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ORT Photograph Collection

Identifier: RG 380

Scope and Content Note

The ORT Photograph Collection is part of a larger archival collection, the Records of the American ORT Federation. The photograph collection consists of photographs of ORT vocational programs in Europe (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, England, France, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Rumania, Spain, Switzerland), the United States, Canada, South Africa, the former Soviet countries (Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Belarus), the Middle East and northern Africa (Iran, Israel, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia), China, India, and Latin America (Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay). There are also photographs from Displaced Persons camps, of World ORT conferences and congresses and of various individuals connected with ORT.


  • 1904-1972
  • Majority of material found within 1920-1960


Language of Materials

Captions on the backs of photos and signs within the photos appear in English, Yiddish, French, German, Polish, Russian, Italian, Dutch, Hungarian, Hebrew, Latvian, Czech, and Portuguese.

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.

Use Restrictions

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

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


Historical Note

ORT was originally established in Russia in 1880 as the Obshchestvo Remeslennago i Zemledelecheskago Truda Sredi Evreev v Rossi, (Society for Trade and Agricultural Labor among the Jews of Russia). Samuel Polyakov, Horace de Gunzburg and Nikolai Bakst petitioned Tsar Alexander II for permission to start a fund to aid the millions of Jews then living in the Pale of Settlement. This fund assisted Jewish trade schools in providing education and training in practical occupations, mainly handicrafts and agricultural skills, and helped establish new agricultural colonies, agricultural schools, industrial cooperatives, and model farms throughout the Russian Empire. The original training programs offered were directly related to the market needs of the day, so that early programs in sewing, weaving and gardening were soon supplemented by courses for electricians, mechanics, furniture design, and the like. In its first 25 years, ORT provided training to 25,000 Jews in 350 towns within the Russian Empire, vastly improving their quality of life.

After World War I, ORT expanded their training programs to include Jews outside of the Russian Empire, opening vocational and agricultural schools and providing tools and training to help encourage industrial expansion among world Jewry. World ORT was founded in Berlin in 1921, after which the headquarters moved, first to Paris and then to Geneva. The American ORT Society (later the American ORT Federation, AOF) was established in 1922 by Leon Bramson and Aron Syngalowski as the American branch of the World ORT and Women’s American ORT was founded in 1927. ORT established branches in various parts of Latin America in the 1930s, including Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, and Uruguay, at the same time continuing its work in both Eastern and Western Europe.

During World War II, the various branches of ORT continued to serve Jewish communities across the globe, including in the Warsaw, Lodz and Kovno ghettos, in other countries under Nazi occupation, and in various refugee communities all over the world. After the end of World War II, ORT established rehabilitation programs and vocational training centers for the survivors in displaced persons’ camps in Germany, Austria and Italy. ORT ceased operations in the Soviet Union in 1938 and in the remainder of Eastern Europe after World War II after the outbreak of the Cold War. In the late 1940s and early 1950s ORT expanded its education and relief activities in Western Europe, South America, China, South Africa, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and Iran. ORT activities in Israel started in Jaffa and Jerusalem in 1949 and ORT India was established in 1960.


6.5 Linear Feet


This collection consists of photographs and negatives of World ORT conferences and congresses, various individuals connected with ORT, and ORT vocational programs and activities, including in Displaced Person’s camps, in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Cuba, and North and South America.


The photographs in this collection are arranged by subject. The World ORT Conferences and Congresses series is arranged chronologically. The Countries series and the Displaced Persons Camps series are arranged alphabetically by country, then by city or town and then in rough chronological order. Folders in which the country or city are not known appear after those for which this information is known. The Personalities series and the Occupations series are arranged alphabetically, while the Miscellaneous series is arranged chronologically. The container list has been intellectually rearranged to reflect this organizational scheme, although the folders themselves have not been moved. The folder numbers for Series I are 1-14, Series II are 1001-1517, Series III are 2000-2068, Series IV are 3000-3023, Series V are 4000-4014, and Series VI are 5000-5003.

The collection has been organized into six series.

  1. Series I: World ORT Conferences and Congresses, 1904, 1921-1926, 1940-1968
  2. Series II: Countries, 1920-1972
  3. Series III: Displaced Persons Camps, 1945-1953
  4. Series IV: Personalities, undated
  5. Series V: Occupations, undated
  6. Series VI: Miscellaneous, 1930-1969

Acquisition Information

The photographs were given to YIVO by the American ORT Federation in 1957, 1977, 1978, 1981, and 1993.

Digitization Note

This collection was digitized and made accessible in its entirety with the exception of the following folders, which are restricted to onsite use only due to copyright: folders 0005, 0009, 0010, 0011, 0011.01, 0012, 0014, 1003, 1003.01, 1004, 1007, 1009.01, 1009.02, 1013, 1015, 1016, 1018, 1021, 1023, 1024, 1073, 1074, 1075, 1076, 1078, 1080, 1081, 1081.01, 1081.02, 1081.03, 1082, 1083, 1083.01, 1084, 1085, 1089, 1091, 1092, 1094, 1094.1, 1097.1, 1098, 1106.1, 1108, 1109.01, 1110, 1112, 1112.01, 1114, 1115, 1116, 1119, 1120, 1122, 1125, 1126, 1126.01, 1126.02, 1126.03, 1127, 1128, 1129, 1135, 1153, 1159, 1172, 1172.01, 1172.02, 1173, 1173.01, 1175, 1176, 1178, 1179, 1182, 1182.01, 1183, 1184, 1185, 1188, 1320, 1334, 1335, 1418, 1420.01, 1424, 1429, 1430, 1431, 1434, 1435, 1451, 1453, 1458, 1461, 1463, 1464, 1468, 1469, 1471, 1471.01, 1471.02, 1471.03, 1473, 1474, 1476, 1477, 1480, 1481, 1482, 1483, 1484.01, 1484.02, 1485, 1486, 1488, 1489, 1490, 1491, 1492, 1493, 1494, 1495, 1496, 1498, 1499, 1501, 1502, 1503, 1503.01, 1504, 1505, 1505.01, 1505.02, 1505.03, 1506, 1508, 1508.01, 1509, 1509.02, 1510, 1514, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013.01, 2014, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2023, 2024, 2032, 2041, 2063, 2066, 2067, 2068, 3000, 3002, 3004, 3007, 3010, 3011, 3013, 3020, 3021, 3022, 4012, and 4013.. Most photographs have captions or other information on the verso, so most versos were digitized. Blank versos were not digitized. In the case of duplicate photographs, the highest quality photograph was digitized.

Related Material

The Records of the American ORT Federation, RG 380, are stored separately in the YIVO Archives. The YIVO Archives also has the Records of the ORT Society, Vilna, RG 47, the Records of the ORT Vocational School, Vilna, RG 21, and The Records of the World ORT Union, RG 252.

Separated Material

There is no information about materials that are associated by provenance to the described materials that have been physically separated or removed.

Processing information

The Records of the American ORT Federation were arranged by Janet Blatter in 1977 and the photos were arranged by Renee Miller in 2001. Additional processing by Rachel S. Harrison in January 2014, made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany.

Guide to the ORT Photograph Collection 1904-1972 (bulk 1920-1960) RG 380
Processed by Renee Miller. Additional Processing by Rachel S. Harrison
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Processing made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany. Digitization made possible by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany.

Revision Statements

  • April 2015: Added dao links by Eric Fritzler.
  • November 2015: Digitization note updated by Leanora Lange.

Repository Details

Part of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States