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Moses Kligsberg Papers

Identifier: RG 719

Scope and Content Note

The Papers of Moses Kligsberg (1937-1974) are arranged in fifteen series that include correspondence with individuals and organizations, personal papers, his writings, projects, and research materials, as well as YIVO correspondence, its administrative materials, programs and projects, and publicity materials. Records of the Jewish Labor Bund and the United Jewish Survivors of Nazi Persecution are also part of the collection.

The collection reflects the diverse projects that Moses Kligsberg worked on at YIVO, in his personal research and writings, and within the Bundist and survivors' community after World War II. Approximately one third of the collection is made up of materials related to these projects. There is a wealth of material (manuscripts, articles and writings by others, research notes) related to Moses Kligsberg's major scholarly interests, among which Jewish youth movements, Jewish immigrants, the Bund and the Jewish labor movement, and the use of autobiographical materials in sociological research were the most prominent ones.

There are manuscripts (some with corrections and edits) for virtually all of Moses Kligsberg's important articles, including "Child and Adolescent Behavior Under Stress" and "Di yidishe yugnt bavegung tsvishn beyde velt milkhomes" [The Jewish youth movement between the Two World Wars]. There are also several copies of the research report and proposal that Moses Kligsberg worked on as a YIVO Aspirant (research fellow) in Vilna in 1940, for which he was invited to New York to continue to work. Many of the manuscripts in the collection are based on analyses of the YIVO autobiographies contests, and there are various notes, some correspondence and a few primary source materials about the contests. Some of Moses Kligsberg's correspondence with individuals also pertains to his personal research and writing projects.

Also of interest are manuscripts for two books projects on which Moses Kligsberg worked in an editorial capacity: Meyer Kushner's memoir about the Cloakmakers' Union, and Ber I. Rozen's posthumously published collection of portraits of the Polish Jewish community in the interwar years.

Included in the collection are the papers of the United Jewish Survivors of Nazi Persecution (Series XII), a membership organization for Holocaust survivors for which Moses Kligsberg played a significant administrative role. The papers include over 80 membership questionnaires that include information on time spent in concentration and labor camps and the fate of respondents' families. Also of interest is correspondence from the Axis Victims League and the organization's by-laws.

Moses Kligsberg's active involvement in and deep convictions about the Jewish Labor Bund are in evidence throughout the collection, in particular in Series XII, Series IV, and in the personal correspondence. The bulk of these materials are in Series XII. As secretary of the Foreign Delegation of the Yugnt Bund 'Tsukunft', Moses Kligsberg's papers include correspondence with Bundist leaders across the United States and throughout the world, largely about reestablishing post-war Bund organizations and building an active Jewish labor movement. There is a substantial correspondence in Series XII from three New York leaders: Emanuel Nowogrodsky, Shlomo Mendelson, and Emanuel Patt. Also of interest are the texts of various resolutions, speeches and articles on behalf of the Bund, on topics including Palestine, Zionism, and the future of socialism. There are ample materials relating to activities of the Bundist youth groups Tsukunft and SKIF in New York and elsewhere, including Subseries 4, which relates to the summer camp Hemshekh. Series IV includes writings by Moses Kligsberg about the Bund and its members and activities before World War II.

A more personal side of the post-war Bund can be seen in Moses Kligsberg's correspondence (Series I) with friends and colleagues from the Polish Bund and especially from the Tsukunft – mostly from Warsaw, and now scattered throughout the world, including Shanghai, France, Canada, Argentina, Cuba, Mexico, Australia, and Israel. Much of this correspondence is personal in nature, and deals with emigration, establishing new homes and families, and assisting refugees (often the writers themselves). However, there is also frequent discussion of socialist ideals, the future of the Bund, and reminiscences of activities past. The correspondence is notable for the blending of personal and "movement" themes, and paints a picture of an active, committed network of friends and activists rebuilding after the war. The bulk of the correspondence consists of correspondence to and from Moses Kligsberg himself. However, where letters from principle correspondents of Moses Kligsberg were addressed to other YIVO staff members, these were also included in this series and filed together with other correspondence from that individual.

