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Collection Guide: The Max and Frieda Weinstein Archive of YIVO Sound Recordings

This guide provides an overview of how to access the materials in YIVO's Sound Archive.

YIVO Sound Archive Office, Center for Jewish History, New York, NY.

About this Guide

This guide gives a comprehensive overview of the collection material found within the Max and Frieda Weinstein Archive of YIVO Sound Recordings at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. Although the materials in the YIVO Sound Archive are available by appointment only, please use this guide as a stepping off point for your future practical audio research.

For more information on the YIVO Sound Archives, please visit the Sound Archives homepage at, follow the archive on Facebook, or contact an archivist at to set up a research appointment.

About the Max and Frieda Weinstein Archive of YIVO Sound Recordings

The Sound Archive houses over 20,000 recordings (including 78, 45, and 33 rpm discs, open-reel and cassette tapes, piano rolls, and compact discs) as well as various artifacts related to sound recordings. It is is one of the most extensive and frequently consulted Jewish music collections in the world.
The Sound Archive embraces all musical genres, including Yiddish and Hebrew folk music, pop music, theater music, Holocaust songs, liturgical music, choral music, instrumental compositions, children’s songs, holiday songs, and Klezmer music. In addition to music, the Sound Archive stewards a collection of spoken word recordings, oral histories, interviews, radio programs, and field recordings.

The collection includes unique test recordings never released by the record companies that made them, as well as the only known surviving examples of some released recordings.

In addition to serving researchers, the Sound Archive is embedded in the Yiddish music world, and has close relationships with many musicians who utilize its resources in creating their art. It serves anyone seeking to include Yiddish music in their life or work, including teachers, journalists, camp counselors, radio producers, and more.

About YIVO Institute for Jewish Research

The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research was founded by scholars and intellectuals in Vilna, Poland, in 1925 to document and study Jewish life in all its aspects: language, history, religion, folkways, and material culture. YIVO had a special focus on the Jews of Eastern Europe, but collected books, manuscripts and other artifacts from Jewish communities around the world. World War II and the Holocaust forced YIVO’s relocation to New York in 1940. Its collections in Vilna were looted by the Nazis. With the help of the U.S. Army, YIVO was able to recover some of these materials and begin its work anew in America.

Today, YIVO’s collections are the primary source of the documentary history of East European Jewry and the surviving record of millions of lives of Jewish victims of the Holocaust. YIVO brings treasures from its library and archives to broad audiences via a rich array of programs, including lectures, concerts, and exhibitions; adult education and Yiddish-language programs and courses; books and scholarly publications; and fellowships for scholars.

YIVO Archives

The purpose of the YIVO Archives is to identify, acquire, preserve, and make accessible historically significant documents and other materials which reflect the Archives’ origins and development and enhance the Archives’ unique areas of expertise in documenting Jewish life. 

The YIVO Archives contains 23 million records in 12 languages. The 2,500 collections that make up the YIVO Archives include manuscripts, letters, printed ephemera, sheet music, posters, artworks and artifacts, photographs, film and videos, and sound recordings. These collections, which together represent the single largest and most comprehensive repository of materials on East European Jewish civilization in the world, focus on a number of important areas including Jewish history, language, literature, and culture in Eastern Europe; World War II and the Holocaust; Jewish educational, political, and labor organizations; and Jewish immigration to the United States, Israel, and other countries in the Diaspora.

The YIVO Archives has a responsibility to the academic community and to the public to provide access to our holdings in order to facilitate new research, inspire interest in the history and culture of Eastern European Jewry, and expand scholarship, projects, and programs which enrich our understanding of this history and culture.

The Archives provides appropriate facilities for the retention, preservation, and servicing of its holdings and is committed to creating an open-access, user-centered research experience for all patrons who wish to use our materials regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, social and academic status, or religious affiliation.

The YIVO Archives is dedicated to connecting and partnering with other cultural organizations whose materials complement our own and to building new tools that allow worldwide access to our unique holdings.