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Guide to the Records of the I.L. Peretz Yiddish Writers' Union, 1903-1973, RG 701

Processed by YIVO Archivist Marek Web, 1970s. Additional processing by Rachel Harrison as part of the Leon Levy Archival Processing Initiative, made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation.

YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
15 West 16th Street
New York, NY 10011
Email: archives@yivo.cjh.org
URL: http://www.yivo.org

©2009 YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. All rights reserved.

Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Rachel S. Harrison in June 2009.  EAD finding aid customized in ARCHON in 2014. Description is in English.

Collection Overview

Title: Guide to the Records of the I.L. Peretz Yiddish Writers' Union, 1903-1973, RG 701

ID: RG 701 FA

Extent: 20.0 Linear Feet

Arrangement: The collection was originally processed by Marek Web circa 1975. Additional processing was completed in June 2009.The collection is arranged in 8 series. In general, the collection was maintained as much as possible in its original order, in accordance with archival principles. Some reorganization of the early correspondence files appears to have taken place during the original processing and routine financial documents, such as paid bills and check stubs, were discarded. The minutes and financial files are arranged chronologically, while the correspondence is arranged alphabetically by correspondent, topic or format. This order has been standardized in the finding aid, although the folders themselves have not been moved. The names of the miscellaneous correspondents in Series VIII have been transliterated and intellectually rearranged in Latin alphabetical order. Yiddish names have been transliterated according to YIVO standards except when the individual is known in English by another spelling. Additionally, if the name appeared in Latin letters anywhere within the folder, that spelling was used rather than a standard transliteration. Organizations and periodicals have been translated and, when not generally known by its English name, the Yiddish name follows in parentheses. The materials were originally divided into eight series and a four-part addendum, consisting of folders 721-748. The materials from that addendum have been intellectually integrated into the original series. The addendum materials integrated into Series I and Series II have been incorporated chronologically, while those in Series VIII have been incorporated alphabetically.

Languages: English, Yiddish, Russian, German, Hebrew, Polish, Spanish


This collection contains the minutes, correspondence and financial records of the I.L. Peretz Yiddish Writers’ Union from its founding in 1915 until 1973. Among the correspondence is a fair amount concerning the Fund for Jewish Refugee Writers, unions and union grievances, requests for aid from Jewish writers and activists in New York and abroad, and labor disputes and strikes.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

This collection contains meeting minutes, financial reports 1929-1972, dues ledgers and other bookkeeping books, correspondence with individuals, organizations and publishers, salary lists, financial statements, newspaper clippings, press releases, scrapbooks, photographs of members, account statements from companies, banks and brokers, and manuscripts and questionnaires from various countries for a YWU yearbook.

Some of the topics in this collection include the Fund for Jewish Refugee Writers, various Works Progress Administration projects, fundraising campaigns, requests for aid for individual refugees in Europe, Cuba, Japan, Shanghai, England, and Palestine, complaints and charges of members, contract and labor disputes, strikes, and Union reports.

Among the organizations represented are the National Refugee Service, Jewish Welfare Federations, Newspaper Guild, United Jewish Appeal, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, World Federation of Journalists, New York State Department of Labor, Conference of Jewish Journalists, Jewish Labor Bund, Central Yiddish Culture Organization, Tog, Jewish Daily Forward, Freie Arbeiter Stimme, HIAS, Keneder Odler, Jewish Labor Committee, Morgn Zhurnal, Jewish National Workers’ Alliance, Yidishe Velt (Philadelphia), Fund for Jewish Refugee Writers, Kinder Zhurnal, Morgn Freiheit, ORT, Workmen’s Circle, and YIVO. Correspondents include: Baal Makhshoves (Isidor Eliashev), Shlomo Bickel, Menahem Boraisha, Reuben Brainin, Abraham Cahan, Simon Dubnow, Ossip Dymow, Alexander Harkavy, David Ignatoff, H. Leivick, Kalman Marmor, Alexander Mukdoni, Shmuel Niger, David Pinski, Melech Ravitch, Abraham Reisen, Zalman Reisen, Zalman Shneur, Lamed Shapiro, Jacob Shatzky, Baruch Vladeck, Max Weinreich, and Chaim Zhitlowsky. These papers constitute the complete archive of the Yiddish Writers Union from its founding until 1973, including a 1903 minute book of the Jewish Press Club, a predecessor organization.

