Processed by Felicia Figa In 1976. Additional processing by Rachel S. Harrison as part of the Leon Levy Archival Processing Initiative, made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation.YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
©2012 YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. All rights reserved.
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Rachel S. Harrison in April 2012. Description is in English.
Title: Guide to the Papers of David Pinski (1872-1959) RG 204
ID: RG 204 FA
Extent: 18.25 Linear Feet
The correspondence is arranged alphabetically by correspondent according to the Hebrew alphabet for Hebrew and Yiddish correspondents, and according to the Latin alphabet for English, Russian, Polish, French, and German correspondents. Personal names of correspondents have been transliterated, journal titles and organization names have been transliterated and translated, and the titles of speeches and writings have been transliterated and translated. Yiddish names have been transliterated according to YIVO standards except when the individual is known in English by another spelling. Additionally, if the name appeared in Latin letters anywhere within the folder, that spelling was used rather than a standard transliteration. The English correspondence subseries also contains materials in Russian, Polish, French, and German and a few items in Hebrew and Yiddish.
The collection is divided into 6 series, some of which have been further divided into subseries, and an addendum.
This collection contains documents relating to David Pinski’s role as a Yiddish writer, playwright, essayist, translator, editor, literary critic, and author of novels, plays, short stories, essays, and poems. There is personal and professional correspondence, manuscripts of novels, plays, poems, essays, and articles, translations of Pinski’s works into English and Russian, lectures made on various occasions, personal documents and photographs, programs, notes, and newspaper clippings. These materials demonstrate Pinski’s important role in Yiddish drama and literature, Jewish community life and Yiddish cultural institutions.
The Papers of David Pinski consist of correspondence with approximately 1,350 individuals and organizations, in English and Yiddish, 1890s-1950s, particularly those active in Yiddish literature, Jewish community life and Yiddish culture. There is also family correspondence with his wife, Adele, 1898-1942, correspondence with his son, his parents and other family members, and letters on his 50th, 70th and 75th birthdays. Letters from individuals include S. An-Ski, Baal Makhshoves, Hayyim Nahman Bialik, Nathan Birnbaum, Ber Borochov, Jacob Dinesohn, Saul Ginsburg, Jacob Glatstein, Peretz Hirschbein, David Ignatoff, Joseph Jaffe, David Kessler, Judah L. Magnes, Golda Meir, Nahum Baruch Minkoff, Shmuel Niger, Moshe Olgin, Joseph Opatoshu, Isaac Leib Peretz, Abraham Reisen, Joseph Schlossberg, Sholem Aleichem, Mordecai Spector, Nachman Syrkin, Baruch Vladeck, Chaim Weizmann, Hillel Zeitlin, Zerubavel, and Chaim Zhitlowsky. Correspondence with Yiddish organizations includes the Jewish National Workers Alliance (Yidisher Natsionaler Arbeter Farband fun Amerike), 1916-1942, including the main office and branches in the U.S. and Canada as well as with its affiliated Yiddish schools, the Poale Zion party in the United States and Canada, 1914-1947, in Palestine, 1924-1937, and in Poland, 1936, as well as correspondence of the party’s press organs, Der Yidisher Arbeiter (The Jewish Worker), 1923-1926, Yidisher Kempfer (Jewish Fighter), 1931-1933, and Di Tsayt (The Times), 1921-1922. There are also letters from affiliated organizations such as Hechalutz, Pioneer Women, and the League for Labor Palestine. The correspondence is indicative of Pinski’s active and colorful activity in many fields and is an important source for the history of Jewish publishing, periodicals, social and communal organizations, and cultural institutions.
