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Guide to the Papers of Jacob Shatzky, 1910-1963 RG 356

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 Stanislav Pejša and Yakov Sklyar in December 2006. Description is in English.

Collection Overview

Title: Guide to the Papers of Jacob Shatzky, 1910-1963 RG 356

ID: RG 356 FA

Creator: Shatzky, Jacob (1893-1956)

Extent: 10.5 Linear Feet

Arrangement: Series are divided mainly by type, except for the Series IV: Personal Documents, the only series which contains a mixture of types.

Languages: Yiddish, English, Polish, German, Hebrew, Spanish


Jacob Shatzky (1893-1956) was an historian, literary and theater critic, editor, bibliographer, lexicographer, lecturer, teacher and librarian. The Papers of Jacob Shatzky cover the period of 1910-1960's and reflect to different degrees all aspects of his activities. Some papers of Jacob Shatzky's wife, Ida, consist for the most part of materials relating to his death. Manuscript and other materials relating to memorial books published posthumously in commemoration of Jacob Shatzky, such as the Shatzky Book , (Buenos Aires, 1957) and Yakov Shatzki in Ondenk , (New York, 1957) constitute another significant part of the collection.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Papers of Jacob Shatzky, which cover the period 1910-1960s relate to all aspects of Shatzky's career as well as to his personal life. The papers consist of correspondence, manuscripts, notes, bibliographies, diplomas, certificates, financial and legal documents, i.d. cards, photos, printed invitations and announcements, raffle tickets, clippings, and personal memorabilia.

Despite the wide range of topics, the collection is a fragmentary one. The most significant material in the Papers of Jacob Shatzky consists of notes and manuscript fragments relating to the History of the Jews in Warsaw, Volume IV as well as notes to Volumes I-III. In 1943, YIVO commissioned Dr. Shatzky to write the history of the community of Warsaw. Volume I (beginning 1831) was published in 1947, Volume II (1831-1863) in 1948, Volume III (1863-1896) in 1953. At the time of his death in 1956, Shatzky was working on Volume IV, which is unpublished at the time of the compilation of this inventory.

These materials consist of notes, organized by topic. Notes consist of bibliographical references, as well as excerpts or citations. The topics are classified either by historical event, such as World War I, or by subject, such as hospitals, education, culture. Among the topics prepared by Shatzky are, the rabbinate, community council, Yiddish literature, art, theater, press, printing, school systems, political movements, local organizations, charities, industry, trade, banks. Although almost all of the bibliographical references are from published sources, these notes and references contain original research work. No social history of Warsaw (1896-1918) has been undertaken to date, comparable both in time period and scope to Dr. Shatzky's projected book.

The other manuscript materials in Series II are far less significant and are very fragmentary. Shatzky must have published about 1000 works in his lifetime. The single box of manuscripts is therefore a meager representation of his writings.

The Correspondence Series, spans the period 1910-1956. The 1930s, 1940s and 1950s contain the greatest numbers of letters. The 1910s contain only a handful of letters; the 1920s are fragmentary as well. The reasons for these gaps are unknown. Secondly, despite the wide range of scholars, publishers, writers, most of the correspondence consists of single items or a handful of letters. Only a minority of the correspondents have more than about 5 to 10 letters. Among the more prolific correspondents: A. A. Roback, Raphael Mahler, Kalman Marmor, Joseph Opatoshu, Shmuel Niger, Melekh Ravitch, Zalman Zylbercweig. Among the significant but less prolific: Emanuel Ringelblum, Menashe Boraisho, Solomon Grayzel, Abraham Duker, Salo Baron, Philip Friedman, Max Weinreich, Aaron Zeitlin, I. Bashevis Singer, Mendl Elkin, Aaron Glanz-Leyelez, Rudolf Glanz, A. Golomb, Alexander Harkavy, Abraham Heschel, Peretz Hirshbein, M. Handelsman, H. Leivik, Itsik Manger, Zalman Reizin, Mark Wischnitzer.

