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Guide to the Papers of Leon Feinberg (1897-1969) 1906-1969 (bulk 1920-1960) RG 601

Processed by Marek Web. 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
15 West 16th Street
New York, NY 10011
Email: archives@yivo.cjh.org
URL: http://www.yivo.org

©2011 YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. All rights reserved.

Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Rachel S. Harrison in December 2011. Description is in English.</h5>

Collection Overview

Title: Guide to the Papers of Leon Feinberg (1897-1969) 1906-1969 (bulk 1920-1960) RG 601

Predominant Dates:bulk 1920-1960

ID: RG 601 FA

Extent: 14.83 Linear Feet

Arrangement: The materials in this collection are arranged topically and by format. The correspondence, Yiddish subject files and some of the written materials are arranged alphabetically according to the Yiddish alphabet. The Russian subject files are arranged according to the Russian alphabet. 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 collection is organized in ten series, some of which have been further subdivided into subseries. The original inventory was completed in October 1974 by Marek Web. Additional processing completed in December 2011.

Languages: Yiddish, Russian, English, Hebrew


This collection contains the personal and professional papers of Yiddish journalist, poet, novelist, and translator Leon Feinberg. These materials include correspondence with Yiddish literary figures and with organizations, newspaper clippings about writers and about Leon Feinberg and his works, subject files, manuscripts of works by Feinberg and by other writers, and some of Feinberg’s personal documents. These materials relate to Feinberg’s long career with various Russian and Yiddish periodicals and literary organizations.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The materials in this collection relate to Feinberg’s literary works in Russian and Yiddish, consisting mainly of correspondence with Yiddish literary figures and with organizations, as well as newspaper clippings and subject files. Correspondents include A. Almi, Ephraim Auerbach, Shlomo Bickel, Menahem Boraisha, Ossip Dymow, Jacob Glantz, Aaron Glanz-Leyeles, Jacob Glatstein, Abraham Golomb, Chaim Grade, Peretz Hirschbein, David Ignatoff, Rachel Korn, H. Leivick, Itzik Manger, Mani Leib, Moshe Nadir, Shmuel Niger, Joseph Opatoshu, Abbo Ostrowsky, Melech Ravitch, A.A. Roback, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Abraham Sutzkever, Malka Heifetz Tussman, and Zishe Weinper.

There is also family correspondence, materials relating to the Yiddish P.E.N. Club and the I.L. Peretz Yiddish Writers Union, including correspondence, newspaper clippings, circulars, correspondence about the World Conference of Yiddish Writers in 1964, and lists of Yiddish P.E.N. Club members. Clippings include articles about writers, about Leon Feinberg’s work and his subject files. Among the various topics collected by Feinberg for reference are materials about Yiddish language, Yiddish writers and literature, Jews in the Soviet Union, and Russian Jewish writers. Manuscripts of Feinberg’s works consist of poems, translations, plays, and fragments of novels. There are also manuscripts by other writers, copies of speeches and lectures, and personal documents. The materials in this collection date from 1906-1969, the bulk of which are from 1920-1960.

Historical Note

Yehudah Aryeh Leyb (Leon) Feinberg was born 6 February 1897 in Kodyma, Podolya Province, Russia (now Ukraine), the son of Rabbi Nathan Samuel Feinberg and Sheva Tomashpolsky Feinberg. He attended kheyder until he was 9 years old and then at age 10, the family moved to Odessa, where Feinberg entered the Iglitzky-Rapoport gymnasium and his father was the editor of the Odeser Folksblatt (Odessa People’s Journal). Feinberg’s father was later arrested and then forced to leave Odessa on account of an article in this publication, at which point he traveled to the United States to search for a job. Rabbi Feinberg later taught chemistry at Ohio State University and Hebrew educational practices and wrote several books.

Leon Feinberg had already started writing poetry in Russian by the age of 12 and he published his first volume of Russian poetry in 1914, having been strongly influenced by the Russian Symbolists. Feinberg completed his studies at the Iglitzky-Rapoport Gymnasium in Odessa in 1912 and then traveled to America for the first time, following his father. After returning to Russia with his father, Feinberg started attending Moscow University in 1915. He won first prize in the 1918 All-Russian Poetry Competition for his poem “The Soul of Russia.” He graduated from Moscow University in 1919 with a diploma in literature, languages and philosophy. He published his works in several Russian journals in Moscow, including Neva, Lietopis (Record), which was published by Maxim Gorky, and others, often under the pseudonym Leonid Grebniev. He also published several books of Russian poetry and was involved in the Imaginist Group of poet Sergei Yesenin.

Feinberg served three years as an officer in the Red Army during the Bolshevik Revolution, including spending some time as the adjutant for the important Soviet commissar Jan (Yakov) Gamarnik, who was H.N. Bialik’s brother-in-law. He was captured by the White forces of General Anton Ivanovich Denikin in the violent struggles in Southern Ukraine in autumn 1919 and only escaped to Turkey through the intervention of Bialik in 1920. Also in 1920, and also with Bialik’s help, Feinberg traveled to Palestine and was one of the founders of a new kibbutz, Kiryat Anavim, near Jerusalem. He traveled all over the world as a sailor, to Morocco, Tunis, Algiers, India, and various countries in Europe before immigrating to the United States in 1921.

