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Series I: Performances of Yiddish Theater and Music: Plays, Programs, Playbills, and Posters, 1894 - 1942


Scope and Content Note

This series comprises the portion of the collection that was organized and indexed by Jonas Turkow at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York, in the late 1950s to mid 1960s.

Subseries 1, Play Manuscripts, contains approximately 220 complete manuscripts, along with some 100 items that are partial manuscripts, fragments, or groupings of actors' role books. The manuscripts are predominantly in Yiddish. The exceptions are: some 16 German translations produced as censor's copies; a Russian translation of a play by Moshe Nadir; a Polish translation of a play by Sholem Aleichem; several Russian-language manuscripts in the hand of M. Gershoy; and a small number of manuscripts that have no immediate connection to Yiddish-language theater (Subsubseries I.1.C).

Subseries 2, Programs, contains 524 programs for plays, arranged by author name; and 17 programs for concerts, recitations, and other events. Approximately 174 authors are represented, some 10% of them with at least five items. The authors represented with the most items are Jacob Gordin and Abraham Goldfaden (with 43 and 31 items, respectively); others with significant representation (19 items or more) include: S. Ansky, Sholem Asch, Joseph Lateiner, Boris Thomashefsky, and Isidore Zolatarevsky. Approximately 70% of the programs are from Eastern Europe, predominantly Poland; 24% from North America, mostly the United States; and the remaining items are from Western Europe and South America.

Subseries 3, Playbills and Fliers, comprises approximately 2,700 items advertising plays or other live performances, including dramatic and musical revues, recitations, and concerts, as well as many fliers advertising films. Subsubseries A contains just over 1,200 items arranged by name of actor/performer, under 159 different name headings; Subsubseries B contains just over 1,300 items arranged by geographic location, with approximately 60% from Poland; 15% from other European countries, especially Belgium, France, and Austria; 15% from the United States, especially New York City; and the remainder from other countries and regions, especially South America. Included are nine items pertaining to Hebrew-language theater in Palestine. Approximately 170 fliers for concerts, recitations, and other events are grouped together at the end of the subseries (Subsubseries I.3.C).

Subseries 4, Posters, comprises approximately 1,000 oversize posters stored in map drawers. These items are closely related to the playbills, and the folder titles and numbers correlate to those found in Subseries 3.

Please note that all citations of "Zylbercweig" (with volume number and column number) in the folder summaries in this series, or elsewhere in the finding aid, refer to Zalmen Zylbercweig's six-volume Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre), published between 1931 and 1969.


  • Creation: 1894 - 1942

Language of Materials

In Yiddish, German, Russian, English, and Polish, with scattered items in or using Hebrew, French, Romanian, Belarusian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Spanish, Portuguese, Hungarian, Czech, Slovak, Finnish, Ukrainian, Dutch, Danish, and Arabic.

Access Restrictions

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


17.9 Linear Feet (43 boxes; 829 folders; also includes approximately 1,000 posters stored in map drawers)


Arranged in the following subseries:

  1. Play Manuscripts, 1894-1942
  2. Programs, undated, 1908-1940
  3. Playbills and Fliers, 1900-1940
  4. Posters, 1898-1941

Repository Details

Part of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States