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Subsubseries A: Plays by Author Name, 1894 - 1939


Scope and Content Note

This subseries contains play manuscripts arranged alphabetically by author name. Approximately 120 authors are represented. Those represented with the most items include M. Gershoy, Joseph Lateiner, Isidore Zolatarevsky, Jacob Gordin, L. Boymvol, B. Gorin, Boris Thomashefsky, N. Rakow, and S. Libin. In some instances, the provenance of the manuscripts is the authors themselves. Included are manuscripts from B. Gorin, M. Gershoy, M. Tykocinski, Shifra Laufer, Victor Panitch, and Victor Spritzer. Items from David Herman include a small grouping of drafts and fragments, as well as a partial manuscript believed to be his translation of a Dutch play by Johan Fabricius (Folder 4213H), and materials related to his work as a theater director in staging Chone Gottesfeld's play "Mekhutonim" (Folders 4095-4096A) and Leo Robbins's "Provints" (Folder 4241). Other manuscripts that are possibly from the authors themselves include those by N. Gorelik, Jonathan Halpern, M. Tiktin, Nachman Mifelew, Leib Malach, Fishl Slomianski, Dov-Ber Slutski, Yankev Preger, Mordkhe Forlerer, and Akiva Fishkopf.

Most of the manuscripts are handwritten, typically in notebooks; some are typescripts. Two items are published copies of the plays that served as censor's copies (Folders 4102 and 4107); and approximately two dozen items are reproductions by mimeograph or hectograph.

While most of the works represented in this subseries are in Yiddish, 16 items are manuscripts in German translation (Folders 4101, 4104, 4142, 4162, 4169A, 4180, 4181, 4184C, 4184E, 4199, 4210, 4219, 4219A, 4220, 4221C, and 4257), sometimes in a Yiddish-inflected German. (Two items, Folders 4103 and 4245A, appear to be in transliterated Yiddish.) The German translations, dating from 1900 to 1918, are all copies that were submitted to a censor's office. In addition to the German translations, the subseries includes a Polish translation of Sholem Aleichem's play "Agentn" (Folder 4265); and M. Gershoy's Russian translation of Moshe Nadir's play "Di tragedye fun gornisht" (Folder 4206).

In all, some 45 works bear censors' markings, mostly pertaining to the Russian Empire. The censor's copies date from 1900 to 1919, with just a few from later on, specifically, one presented to a Russian military censor in the Ukraine in 1922 (Folder 4252), one to a Polish censor in Grodno in 1931 (Folder 4102), and two to Latvian censors in 1939 (Folders 4080 and 4214). The copies for the Russian censor typically have a cord threaded through the pages of the manuscript, held in place with an official red wax seal at the back. Of the German translations, two were presented to a German censor for performance in Berlin, in 1900-1901 (Folders 4101 and 4180); one to an Austrian censor for performance in Lemberg (Lwów; Lviv, Ukraine), in 1900 (Folder 4142); and two to Austrian and German censors, respectively, during the First World War (Folder 4104, dated 1915, and Folder 4184, dated 1918).

Although the plays are arranged as isolated items, according to author and title, several groupings of items by provenance are identifiable. Some 58 items belong to a cache of theater materials donated to YIVO Vilna by the theater director Nahum Lipovski (or, after his death, by his son Sasha), almost all of them bearing an identical Russian-language stamp of the N. S. Lipovski Theater (Vilna), with the date 6 February 1917 (as noted in the folder summaries).

Approximately 30 items with Russian-language labeling of a similar appearance on the covers are likely from the same theater library (noted in the folder summary as labeling from an "unidentified theater library"). One of those items has a Russian-language stamp on the title page for the L. L. Rappel Troupe (Folder 4072); in another instance, the same stamp of the L. L. Rappel Troupe is found on an accompanying booklet of song lyrics, while the manuscript of the play has postal markings showing that it was mailed to H. Eppelberg in Warsaw in 1909 (Folder 4065).

Also, there are some 20 short works (typically only a few leaves), in the form of mimeographed typescripts, that were apparently distributed to amateur theater groups. Some are identified as issued by the repertoire commission of the Yidishe Arbeter Klubn (Jewish Workers' Clubs), probably in the United States, for example, several works by G. R. Don (Folders 4133-4135).

Finally, a few manuscripts bear the stamp of the "Yidisher Artistn Fareyn in Poyln" (Yiddish Actors' Union in Poland; see Folders 4082, 4085, 4107, 4221, 4235, and 4264). An additional grouping of materials related to two different amateur theater groups (Folders 4146-4147) was also possibly collected by the actors' union.

One quarter or more of the plays are translations and/or adaptations of works in other languages, including Russian, German, English, Polish, Hebrew, Italian, and Romanian. Translations and adaptations are typically found under the name of the author of the original work (if the source is known), with the name of the translator noted in the folder summary. Following are translators credited with Yiddish translations that are listed under the author of the original work: J. Brakarz, M. Damnitsh, G. R. Don, Heshl Eppelberg, Felya Flakser, M. Gershoy, Jacob Gordin, Moishe Gradzenski, D. M. Hermalin, David Herman, Isidore Kaplan, Samuel Kuperman, J. Lauterbach, Nahum Lipovski, Chaim Sherman, Yankev Vaksman, Aaron Zeitlin, and Zalmen Zylbercweig. Translators credited with German-language translations listed under the author of the original work are M. Genfer, A. Kaminski, L. L. Rappel, L. Saslawsky, S. Schilling, and Leon Shtrasfogel (Strassfogel). M. Karpinowicz is credited for a stage adaptation of Sholem Aleichem's novel Stempenyu (Folder 4267).

In the following instances, the translated or adapted work is found under the name of the translator or adapter: Boymvol's adaptation of a work by Eduard Jacobson; Davidovitsh's dramatization of a poem by Peretz Markish; Don's adaptations of stories by Sam Liptzin, Michael Gold, and Yosl Cutler; Gorin's adaptations of works by Charles Dickens, Sir Walter Scott, Aaron Wolfsohn-Halle, and Berthold Auerbach; Gershoy's translation of a novella by Thomas Krag; Vaksman's translations of the German-language librettos for the operettas "Khaya" and "Shoshana di tsnue"; Meyerson's translation of a German-language libretto for the operetta "Der zenger oys Palermo"; Forlerer's translation of a play by Sean O'Casey; Kaplan's translation of a play by Adolf Stoltze; and Kornblith's adaptation of a play by Maurice Maeterlinck.

Also, in a few instances, the manuscript contains two different works. In such cases the item is filed under the author/title of one of the works, with information about the second work given in the folder summary. Following are works that, for this reason, do not appear under the author heading that one would expect:

Bernstein, Henry, "Yisroel; Der antisemit" (Folder 4237A)

Davidman, Shloyme, "Khaver Lenin hot geratevet" (Folder 4224)

Hurwitz, Moishe, "Shloyme hameylekh" (Folder 4264)

Richter, Moishe, "Tsu shpet" (Folder 4104A)


  • 1894 - 1939

Language of Materials

Predominantly in Yiddish, with some German, Russian, and Polish, as well as occasional use of Latvian, Romanian, and English.

Access Restrictions

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


9.6 Linear Feet (23 boxes; 277 folders)


Arranged alphabetically by author name in Yiddish. In the case of multiple titles under a given author name, the order of titles is arbitrary.

Repository Details

Part of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States