Approximately half of the collection consists of materials related to Moses Kligsberg's thirty-five year association with YIVO, and includes administrative, publicity, and project materials. Because Moses Kligsberg was involved with so many diverse projects and administrative tasks at YIVO, the collection reflects the broad range of YIVO activities during the 1940s-1970s - from public programs, scholarly conferences, and educational courses to research projects and publications, archival and library collecting, and a radio program. The correspondence with individuals also reflects YIVO's active role in the Jewish community, in particular with war refugees and immigrants to the United States.

The administrative materials include internal correspondence and memos, correspondence with individuals and organizations, notes and reports from Executive Committee and Board of Directors meetings. There is correspondence and reports of activities from several YIVO outposts, including Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Copenhagen, Denmark, and Melbourne, Australia.

The rest of the YIVO materials relate to programs and projects of the organization. There are programs, publicity materials and abstracts from annual academic conferences, colloquia, and exhibitions, as well as syllabi and course listings for educational programs. Of interest are the materials relating to the 1948 UCLA Summer Session in which Max Weinreich taught two courses, and out of which the I.L. Cahan Folklore Club was born. There are also manuscripts and other materials relating to YIVO publications, notably an early draft of Pinchas Schwartz's introduction to the Kruk diary. Although Moses Kligsberg did work on the Yiddish publication of the Kruk diary, no other materials from the diary were found in the collection. There is a small amount of material about various YIVO essay contests, including instructions and announcements for the 1942 autobiographies contest. Also of interest are the materials relating to YIVO's hour-long weekly radio program on the WEVD broadcast station. Included are scripts, press releases, and correspondence about the program.

The collection includes notes, memos, correspondence, articles, and other materials used by Moses Kligsberg in editing the quarterly newsletterYedies fun yivo (YIVO News), newspaper clippings, and photographs.


  • 1928-1974


Language of Materials

The collection is mostly in Yiddish and English. Correspondence with family and some friends is in Polish. Some documents are also in French, German, Swedish, Russian, and Japanese.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to the public. Permission to publish part or parts of the collection must be obtained in writing from the YIVO Archives.

Subseries 7: Proposals - Grants of Series IX: YIVO Programs and Projects is closed to researchers.

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information users should contact:

YIVO Archives, YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY, 10011

Biographical Note

Moses David Kligsberg (1901-1975) was born in Warsaw, Poland to a family of rabbinic lineage. His father, Icek Matys Kligsberg, was a full-time scholar and his mother, Gitla (née Rygal), managed a store. Moses Kligsberg attended kheyder until the age of ten, at the same time studying secular subjects privately. He later attended a Polish state school, from which he graduated just before the First World War. He attended evening courses at the Warsaw Business School for one year, after which he enrolled in a Jewish vocational school. There Moses Kligsberg studied electrical engineering, graduating in 1920. His interest then switched to the humanities, and in 1922 he enrolled in the Philosophy Department at the Free University of Warsaw, which he attended for two years but never graduated.

In 1917 Moses Kligsberg joined the Yugnt Bund Tsukunft, the young people's organization of the Jewish Labor Bund. He was a member of the Central Committee of the Tsukunft and secretary of its Warsaw branch. From 1921 to 1923 he worked as a librarian at the Groser Bibliotek in Warsaw. Thereafter he taught natural science, mathematics and general studies to youth workers in night schools run by the unions. From 1930 until the outbreak of the Second World War, Moses Kligsberg was Secretary of the Gezelshaft tsu Farshpreytn Bildung tsvishn Yidishe Arbeter (Organization for Educating Jewish Workers), and ran their night school. At the same time he was involved in numerous cultural and educational projects for the Tsukunft.

Throughout this time, Moses Kligsberg was engaged in a systematic and intensive program of self-education. He had stopped attending university classes after two years, partly for financial reasons and partly because he preferred independent study. He studied mostly philosophy, sociology, and psychology.

In 1926 Moses Kligsberg became a regular contributor to the journal Yugnt veker (Young Worker) in Warsaw, for which he wrote various popular science articles on sociological, psychological, historical and economic themes for the next fifteen years. He also contributed to the Polish monthly journal Nasza valka (Our Struggle), mostly in the form of reviews of scholarly books and occasionally also longer articles. In 1938 Moses Kligsberg became the editor of the journal Naye kultur (New Culture), to which he was also a contributor. He also published articles in the Warsaw journals Undzer tsayt (Our Time) and Foroys (Forward).

