Jonathan Brent, Executive Director and CEO of The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, will speak to us about the Edward Blank YIVO Vilna Collections Project, an international initiative, begun in 2015, to conserve and digitize YIVO’s entire prewar library and archival collections located in New York City and Vilnius, Lithuania, and reunite them though a dedicated web portal. The project will also digitally reconstruct the historic, private Strashun Library of Vilna, one of the greatest prewar Jewish libraries of Europe In 2017 YIVO discovered more than 170,000 additional documents in Vilnius, which for over 70 years were thought to have been destroyed by the Nazis during the Holocaust. The new phase of the Project will include the digitization of these documents. The entire Vilna Collections encompass some 12,200 rare books and approximately 1.1 million original documents from the Jewish world of Eastern Europe.
The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research was founded in Vilna, Poland (now Lithuania), in 1925. During World War II, its extensive archive and library was looted by the Nazis. Much was destroyed, but soon after the war some of the materials were recovered by the U.S. Army in Germany and sent to YIVO in the United States. However, much also remained hidden in Lithuania.The Edward Blank YIVO Vilna Collections Project is a partnership between YIVO, the Lithuanian Central State Archives, the Martynas Mažydas National Library of Lithuania, and the Wroblewski Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, and includes the cataloging, conservation, and digitization of documents and books in both New York and Vilnius.