Tag Archives: Yiddish

NEH grant to digitize LCAAJ (Yiddish language archive)

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services (CUL/IS) has received an award of $150,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities to digitize field notes and linguistic surveys from the Language and Culture Atlas of Ashkenazic Jewry (LCAAJ) archive.

The LCAAJ archive is an extraordinary resource for research in Yiddish studies that can shed much valuable light on language, ethnography, literature, folklore and music, anthropology, linguistics, Germanic and Slavic studies, and aspects of Central and East European history.  The archive consists of over 600 interviews conducted between 1959 and 1972 with native speakers of Yiddish during a long-range comparative study to document the effects of physical, linguistic, and cultural channels and barriers on the geographic fragmentation of the Jewish and diverse non-Jewish populations that coexisted in Central and Eastern Europe before World War II.  The LCAAJ project collected its interviews at essentially the last moment, when a diverse body of native speakers was still alive, aiming to address both the challenge of an endangered linguistic and cultural legacy, and the special potential that Yiddish provides for studying language and cultural contact and change.

The two-year project funded by NEH will digitize approximately 140,000 pages of interview answer sheets that contain data from the interviews, carry out optical character recognition (OCR) and mark-up to enable their content to be searched and manipulated, and will make all the digitized content freely available to scholars on the Internet on a Columbia website. This source for historical, literary, or anthropological research, and for the study of languages in contact, and the evolution and differentiation of language communities, will then be available to a worldwide community of scholars.

“The Atlas archive is a treasure-house of voices from a vanished world, bearing irreplaceable—heartbreakingly irreplaceable—information about Jewish life, language, and culture,” said Jeremy Dauber, Atran Professor of Yiddish Language, Literature, and Culture and director of Columbia’s Institute of Israel and Jewish Studies. “It needs to be shared with the world, and we’re delighted—and honored—that the National Endowment for the Humanities is enabling the Libraries to do so.”

The written materials accompany more than 5,700 hours of recorded interviews that CUL/IS has already digitized through generous support from NEH, private foundations, the New York State Conservation/Preservation Program, and EYDES (Evidence of Yiddish Documented in European Societies, a project of the German Förderverein für Jiddische Sprache und Kultur), through which the audio is publicly available.  The long-term goal is to eventually link the written content to the audio recordings of the interviews, and make the entire audio and written corpus available to students and scholars in an integrated form.

The interviews contain a wealth of comments about Jewish culture and history from a place and time that is largely out of our reach today.  Bringing the LCAAJ archive into the digital environment will increase exponentially its value to historians of Jewish Studies and European history, linguists, anthropologists, and students and teachers of Yiddish.

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services (CUL/IS) is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 12 million volumes, over 160,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, and graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 21 libraries and various academic technology centers, including affiliates. CUL/IS employs more than 450 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries is the gateway to its services and resources: library.columbia.edu.

See original release here: http://library.columbia.edu/news/libraries/2015/2015-03-31_National_Endowment_for_the_Humanities.html

Eight early American Jewish Newspapers, now available digitally!

I am pleased to announce that the following Early American newspapers are now available digitally through the following links.  With the exception of the American Israelite and American Hebrew and Jewish Messenger, all newspapers are freely available through the Historical Jewish Press website

Columbia is very proud to have been involved, with New York University and the New York Public Library, in helping the American Jewish Press to be added to the Historical Jewish Press’s corpus.  We look forward to continuing this collaboration in the years to come.

In English:
  1. Occident and American Jewish Advocate: http://web.nli.org.il/sites/JPress/English/Pages/The-Occident-and-American-Jewish-Advocate.aspx
  2. B’nai Brith Messenger: http://web.nli.org.il/sites/JPress/English/Pages/BBM.aspx
  3. Chicago Sentinel: http://web.nli.org.il/sites/JPress/English/Pages/Sentinal.aspx
  4. American Israelite: http://www.columbia.edu/cgi-bin/cul/resolve?clio11136600
  5. American Hebrew and Jewish Messenger: http://www.columbia.edu/cgi-bin/cul/resolve?clio11136586

In Ladino:

  1. La America: http://web.nli.org.il/sites/JPress/English/Pages/la-amirica.aspx.
  2. El Progreso: http://web.nli.org.il/sites/JPress/English/Pages/epo.aspx

In Yiddish:

  1. Morgen Zjournal: http://web.nli.org.il/sites/JPress/English/Pages/The-Jewish-Morning-Journal.aspx
  2. Die Wahrheit: http://web.nli.org.il/sites/JPress/English/Pages/Die-Warheit.aspx

Keep an eye on the Jewish Press in the USA section of the site, as there will be more newspapers added in the future!

New Electronic Resources: Hebrew-language journals and dictionaries

I am very pleased to announce that we have recently purchased some very important electronic collections for Jewish Studies research at Columbia.  Two collections of journal archives, including many Hebrew journals in the fields of art, Bible, history, folklore, philosophy, and many other topics, are now available through JSTOR via the Jewish Studies Collection and the Hebrew Journals Collection (click links for full title lists and coverage dates)

Additionally, Columbia users will now also have digital access to two important new Jewish language dictionaries; The Otsar ha-lashon ha-Spanyolit (Ladino) le-doroteha : milon maḳif hisṭori (Treasury of Ladino Language and Historical Dictionary) and the digital version of the  Yidish ṿerṭerbukh, which recently won the Association of Jewish Libraries’ Judaica Reference Award.

New Acquistions: Old Yiddish printed books (digital)

The Columbia University Libraries has recently acquired a database of 400 digitized Yiddish books from the Hebraica and Judaica of the Tychson Collection at the Rostock University.