In 1938 Moses Kligsberg's monograph Yugnt psikhologye un sotsialistishe dertsiung (Youth Psychology and Socialist Education) was published by the Kultur Lige. Thus began Moses Kligsberg's specialization in 'yugnt forshung' (youth research). In 1939 he sent the manuscript of his unpublished article "Di psikhologye fun shpil un estetishn genus" to YIVO in Vilna, and was then invited by Max Weinreich to participate in the YIVO Aspirant (YIVO research fellow). With the outbreak of the second World War Moses Kligsberg found refuge in as-yet unoccupied Vilna as a YIVO aspirant. There he began a project of analyzing the collection of youth autobiographies under the title "Perzenlekhe tsiln un gezelshaftlekhe idealn bay der yidisher yugnt in poyln". In 1940, when the Soviet army occupied Vilna, Moses Kligsberg sent his collected notes and materials to the newly-established YIVO in New York.

Moses Kligsberg was granted a special visa and came to New York via Kobe (Japan) in April, 1941. He joined the YIVO staff as Max Weinreich's assistant in charge of research projects. In that capacity, after the war Moses Kligsberg corresponded with East European Jewish refugees around the world, asking them to collect materials for YIVO again. As secretary of the contest committee, he organized and administered three YIVO essay contests: 1) Autobiographies of Immigrants (1942); 2) The Experience of Jewish soldiers in World War II (1946); and 3) Supplementary Contest among participants in the autobiographies contest (1953). He was the project manager for the Yiddish language publication of Herman Kruk's Vilna Ghetto diary and oversaw several other YIVO publication projects. He was also a consultant to the Max Weinreich Center for Advanced Jewish Studies.

For over thirty years Moses Kligsberg was in charge of all publicity work for YIVO. In 1950 he was appointed editor of the Yedies fun yivo (YIVO News), which position he retained until the end of his days. He wrote the Yiddish version of the Yedies, which was originally translated to English by Shlomo Noble, and later was translated and written by others.

In the late 1940s and 1950s, Moses Kligsberg was an active member of the I.L. Cahan Folklore Club at YIVO, and was on the editorial committee for their journal Yidisher folklor. From 1963 on, Kligsberg also coordinated, produced and wrote scripts for the YIVO radio program on WEVD broadcast station.

Though lacking in formal degrees, Moses Kligsberg had scholarly ambitions and considered himself a sociologist. It was his lifelong ambition to write a sociological analysis of Jewish youth in Poland based on the Vilna YIVO autobiographies which came out of the contest that took place before World War II. The book never came to be, but Kligsberg wrote and published numerous articles related to the autobiographies and/or Jewish youth in YIVO Bleter / The YIVO Annual, and other journals. Notably, his 100-page article "Di yidishe yugnt bavegung in poyln tsvishn beyde velt milkhomes" (The Jewish Youth Movement in Poland between the Two World Wars), appeared in Studies on Polish Jewry 1919-1939 in 1974.

Since his arrival in the United States, Moses Kligsberg was an active member of the American branch of the Jewish Labor Bund. He was secretary of the Foreign Delegation of the Tsukunft, and as such maintained correspondence with Bund and Tsukunft leaders around the world, many of whom were also his personal friends from Poland. Moses Kligsberg helped organize and coordinate Bund youth groups and activities in New York, including a branch of SKIF, the children's movement of the Bund. He was an editor, together with Alexander Erlich and Sholem Hertz, of Yugnt veker, the magazine published by the Bund in the United States. Moses Kligsberg was also a founder and driving spirit of Camp Hemshekh, the Catskills (New York) summer camp run by the Bund from 1959-1978.

Moses Kligsberg also played a central administrative role in the United Jewish Survivors of Nazi Persecution (aka Katsetler Farband), a membership organization for Holocaust survivors in North America and Mexico.

Moses Kligsberg's personal life was marked by sorrow. In 1938 he married Mala Bergman in Warsaw. They had one daughter, Guta, born in 1939. When Moses Kligsberg went to Vilna later that year, he was forced to leave his family behind. He corresponded with his wife Mala until 1942. Moses Kligsberg made several attempts through U.S. and Canadian authorities to bring his wife and daughter to the United States, but was continually denied. They remained in the Warsaw Ghetto and eventually perished in the Holocaust.

