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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 VIII: Financial Correspondence, Current Matters and Miscellaneous
This series contains account statements from companies, banks and brokers, financial forms, circulars, scrapbooks, documents about the workings of the Yiddish Writers’ Union, and a manuscript and questionnaires from various countries for a YWU yearbook. Folders 737-745 contain scrapbooks and other materials originally found in addendum part C.
Arrangement: This series is arranged alphabetically by correspondent, topic or document type.
Box 34
Folder 681: Bache and Company
account statements
Folder 682: Bache and Company
WE Hutton and Company, account statements, printed announcements, etc.
Folder 683: Bache and Company
statement and copy of letter sent
Folder 686: Bank letters
copies of letters to banks and brokers, forms, statements of expenses, form letters and circulars, etc.
Folder 684: Bank Leumi
account statements, forms
Folder 688: Bank signatures
forms, accompanying letters, etc.
Folder 690: Current matters
Folder 695: Current matters
L. Feinberg, secretary, correspondence, minutes of special meeting, invitations
Folder 698: Current matters
L. Feinberg, secretary, list of names, correspondence, bill for funeral, circulars received, bills, telegram, news release, memos, etc.
Folder 696: Current matters
M. Elbaum, secretary, correspondence, copy of telegram congratulating President Shazar on his election
Folder 697: Current matters
correspondence, invitations to meetings, newspaper clippings, financial report, news releases
Folder 689: Deposit signatures
for banks and checking account, etc., forms, letters
Folder 687: First Western Savings and Loan
Las Vegas, Nevada, correspondence, forms, etc.
Folder 692: Letters from the Jewish chaplain at Clinton Prison
Folder 685: Merrill, Lynch, Pierce, Fenner and Smith, Inc
account statements, forms, etc.
Folder 693: Miscellaneous
miscellaneous correspondence, list of outstanding accounts, etc.
Folder 694: Miscellaneous
letters and circulars received, telegram from Polish Ambassador, copies of letters sent
Folder 699: Miscellaneous
news releases, invitations, correspondence, etc.
Folder 691: Miscellaneous
memos, circulars received, text of obituary for Alex Katz, etc.
Box 35
Folder 718: Circulars
one from 1968, mainly invitations to meetings
Folder 712: Circulars and press releases
Folder 720: Clippings
Folder 705: Correspondence
connected with bills paid
Folder 709: Dues Schedules
also includes various other miscellaneous lists
Folder 701: Farband
correspondence, news release
Folder 702: Group insurance plan
Folder 704: Letters from abroad
Folder 713: Lists
contributions and expenses
Folder 707: Mailing lists
Folder 714: Miscellaneous
mostly correspondence, including letter from U.S. censor, news release, etc.
Folder 711: Miscellaneous
correspondence, vouchers, JTA dispatch, etc.
Folder 706: Miscellaneous
ciculars calling meetings, forms, copies of letters sent, petty cash vouchers, bills, list of those owing money, etc.
Folder 711D: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Bloch, Chaim
Folder 711R: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Chudnovsky, Moshe
Folder 711B: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Eisner, Gustave
Folder 711E: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Gross, M.
Folder 711F: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Hourwich, Isaac A.
1909, 1921-1922
Folder 711A: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Ignatoff, David
Folder 711U: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Lazer, S.M.
Folder 711V: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Lieberman, Chaim
Folder 711X: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Masliansky, Zvi Hirsch
Folder 711W: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Mastbaum, Joel
Folder 711Y: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Meiman, Benjamin
Folder 711Z: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Muller, Jozef
Folder 711AA: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Niger, Shmuel
Folder 711C: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Orlans, A.S.
Folder 711BB: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Perle, S.
Folder 711GG: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Rabinovitch, Yehaskel
Folder 711HH: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Radoshinsky, I.H.
Folder 711II: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Ravitch, Melech
Folder 711NN: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Reinwein, A.
Folder 711MM: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Reisen, Abraham
Folder 711FF: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Roback, A.A.
Folder 711JJ: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Rosenfeld, Hersh
Folder 711KK: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Rosenfeld, S.
Folder 711LL: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Rubin, A.M.
Folder 711OO: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Schatz, Boris
Folder 711RR: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Schneider, M. B.
Folder 711QQ: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Schnitzler, Arthur
Folder 711N: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Semel, Bernard
Folder 711L: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Silburg, M.
Folder 711PP: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Steinberg, N.
Folder 711S: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Tchernowitz, Chaim
Folder 711Q: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Tepper, K.
Folder 711P: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Tiomkin, Z. (Va'ad Aliyah)
Folder 711EE: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Tzipin, M.
Folder 711J: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Victor, A.
Folder 771H: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Vortsman, Dr. I.B.
Folder 711I: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Weintraub, Sigmund
Folder 711SS: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Winchevsky, Morris
Folder 711G: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Wohliner, A.
Folder 711T: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Yehoash
Folder 711K: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Zak, Abram
Folder 711O: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Zetzer, S.
Folder 711CC: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Zukerman, B. (Jewish People's Relief Committee)
Folder 711DD: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Zukerman, William
Folder 711M: Miscellaneous personal correspondence - Zylbercweig, Zalmen
Folder 703: Miscellaneous requests
Folder 700: One Hundred Years Yiddish Press in America
tickets correspondence
Folder 717: Picture collection of the Yiddish Writers' Union
individual snapshots of members in alphabetical order, also some group photos
Folder 719: Rescue Fund for Jewish Refugee Writers
circulars, raffle books, memorial album
Folder 708: Speech by Moshe Starkman
manuscript and typed copy, "On the Eve of the 100th Anniversary of the Yiddish Press"
Folder 710: Tax
1946, 1956
dues lists, etc. for union surtax
Box 37
Folder 744: Morning Journal
lists and forms concerning loans by employees to ths Morning Journal
Folder 745: Weizman, Chaim
copy of letter from YWU granting him membership
Folder 738: YWU yearbook "Yidish Lebn" (Jewish Life)
Answers to questionnaires from Israel
Folder 739: YWU yearbook "Yidish Lebn"
Answers to questionnaires from Melbourne, London, South Africa
Folder 740: YWU yearbook "Yidish Lebn"
Answers to questionnaires from United States
Folder 741: YWU yearbook "Yidish Lebn"
Answers to questionnaires from Latin America
Folder 742: YWU yearbook "Yidish Lebn"
manuscripts, including manuscripts by Jacob Glatstein, M. Starkman and others, possibly for the 30th anniversary
Folder 743: YWU yearbook "Yidish Lebn"
1955-1956, 1972-1973
Miscellaneous correspondence and answers to questionnaires from France
Box 39
Folder 715A: Scrapbook
various activities
Folder 715B: Scrapbook
receptions, symposiums, cultural evenings, celebrations
Folder 715C: Scrapbook
symposiums, lectures, cultural evenings, concerts, celebrations, memorial meetings, Landsmanshaftn book
Folder 716A: Scrapbook
Day strike, dispute with the Newspaper Guild
Folder 716B: Scrapbook
Rescue Fund for Jewish Refugee Writers
Folder 716C: Scrapbook
75th anniversary of the Yiddish press
Folder 737: Scrapbook
Rescue Fund for Jewish Refugee Writers, newspaper clippings

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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