Historical Note

The I.L. Peretz Yiddish Writers’ Union (YWU), also sometimes called the Jewish Writers’ Union, was founded in New York in 1915 as a labor and mutual aid organization for Yiddish journalists. Its first president was Hillel Rogoff, of Forverts, and its first secretary was Joseph Margoshes, of Tog. The Union represented all Yiddish writers and journalists at the three major New York City Yiddish papers, Tog, Morgn Zhurnal and Forverts. The Yiddish Writers’ Union was a member of the United Hebrew Trades, an association of Jewish labor unions in New York City. The Union participated in strikes and labor disputes and fought for job security, severance pay benefits and a minimum wage for Yiddish journalists. In November 1939, together with the Jewish Labor Committee, the Union decided to found a Fund for Jewish Refugee Writers, a relief fund for Yiddish writers in Europe as well as for American members in financial need. The Fund was ultimately established in January 1940. This Fund conducted a one-time emergency appeal among Yiddish writers in America and their supporters and readers. Through the efforts of this Fund, the Union was able to sponsor the immigration of several thousand writers and political and cultural activists and also to send money to those writers whom they were unable to bring over. In 1929 the Union had 200 members. Although the Union continued to be active in labor disputes after World War II, its membership declined steadily. While still in existence in the 1980s, the Yiddish Writers’ Union had relinquished much of its role as a labor union and functioned primarily as a literary association.

Subject/Index Terms

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions: The collection is open to researchers with the permission of the YIVO Archivist. Permission to access the collection can be obtained by writing to archives@yivo.cjh.org.  Permission to publish part or parts of the collection must be obtained from the YIVO Archives.

Use Restrictions: There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact:YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011 email: archives@yivo.cjh.org

Acquisition Method: Given to YIVO by the Yiddish Writer’s Union in a series of installments in 1974.

Separated Materials: Photographs have been removed to the YIVO Photo Archive.

Related Materials: The YIVO Archives has the collections of many of the members of the Yiddish Writers’ Union, including the Papers of Leon Feinberg, RG 601; the Papers of Shmuel Niger, RG 360; The Papers of Mendel Osherowitch, RG 725; and the Papers of Alexander Seldin, RG 433. The American Jewish Historical Society Archives has the Papers of Boris Smolar, P-588 (AJHS). The YIVO library also has several books published by the Yiddish Writers’ Union, including Jewish Families and Family Circles of New York, The Communist Conspiracy Against the Jewish Press: The Case of the Jewish Writers’ Union Against the New York Newspaper Guild, and Seventy-Five Years Yiddish Press in the United States of America, edited by Jacob Glatstein, Shmuel Niger and Hillel Rogoff.

Preferred Citation: Published citations should take the following form:Identification of item, date (if known); I.L. Peretz Yiddish Writers Union Records; RG 701; box number; folder number; YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

Series 1: Series I: Minutes, 1903, 1919-1972,
Series 2: Series II: Finances, 1917-1972,
Series 3: Series III: Correspondence, 1911-1941,
Series 4: Series IV: Fund for Jewish Refugee Writers – Correspondence, 1939-1946,
Series 5: Series V: Correspondence (yellow series), 1935-1946,
Series 6: Series VI: Correspondence (blue series), 1941-1958,
Series 7: Series VII: Correspondence, 1946-1973,
Series 8: Series VIII: Financial Correspondence, Current Matters and Miscellaneous, 1909-1973,

