSYSHO central office in philosophy and function except that the school network under it was much smaller. It assumed financial responsibility for the schools, opened new schools such as the Yiddish Teachers' Seminary and the Humanistics Gymnasium (Secondary School), encouraged pedagogical research, planned curriculum, organized exhibits, chose and published textbooks and other educational publications. In addition, it established a parents' committee and children's clubs.

In 1919 there were 17 schools, in 1920 – 28 schools and in 1922 – 4,358 students under the Central Education Committee (TSBK). The administration included: Dr. H. Kowarski, Zalman Reisen, G. Pludermacher, S. Bostomski, Y. Rubin, R. Simchowitz, Abraham Golomb, Jacob Pat, Israel Okun, Max Erik, Max Weinreich, S. Gurevitch, I. Gurevitch.

The Central Education Committee (TSBK)'s income was based on tuition fees, money from American relief societies, local aid societies in Vilna, and the TSYSHO in Warsaw.

In 1924 the Central Education Committee (TSBK) School Almanac listed the following 17 institutions under its jurisdiction:

With some changes, the list is valid for most of the TSBK period.

Short historical notes are provided for the Yiddish Teachers' Seminary, the Mathematics and Sciences Gymnasium, the Humanistics Gymnasium, and the Mefitse Haskolo Boys' School.

Yiddish Teachers' Seminary

The Yiddish Teachers' Seminary was founded in 1921 by the Central Educatio Committee (TSBK) as a 4 year Program whose purpose was to produce teachers for the TSYSHO schools. In 1921 there were 21 students; in 1925 the first graduation took place with 25 graduates. Among the heads of the seminary were S. M. Gurevitch. R. Simchovitch, Abraham Golomb, and Dr. I. Biber. The curriculum was based on the TSYSHO philosophy and fulfilled government prerequisites as well. Student teaching was done in the L. Gurwicz School. The seminary had a dormitory. Official state recognition was granted to the seminary in the early 1920s. In 1931 the school was closed by the Polish government for political reasons.

Mathematics and Sciences Gymnasium (Real Gymnasium)

The Mathematics-Sciences Gymnasium was the first Yiddish speaking high school in Vilna. Also called the Real Gymnasium, it opened in 1918 with about 300 children. By 1922-1923, the school went up to the 8th grade. In 1923 the first graduation took place with 55 graduates. By 1922-1923 there were 18 classes and 700 students. Besides regular studies as prescribed by the Polish government, Yiddish Jewish history and Hebrew were taught. Emphasis was placed on establishment of student clubs and on self-government among the students. After much effort, the gymnasium acquired government status in 1933.

Humanistics Gymnasium

The Humanistics Gymnasium was opened in 1923 by the TSBK with 4 classes and 140 students. The purpose of the new school was to provide outlets for the students whose talents lay in the humanities rather than the sciences. By 1925 there were 200 students.

Mefitsei Haskalah Boys' School

The Mefitsei Haskalah Boys' School was founded as a Yiddish school in 1915 by the Mefitsei Haskalah Society. In 1919 the school was taken over by the Central Education Committee (TSBK). The first graduation took place in 1921; by 1924 there were 350 students. In 1928, following a dispute, I. Gurevitch, the school's director for many years, left the Central Education Committee (TSBK) and participated in the founding of the Shul Kult school system. In the 1930s the school was renamed after Zemach Shabad and was thereafter called the Shabad Boys' School.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions: Open to researchers by appointment with the Chief Archivist, YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011 email: archives@yivo.cjh.org

Preferred Citation: Published citations should read as follows:Identification of item, date (if known); YIVO Archives; TSYSHO (Tsentrale Yidishe Shul Organizatsye) Records; RG 48; folder number.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

Series 1: Series I: TSYSHO Central Office, Warsaw, 1921-circa 1937,
Series 2: Series II: Central Education Committee (TSBK) Office, Vilna, 1920-circa 1937,
Series 3: Series III: Records of the Central Education Committee (TSBK) Schools, Vilna, 1919-1940,
Series 4: Series IV: Records of TSYSHO schools throughout Poland, 1920s-1930s