Moses Kligsberg never remarried. He settled in the Bronx in the Amalgamated Houses, the home to a large community of Polish Bundists, Holocaust survivors and refugees. He maintained close contact and correspondence with many friends and acquaintances in New York and around the world, and was dedicated to helping war refugees. He was much beloved by young people and maintained devoted friendships with many of his friends' children, students at YIVO, and campers and counselors from Camp Hemshekh.

Unknown to most people during his lifetime was Moses Kligsberg's dedicated pursuit of his musical passion. From 1943 to 1954 he was enrolled at Teachers College of Columbia University, where he studied music history, composition and orchestration, as well as violin and piano. He also took private music lessons. For several summers he participated in the summer Composers' Conference at Bennington College, Vermont, where he presented and made recordings of several original compositions. Like many 'Tsukunftists' of his generation, Kligsberg loved the outdoors and was an avid mountain climber, often taking hiking trips through the northeast United States and Europe.

Moses Kligsberg died in New York on June 25, 1975 after a prolonged illness.

Selected Published Works by Moses Kligsberg<lb/><lb/>

  1. "American Jewish Soldiers on Jews and Judaism," YIVO Annual of Jewish Social Science 5, (1950): 256-265.
  2. "Amerikaner yiddisher zelner vegn zikh un vegn yidn," YIVO bleter 31-32, (1948): 233-243.
  3. "Child and Adolescent Behavior Under Stress," YIVO (1965): 34.
  4. "The Golden Land (Jewish Immigrants in America: Self Portrait)," Commentary (May 1948): 467-472.
  5. "Jewish Immigrants in Business: a Sociological Study," American Jewish Historical Quarterly 56, no. 3 (1966): 283-318.
  6. "Khayim Shloyme Kazdan: A mentsh – a feldz" (Chaim Shlomo Kazdan: A man – a rock) Kultur un lebn (May-June 1973): 14-16.
  7. "Materialn tsu a terminologye fun psikhologye," (Materials for a Psychological Terminology) Yidishe shprakh 4 (1950): 16-22.
  8. "Sotsial psikhologishe problemen arum dem YIVO konkurs af oytobiografies," YIVO bleter 21 (1943): 262-275.
  9. "Socio-Psychological Problems Reflected in the YIVO Autobiography Contest," YIVO Annual of Jewish Social Science 1 (1946): 241-249.
  10. "Di yidishe yugnt bavegung in poyln tsvishn beyde velt milkhomes (a sotsiologishe shtudye)" (The Jewish Youth Movement in Poland Between the Two World Wars (A Sociological Study) Studies on Polish Jewry, 1919-1939, ed. Joshua A. Fishman. (New York: YIVO, 1974): 137-228.
  11. "A zeltn bukh vegn a zeltener institutsye" (A unique book about a unique institution). Review of Medem Sanitorye bukh, ed. Chaim Kazdan et al. Kultur un lebn (November-December 1971): 9-10.


21 Linear Feet


The collection consists of the general, personal and professional correspondence of Moses Kligsberg, manuscripts for published and unpublished works, project proposals and outlines, research materials, printed matter and other records relating to Moses Kligsberg's involvement with the Bund and with Jewish refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe, to his functions at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, and to his scholarly interests. Included are Moses Kligsberg's manuscripts on the subjects of Jewish sociology, psychology, youth, and political matters. The collection contains a great deal of YIVO administrative and publicity materials, among others editorial records of the Yedies fun yivo (YIVO News) and YIVO radio programs; materials on the Bund; records of the United Jewish Survivors of Nazi Persecution. Besides the personal documents and both personal and organizational correspondence, the collection also includes original musical compositions, acetate recordings, magnetic reels, and photographs.


The collection is divided into sixteen topical series.

