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Restrictions: The collection is open by appointment with the Chief Archivist. Researchers should write to the Chief Archivist at email@example.com to request an appointment.
While the description below relates to the entire collection, the films described and displayed in this website pertain only to Jewish life in Poland. The films presented here were digitized with the generous support of the Righteous Persons Foundation and the Steven Spielberg Foundation.
The collection is of mixed provenance and consists mostly of 16 mm films and some 8 mm and 35 mm films. There is also a group of VHS and 3/4 in. tapes. Many of the films are registered as part of other record groups in the YIVO Archives and were physically separated from these record groups, placed in the Collection of Films, and cataloged, for preservation purposes and for improved access to researchers. The collection includes the following series:
Amateur Films. ca. 75 items, 1920s-1930s. Amateur home movies made by American Jews on trips to Eastern Europe, mainly Poland. The films reflect the relationship between American Jews and their famiiles back in Europe and cover a wide range of subjects. The films depict country scenes, marketplaces, urban sites, families, traditional Jews, religious life, Hasidim, and also throw light on modernizing influences in Poland in the prewar period as well as on modern Jewish life in Poland. One segment of this series consists of films produced by Gustave Eisner who owned the Gustave Eisner Travel Agency in the inter-war period and arranged trips back to Poland and to Palestine. The Eisner films include some of Palestine and of American Jewish life. Amateur films made by Abraham Twersky of the Sholem Aleichem Houses in the Bronx which include images of a number of notable cultural figures in the Yiddish secular world.
Films of Towns and Cities Commissioned by Landsmanshaftn. 2 items. 1920s-1930s. A Pictorial Review of Kolbuszowa, 1929. A film about Sedziszow, Poland, 1935.
Post-war films made by social welfare organizations. 1940s-1960s. About 40 items. Films produced by social welfare organizations such as the HIAS and the AJDC describing the situation of Jewish refugees and displaced persons and organizational work carried out on their behalf. Included are films about HIAS's involvement with Hungarian refugees in 1956.
Miscellaneous films. A film about Jewish refugees in Shanghai in the late 1940s. 8 mm footage of the Warsaw Ghetto and the Cracow Ghetto during World War II. Yiddish language newsreel made of a memorial ceremony held in Skierniewice, Poland, in 1947 for Holocaust victims. *A Scientific Expedition to Birobizhan* (1929), a silent film by the faculty of Brigham Young University, Utah.