There are also manuscripts of novels, plays, poems, essays, and articles, including Arnold Levenberg, Ven Vegn Tsugayn Zikh (When the Roads Split), Noyekh's Hoyz (Noah’s House), Shlomo Hamelekh’s Toyzent Vayber (King Solomon’s Thousand Wives), Adoniahu, Der Oytser (The Treasure), Isaac Sheftel, In Hoykhe Fenster (In the High Window), Der Nes Mendele Moykher-Sforim (The Miracle of Mendele Moykher-Seforim), Biblishe Monologn-Moyshe (Biblical Monologues – Moses), as well as various others, translations of Pinski’s works into English and Russian, lectures made on various occasions, 1891-1945, articles about the Tcherikower Conference, Tolstoy, I.L. Peretz, and about trips to Israel and the Soviet Union. In addition, there are some personal documents and photographs, including two ketubot, one from Geneva, 1897 and one from New York, 1916, David and Adele Pinski’s passports, a membership card from Keren Hayesod, a certificate from the Polish Consul in New York, 1932, Pinski’s will, event programs, and notes.
The collection dates from 1880-1952, with an addendum from 2005-2011 and is in 36.5 manuscript boxes, measuring 18.25 linear feet.
Yiddish author and playwright David Pinski was born in Mohilev, Russia (now Belarus) on April 5, 1872. His father, Mordechai Yitzhak, was a commissioner of military clothing in Moscow and Pinski composed some of his earliest stories in the letters that he sent to his father. Pinski began studying Gemara at age 7 and soon was known as a prodigy, however he also read widely in Hebrew, Yiddish and Russian literature and often attended Russian and Yiddish theater productions in Mohilev. He and his parents moved to Moscow when Pinski was 13, where he began to learn secular subjects and also continued his writing in Russian, Hebrew and Yiddish.
In 1890-1891 Pinski lived in Vitebsk, where he met Reuben Brainin, with whom he organized a B’nai Zion union, of which Pinski was the secretary. Pinski wrote Zionist songs and melodies for the union in Yiddish, even though Hovevei Zion advocated the use of Hebrew. From Vitebsk Pinski traveled to Vienna in 1891, where he intended to study medicine. On the way to Vienna, he stopped in Warsaw, where he met Isaac Leib Peretz, who warmly welcomed him and, together with Jacob Dinesohn, befriended Pinski and encouraged his literary activities. Pinski only remained in Vienna a short time before returning to Warsaw in early 1892, where his parents had settled after the Jews had been expelled from Moscow. By this time, Pinski was already a committed Socialist and Labor Zionist. He made his living from teaching while also continuing his writing in Russian and Hebrew and eventually Yiddish.
Pinski’s first published work was a poem, L’Shana Tova (Happy New Year), in Appelberg’s Varshaver Yiddisher Kalendar (Warsaw Jewish Calendar) in 1893, after which he started to publish a wide variety of materials, including satirical essays, critiques and short sketches. Pinski and Peretz founded the I.L. Peretz Publications publishing house, through which they aimed to use literature as a weapon in the fight for a new social order. In those years Pinski was a public-minded Socialist and, as such, considered himself responsible for exposing others to the teachings of the Socialist enlightenment. Also together with Peretz, Pinski led a revolutionary student circle in Warsaw which aimed to enlighten and revolutionize the Jewish worker through appropriate literature and popular scientific works, brochures and newspapers.
When the student circle fell apart, Peretz, Pinski and Mordecai Spector, with financial assistance from Adele (Hodel) Kaufman (Pinski’s wife from 1897 and also Spector’s sister-in-law) began to put out the magazine Literatur un Lebn (Literature and Life) in order to publicize Socialist ideas. Later they published Yom-Tov Bletlekh (Holiday Pages), which had a similar outlook. Pinski was one of the main contributors to both magazines. Yom-Tov Bletlekh helped to spread Socialist ideas among the Jewish masses and Pinski’s name gained in popularity. He began to travel all over the Pale and to meet supporters face-to-face and to organize “Jargon Committees”, which created funds to support Yom-Tov Bletlekh, although the magazine eventually ceased publication due to financial difficulties. Spector had previously left the magazine over its radical tone and this difference of opinion influenced Pinski to discontinue his participation in Spector’s Hoyz Fraynd (Home Companion).
