Page 58 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 2

Basic HTML Version

to Jewish folk-needs, and yet established itself from the beginning
upon the firm foundations of formal and disciplined procedure in
the gathering and shaping of knowledge. YIVO was founded in
1925 in Vilna, “ the Jerusalem of Lithuania,” for the purpose of
seeing Jewish life “steadily and whole,” that is to say, for the
purpose of studying it, as far as time is concerned, in the present
and in the past, as far as space is concerned, all over the world;
and to do so with the instruments of modern research. The
American section of YIVO was founded in the same year and its
object seemed to be to procure funds for Vilna and to carry on here
some subsidiary scientific work. At the present moment, the
American Section has inevitably become the main center of YIVO,
and its recent acquisition of a suitable home is at once a symbol
and a promise.
What, concretely, has YIVO been doing in these years? I t has
documented and recorded a wealth of material casting light on
Jewish life, past and present. I t has brought to bear the methods
of modern research upon these materials, that is to say, upon
Jewish life, past and present. I t has trained and equipped a num-
ber of young people to observe Jewish life both as Jews and as
social scientists. Its studies have embraced such important fields
as history, economics and statistics, language and literature,
psychology and education. I t is no exaggeration to assert tha t
each of these fields was
terra incognita
and the scholars, associated
with YIVO, were compelled to assume the tasks of pioneers and
pathfinders. The results of this work, performed often under the
most trying conditions and in a spirit of true consecration, are
embodied in no less than 36,000 pages of printed material. YIVO
is now undertaking the truly important task of putting together
a comprehensive history of the Jewish Labor Movement in the
United States. The first volume of this work has already appeared
and the second volume is now in press. Needless to say that this
work will turn out to be more than a history of Jewish labor in
America; it will, in all likelihood, inter-relate that history with
the history of the Jewish community in America.
YIVO issues two bi-monthly publications, one,
Yivo Bleter
is a clearing-organ for all data, as written and gathered from day
to day, on Jewish knowledge; the other,
Yidishe Sprakh
, is a
clearing-organ for discussion and comment on the Yiddish lan-
guage, which is undergoing a new process of growth and enrich-
ment in America. Y1V0 maintains a Research Training Division
for young people, and its 1942-43 catalogue lists fifty-one courses,
with outstanding teachers, on various phases of Jewish life and
thought, such as: Bibliographies and Encyclopedias, Demography
and the Jewish Communities in America, Economic Trends, Edu-
cation, Religion, Literature, Yiddish and Hebrew. The Central
Library and Archives of YIVO — at the disposal of its students —
contains over 27,000 entries.
— 48 —