According to the publisher's description:

"The nearly 400 titles of this edition offer a cross-section of the history of Yiddish books up to the 19th century. There are numerous rarities and unica, including the first Yiddish printing, Mirkevet ha-Mishne, Krakau 1534. Among translations and paraphrases of the Bible the collection contains the Konstanz-edition (1544) as well as translations by Blitz and Witzenhausen. Three of the existing editions of the Tsene-rene (Frankfurt a.M. 1685, Sulzbach 1702) were first discovered in Rostock, and the third of those (Fürth [Pseudo-Amsterdam] 1761) is apparently to be found nowhere else. One of the rarities among the prayer-books is a Hebrew Siddur. It contains Yiddish passages and was published in 1560 in Mantua."

This resource provides access to some of the oldest and rarest printings of Yiddish materials in existence.

We will soon be adding records with direct links to each of the titles in CLIO for easier searching.

Note: The site is in German.  To view a list of titles, go to: http://www.columbia.edu/cgi-bin/cul/resolve?clio10264881, and then click the link for "Titel" after "Die Hebraica und Judaica der Sammlung Tychsen und der Universitätsbibliothek Rostock" in the "Collections" box.  You can also search by keyword.  To access the PDF, click "Details" under the title that interests you, and then click "PDF" under "komplettes Werk."   The link to PDF will then change to "Herunterladen," and you can click that to download the file.

Crowdsourcing Yiddish transcription/translation

As anyone who has done research using Yiddish newspapers can tell you, it's not easy to find primary sources, especially those from newspapers, in the digital world.  While Yiddish newspapers contain critical information about the labor industry, immigration, the Jewish day-to-day environment, and so much else, finding these materials is not easy, and often requires endless searches through microfilm or brittle newspapers.

The Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives at Cornell University and the Modern Records Centre at the University of Warwick, however, have taken impressive action to begin to make these materials available.  Realizing that transcribing and/or translating Yiddish newspapers is no quick task, they have turned to crowdsourcing in order to publish online important papers relating to the Jewish garment workers in 19th and 20th century USA and UK.

Among the newspapers they are working with are The Polish Yidel (1884-1886), Hashulamith. (1891-1895), and The Ladies' Garment Worker. (1910-1918).  One must register for an account to begin translating, but people have already been translating and transcribing!  See here for the full list of scanned pages from the Polish Yidel, for example; (P) indicates a partially completed page; (C) indicates that the page has been completed

Now this is something we can all learn from!

(Crossposted at the Global Studies blog)

November 8: A Bundle of Comics: Graphic Narratives from The Jewish Daily Forward’d Bintl Brief

On November 8, at 6 PM, Liana Finck will be discussing and showing her graphic artistry based on the letters to the editor from the Jewish Daily Forward's Bintl Brief.  A poignant collection of stories from the early 20th century, the Bintl Brief was the "letters to the editor" that highlighted the immigrant Jewish experience in America.  Also speaking will be Samuel Norich, the publisher of the Forward, and Rutgers University Professor Edward Portnoy, an expert on Yiddish popular culture.

The lecture is co-sponsored by the Rare Book and Manuscript Library and the Jewish Daily Forward.

More Yiddish…Haynt digitized and online

I wrote last year about the incredible resource that is the Historical Jewish Press.  In a further effort to make Jewish newspapers available freely online, the HJP has now digitized its first Yiddish paper,Haynt.  Haynt was a seminal Jewish newspaper in Eastern Europe from 1908-1939, and is a critical resource for day to day news about the Jews of that time and place.

Hebrew mss @ CUL: Unpublished Plays from the Yiddish Theatre

Columbia's Yiddish Studies Program is the oldest in the country, beginning in 1952 under the direction of renouned Yiddish scholar Uriel Weinreich.  Weinreich's student, Marvin Herzog was one of the major figures in the creation of the Language and Culture Atlas of Ashkenazic Jewry (LCAAJ), whose archives are held at Columbia. 

In terms of historic Yiddish manuscripts, Columbia has a 19th century Purim Shpiel, a funeral ceremony from 1813, some legal documents and discourses, and letters.  A purchase in December 2011 of a manuscript of unpublished plays from Avrom Goldfadn, known as the "father of Yiddish theatre" was a wonderful addition to our collection.

There are four plays included in the manuscript:

1) Der Katter.

2) Ikx, Mikx, Drikx.

3) Fier Por Porcelain Teller.

4) Di Shveblach.

Ikx, Mikx, Drikx is a particularly amusing comedy, about a father trying to find a match for his three daughters.

The manuscript passed through Odessa, and includes a date of September 14, 1879.  There is also a censor's stamp in the manuscript.  As far as we know, these plays were never published.

Other New York collections with Goldfadn materials include the YIVO Institute of Jewish Research, which holds a Goldfadn archive, and the New York Public Library, which includes some Goldfadn materials in its Tomashevsky Collection.

New Resource: Thesaurus of the Hebrew Book

I am pleased to announce that Columbia University Libraries has recently purchased the Vinograd Thesaurus of the Hebrew Book.  This database, available only on DVD, is a very-much updated version of the print edition (located in Butler Reference: R016.4924 V56).  This searchable database lists of all books printed in Hebrew characters from 1468-1948 (including Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino, and Judeo-Arabic).

The database lists title, author, publication information (date, place, and printer), and pagination, as well as the source for the identification of the book (sometimes this is a reference work; sometimes it is a physical library).  Additional notes, indicating language (if other than Hebrew) and previous auction sale information, are very useful.  It is a very good resource for finding and identifying Hebrew-script books, and, used in conjunction with the Bibliography of the Hebrew Book (available only from a Columbia computer), is invaluable for research in the Hebrew book.

The DVD can be accessed by contacting Michelle Chesner, Librarian for Jewish Studies (mc3395@columbia.edu; 212-854-8046).