Series VI: Correspondence (blue series)
This series contains mainly correspondence with Tog about salary schedules and labor conditions, with foreign countries concerning refugees, with various organizations such as the United Jewish Appeal and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, and with Union members. There is also information about employees and labor conditions at Morgn Zhurnal and a letter entitled “European Writers in Distress” about refugees in Sweden.
Arrangement: This series is arranged alphabetically by correspondent, topic or document type.
Box 21
Folder 432: American Jewish Conference
assembly, correspondence and notices
Folder 433: Anniversaries - 300 years of Jews in America
correspondence, biographic questionnaire, sample biography, letter to tercentenary committee
Folder 434: Applications for membership
letters of application, answers
Box 22
Folder 435: Australia
correspondence, especially with Jewish Writers' Union, Melbourne
Folder 436: Bergen Belsen camp
appeal and correspondence for press and typewriters for DPs at Bergen Belsen, bills and receipts
Folder 437: Berman, L.
correspondence on L. Berman's behalf concerning his employment at Jewish Agricultural Society
Folder 438: Book Month
correspondence, announcements, press releases
Folder 439: Clippings
concerning 75th anniversary of Yiddish press, election of officers of Yiddish Writers' Union
Folder 440: Contributions
letter and receipt from Bund
Folder 441: Cultural evenings
invitations, letters of thanks, correspondence concerning meeting hall, schedule of events
Folder 442: Cultural evenings
fincancial calculations, announcements, financial statements, newspaper clippings, press releases, correspondence
Folder 443: CYCO and Congress for Jewish Culture
correspondence, appeals by CYCO, receipts, etc.
Folder 444: Day
correspondence, salary schedules, newspaper clippings, contract petitions by staff members, mainly concerning labor conditions and wages
Folder 445: Documents
lawyer's correspondence, photocopies of certificates of incorporation
Folder 446: Donations
one letter and one receipt
Folder 447: Dues
membership cards, rate schedule, warnings for delinquents, correspondence, registered letter stubs, bills
Folder 448: European Writers in Distress
a letter about Swedish refugees
Folder 449: Executive committee
memorandum, correspondence, ballots, acceptances of invitations and nominations, proposed amendments to constitution, etc.
Folder 450: Finances
cash statements
Box 23
Folder 451: Jacob Fishman Fund
bank account certificate, postcards approving appropriations from fund, court papers concerning Fishman's will, pleas for aid, letters of thanks
Folder 457: Foreign
France, correspondence, forms for food remittance
Folder 463: Foreign
Poland, correspondence, especially with association of Jewish Writers in Poland, including many letters accompanying checks for aid as well as many other subjects, lists of members of Association of Jewish Writers, answer to attck on Yiddish Writers' Union fun for Refugee Writers in Dos Naye Lebn, 1948, newspaper issue containing the article, etc.
Folder 461: Foreign
Mexico, correspondence
Folder 453: Foreign
Australia, correspondence, especially with A. Rappaport and Ber Rosen
Folder 456: Foreign
England, correspondence, forms for food remittance
Folder 452: Foreign
Austria, computer cards for food remittances, correspondence
Folder 454: Foreign
Belgium, correspondence mainly concerning aid to Chava Rosenfarb
Folder 455: Foreign
China, correspondence with Shanghai, list of needy in Shanghai, correspondence on behalf of refugees in Shanghai
Folder 459: Foreign
Germany, correspondence, including a number of letters from the writers union of the Shaarith Haplatah, newspaper clippings, lists of those needing help
Folder 460: Foreign
Italy, correspondence, newspaper clippings, telegrams, mainly concerning aid to DPs
Folder 458: Foreign
France, correspondence, forms for food remittances, lists of aid recipients
Folder 462: Foreign
Palestine, correspondence, especially with Shimon Samet, photographs, post cards accompanying food packages, press releases, manuscript about Moshe Sharett, etc.
Box 24
Folder 464: Foreign
Romania, correspondence, statements accompanying remittances
Folder 466: Foreign
Sweden, correspondence, especially with Rokhl Korn and others, mainly concerned with aid for refugees
Folder 465: Foreign
South America, correspondence, especially with H.D. Nomberg Writers' Society in Buenos Aires, also correspondents in Uruguay
Folder 467: Foreign
