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Theater and Film Poster Collection of Abram Kanof

Identifier: P-978

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of 331 posters representing 205 different theater and film productions. The earliest was produced in 1899 and the latest in 1970. The majority of the posters represent one theatrical performance. The production with the most posters is "The Green Millionaire," presented in 1915 in New York City. These posters are an important resource of information regarding the state of Yiddish theater and the cultural and creative life of the Jewish immigrant in the early 1900s, especially on the Lower East Side of New York City.


  • 1899-1970
  • Majority of material found within 1915 - 1940


Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers, except items that may be restricted due to their fragility, or privacy.

Use Restrictions

No permission is required to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection, as long as the usage is scholarly, educational, and non-commercial. For inquiries about other usage, please contact the Director of Collections and Engagement at

For reference questions, please email:

Biographical Note

Abram Kanof was born December 25, 1903 in Dniepropetrovsk, Russia and moved with his family to Brooklyn, New York in 1905. He graduated from Columbia College in 1924 and received his medical degree from the State University of New York Medical School in 1928. In 1931 he married Frances Pascher, a dermatologist. From 1948-1962 Kanof was the Chairman of the Jewish Museum in New York, where in 1956 he founded the Tobe Pascher Workshop for the creation of modern Jewish ceremonial art. He became a member of the American Jewish Historical Society and served as the society’s president from 1961-1964.

Abram and Frances Kanof moved to Raleigh, North Carolina in 1971 where they became involved with the North Carolina Museum of Art, organizing an exhibit on Jewish ceremonial art in 1974, which led to the founding of a permanent Judaica Gallery in 1975, for which the Kanofs raised the funds and assembled the collection, also donating many of their own objects. Abram Kanof also became an associate curator, trustee and docent at the museum, giving tours and lectures until a short time before his death on March 18, 1999.


331 Artifacts (107 map folders)

Language of Materials



Spanish; Castilian


This collection contains 331 Yiddish theater and film posters, mainly from the first half of the twentieth century, from North and South America.


Bruce Rosen, Nathan M. Kaganoff and Susan Landy arranged the collection in 1972 and their arrangement scheme has been retained. The Yiddish spelling of performance titles found on the posters has been retained, although this is often erroneous and the spelling of specific performance names varies greatly among many of the posters. In all but a few instances where the original form was misleading or unclear, no attempt has been made to correct the spelling. Yiddish titles are noted only when they occur on the poster. English and Spanish titles are listed as they are found on the posters, even when that title is not a direct translation of the Yiddish title. When no English or Spanish title is noted, the Yiddish title has been translated.

Within the contents list, the folder column refers to the drawer and folder number where the poster is found and the item column refers to the AJHS accession number. The last three digits of the accession number correspond to the original item number in the 1972 catalog and letters following the item number indicate multiple copies of the same poster.

The collection is divided into five series:

Physical Location

Located in AJHS New York, NY

Other Finding Aid

Additional information can be found in the 1972 created by Bruce Rosen, Nathan M. Kaganoff and Susan Landy: Catalog of the Abram and Frances Pascher Kanof Collection of Yiddish Theatre and Motion Picture Posters.

Acquisition Information

In 1966 Dr. Abram and Mrs. Frances Pascher Kanof donated approximately 600 posters of American Jewish interest to the American Jewish Historical Society. The 331 Yiddish theater and film posters in this collection were part of that accession.

Digitization Note

The posters in this collection were digitized in their entirety with the exception of duplicates (listed as a, b, c, etc.) and posters missing at the time of digitization. Missing posters are indicated by a “MISSING” note in the title. Posters that were included in the 1972 catalog but missing at the time of processing are listed with no folder number (NONE/NONE). These missing posters were not digitized. Posters 1967.001.095, 1967.001.125, and 1967.001.313 were among a selection of posters digitized in 2011; the originals of these three posters later went missing. In the case that folder numbers are listed for a missing poster and no link to a digital object exists, the poster was present during processing, not among those digitized in 2011, and was missing at the time of digitization in 2013-2015.

Related Material

The American Jewish Historical Society Archives has some Yiddish theater collections, including the Adler Family Papers, P-890; Molly Picon Papers, P-38; Ben Gailing Papers, P-607; Friends of Ida Kaminska Theatre Foundation Records, I-122; and the Ludwig Satz Papers, P-844, as well as an oral history of Abram Kanof. The AJHS Library also has many books about Yiddish theater, particularly on the Lower East Side.

The YIVO Archives and Library have a great deal of material about Yiddish theater as well, including the personal papers and institutional records of various individuals and organizations connected with Yiddish theater. Among these are the papers of Sholem Perlmutter, RG 289; Esther Rachel Kaminska Theater Museum Archive, RG 8; Ida Kaminska and Meir Melman, RG 994; Abraham Goldfaden, RG 219; Jacob Gordin, RG 530; Molly Picon, RG 738; Jacob P. Adler, RG 1177; Celia Adler, RG 399; Maurice Schwartz, RG 498; Joseph Buloff and Luba Kadison, RG 1146; Ossip Dymow, RG 469; Peretz Hirschbein, RG 833; David Pinski, RG 204; the Yiddish Theater, RG 118, and Yiddish Theater Photographs, RG 119, and many more.

Processing Information

Posters were backed with muslin soon after accession in 1966. David Pokross, later the President of AJHS, established the Leo Wasserman Foundation Fellowship circa 1969 to reward an outstanding graduate student in the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University in the field of American Jewish history. During the academic year of the award, the recipient worked at the American Jewish Historical Society’s Library on the Brandeis campus on projects which promoted the Society's goals to disseminate information on the American Jewish experience. The fellowship was awarded by the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University, in consultation with the American Jewish Historical Society. During the 1971-1972 academic year, the student receiving this grant was Bruce Rosen who was assigned the task of arranging the posters and beginning the preliminary work of cataloging them. Nathan M. Kaganoff and Susan Landy helped create the catalog. Additional processing was completed in 2013 by Rachel S. Harrison.

Guide to the Theater and Film Poster Collection of Abram Kanof, 1899-1970 P-978
Originally processed by Bruce Rosen, Nathan M. Kaganoff and Susan Landy. Additional processing by Rachel S. Harrison
© 2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English and Yiddish.
Processed as part of the Jewish Performing Arts Digital Archive Initiative.

Revision Statements

  • December 2015: Missing notes added to posters 095 and 242a by Leanora Lange.
  • January 2016: Added dao links by Eric Fritzler.
  • February 2016: Digitization note updated and links fixed by Leanora Lange.
  • November 2020: RJohnstone: post-ASpace migration cleanup.

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States