Series I: TSYSHO Central Office, Warsaw
1921-circa 1937
This series consists mostly of printed materials and occupies only 10 folders. Significant items include records of the teachers' conference of 1921. There is also material on the 1925 TSYSHO conference. Other interesting items: by-laws of the TSYSHO executive board; financial reports; circulars relating to pedagogical matters.
Folder 1: Financial materials, 1928-1930; report on the plenary session of the plenary session of the executive board, 1926; conference materials, 1921-1925
Folder 2: By laws; regulations; government communications, 1925-1932. Includes government materials relating to other school systems
Folder 3: Circulars, general
Folder 4: Circulars, pedagogical
Folder 5: Printed materials
Folder 6: Exhibitions: printed materials
Folder 7: Correspondence. Includes outgoing correspondence
Folder 8: Clippings from the Yiddish press
Folder 9: Clippings from the Yiddish press
Folder 10: Speeches, reports, manuscripts submitted to the press
Series II: Central Education Committee (TSBK) Office, Vilna
1920-circa 1937

Correspondence is fragmentary but covers numerous topics, among them: TSYHO subsidy distributions; teacher placement services; invitations to sessions of TSYSHO meetings; requests from local TSYSHO branches for financing of school excursions; Vilna community council subsidies to schools; fund-raising trips to the USA; individual school budgets; school building repairs; lists of teachers; applications by teachers for jobs; feeding programs for poor Central Education Committee (TSBK) students; orphanages; letter from Max Weinreich, 1934 on baccalaureat exams conducted in the Mathematics and Sciences Gymnasium.

The General Administrative Records are also fragmentary. Subjects covered: conference on the teaching of history, circa 1922; plenary sessions of the TSBK executive board; report on 10 years of TSBK activity; curriculum outlines for different subjects; invitations to cultural events, lectures, school exhibits; school questionnaires on various subjects, including survey on lying distributed to schools in Vilna; report filled out by individual schools re teaching schedule and curriculum, 1928-1929; observance of special school holidays such as Peretz's anniversary of death.

Subseries 1: Correspondence
Folder 11: TSYSHO, Warsaw
Folder 12: TSYSHO, Warsaw
undated, 1932-1938
Folder 13: TSYHO branches in Poland
Folder 14: Polish government authorities (various)
undated, 1924-1935
Folder 15: Vilna Kehilla
Folder 16: AJDC
Folder 17: Jewish relief organizations abroad (mainly USA, South Africa)
Folder 18: Jewish relief organizations abroad (mainly USA, South Africa)
Folder 19: Schools: Frug Kuperstein, circa 1937; I. Dinesohn, 1926-1937
Folder 20: Schools: Gurwicz school, 1926-1927, undated; S. Frug, 1931-1934.
undated, 1926-1927, 1931-1934
Folder 21: Schools: Mefitse Haskolo Boys School
1926-circa 1938
Folder 22: Schools: various
Folder 23: General office correspondence
undated, 1920-1938
Subseries 2: Administrative Records
Folder 24: Conference on the teaching of history: minutes, reports
circa 1922
Folder 25: Meetings: agendas, minutes. Includes unidentified meetings
Folder 26: Reports, speeches, resolutions
Folder 27: Financial records
Folder 28: Financial records: budget reports
Folder 29: Curricula, pedagogical materials, lists of schools
Folder 30: Printed materials: posters, notices, forms, invitations, programs
Folder 31: Printed materials from TSYSHO
Folder 32: Records of the TSBK Parents' Committee
Folder 33: Survey materials. Questionnaires. Topic: 'On Lying'
Folder 34: Unidentified materials
Series III: Records of the Central Education Committee (TSBK) Schools, Vilna

The materials relating to individual schools are very fragmentary, consisting of a few items per school, or, at the most, a few folders. Significant items: L. Gurwicz, Statistical information; Grininke Beimelekh, a 3 page handwritten report about teaching conditions in the kindergarten.

The Mefitsei Haskalah Boys' School has more material than most of the other elementary schools. However, as the school was in existence for 25 years, the 5 folders represent a minute portion of the actual records produced. The correspondence folder covers mostly 1919-1920 with many invitations and circulars from the Central Education Committee (TSBK) which was then being formed. Included in this file is an excerpt from the Central Education Committee (TSBK) by-laws written in July 1919. The file also contains copies of letters to a newspaper editor relating to the I. Gurevitch TSBK dispute of 1928.