Switzerland, correspondence mainly concerned with aid to refugees
Folder 468: Forward
correspondence with Alexander Kahn, manager, complaints, salary schedules and suggested raises, other correspondence, correspondence with staff chairman, telegram, staff resolution, mainly concerning labor matters
Folder 469: France
memorandum of association of Jewish Cultural societies, conrrespondence with them and others
Folder 470: (Newspaper) Guild
letter concerning strike against Day and Morning Journal
Folder 471: Hebrew American Typographical Union
correspondence, financial calculations concerning Landsmanshaftn book
Folder 472: Hendin, Dr. L.
L. Hendin's correspondence with various people, newspaper clipping
Folder 473: HIAS
correspondence with HIAS concerning its employees, also concerning aid to refugees, memorandum, newspaper clipping
Folder 474: Insurance stubs
requests by members for insurance giving their ages and the amount of insurance desired
Folder 475: Israeli Journalists
Folder 476: Jewish Labor Committee
correspondence, receipts for contributions
Folder 477: Jewish Telegraphic Agency
correspondence concerning rights of JTA employees, memo, correspondence on other matters, open letters, Union dues check off, etc.
Folder 478: Joint Distribution Committee
correspondence concerning aid to refugees in individual cases, list of Jewish writers in Shanghai, newspaper clipping, also correspondence about employees of the JDC, telegram
Folder 479: Membership
miscellaneous correspondence with various individuals and groups, invitations to YWU meetings, postcards accepting and rejecting nominations to executive committee, questionnaire on employment of members, magazine article
Box 25
Folder 480: Membership
miscellaneous correspondence, telegrams, invitations to meetings, press releases, newspaper clippings, lists of names, etc.
Folder 481: Morning Journal
lists of employees, correspondence with management about labor conditions, wage schedules, telegram, newspaper and magazine clippings, Union dues lists, petitions by staff members, press releases and resolutions, correspondence and other material concerning efforts to continue operation of the newspaper, promisory note, etc.
Folder 485: Morning Journal
financial statements, accountant's recommendations, correspondence, resolutions and declarations, financial statements issued by trustees in court
Folder 484: Morning Journal
final, financial calculations, correspondence, including correspondence with Morning Journal trustees and with the Union's lawyer, labor contracts, court decisions, affadavits, etc.
Folder 482: Morning Journal
lists of amounts loaned to newspaper and amounts owed, bounced checks, letters
Folder 483: Morning Journal
final, lists of sums due to Union members, agreeement, correspondence, salary check stubs, lawyer's correspondence, financial calculations, receipts, lists of names, correspondence about severance pay, etc., blanks transferring claims to the Union, various payment plans
Box 26
Folder 486: National Labor Committee for Palestine
appeal, correspondence, receipts for contributions, invitations, report
Folder 487: Negotiations
correspondence with various employers asking for raises, etc., invitations to executive committee meeting, newspaper issues
Folder 488: Nomination Committee
letters to nominees for office in the Union, their answers
Folder 489: Obituaries
texts of obituaries, correspondence
Folder 490: ORT
three letters
Folder 491: Oswego books
correspondence with Committee of Polish Jews of Fort Ontario about sending the camp's books to Bergen Belsen
Folder 492: Palestine
correspondence, telegrams, press releases, Israeli regualtions
Folder 493: Palestine
cards accompanying food remittances, correspondence
Folder 494: Palestine
correspondence, telegrams, newspaper clippings, placard, list of writers in Israel
Folder 495: Palestine
correspondence, cards accompanying food remittances, telegrams, receipts, lists of names and addresses
Folder 496: PEN Club
letters from Yiddish PEN Club in New York, lists of names and addresses
Folder 497: Poland
correspondence on behalf of Jews in Poland with Melech Ravitch and with individuals and institutions in the U.S., letters from Jewish organizations in Poland, also one letter from the Jewish "cabinet" in Ukraine dated April 28, 1945, pleas for aid, including a plea from the Landsberg DP camp in Germany
Box 27
Folder 498: New York Post