Some of the organizations Shatzky corresponded with: American Jewish Committee, (showing Shatzky's involvement with the AJC Yearbook on Latin American Jewry. The AJC material contains reports and statistical information on Jewish communities in Latin America, as well as correspondence with communities in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Venezuela); Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, N.Y.; Congress for Jewish Culture, N.Y., Buenos Aires; Dubnow Fund for Yiddish Encyclopedia, Berlin, Paris; Enciclopedia Della Spettacolo, Rome; Encyclopedia of the Jewish Diaspora, Jerusalem; Farayn fun yidishe literatn un zhurnalistn (Association of Jewish Writers and Journalists), Warsaw; Hebrew Union College Library, Cincinnati; Jewish Book Council, N.Y., Jewish Daily Eagle, Montreal; Jewish Theological Seminary, N.Y.; Jewish Public Library, Montreal; New York Public Library; I. L. Peretz Farayn, Czortkow; Portugeesch Isrealitisch Seminarium Ets Haim, Amsterdam; New York State Psychiatric Institute and Hospital, N.Y.; Yiddish Pen Club, N.Y., Sigmund Freud Archives, N.Y.; Sociedad Habraica Argentina, Buenos Aires; Central Committee of Jews in Poland, Warsaw; Soncino Gesselschaft, Berlin; Yiddish Culture Society, N.Y.; YIVO, N.Y., Vilna, Buenos Aires; Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw.

The bibliographical series contains a bibliography of Old Yiddish Literature in print. To our knowledge this bibliography has never been published. It was commissioned by the YIVO Institute circa 1930 and was apparently never completed.

The Series IV: Personal Documents contains mainly personal letters of recommendation, diplomas, memorabilia, identification cards, but few photos.

The clippings cover the time period 1910s-1960s and contain a representative sampling of reviews and articles about Shatzky including biographical material. They are however, in very poor condition, and very fragile, especially early clippings of the 1910s-1920s which were not even handled because of their condition. The printed materials cover the years 1920s-1950s but occupy only 1 folder and account for only a portion of Shatzky's lecturing activities.

Research possibilities include: studies on the history of the Jews in Warsaw, from its beginnings to 1918, especially 1896-1918; studies in Old Yiddish Literature; Jews and psychiatry; Jews and medical questions; career and life of Jacob Shatzky; Jewish life in Latin America.

Historical Note

Jacob Shatzky was born in Warsaw in 1893 and received a traditional kheder education. After working temporarily as an office clerk, he studied history and philosophy at universities in Lemberg, Vienna, Berlin and Warsaw. In 1922 he received his Ph.D from the University of Warsaw. His dissertation title was "The Jewish Question in the Kingdom of Poland During the Paskiewicz Era."

Shatzky's career in Poland began in 1913 with the publication of a historical study in Izraelita . This was followed by other contributions to Polish-Jewish periodicals, including Evreiskaia Starina , Nasz Kurier , Bikher velt . During World War I, Shatzky enlisted and fought in Pilsudski's Legion, where he received several military decorations and was appointed lieutenant. In 1918 he was asked by the Polish Foreign Ministry to report on Jewish affairs in Poland, particularly the April pogroms in Vilna. When the Ministry did not react to his report he resigned from his post and taught history in Jewish high schools in Warsaw.

In 1923 Shatzky emigrated to the United States where he lived until his death. During this latter period of his life, he established himself as a prominent Jewish historian. Although his deepest interest was the history of the Jews in Poland, he published numerous studies on all aspects of Jewish history. In addition, he wrote extensively on Jewish literature, literary history, folklore and biography.

Shatzky's talents and interests found expression in the enthusiastic movement to found the YIVO Institute in Vilna as well as the American branch in New York, called Amopteyl (Amerikaner opteyl). He was one of the founders of the Amopteyl, and travelled and lectured extensively, campaigning for support.

During Shatzky's long association with the YIVO he assumed many positions. He was the secretary of the Amopteyl, a member of the YIVO Board of Directors, chairman of the YIVO Historian's Circle. He served on the Executive Committee, became research secretary of the Historical Section, and was a member of the Commission on Research. He was a co-editor of the YIVO bleter and the YIVO Annual of Jewish Social Science . YIVO was also directly involved in Shatzky's development as a historian, as most of his historical works were commissioned and published by the Institute.

Among the better known works published by the YIVO are ' The Chmielnicki Massacres of 1648 ' (1938), Jewish Educational Policy in Poland from 1806-1866 , (1943), and, The History of the Jews in Warsaw , (3 volumes, 1947-53).

