Since its inception in 1925, in parallel with its research, archival, and bibliographic work, the YIVO Institute has carried out an active program of scholarly publication. In YIVO’s books, journals, catalogs, newsletters, and brochures, every aspect of the field of Yiddish and East European Jewish history and culture, as well as many other fields of modern Jewish scholarship, has been represented: linguistics, cultural and economic history, folklore and anthropology, social studies, theater history and music, literary history, and bibliography.
Before the war, YIVO’s publications in its main center,
together with its many Polish, European, and overseas branches, were extensive.
By 1939 YIVO had initiated several series of area studies, produced by its
various research sections (philological, historical, economic-statistical, and
pedagogical), aside from the quarterly academic journal YIVO-Bleter and
numerous individual monographs. From 1940, when YIVO’s headquarters were
transferred to New York, the publications program was relaunched in America,
where the Amopteyl (American branch) had already been active in publishing
since its establishment in 1925.
An exhibition of YIVO publications held in Israel in 1960 displayed more than 300 works in various fields, reflecting a wide-ranging publishing activity both before and after the war. In the course of its first half-century in America, YIVO maintained and even expanded its publications program. The YIVO Annual, an English-language journal, was launched in 1940, and English became the second language of YIVO’s imprints, both for original scholarship and for translations of works first written in Yiddish. Since 1975, when English-language works became a large part of YIVO’s publication program, the YIVO imprint has often appeared in collaboration with distinguished university and scholarly presses. To date YIVO has issued over one hundred books and catalogs in English, apart from its publications in Yiddish.
A permanent archival collection of all YIVO publications, from 1925 to the present, is on public display in the YIVO offices, in glass cases adjacent to the Vilna gallery. Among the treasures in these cases are Nokhem Shtif’s proposal for a Yiddish academic institute, published in Vilna in 1925 and considered YIVO’s “founding document,” as well as the last volumes published by YIVO in Vilna before the outbreak of war in 1939, and YIVO’s very last European publication issued under Soviet rule in 1940, of which only a few copies survived. New publications are added regularly to this archival collection, which serves as a visible reminder of the intellectual history of YIVO—the Yiddish academy—in its formative interwar years in Poland, and in its development over the course of nearly eight decades in the New World.
Recently published works (both 2008) include a revised edition, now with a translation of the complete text and notes, of Max Weinreich’s History of the Yiddish Language, and The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe, a multivolume resource that reflects YIVO’s ongoing mission to explore all aspects of Jewish life in a scholarly, comprehensive way.