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Scope of the YIVO Archives Collections

The YIVO Archives was founded in Vilna in 1926, a year after the founding of the YIVO Institute in 1925. It holds about 1,800 separate provenance based collections, registered as "record groups," occupying about 17,000 linear feet and comprising an estimated 23,000,000 documents, manuscripts, printed materials, posters, photographs, films, sound recordings, art and artifacts. The collections pertain to Jewish life around the world, focusing on the 19th and 20th centuries, with some documents dating from the 14th through 18th centuries. The collections, which include papers of individuals, records of institutions, and subject collections, concentrate on four main fields, reflecting YIVO's historic research interests:

  1. Yiddish language, literature and culture, including the Yiddish press and theater;
  2. European history with a focus on East European Jewish history;
  3. The Holocaust and its aftermath;
  4. Jewish life in the United States with a focus on the period of migration from 1880-1960.

Aside from these primary subjects, the YIVO Archives holds materials on a wide variety of themes relating to Jewish life in many countries, including Western Europe, the Americas, Israel, Africa, and the Far East.

Languages of Documents in the Archives

The primarily languages of the YIVO Archives are English, Yiddish, Hebrew, Russian, Polish, French, and German. There are also documents in other languages, such as Czech, Ladino, Lithuanian, Dutch. YIVO staff can guide researchers but cannot translate documents for them.

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