From 1930 to 1956 Shatzky was affiliated with the New York State Psychiatric Institute where he was chief librarian. In this capacity, he built up the research library, creating one of the best psychiatric libraries in the world. An example of his ability as a collector, was his acquisition of the private library of Sigmund Freud for the Institute. In 1940 he co-authored the standard Psychiatric Dictionary with Leland E. Hinsie.

Throughout his lifetime, Shatzky was affiliated with numerous Jewish organizations. These included the World Congress for Jewish Culture, where he was co-editor of the Lexicon of Modern Yiddish Literature , and the Yiddish P.E.N. Club where he was president. He was also associated with organizations around the world, such as the YIVO in Argentina. In addition to his literary work, Shatzky enjoyed popularity as a lecturer. He frequently lectured in New York, at conferences, lecture series, events organized by Jewish groups. These included branches of the Workmen's Circle, and community centers. He travelled often to South America, as well, conducting highly successful speaking tours and campaigning at the same time for the YIVO Institute.

Two bibliographies have been published of Shatzky's works. The first was prepared by Mordecai Kosover and Menashe Unger, and published by the Amopteyl branch of YIVO in 1939. It lists 580 items. The second published in the Shatzky Book after his death, lists works written from 1939 to 1956.

At the time of his death, in June 1956, Shatzky was working on the fourth volume of the Geshikhte fun yidn in varshe ( History of the Jews in Warsaw ), which, at the time of the compilation of this inventory, is still unpublished.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions:

Open to researchers.

For more information, contact:

Chief Archivist

YIVO Institute for Jewish Research

Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street

New York, NY 10011

email: archives@yivo.cjh.org

Acquisition Method: Only part of the papers are deposited in the YIVO Archives. The materials were donated in installments. Some papers were given to the YIVO by Jacob Shatzky himself in the 1950s. The bulk of the collection was received in 1956 from Moshe Starkman, executor of Jacob Shatzky's literary estate. Other portions were possibly donated by Ida Shatzky in the late 1950s, by Ezekiel Lifschutz, editor of the Shatzky Book , and the final segment, by Eugene Willenberg Shatzky, Jacob Shatzky's adopted son, upon his mother Ida Shatzky's death, in 1964.

Separated Materials: Correspondence with Jacob Shatzky in the 1920s as a member of the board of the Amopteyl branch of YIVO was removed to the Records of the Amopteyl in the YIVO Archives, YIVO Institute for Jewish Research - Yidisher Visnshaftlekher Institut (New York) , 1192 , as it was a natural and organic part of the latter record group.

Related Materials: Only a portion of Jacob Shatzky's papers were deposited in the YIVO Archives, as in accordance with his will, part of them were given to the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People, Jerusalem, Israel.

Preferred Citation: Published citations should read as follows: Identification of item, date (if known); YIVO Archives; Jacob Shatzky Papers; RG 356; folder number.

Finding Aid Revision History: In 1956, upon receipt of the bulk of the collection, about 80% of it was sorted and placed in folders with folder descriptions. There were no series titles, however, and no arrangement within the folders. In 1981 most of the work consisted of establishment of series titles, arrangement within each folder and sorting and classifying about 20% of the material which was not in any order.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

Series 1: Series I: Correspondence, 1910-1963,
Series 2: Series II: Manuscripts and Notes, undated, 1936,
Series 3: Series III: Bibliographies and Catalogs, undated,
Series 4: Series IV: Personal Documents, undated,
Series 5: Series V: Printed Materials and Clippings, undated, 1910s-1956,
Series 6: Series VI: Miscellaneous Materials, undated,

Series VI: Miscellaneous Materials
Folder 221: Two recordings of speeches by Jacob Shatzky for Jewish Book Month.
Language of Material: In Yiddish and Spanish.
Note: Accession No. 16176 in YIVO Archives Book. Cassette relating to same subject.

Browse by Series:

Series 1: Series I: Correspondence, 1910-1963,
Series 2: Series II: Manuscripts and Notes, undated, 1936,
Series 3: Series III: Bibliographies and Catalogs, undated,
Series 4: Series IV: Personal Documents, undated,
Series 5: Series V: Printed Materials and Clippings, undated, 1910s-1956,
Series 6: Series VI: Miscellaneous Materials, undated,
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