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Subseries 2: Programs, undated, 1908-1940


Scope and Content Note

This subseries contains a portion of the theater programs that Jonas Turkow processed at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York, in the late 1950s to mid 1960s. Turkow arranged the programs for plays alphabetically by the name of the author of the text. He cataloged the programs by creating an index card for each item, on which he recorded (by hand, in Yiddish) basic information, including the author and title of the work performed, as well as the composer of the music if applicable; the name and location of the theater, if given; and the names of participants such as director, assistant director, conductor, and prompter, as well as featured actors, and, occasionally, other cast members. (These index cards continue to be preserved at YIVO.)

Reflecting the system in place at YIVO at that time, the items within each folder received stamped, consecutive page numbers. Unlike the method used in the case of the play manuscripts in Subseries I.1 (which received stamped numbers on every individual page of the manuscript), the items in the current subseries, which often have multiple pages, each received only a single stamped (or, on occasion, handwritten) number. The "page numbers" (effectively, item numbers) in this subseries extend from no. 175167 to no. 177690. When items needed to be inserted, Turkow created additional page numbers by appending letters to the numbers (using both the Roman and the Yiddish alphabet).

Jonas Turkow processed and cataloged in the above manner a total of nearly 3,000 programs, including some 2,500 programs for performances of plays, and some 500 programs for various other events, such as concerts and recitations (grouping the latter together at the end, without arranging them in any specific order). However, he subsequently removed most of the programs from their original folders and used them to create new groupings of materials, organized differently – not by author name but by the name of the featured performer (see Series II), or by the geographic locality where the performance took place, as well as specific troupes or theaters (see Series III). On the index cards for the programs that were shifted elsewhere, he recorded cross-references indicating the heading under which the item was subsequently placed; slips of paper with the cross-references were also placed in the original folders from which the items were removed.

The current subseries contains 541 programs that Turkow left in place in their original folders, representing a little less than 20% of the total number of programs he processed. Included are 524 programs for plays, arranged alphabetically by author name, and, at the end, 17 programs pertaining to concerts and recitations (Folders 4801-4805).

The 541 programs in the present subseries are dated from 1908 to 1940, with the majority undated but likely within that range. Approximately 160 different authors are represented. The authors represented with the most items are: S. Ansky (20 items), Sholem Asch (24), Abraham Goldfaden (31), Jacob Gordin (43), Joseph Lateiner (26), Boris Thomashefsky (17), and Isidore Zolatarevsky (24). Others represented with at least five and as many as 12 items are: Leonid Andreyev, Mark Arnstein, Sofia Belaia (works translated from Russian), Yitzak Dov Berkowitz (works translated from Hebrew), Abraham Blum, L. Boymvol, Chone Gottesfeld, Max Gabel, Ossip Dymov, Peretz Hirschbein, Henrik Ibsen (works translated from Norwegian), Solomon Libin, Isidore Lillian, Sholem Aleichem, and Yankev Vaksman. Occasional items pertain to performances in which only an excerpt from the given work was performed, as part of a larger program; and two items are fliers for films based on works by Yiddish authors – The Dybbuk, under S. Ansky, and In di poylishe velder (W lasach polskich; In the Polish Woods), under Joseph Opatoshu (many other such film fliers are found in Subseries I.3 Playbills and Fliers).

With respect to the geographic origin of the programs, the best represented regions are Eastern Europe (around 70%), predominantly Poland; and North America (around 24%), specifically, the United States (with only a few items from Canada). Otherwise, there are scattered items from various cities across Western Europe (the best represented being Paris, London, and Antwerp, with just a few items each), and a handful of items from South America (specifically Brazil and Argentina). The single best represented locality by far, with some 166 items, is Vilna (Vilnius, Lithuania), which during the interwar period was part of the Second Polish Republic and known as Wilno; the next largest grouping of items is from New York City (some 74 items). Two other localities with significant representation are the Polish cities of Warsaw (55 items) and Łódź (38). Over 20 other Polish localities are represented with only one or several items each, with the largest of those groupings being from Koło (7 items) and Kraków (5). Among the programs from the United States, the largest groupings besides New York are programs from Philadelphia (21 items), Chicago (15), and Detroit (5). Among other notable cities represented is Lemberg (Lviv, Ukraine), with 12 items, most of them apparently from the interwar period when the city was part of Poland and known as Lwów. Also notable is a grouping of six Russian-language items from Nikolaev (Mykolaiv, Ukraine), dated between 1912 and 1914, and all from the same theater troupe. Also, there are seven items from Riga, including four Russian-language items dated between 1908 and 1910, and three from the interwar period.


  • undated, 1908-1940

Language of Materials

In Yiddish, Polish, Russian, English, and German, with occasional items in or using French, Finnish, Romanian, Hebrew, Latvian, Spanish, and Dutch.

Access Restrictions

The collection has been digitized and is available online without restrictions. The physical collection is closed.


3.3 Linear Feet (8 boxes; 174 folders)


Generally arranged alphabetically by author name in Yiddish, with a small group of unarranged programs at the end, pertaining to concerts, recitations, and other events.

Repository Details

Part of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States