In spring 1896 Pinski settled in Berlin, where he studied at the university. At the same time he established relations with several American Jewish societies and became a contributer to the New York Jewish Socialist daily newspaper Dos Abend Blatt (The Evening Paper), publishing essays under several pseudonyms. He also established a publishing house called Zeitgeist. He later lived in Switzerland and, while there, he attended the meeting of the Friends of Yiddish in Basel after the First Zionist Congress in 1897, together with Chaim Zhitlowsky. In the same year, 1897, he wrote his first social-psychological drama in Yiddish, Isaac Sheftal, followed by Yesurim (Suffering) in 1899.
Pinski came to New York in December 1899 on the invitation of Herman Simson, the editor of Dos Abend Blatt, the official newspaper of the Socialist Workers Party, for which he had been writing for the previous few years. He soon took over as literary editor at Dos Abend Blatt and was the assistant editor of the weekly Der Arbeiter Zeitung (The Worker’s Paper), later called Der Arbeiter (The Worker) until its closure in 1911. He was also a member of the Bund and published a column about the activities of the Bund in Tsarist Russia, In dem Bunds Rayon (In the Bund’s Region) in Der Arbeiter, the editor of which, Joseph Schlossberg, was Adele Pinski’s nephew. Starting in 1916, Pinski was a prominent leader and a long-time member of the central committee of the Poale Zion (Labor Zionist) movement. He was also the editor of the Poale Zionist journal Der Yidisher Kempfer (The Jewish Fighter) and the daily newspapers Di Tsayt (The Times) and Zukunft (Future), the last of which he co-edited with Shmuel Niger and Hillel Rogoff, from 1941-1949, when he moved to Israel. He wrote articles for Der Yid (The Jew), Der Fraynd (The Friend), and others and, together with Joseph Schlossberg, published the Yidishe Vokhnshrift (Yiddish Weekly Journal). In addition, he was the president of the Jewish National Workers’ Alliance (Farband) and of the Jewish Cultural Society and the first president of the Yiddish PEN Club. He helped to found the Tsentrale yidishe kultur-organizatsye (Central Yiddish Cultural Organization) CYCO in 1938 and was a member of the managing committee. He also belonged to the group that helped to create the World Cultural Congress in New York in 1948.
Alongside Pinski’s extensive political activities, he continued to write and publish novels and plays and was one of the founders and leaders of the Yiddish theater organization in New York as well as the journal Tealit. In 1904, he nearly received his doctorate in German language and literature from Columbia University, but his play Family Tsvi, written in response to the Kishinev pogrom, premiered on the day set for his Ph.D. examination. He failed to show up for the exam, and never received his doctorate.
He continued to publish plays, many of which were about the common man and the workers, historical legends and folklore, including his first play Di Muter (The Mother), Glik-Fargesene (Forgotten Luck, 1904), Der Oytser (The Treasure, 1906), Yankel der Shmid (Jacob the Blacksmith, 1906), Gabri un di Froyen (Gabri and the Women, 1908), Mary Magdalene (1910-1911), Professor Brenner (1911), Di Bergshteyner (The Mountain Climbers, 1912), Der Letster Sakhakl (The Last Message, 1924), Opgezogt (Declined, 1932), and many others. He also published several plays and other writings about Biblical characters, including a short essay about Bruriah, Rabbi Meir the Tanna’s wife, Dovid Hamelekh un Zayne Vayber (King David and his Wives, c.1923), and a series of sketches of the wives of King Solomon. He published six works about messianic figures from different time periods, Der Eybiker Yid (The Eternal Jew, 1906), which was the first play ever performed by the Habimah Theater of Israel, Rabbi Akiva un Bar Kokhba (Rabbi Akiva and Bar Kokhba), Der Shtumer Meshiakh (The Silent Messiah, 1919), Shlomo Molkho un David Hareuveni (Shlomo Molcho and David Hareuveni), Shabetai Tsvi un Sore (Shabbetai Tsvi and Sarah), and Der Baal-Shem un der Gazlen (The Baal Shem and the Robber). He wrote several plays about the Israeli pioneers as well as novels, Der Tserisener Mentsh (The Split Personality, 1919-1925), and Dos Hoyz fun Noyekh Edon [The House of Noah Edon, c.1929, also known as Noyekh's Hoyz (Noah's House)].