The materials on the Children's Club are noteworthy because they contain reports and are possibly the only extant records of Yiddish children's clubs in Poland.

The YIVO Archives has the records of the Hevrah Mefitsei Haskalah Society which founded the Boys' School in 1915. As the school changed hands in 1919, all pre-1919 records are in Record Group 22, the Records of the Hevrah Mefitsei Haskalah Society. All post-1919 records of the boys school are in this series.

The records of the Yiddish Teachers' Seminary are by far the most comprehensive in this series and come closest to constituting actual school records. They have the widest time span and are the greatest in quantity. They are divided into two parts: Administrative and Academic Records. The Administrative Records include office correspondence with TSYSHO in Warsaw and the Central Education Committee (TSBK) in Vilna, 1922-1928. There are minutes of the 1st, 2nd and 4th conferences for seminary graduates, 1926-1929.

Certain record types are missing: there are no individual student files, grades, or diplomas. The applications by students containing autobiographies are interesting as they throw light on the backgrounds of the students and also contain statistical information on occupations of parents. Correspondence from former students indicates that there was a close relationship between some graduates and the school administration. It also indicates that there was an interest on the part of the seminary to place its graduates in teaching positions and to keep them up-to-date on pedagogical developments.

Subseries 1: Kindergarten and Elementary
Folder 35: J. Dinesohn School. Copies of outgoing correspondence, 1935-1938; lists of students; 1934, undated; curricula and schedules; 1935-1937 undated; classroom work; 1936; invitations
undated, 1934-1938
Folder 36: J. Dinesohn School. Classroom work
Folder 37: S. Frug School. Statistical records, 1933; diploma, 1925; classwork, 1927-1928; outgoing and internal correspondence, 1927-1936; printed materials, 1932, including article on 10th graduation of Frug School by T. Szabad
Folder 38: Frug-Kuperstein School. Classwork, compositions
1936, 1938
Folder 39: Frug-Kuperstein School. Exams
Folder 40: Frug-Kuperstein School. Printed materials, invitations and miscellaneous
Folder 41: Grininke Beimelekh Kindergarten. Letter from TSYSHO; report by teacher
Folder 42: L. Gurwicz School. Correspondence, 1920, 1933; timetable; classroom work; printed materials
1920, 1933
Folder 43: L. Gurwicz School. Lists of students, teachers; statistical information
Folder 44: D. Kuperstein School. Statistical records; lists, 1925-1934; timetable, 1923-1924; correspondence; printed materials, invitations
Folder 45: D. Kuperstein School. Student notebooks
Folder 46: Heverah Mefitsei Haskalah Boys' School (Szabad School)
Folder 47: Heverah Mefitsei Haskalah Boys' School (Szabad School). Schoolwork
undated, 1937-1940
Folder 48: Heverah Mefitsei Haskalah Boys' School (Szabad School). General administrative records
undated, 1919-1938
Folder 49: Heverah Mefitsei Haskalah Boys' School (Szabad School). Printed, mimeographed and duplicated material, clippings
Folder 50: Heverah Mefitsei Haskalah Boys' School (Szabad School). First Yiddish Children's Club
Folder 51: Heverah Mefitsei Haskalah Boys' School (Szabad School). Unknown materials
Folder 52: People's School # 2. Lists of students
Folder 53: Sholem Aleichem School. Classroom work
Folder 54: Sholem Aleichem School. List of students, 1928; report, 1935; printed invitations, undated
undated, 1928, 1935
Subseries 2: Gymnasiums
Folder 55: Humanistics Gymnasium. Correspondence, 1926-1930; curriculum, 1924; printed materials, posters, manuscript of an article relating to the school's 10th anniversary
Folder 56: Mathematics and Sciences Gymansium. Curriculum outlines, schedules
Folder 57: Mathematics and Sciences Gymansium. Student records, certificates, diplomas, lists
Folder 58: Mathematics and Sciences Gymansium. Student classroom work