correspondence with the New York Post complaining about the Post's efforts to gain advertisers at the expense of the Yiddish press, correspondence with others about the matter, copy of the Post's letter to an advertiser, protest resolution, newspaper clippings
Folder 500: Publicity
mimeographed letters in connection with 75th anniversary of Yiddish press in America
Folder 499: Publicity
press releases and newspaper clippings about YWU activities
Folder 501: Refugees in New York
correspondence, receipts, memos, letters of reference on behalf of refugees
Folder 502: Relief requests
with replies, book advertisements, letters of thanks, lists of names, invitations, from many countries
Folder 503: Requests from organizations
requests, answers
Folder 508: Rescue Fund for Jewish Refugee Writers
mailing lists, lists of contributors
Folder 506: Rescue Fund for Jewish Refugee Writers
cities, correspondence with individuals in various towns of the USA and Canada concerning fundraising, etc., lists of contributors, report on finances
Folder 504: Rescue Fund for Jewish Refugee Writers
correspondence of the Rescue Fund for Jewish Refugee Writers, Sponsored by YWU, about funds and other subjects, lists of names, newspaper clipping, financial calculations, lists of recipients
Folder 505: Rescue Fund for Jewish Refugee Writers
executive, checks, letters
Folder 507: Rescue Fund for Jewish Refugee Writers
foreign, lists of those to receive aid, receipts, etc.
Folder 509: Rescue Fund for Jewish Refugee Writers
publicity, newspaper clippings
Box 28
Folder 510: Serdatzky, Yente
letters from her, newspaper clippings
Folder 511: Seventy Years of Immigration
at Hunter College, celebration of 70 years of Jewish mass immigration to America, Feb. 28, 1953, newspaper clippings, lists of ticket payments, etc., invitations and form letters, correspondence, contract for use of auditorium, press releases
Folder 512: 75th anniversary of Yiddish press in America
general and correspondence, names of committee members, manuscript, press releases, schedule, newspaper clipping
Folder 513: 75th anniversary of Yiddish press in America
concert, correspondence about procuring talent for the event, letters from leading Jewish entertainers, list of those slated to sit on platform, list of contributions
Folder 514: 75th anniversary of Yiddish press in America
contracts for Morning Journal
Folder 515: 75th anniversary of Yiddish press in America
contributors to Morning Journal, correspondence with writers, manuscripts
Folder 516: 75th anniversary of Yiddish press in America
copy for ads
Folder 517: 75th anniversary of Yiddish press in America
for other publications
Box 29
Folder 518: 75th anniversary of Yiddish press in America
letters about ads, also mailing lists, check lists of ad purchasers
Folder 519: 75th anniversary of Yiddish press in America
letters about tickets, also receipts, financial calculations
Folder 520: 75th anniversary of Yiddish press in America
other cities, correspondence with Newark, Philadelphia, Roxbury, MA, etc.
Folder 521: 75th anniversary of Yiddish press in America
publicity, correspondence with magazines, etc., news releases
Folder 522: 75th anniversary of Yiddish press in America
sale of Morning Journals, correspondence, newspaper clipping, list of libraries and reviewers, order blanks
Folder 525: Tax
Folder 523: Town Hall
Jewish tercentenary celebration, program, newspaper clippings, invitations, correspondence, box office statements, contract for hall, publicity photograph, press releases, telegrams
Folder 524: Town Hall
Musical-Literary Program, correspondence, press releases, contract, programs, box office statements, newspaper clippings
Folder 526: (US) Treasury Department
tax returns, etc., exemption affadavits
Folder 527: United Hebrew Trades
correspondence, bulletin
Folder 528: United Jewish Appeal
newspaper clippings and correspondence concerning YWU strike vs. UJA, press releases, other labor disputes with UJA, telephone numbers, correspondence about 1945-1950 contributions, invitations to meetings
Box 30
Folder 529: US war bonds
applications, receipts, etc.

Browse by Series:

Series 1: Series I: Minutes, 1903, 1919-1972,
Series 2: Series II: Finances, 1917-1972,
Series 3: Series III: Correspondence, 1911-1941,
Series 4: Series IV: Fund for Jewish Refugee Writers – Correspondence, 1939-1946,
Series 5: Series V: Correspondence (yellow series), 1935-1946,
Series 6: Series VI: Correspondence (blue series), 1941-1958,
Series 7: Series VII: Correspondence, 1946-1973,
Series 8: Series VIII: Financial Correspondence, Current Matters and Miscellaneous, 1909-1973,
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