In 1949 Pinski emigrated to the newly founded state of Israel. He settled on Mount Carmel in Haifa, where he had bought a plot of land on which to build a house in 1936. For his eightieth birthday, he was made an honorary citizen of Haifa and a street on Mount Carmel was named after him. He was also made the honorary chairman and vice president of the Yiddish Literary Union in Israel. He continued to write and publish in Israel and to send articles to be published in Morgn Zhurnal (Daily Journal) and Tog (Day) in New York but he also believed that Yiddish would eventually become a respected part of the culture of Israel, alongside Hebrew. He continued to write plays, including several about the Biblical characters Moses, Saul and Samson and Delilah, although it does not appear that these plays were ever staged. Pinski’s wife Adele (Hodel) died March 29, 1959 and he died five months later on August 11, 1959.
Austria, Authors, Yiddish, Canada, Clippings - Newspaper clippings, Documents - Correspondence, Documents - Manuscripts, Dramatists, Yiddish, France, Germany, Glatstein, Jacob, 1896-1971, Hechalutz (Organization), Israel, Jewish Day Schools, Jewish National Worker’s Alliance (U.S.), Kessler, David 1860-1920, League for Labor Palestine, New York (N.Y.), Peretz, Isaac Leib, 1851 or 2-1915, Photographs, Pinski, David, 1872-1959, Pioneer Women (Organization: U.S.), Playbills - Programs, Poland, Political parties, Schlossberg, Joseph, 1875-1971, Sholem Aleichem, 1859-1916, Spector, Mordecai, 1858-1925, Theater, Yiddish, Theatrical producers and directors, Yiddish drama, Yidisher Kempfer, YIVO Archives, Zhitlowsky, Chaim, 1865-1943
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 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Acquisition Method: The collection was donated to the YIVO Archives by David Pinski in 1942 and by his son Harry in 1949. Materials in the addendum were given to YIVO in 2011 by Gabriel Pinski, David Pinski’s grandson.
Separated Materials: There is no information about materials that are associated by provenance to the described materials that have been physically separated or removed.
Related Materials: The YIVO Archives contains collections of several of Pinski’s most prominent correspondents, including B. J. Bialostotzky, Mendl Elḳin, David Ignatoff, H. Leivick, Abraham Liessin, Kalman Marmor, Shmuel Niger, Joseph Opatoshu, and many others. There are also copies of Pinski’s plays and writings and he is represented in materials relating to Yiddish theater.
Preferred Citation: Published citations should take the following form:Identification of item, date (if known); Papers of David Pinski; RG 204; folder number; YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.
Finding Aid Revision History: The collection was originally processed and a Yiddish finding aid was created by Felicia Figa in October 1976. The full Yiddish finding aid was translated into English and additional processing was completed in 2012.