  1. Series I: Correspondence with Individuals,1941-1974
  2. Series II: Correspondence with Organizations, 1942-1973
  3. Series III: Personal papers of Moses Kligsberg, 1939-1974
  4. Subseries 1: Immigration, Naturalization, and Visas, 1939-after 1945
  5. Subseries 2: Personal Papers, 1941-1974
  6. Subseries 3: Musical Education and Sheet Music, undated, 1948, 1953
  7. Subseries 4: Acetates and Recorded Compositions by Moses Kligsberg,1951-1956
  8. Subseries 5: Aspirantur (Research Training Division) at YIVO, 1941-1942
  9. Subseries 6: Patt Family Materials, 1956-1963
  10. Series IV: Writings by Moses Kligsberg, 1939-1972
  11. Series V: Projects of Moses Kligsberg, 1940-1973
  12. Subseries 1: Project Proposals and Outlines, 1940-1972
  13. Subseries 2: Materials for Moses Kligsberg's Article on Chaim Kazdan, 1937-1973
  14. Subseries 3: Meyer Kushner's Book Zikhroynes fun mayn lebn,1960
  15. Subseries 4: Ber I. Rozen's Book Portretn,1941-1955
  16. Series VI: Research Materials, undated, 1940-1972
  17. Subseries 1: Articles on Youth, undated
  18. Subseries 2: Bibliographies, undated, 1951
  19. Subseries 3: Unsorted Materials, undated, 1970
  20. Subseries 4: Notes/Notebooks, undated
  21. Series VII: YIVO Correspondence with Individuals,1942-1974
  22. Series VIII: YIVO Administration, 1941-1974
  23. Subseries 1: Internal Memoranda and Correspondence, 1941-1973
  24. Subseries 2: Administrative Files, 1941-1972
  25. Subseries 3: YIVO Outposts, 1952-1972
  26. Subseries 4: Other Administrative Materials, undated, 1950-1974
  27. Series IX: YIVO Programs and Projects, 1942-1974
  28. Subseries 1: Conferences, 1942-1974
  29. Subseries 2: Colloquia, Public Programs, and Exhibitions, 1958-1974
  30. Subseries 3: Educational Programs and Courses, 1948-1974
  31. Subseries 4: Essay Contests, 1942-1971
  32. Subseries 5: Manuscripts and Publications, undated, 1950s-1960s
  33. Subseries 6: Projects,undated, 1944-1966
  34. Subseries 7: Proposals - Grants, 1963-1974
  35. Subseries 8: YIVO Radio Program on WEVD, 1963-1974
  36. Series X: YIVO Publicity Materials and Newspaper Clippings
  37. Series XI: Jewish Labor Bund (Yidisher Arbeter Bund), 1941-1974
  38. Subseries 1: Bund - International Activities, 1947-1962
  39. Subseries 2: Bund - New York Activities, 1941-1973
  40. Subseries 3: Bund - Resolutions, Speeches, Articles, undated, 1943-1967
  41. Subseries 4: Camp Hemshekh, undated, 1959-1974
  42. Subseries 5: SKIF (Sotsyalistisher Kinder Farband), 1946-1974
  43. Subseries 6: Yugnt Bund 'Tsukunft' (Youth Bund 'Tsukunft'), 1942-1954
  44. Subseries 7: Various,undated, 1967?
  45. Series XII: United Jewish Survivors of Nazi Persecution,1946-1957
  46. Series XIII: Photographs, undated, 1941-1970
  47. Series XIV: Writings - Other Authors, 1932-1970
  48. Series XV: Ephemera, undated, 1962
  49. Series XVI: Sound Recordings, undated, 1951?-1967

Custodial History

The collection consists of materials bequeathed to YIVO by Moses Kligsberg, which were removed from his home and office at YIVO after his death in 1975.

Some additional records of the United Jewish Survivors of Nazi Persecution were received from Rakhmiel Bryks.

Sheet music for original compositions by Moses Kligsberg was received from Chana Mlotek in 2003.

Related Material

There are several collections in YIVO's custody that are related to the Papers of Moses Kligsberg, most prominently:

  1. Autobiographies of Jewish Youth in Poland (RG 4)
  2. Autobiographies, American-Jewish (RG 102)
  3. Eyewitness Accounts of the Holocaust Period (RG 104)
  4. Records of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, New York (RG 100)

Separated Material

The acetate discs were separated and housed in the YIVO Sound Archives.

Processing Information

Personal names are spelled as they appear in materials found in the collection, or have been romanized from Yiddish with transliteration according to the YIVO standard. The names of the institutions were verified in the Library of Congress Authorities where applicable.

Chana Mlotek and Fruma Mohrer proofread, verified, and corrected the final version of this finding aid.

Guide to the Papers of Moses Kligsberg (1901-1975), 1928-1974 RG 719
Processed by Donna Gallers
© 2005
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.

Repository Details

Part of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States