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Subseries 14: Shatzky, Jacob (שאַצקי, יעקב). Papers, undated, 1916, 1923-1940


Scope and Contents

This subseries mainly consists of a scrapbook created by Jacob Shatzky containing articles about Abraham Goldfaden and the beginnings of Yiddish theater. Also included are a few miscellaneous materials: two items of correspondence; and some proof pages pertaining to his editing of a scholarly volume about Yiddish theater, Arkhiv far der geshikhte fun yidishn teater un drame (Archive for the History of Yiddish Theater), published by the YIVO Institute in Vilna in 1930.

The scrapbook contains articles by Shatzky, Zalmen Zylbercweig, Nachman Mayzel, B. Gorin, Shmuel Niger, and others. Two items in it concern the Hebrew theater "Habimah."


  • Creation: undated, 1916, 1923-1940


Language of Materials

In Yiddish, with occasional Hebrew and English.

Access Restrictions

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

Biographical Note

Jacob Shatzky was a historian and librian. Born in Warsaw, in 1893 or 1894, he received a traditional education in a cheder, as well as private tutoring. He went on to study at the universities in Lemberg (Lwów; Lviv, Ukraine), Vienna, and Berlin, before completing his doctorate in Warsaw, in 1922, with a dissertation on "The Jewish Question in the Kingdom of Poland During the Paskiewicz Era." Toward the end of that year, he immigrated to the United States, and settled in New York City.

Around 1925, when the Yidisher Visnshaftlekher Institut (YIVO) was established in Vilna, Shatzky played a leading role in the organization of an American branch. Later, after the reestablishment of YIVO's headquarters in New York, in 1940, Shatzky headed its historical section and served as co-editor of its journal YIVO bleter.

Shatzky was a prolific author of scholarly books and articles on varied aspects of modern Jewish history. His major work was an unfinished history of the Jews of Warsaw, Geshikhte fun Yidn in Varshe, of which three volumes were published between 1947 and 1953.

The history of Yiddish theater was one of his principal areas of interest. Besides publishing numerous articles, he also edited several volumes concerning Yiddish theater, including the 1926 collection Goldfaden-Bukh (Goldfaden Book), which included biographical and bibliographical materials on the author, composer, and theater entrepreur Abraham Goldfaden, traditionally regarded as the founder of Yiddish theater. (The publication year 1926 marked the 50th anniversary of the beginnings of Goldfaden's theater troupe, in Iași, Romania, in 1876.) In 1930, Shatzky edited the collection Arkhiv far der geshikhte fun Yidishn teater un drame (Archive of the History of Yiddish Theater), published by YIVO.

From 1929 until his death, Shatzky was librarian of the New York State Psychiatric Institute, housed at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City. His wife Ida (née Willenberg, formerly Weinberg), whom he met in the United States, was also an immigrant from Poland; they had one son, Eugene, Ida's son from a previous marriage, who later became an actor under the name Gene Benton.

Jacob Shatzky died in New York City on 13 June 1956.


"Jacob Shatzky, Historian, Was 61." New York Times, 14 June 1956.

Shapiro, Robert Moses. "Shatzky, Yankev." YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe. 15 October 2010.

Zylberzweig, Zalmen (ed.). "Shatski, Yankev, Dr." Leksikon fun yidishn teater. Vol. 4. New York: Elisheva, 1963. Published under the auspices of the Hebrew Actors' Union of America. cols. 2459-2471. Includes a bibliography of Shatzky's writings on Yiddish theater, cols. 2464-2468.


0.25 Linear Feet (1 flat box; 4 folders)

Repository Details

Part of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States