two Russian passports, in the name David Pinski on December 5, 1895, and in the name Adele Kaufman on May 1, 1897
two ketubot, one from Geneva, Switzerland from 1897 and one from New York, 1916
membership card for Keren Hayesod
Russian and German certificates
certificate from the Polish consul in New York, 1932
certificate about David Pinski's American citizenship, 1910
Pinsky's will, 1952
documents about Aron Kopejkin, the father of Anna Pinski, David Pinski's daughter-in-law, 1880, 1885/6, 1889
Weizmann to Pinski
Rothschild to Weizmannothers
Brikn (Bridges), monthly journal, Warsaw
Yiddish P.E.N. Club, New York
Sifrut Hauniversitah b'Yerushalayim (Literature University of Jerusalem)
New York Public Library
Pioneer Women's Organization
Harvard Menorah Society, 1919-1931
Intercollegiate Menorah Association, New York, 1917, 1928-1931
Menorah Alumni of the City of New York, undated
The Menorah Journal, New York, 1918-1928
The Menorah Lecture Bureau, New York, 1927-1931
Menorah Society of the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, 1923
Menorah Society of Washington Square, New York University, 1930-1932
University City, MO, 1941-1942
Atlanta, GA, 1937
Akron, OH, 1938
Boston, MA, 1917
Buffalo, NY, 1928
Bridgeport, CT, 1934-1936
Gary, IN, 1947
Detroit, MI, 1917, 1928-1942
Waterbury, CT, 1935-1936
Toledo, OH, 1937-1938
Los Angeles, CA, 1940-1942
Massachusetts State and District Committee, 1941
Milwaukee, WI, 1940-1942
New Bedford, MA, 1934
New Haven, CT, undated
New York, NY, 1916-1942, undated
San Francisco, CA, 1935-1940
St. Louis, MO, 1935-1941
Cincinnati, OH, 1935-1938
Springfield, MA, 1937
Fall River, MA, 1937
Pittsburgh, PA, 1936-1937
Providence, RI, 1934-1942
Philadelphia, PA, 1934-1942
Los Angeles, CA, undated
Rochester, NY, 1934
Chicago, IL, 1927, 1937-1947
Ottowa, ON, undated
Hamilton, ON, 1938
Toronto, ON, 1924-1947
Winnipeg, MB, 1921-1940
Montreal, QC, 1921-1938
drama in three acts, first version, 21 March-7 April, 1899, 49 pp.
drama in three acts, second version, 51 pp.
second part, first version, written in Tyrol, 18 July 1922, 69 pp.
second part, Isaac Pinyev, second act, written in Paris and Long Branch, NJ, 7 September 1923, 41 pp.
second part, Isaac Pinyev, third act, written in America, Camp Tamiment, July 1924, 46 pp.
second part, Isaac Pinyev, fourth act, 8 August 1924
drama in three acts, first version, written in Long Branch, NJ, 29 June-16 July 1913, 75 pp.
second version, undated, 43 pp.
third version, undated, 52 pp.
play in five acts, 5 April-18 May 1928, 266 pp.
fourth act, 6 September 1927, 79 pp.
Opgezogt, one-act, 21-22 December 1931, 13 pp.
Kats un Moyz, Toronto, 4 February 1935, 32 pp.
Der Arzav, comedy in four acts, third version, undated, 56 pp.
Der Tsadik un der Satan, second act, 26 February 1934, 21 pp.
Batsheva, drama in one act, 22 February 1913, 15 pp.
Gevisn, 14 March 1913, 10 pp.
Mikhl, undated, 14 pp.
Gabri un di Froyen, play in three acts and four scenes, 10-22 July 1908, 61 pp.
Gabri un di Froyen, fragments, 1908
Mit Ziger Fonen, comedy in one act, 1908, 15 pp.
Der Got fun dem Raykh-Gevorenem Volhendler, comedy in one act, undated, 12 pp.
Kalikes, undated, 12 pp.
Der Aveyres Yeger, 12 May 1920, 8 pp.two version of a story without a title, 9 April 1931, 6 pp., 15 April 1931, 5 pp.
Der Dolar, comedy in one act, Long Branch, NJ, 1-3 August 1913, 24 pp., first version
Der Dolar, undated, 26 pp., second version
Der Fonograf, comedy in one act, undated, 31 pp.
Dovid Hamelekh un Zayne Vayber, five one-acts, 75 pp., unfinished
Dovid un Mikhl, 19 pp.Avishe, 16 pp.In Harem, 14 pp.
Long Branch, NJ, 16 June 1912, 20 pp.
Bergshteyner, a play in four acts, 16 July-7 August 1912, 74 pp.
Zumer Leb, comedy in three acts and five scenes, undated, 97 pp., first version
Zumer Leb, comedy in three acts, New York, 17 March 1933, 61 pp., second version
Di Arbaah Banim, a seder scene, undated, 10 pp.
Israel Baal Shem Tov un der Gazlan, Green Fields Colony, 15 June-16 August 1940, 98 pp.
Friling iz Gevezn, Germany, 21-29 April 1941, 11 pp.
Pentakaka, der Finf-Aveyresnik, 10-16 October 1941, 12 pp.