He continued to write in Russian when he first arrived in the United States, publishing in Russian journals in New York and Chicago, including Novoye Russkoye Slovo (New Russian Word), where he worked as a literary editor. He later began writing in Yiddish and published his poems and other works, including translations into Yiddish of Russian and English literature and articles on public affairs, in many important Yiddish journals in the United States, Poland, Argentina, Israel, and several other countries. His first Yiddish poem was published in the Freie Arbeiter Stimme (Free Voice of Labor) in 1921. He continued to use the name Leonid Grebniev or just L. Grebniev, Leonid Amarant, Alter Eno, L. Gorin, L. Senders, F. Gorny, and other pseudonyms.

From 1926-1929 Feinberg worked as a co-editor and member of the writing staff at the Freiheit (Freedom). He quit over what he felt was the Freiheit’s anti-Jewish response to the Arab pogrom in Hebron, Palestine in 1929. He returned to the newspaper in 1932 but then quit again when he canceled his membership in the Communist Party in 1939 in connection with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. He wrote for the monthly Der Hamer (The Hammer), Di Feder (The Pen), Freie Arbeiter Stimme, Yiddishe Tageblatt (Yiddish Daily News), Morgn Zhurnal (Morning Journal), Amerikaner (The American), Freiheit, Morgn-Yidishe Kultur (Morning Yiddish Culture), Di Naye Prese (The New Press), Jewish Daily Forward, Zukunft (Future), Der Groyser Kundes (The Big Stick), Der Vokh (The Week), Undzer Veg (The Way), Yidisher Kultur (Jewish Culture), Vayter (Further), Yidisher Kemfer (Jewish Fighter), Literarishe Bleter (Literary Pages) in Warsaw, Di Prese (The Press) in Buenos Aires, Di Goldene Keyt (The Golden Chain) in Tel Aviv, and Epokhe (Epoch), which he and I.A. Weissman published and edited from 1943-1947. He was an editor for the leftist journals Funken (Sparks) and Signal from 1933-1934. He became a feature writer, and later city editor, for Der Tog (The Day) starting in 1941, where he spent many years editing the news columns and writing numerous articles speaking out against Communism. He was the president of the Yiddish P.E.N. Club in New York and the vice president of the I.L. Peretz Writers Union. He also worked for the Yiddish Arts Theater, 1923-1926 and the Artef Theater, 1932-1934.

Feinberg wrote 15 books of prose and poetry in Yiddish and four books in Russian as well as numerous unpublished writings. He published an anthology in Russian of the Yiddish poets in America, in which there are over 300 poems from more than 100 poets. He won the Leib Hoffer prize in Buenos Aires for his book Der Farmishpeter Dor (The Doomed Generation) and in 1966 he received the Liza and Willie Schorr Literary Stipend from the Jewish Culture Congress. English translations of his work are to be found in Joseph Leftwich's The Golden Peacock (1940), and J. B. Cooperman's America in Yiddish Poetry (1967).

Leon was married to Florence Weingarten on October 18, 1932. They had 5 children: Gerald, Babette, Rita, Harriet, and Norman. Leon Feinberg passed away January 22, 1969 in New York.

Subject/Index Terms

Administrative Information

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: archives@yivo.cjh.org

Acquisition Method: The collection was given to the YIVO Archives by Leon Feinberg’s family in 1970.

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: Feinberg’s correspondence is represented in several other collections within the YIVO Archives. In addition, the YIVO Archives has the Records of Freie Arbeiter Stimme RG 763, Records of Yiddish P.E.N. Club RG 1236 and other materials about the Yiddish P.E.N. Club, Records of the I.L. Peretz Yiddish Writers Union RG 701, Records of the Day-Morning Journal (Tog-Morgn Zhurnal) RG 639, and several of Feinberg’s original works and translations.

Preferred Citation: Published citations should take the following form: Identification of item, date (if known); Papers of Leon Feinberg; RG 601; folder number; YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

Series 1: Series I: Correspondence, 1924-1969,
Series 2: Series II: Yiddish P.E.N. Club and I.L. Peretz Writers Union, 1947-1968,
Series 3: Series III: Newspaper Clippings, 1920-1968,
Series 4: Series IV: Manuscripts of Various Literary Works, 1916-1968,
Series 5: Series V: Manuscripts by Others, 1943-1957,
Series 6: Series VI: Rabbi Nathan Samuel Feinberg Clippings and Manuscripts, 1913-1938, undated,
Series 7: Series VII: Speeches and Lectures, 1937-1968,
Series 8: Series VIII: Materials Gathered by Feinberg (Subject Files), 1917-1968,
Series 9: Series IX: Miscellaneous, 1906-1968, undated,
Series 10: Series X: Supplement, 1948-1964,

