"Cabinet of the Jewish Culture of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences" from the Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine (Fond 190)

Language of Description
Alt. Identifiers
  • 2020.234.1
  • RG-31.137
1 Jan 1880 - 31 Dec 1968
Level of Description
  • Yiddish
  • English
  • Hebrew
  • Polish
  • German
  • Russian
  • Ukrainian
EHRI Partner

Extent and Medium

29,342 digital images, TIFF


Biographical History

Institute of Jewish Culture of the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences (Instytut ievreiskoi kultury pry VUAN). An institution founded in Kyiv in November 1926 to co-ordinate and promote Yiddish pedagogy and scholarship and Jewish studies in the Ukrainian SSR. It was originally a Chair of Jewish Culture. Its first director was the philologist and Jewish civic figure N. Shtif. In 1919 a Hebraist Historical-Archeographic Commission had been established at the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences (VUAN) under Ahatanhel Krymsky; its real leader, however, was I. Galant. The commission published articles in Ukrainian learned journals and collections and its own Zbirnyk prats' (2 vols, 1928–9) before being abolished in 1929. It was then that the Chair of Jewish Culture, under the direction of Y. Liberberg, was upgraded into an institute. The institute had a sizable staff (30 in 1929, over 100 in 1934) and consisted of eight sections: philology (headed by N. Shtif and then Eliahu Spivak), history (Y. Liberberg and then A. Margolis), literature (N. Oyslender and then M. Wiener), pedagogy-pedology (Y. Yakhinson), socioeconomic (I. Weizblit, from 1930), bibliology (A. Kvitny); ethnography (M. Wiener), and Birobidzhan studies (from 1934). It had a large library (based on that of the former Jewish Historical-Ethnographic Society, est 1908), an archive (including that of the Society for the Spread of Enlightenment among the Jews of Russia, est 1863), a bibliographic center, a press archive, and a graduate program. A branch in Odesa, with the historian S. Borovoi as head, was short-lived (1928–9). The institute worked closely with official Jewish scholarly institutions in Moscow and Minsk. With the demise of the policy of Ukrainization and the onslaught of Stalinism, the institute suffered persecution (eg, the harassment of Shtif [d 1933] and the removal of Weizblit in 1931 and Oyslender in 1932). Nonetheless, from 1931 to 1936 it was the leading Jewish scholarly institution in the USSR. In 1934 Liberberg and many other members of the institute immigrated to the new Jewish Autonomous oblast in Birobidzhan, and G. Gorokhov became the new director. In 1936 the institute was suddenly closed down, and Gorokhov and most of its other staff were arrested as ‘Trotskyists’ and ‘Zionists.’ In late 1936 the institute was replaced by a downgraded Cabinet for the Study of Soviet Jewish Literature, Language, and Folklore under Eliahu Spivak. In 1949, during Andrei Zhdanov’s purge of Jewish culture, the cabinet was liquidated and its members were arrested. Important publications of the institute and the cabinet are the journals Di Yidishe Shprach (24 issues, 1927–30), Shriftn (1 vol, 1928), and the quarterly Visnshaft un revoliutsye (1934–6); a bibliological collection (1930); I. Weizblit’s study of Jewish population dynamics in Ukraine in 1897–1926 (1930); A. Yuditsky’s history of the Jewish bourgeoisie in Russia in the first half of the 19th century (1931); M. Berehovsky’s book on Yiddish musical folklore (1934); and M. Wiener’s history of 19th-century Yiddish literature (1940). The institute also published several Yiddish dictionaries and sponsored all-Union conferences on Jewish socioeconomic research (1931) and the Hebrew language (1934). [Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 2 (1988).]