Israel Baal Shem Tov un der Gazlan, Green Fields Colony, 16 August 1940, 107 pp., second version
Maner un Tsoler, a scene, 15 December 1941, 7 pp.
Purim Shpiel, undated, 15 pp.
12-26 February 1923, 70 pp., first version
tragicomedy in four acts, undated, 72 pp., second version
Mikhl, undated, 9 pp.Avigayel, Long Branch, NJ, 27 June 1914, 23 pp.
In Harem, Long Branch, NJ, 17-19 July 1914, 13 pp.
Avishe, Long Branch, NJ, 6-8 July 1915, 16 pp.
Politik, satirical play in one act, 14 July 1915, 23 pp.
Fun Knekhtshaft tsu Frayheyt, 13 March 1939, 6 pp.
Yisroel un Zayn Land, undated, 32 pp., pp. not in order, first version
Fun Knekhtshaft tsu Frayheyt, 14 March 1939, 7 pp., (prelude)
Yisroel un Zayn Land, play in nine figures, undated, 33 pp., second version
third act, 29 January 1939, 21 p., second writing
Dir Vet Nit Gelungen Got!, undated, 21 pp.
7-14 December 1934, 63 pp., first version
comedy in three acts, 14-19 December 1934, 68 pp., second version
Der Shnayder Vert a Kremer, comedy in three acts, 9 December 1931-17 November 1935, 70 pp., second version
Zumer Leb, first scene, undated, 9 pp.
Der Koyekh fun a Nigun, 4-5 January 1939, 8 pp.
Edvard Kohn, 15 April 1941, 9 pp.untitled portrait, undated, 3 pp.
Dos Likht, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh, 3-8 February 1940, 15 pp.;
Friling iz Geven… , 29 April 1941, 13 pp., second version
Der Aveyres Yeger, 10 pp.
Fun Eynem Velkher Hot zikh Gefunen, 14 pp.
Di Vand, a Legende, 10 pp.
Edvard Kohn, 10 September 1941, 12 pp., first version
Pentakaka, der Finf-Aveyresnik, 16-18 October 1941, 13 pp., second version
Er Lebt, 14 pp., first version
Videroyflebung, cantata, 14 pp.
Er Lebt, 17-18 April, (year not given), 15 pp., second version
Purim Shpiel, Green Fields Colony, 18 June 1944, 3 pp.
Kidush-Hashem, Green Fields Colony, 20-30 July 1945, 21 pp.
Der Kodesh fun Ludin, Green Fields Colony, 28 August-7 September 1945, 30 pp.
Kidush-Hashem, Green Fields Colony, 31 July-5 August, 1945, 24 pp., second version
Der Kodesh fun Liutzin, New York, 13 September-17 November 1945, 39 pp., second version
untitled story, 12 July 1917, 46 pp.
Fonograf, comedy in one act, 13 February 1918, 4 pp., incomplete
untitled story, 2 February 1923, 6 pp.
28 June-14 July 1938, 36 pp.
Mani Leib, 3 pp.
Yidish in Amerike (Yiddish in America), 6 pp.
Di Mayse mit dem 'Oytser' (The Story with the 'Treasure'), 2 pp. (pp. 6-8)
Komunistishe Dikhter un Novelistn (Communist Poet and Novelists), 4 pp.
Vi Kumt es tsu Bialikn (How One Comes to Bialik), 6 pp.
Der Kheyrem (The Excommunication), 4 pp.
Impotents (Impotence), 6 pp.
Tsum Nayem Teater Sezon (On the New Theatrical Season), 3 pp.
Kultur Tsushtand in Eretz Yisroel (Cultural Conditions in Israel), 7 pp.
Der Araber Strayk un di Yidishe Havlaga (The Arab Strike and Jewish Restraint), 8 pp.
Di Daytshe Yidn in Eretz Yisroel (The German Jews in Israel), 6 pp.
untitled writings, 3 pp., 3 pp.
Clippings about Pinski's home in Israel, 2005clipping about a performance of a Pinski play in Israel, 2007
Two family trees, 2011