Folder 59: Mathematics and Sciences Gymansium. Printed materials, invitations, diplomas, forms, announcements. Includes oversize posters and invitations
Folder 60: Mathematics and Sciences Gymansium. Report, manuscript on government rights; outgoing correspondence
Subseries 3: Yiddish Teachers' Seminary
Folder 1: A) Administrative Records
Folder 61: Correspondence with TSYSHO, Warsaw
Folder 62: Correspondence with TSYSHO, Warsaw
Folder 63: Correspondence with Central Education Committee (TSBK) Central office
undated, 1923-1928
Folder 64: Correspondence with the Ministry of Education, Vilna, Warsaw
undated, 1923-1927
Folder 65: Correspondence with the Vilna Kehillah
Folder 66: General office correspondence
Folder 67: General office correspondence
undated, 1926-1933
Folder 68: Log of incoming correspondence
Folder 69: Minutes of 1st, 2nd and 4th conferences for seminary graduates, 1926-1929; minutes of regular meetings
Folder 70: Reports, memoranda
Folder 71: Financial records, budgets
Folder 72: Financial statements
circa 1926-1928
Folder 73: Printed materials
Folder 74: Printed materials from TSYSHO
Folder 75: Oversize invitations and announcements
Folder 2: B) Academic Records
Folder 76: Entrance applications from students
Folder 77: Correspondence from students: absence notes
undated, 1926-1927
Folder 78: General correspondence from students
Folder 79: Certificates, IOUs relating to students
Folder 80: Correspondence from former students
undated, 1925-1927
Folder 81: Lists of students and statistical information
Folder 82: Student classroom work
Folder 83: Student classroom work
Folder 84: Student notebooks
Folder 85: Correspondence with or about staff
undated, 1924-1927
Folder 86: Statistical information on staff
Folder 87: Curricula and schedules
Folder 88: Examination records
Folder 89: Unidentified materials
Subseries 4: TSBK Schools, Miscellaneous Boards
Folder 90: Various Central Education Committee (TSBK) schools
Folder 91: Various Central Education Committee (TSBK) children's clubs
Series IV: Records of TSYSHO schools throughout Poland
This series is in two parts: Records of the Yidishe Shul Organizatsye (Yiddish School Organization - YSHO) branch in Vilna Province and records of TSYSHO schools throughout Poland. The YSHO records contain only a few items and occupy 1 folder. The second group of materials is arranged in alphabetical order by name of town and covers both central and eastern Poland although it excludes Vilna. All schools included in this series are assumed to have been affiliated with the TSYSHO system. Each town contains 1 or two schools with 1 or two items in each school, with the exception of some places, such as Lodz, Swieciany and Warsaw which contain more material because they were important TSYSHO centers. Despite its fragmentary nature, to some extent this series reflects the breadth of the entire TSYSHO organization.
Folder 92: Records of TYSHO, Vilna Province: correspondence, minutes, conferences, curriculum materials, circulars.
Folder 93a: TSYSHO Schools: Białystok-Lublin
Folder 93b: TSYSHO Schools: Łódź
Folder 94: TSYSHO Schools: Nieśwież -Siedlce
Folder 95: TSYSHO Schools: Staszów-Swieciany
Folder 96: TSYSHO Schools: Torczyn-Zoludek
Folder 97: Unknown schools: Schoolwork, notebooks, classwork, drawings
Folder 98: Unknown schools: Schoolwork, notebooks, classwork, drawings
Folder 99: Unknown schools: Schoolwork, notebooks, classwork, drawings
Folder 100: Unknown schools. Curricula, teachers' reports
Folder 101: Unknown schools: programs and invitations
Folder 102: Unidentified TSYSHO materials

Browse by Series:

Series 1: Series I: TSYSHO Central Office, Warsaw, 1921-circa 1937,
Series 2: Series II: Central Education Committee (TSBK) Office, Vilna, 1920-circa 1937,
Series 3: Series III: Records of the Central Education Committee (TSBK) Schools, Vilna, 1919-1940,
Series 4: Series IV: Records of TSYSHO schools throughout Poland, 1920s-1930s
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