The distinguished ethnomusicologist Moise Beregovski (1892-1961) served as Director of the Musical Folklore Department of the Institute of Jewish Proletarian Culture at the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences in Kiev and later directed the Musical Folklore Section of the Department of Jewish Culture at the Institute of Literature. Evacuated to Central Asia during the war, Beregovski returned to Kiev in 1944 and immediately launched collecting expeditions to the recently liberated Soviet territories. These expeditions ultimately took him to the regions of Chernovtsy (1944), Vinnitsa (1945) and Vilnius/Kaunas (1946). Also at this time he began to encourage folklorists, musicians, and writers throughout Ukraine to send him pertinent materials which they may have gathered or created. As a result, Beregovski accumulated an extensive and unique collection of Holocaust and war-related cultural artifacts—songs, poems, folktales, anecdotes, testimony, and memoirs, nearly all of them in Yiddish—from survivors and refugees throughout Ukraine, Transnistria, Moldova, Belorussia, Lithuania, Central Asia, and elsewhere. Beregovski distilled this mass of data into a monograph titled "Jewish Folk Creativity During the Great Patriotic War." This important work, written in Yiddish in 1948-49 with folklorist R. Lerner, remains unpublished to this day (during our stay in Kiev we obtained a microfilm copy for the USHMM/Archives). In 1948, Beregovski lost his academic position; in 1951 he was arrested. When he returned from prison four years later, he discovered that the great part of his archive had been dispersed. For many years considered lost, the Beregovski Collection was reconstituted from various storage facilities in the late 1980s; its treasures are only now becoming accessible to folklorists, Yiddishists, and music scholars.

Archival History

Nat︠s︡ionalʹna istorychna biblioteka Ukraïny


Source of acquisition is the Nat︠s︡ionalʹna istorychna biblioteka Ukraïny (National Historical Library of Ukraine). The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives received the filmed collection from the National Historical Library of Ukraine via the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum International Archives Project in Dec. 2020. The acquisition was made possible with funding from the Polsky Foundation.

Scope and Content

Consists of archive of the Jewish folk culture collected by the Cabinet of the Jewish Culture of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. The collection includes Jewish folk songs, proverbs, aphorisms, fairy tales, musical scores and other folk materials collected by the Cabinet of Jewish Culture and its predecessors institutions (e.g. Institute of Jewish Proletarian Culture). Includes also correspondence of Moisey Beregovsky, head of the folklore section and his staff members, with collectors and performers of Jewish folklore, notes from the ethnographic expeditions to collect Jewish folklore undertaken by Beregovsky in the liberated areas of Soviet Ukraine, typed manuscript of the unpublished book "Jewish Folklore during the Great Patriotic War", testimonies of Holocaust survivors collected for the publication in "Black Book of the Soviet Jewry" and other materials. The collection also contains various materials from 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries and includes materials collected by Sh. Anski (Shloyme Rapoport) during the first ethnographic expeditions to the Jewish Pale of Settlement and personal records (articles, diary, correspondence) as well as various records of Jewish ethnomusicologists Z. Kisselgoff and Yu. Engel (articles and lectures, correspondence, musical scores, etc.); fragmentary records (bylaws, minutes of the meetings, circular letters, and correspondence) of the Jewish public organizations active in the Russian Empire, such as Society of the Enlightenment of Jewish People, Jewish-Ethnographic Society, Jewish Emigration Society, and others; and a significant number of other materials, photocopies of various rabbinical texts and documents acquired by N. Shtif, a staff member of the Cabinet, from various libraries and manuscript collections in the United States, England, Germany, and France, preparatory materials for the Ukrainian-Yiddish dictionary, a card catalog with information about the Jewish population of Ukraine ( 1947), etc.

System of Arrangement

Arranged in seven subject groups: 1. Beregovski correspondence; 2. Jewish folksongs, music and inventories; 3. Autobiography of Frima Davidova Roytman, popular poet and songwriter; 4. Jewish folktales, songs, anecdotes, stories etc. collected by various collectors and inventory books; 5. Minutes, letters and newspaper clippings; 6. Materials/notes for books and articles; 7. Sound archives.

Conditions Governing Reproduction

Copyright Holder: Nat︠s︡ionalʹna istorychna biblioteka Ukraïny




This description is derived directly from structured data provided to EHRI by a partner institution. This collection holding institution considers this description as an accurate reflection of the archival holdings to which it refers at the moment of data transfer.