Series IV: Manuscripts of Various Literary Works
The literary works in this series are by Feinberg and include Yiddish and Russian poems and translations.
Folders: 38
Folder 439: Poems: Aleph א
arranged according to the poem title
Folder 440: Poems: Beys ב
Folder 441: Poems: Gimel-Khaf ג-כ
Folder 442: Poems: Lamed-Resh ל-ר
Folder 443: Feinberg's poetic work in Russian

written under the name Leonid Grebniev

mostly from 1916-1922

Folder 444: Der Groyser Likvidator (The Great Liquidator)
poem, dated Los Angeles 1931, New York 1953
Folder 445: Dreysik Yor (Thirty Years)
autobiographical poem
Folder 446: Ver Bin Ikh? (Who am I?)
poetic answer to S. Niger
Folder 447: "1917"
Folder 448: A Tog in Himl (A Day in Heaven)
Folder 449: Joseph Ashkenazi
poem fragment
Folder 450: Lisa Baum
chapter from the book in verse Der Derleyzter Dor (The Redeemed Generation)
Folder 451: A Libe in Grenitsh Viledzsh (Love in Greenwich Village)
collected poems, written 1921-1961, includes a list
Folder 452: Mentsh un Khayeh (Man and Animal)
Biblical poem
Folder 453: A Nakht fun Khtsos in Nyu York (A Night of Prayers in New York)
Folder 454: Der Fintsterer Sheliekh (The Dark Messenger)
sonnet cycle
Folder 455: Tsvey Dikhter (Two Poets)
Folder 456: Geklibene Lider (Collected Poems)
includes a list
Folder 457: Geklibene Lider (Collected Poems)
poems not included in the above list
Folder 458: Ariel
dramatic poems, Moscow 1918-New York 1942
Folder 459: Yiddish
Folder 460: Pen Portretn un Parodies (Portraits and Parodies)
includes a list
Folder 461: Sonetn-Portretn (Sonnet Portraits)

includes a list

also Di Yorshim Fun Der Erd (The Heirs of the Earth), 1941

Folder 462: Lists for the collection Surrealistishe/Apokaliptishe/Erotishe Lider (Surrealist/Apocalyptic/Erotic Poems)
arranged by numbers and alphabetically
Folder 463: Surrealistishe/Apokaliptishe/Erotishe Lider (Surrealist/Apocalyptic/Erotic Poems)
numbers 1-299
Folder 464: Surrealistishe/Apokaliptishe/Erotishe Lider (Surrealist/Apocalyptic/Erotic Poems)
numbers 300-499
Folder 465: Surrealistishe/Apokaliptishe/Erotishe Lider (Surrealist/Apocalyptic/Erotic Poems)
numbers 500-811
Folder 466: Odes (Odessa)
Folder 467: Translations

Lion Feuchtwanger, Mishpokhe Operman (Oppermann Family)

dramatized in English by Clayton Kritchny, translated into Yiddish by Feinberg

English text is included

Folder 468: Translations
Friedrich Wolf, Profesor Mamlok (Professor Mamlock)
Folder 469: Translations
Maxim Gorky, Dostigayev un Andere (Dostigayev and Others)
Folder 470: Translations
Dmitry Merezhkovsky, Peter der Groyser (Peter the Great)
Folder 471: Translations
Lev Lunts, Di Shtot fun Emes (The City of Truth)
Folder 472: Translations

Evgeny Yevtushenko, Babi Yar

also Feinberg's answer, Shotns Iber Babi Yar (Shadows Over Babi Yar), in Russian and Yiddish

Folder 473: Translations

anthology, Yidishe Poezie in Amerike in Rusish (Jewish Poetry in America in Russian)

poems which are not in the published anthology

Folder 474: Translations

anthology of Russian poetry in Yiddish

arranged alphabetically by author's name

Folder 475: Translations
Romain Rolland, Robespierre
Folder 476: Translations

Sholem Asch, Ikh Hob Gefunen an Elter-Zeydn (I Have Found a Great-Grandfather)

translated from English

Browse by Series:

Series 1: Series I: Correspondence, 1924-1969,
Series 2: Series II: Yiddish P.E.N. Club and I.L. Peretz Writers Union, 1947-1968,
Series 3: Series III: Newspaper Clippings, 1920-1968,
Series 4: Series IV: Manuscripts of Various Literary Works, 1916-1968,
Series 5: Series V: Manuscripts by Others, 1943-1957,
Series 6: Series VI: Rabbi Nathan Samuel Feinberg Clippings and Manuscripts, 1913-1938, undated,
Series 7: Series VII: Speeches and Lectures, 1937-1968,
Series 8: Series VIII: Materials Gathered by Feinberg (Subject Files), 1917-1968,
Series 9: Series IX: Miscellaneous, 1906-1968, undated,
Series 10: Series X: Supplement, 1948-1964,
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