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Records of the Union of Yiddish Writers and Journalists in Vilna

Identifier: RG 55

Scope and Content Note

These are administrative records of the Union of Yiddish Writers and Journalists in Vilna (Fareyn fun Yidishe Literatn un Zhurnalistn in Vilne). They represent a fraction of the original union records but are nevertheless extensive enough to document the main activities of this organization, and the role of the Yiddish press and publishing in Vilna in the interwar period. Included are statutes; minutes of meetings, 1919-1939; correspondence about the Yiddish PEN Club; correspondence with newspapers; general correspondence; memoranda to the JDC (American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee) and the Vilna Kehillah about relief funds; financial records; membership lists; and newspaper clippings.


  • 1919-1940


Language of Materials

The collection is in Yiddish and Polish.

Access Restrictions

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

Use Restrictions

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Historical Note

The Union of Yiddish Writers and Journalists in Vilna (Fareyn fun Yidishe Literatn un Zhurnalistn in Vilne) was a professional association active in Vilna from 1916 until the outbreak of the Second World War. Its membership comprised newspaper editors and writers employed in Yiddish-language publishing enterprises, and other Yiddish authors residing in Vilna.

The union was founded in 1916 in wartime Vilna, which was then under German occupation. The main proponent for the union was the Bundist leader Beinush Michalewicz (Izbicki), who was joined by 15 writers who declared their approval. However, the group remained inactive until the end of the war. The union was revived in 1919 by S. Ansky, who wrote by-laws for the new association. Ansky became its honorary chairman, and A. Vayter its secretary. In April 1919 Vayter was killed during the pogrom perpetrated by the Polish military. The leadership of the union was passed on to S. Niger and, after his departure to the U.S., to Zalman Reisen. In the subsequent years the post of the chairman was occupied by S.L. Zitron, Moishe Zilburg, Falk Halpern, Dan Kaplanovich, and Moishe Shalit. A.I. Grodzenski served as the union’s secretary for most of its existence.

Among its activities, the union arranged for publication of books by its members, established a loan fund (“kassa”), introduced pensions for retired writers, organized strikes, conducted negotiations with publishers and newspaper owners, and arbitrated disputes. The union maintained contacts with Poland’s Union of Yiddish Writers and Journalists in Warsaw as well as with other regional unions. It was also instrumental in establishing a Yiddish Pen Club Center in Vilna and organizing a national conference of the Yiddish press in June 1927. Finally, it maintained a well-stocked reading room for the use of members.

The Union of Yiddish Writers and Journalist in Vilna was dissolved sometime after the Soviet invasion in September 1939, though exactly when is unknown.


0.625 Linear Feet (1.5 manuscript boxes)


The Yiddish Writers and Journalists Union (Yid. Fareyn fun Yidishe Literatn un Zhurnalistn in Vilne) was active in Vilna from 1916 until 1940. Its membership rose over the years to 47 persons. Union members were employed in a variety of Yiddish dailies and periodicals, and in publishing houses. The Union was dissolved during the Soviet occupation of Vilna, 1939-1941.


This collection has been arranged into one series. General correspondence is arranged chronologically.

Acquisition Information

These records were originally part of the YIVO Archives in Vilna and were received by YIVO in 1947 from the Offenbach Archival Depot (OAD), along with other surviving collections from the YIVO Institute in Vilna.

Related Material

This collection contains correspondence from the Union of Yiddish Writers and Journalists. A significant amount of correspondence addressed to the Union can be found in RG 3 (Yiddish Literature and Language).

Guide to the Records of the Union of Yiddish Writers and Journalists in Vilna, 1919-1940 RG 55
Under Revision
Processed by Marek Web
© 2012
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Processed with the assistance of a grant from the Gruss Lipper Family Foundation (2006) and encoded as part of the CJH Holocaust Resource Initiative, made possible by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany (2012). Processed, conserved and digitized as part of the Edward Blank YIVO Vilna Online Collections project (2015-2022).

Revision Statements

  • November 2019: Additional processing by Jessica Podhorcer for the Edward Blank YIVO Vilna Online Collections project.

Repository Details

Part of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research Repository

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