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Records of the Sofia M. Gurevitch Gymnasium

Identifier: RG 51

Scope and Content Note

These records were generated by teachers, students, administrators, and applicants to the Sofia M. Gurevitch gymnasium. The materials fall fairly equally into two categories: administrative records, which concern obtaining permission to found and expand the school, and pedagogical records, which include the minutes of the meetings of the pedagogical council as well as student work and lesson plans. The majority of the materials date from the early period of the school’s existence, from 1906-1922, and are in Russian, although the student work and lesson plans date primarily from the latter period and are in Yiddish.


  • 1906-1940

Language of Materials

The collection is in Russian with some Yiddish, Ukrainian, German, and Polish

Access Restrictions

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

Use Restrictions

The images, documents, film footage, audio materials, and texts displayed in any portion of this web site may be copyrighted. Permission to use this web site is given on condition that the user agrees to follow U.S. copyright laws. The user agrees that she or he assumes liability for any copyright violations resulting from unauthorized use of items appearing on this web site and to hold YIVO harmless from any action involving copyright infringement. It is the responsibility of the user to carry out a due diligence search under U.S. copyright laws to determine the copyright status of items displayed on this web site.

Historical Note

The Sofia M. Gurevitch gymnasium was established in 1906, as a progressive girl’s elementary school in Vilna. At that time, Russian was the language of instruction, and Vilna itself was a part of the Russian empire. The gymnasium relocated to Poltava in the Ukraine during the upheaval of World War I, but returned to Vilna in 1918, with a changing educational focus toward Yiddish language and culture. From 1918-1922, the gymnasium used both Russian and Yiddish as languages of instruction, but after 1922, the school operated exclusively in Yiddish.1 It also became co-ed, and expanded to include more grade levels. WWI was a catalyst for many institutions to evolve into new forms, and the S. M. Gurevitch gymnasium was no exception.2 After WWI, the Sofia M. Gurevitch gymnasium affiliated itself with TSYSHO, a Poland-based organization that, in addition to running its own school system, supported other secular Yiddish-language schools throughout the region. TSYSHO shared educational goals with the Bund: both sought to educate a new generation using new pedagogical methods and an expanded curriculum, which included music and fine art, physical education, and the sciences.3 In a 1924 article, S. M. Gurevitch states that her pedagogical approach emphasizes individual, independent exploration on the part of the children, and that the teachers alter their methodology to suit their students, along the lines of the Montessori method.4 Sofia M. Gurevitch herself served as an administrator in TSBK, the Vilna outpost of TSYSHO. The S. M. Gurevitch gymnasium was associated with the Mefitsei Haskalah gymnasium for boys, also called Zemach Shabad, which made a similar transition from Russian to Yiddish-language instruction.5 Sofia M. Gurevitch appears to have retired around 1931. Subsequently, the gymnasium changed its name and formalized its association with TSBK, and continued to operate at least through 1936.6


  1. 1Sofia M. Gurevitch, untitled, TSBK Shul Pinkes, 1924, 288-289.
  2. 2Miriam Eisenstein, Jewish Gymnasiums in Poland, 1919-39, New York: King’s Crown Press, 1950, 18-19.
  3. 3Ibid., 26-8.
  4. 4Gurevitch, 289. TSYSHO gymnasiums frequently employed experimental curricula, as a way of creating a new modern consciousness, and fostered independence. (Eisenstein, 21-23).
  5. 5Ibid., 288.
  6. 6TSYSHO and TSBK School System, RG 48, Box 2, Folder 22, YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.


0.4 Linear Feet


This collection contains the most significant internal records of the Sofia M. Gurevitch gymnasium’s early years, including the official documents giving permission for the founding and expansion of the school. There are also pedagogical materials, including student work and lesson plans, dating primarily from the later period of the school’s existence. These materials illustrate a Jewish school’s relationship with the Russian government before World War I, and the transformation of its pedagogy, as it shifted focus to become a Yiddish-language secular school in the 1930s.


The collection consists of a single series:

Acquisition Information

These records originated in the Pedagogical Museum of the YIVO Institute in Vilna in the 1930s.

Related Material

Materials related to the school after Sofia Gurevitch's retirement can be found in the Records of the TSYSHO (Tsentral Yidishe Shul Organizatsye), which is also at YIVO.

Processing information

As the records of the Pedagogical Museum had been filed by topic with no regard for provenance, they were rearranged in 1982, item by item, by the YIVO staff. Several new record groups were separated by this process, among them the records of the Sofia Gurevitch Gymnasium.

Guide to the Records of the Sofia M. Gurevitch Gymnasium 1906-1940 RG 51
Processed by YIVO staff with the assistance of a grant from the Gruss Lipper Family Foundation. Encoded by Sarah Ponichtera. Additional processing, EAD enhancement and preparation of the collection for digitization by Yakov Il'ich Sklar
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Described and encoded as part of the CJH Holocaust Resource Initiative, made possible by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany. Additional processing, conservation, preparation for digitization and digitization of this collection was done as part of the Edward Blank YIVO Vilna Collections Project, with the assistance of grants from the Edward Blank Family Foundation, The National Endowment for the Humanities, the Righteous Persons Foundation, the Conference for Jewish Material Claims against Germany, the Kronhill Pletka Foundation and the Ruth and David Levine Charitable Fund, and anonymous supporters

Repository Details

Part of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research Repository

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New York NY 10011 United States