No. 8/2000 - February 2000

Elsebeth Paikin
The editorial staff:
Mario Kampel - Lori Miller


by Bill Schechter

At the Belarus SIG Meeting at the 19th Jewish Genealogical Conference in New York, August 1999, it was suggested that a bibliography should be prepared and made available on the Belarus SIG Website. Two experienced librarians, Kenneth H. Ryesky and Florette Lynn, volunteered to coordinate this project.

It takes time to prepare a comprehensive bibliography, but it will at a future date be added to the website.

Until then this is a good start - and if anyone have additional suggestions please send them directly to

Bill Schechter.

Here is the booklist as promised. I hope you find it useful. I realize that even this relatively short list can seem very intimidating, but it hardly matters where you start. Every book will lead onward or backward to another.

Please note that this list does not include any "how-to" genealogical research books. These are available in any bookstore or see the publications and guides listed on the Avotaynu and JewishGen websites.

All of the books here are meant to help you place your genealogical research into a larger historical and cultural context.

Basic Bibliography about Russian & Polish Jews [1]

In Russia & Poland...
[1] Through the centuries, many towns went back and forth between Polish & Russian control.
I: History & Culture
  • The Jews in Russia Vol I & II (Greenberg) - The basic historical monograph/ Vol II may be more useful.
  • Shores of Refuge (Sanders) Russian background to US immigration and politics of US immigration, 1880-1940
  • In My Father Court (IB Singer)
  • The World of Sholem Aleichem (Samuel)
  • My Father, Shalom Aleichem (Waife-Goldberg)
  • The Shtetl: a creative anthology of Jewish life in Eastern Europe. New York, NY: Overlook Press, [1989]
  • The Shtetl book / [compiled] by Diane K. Roshkies and David G. Roskies. New York: Ktav Publ. House, 1975.
  • Shtetl finder : Jewish communities in the 19th and early 20th Centuries in the pale of settlement of Russia and Poland, and in Lithuania, Latvia, Galicia, and Bukovina, with names of residents.
  • Shtetl: The life and death of a small town and the world of Polish Jews. Eva Hoffman. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997. A recent book.
  • From a Ruined Garden: the memorial books of Polish Jewry translated and edited by Jack Kugelmass and Jonathan Boyarin ; with geographical index and bibliography by Zachary M. Baker.New York: Schocken Books, 1983.
  • Yiddish Folktales. Pantheon. 1988. (Weinreich)
  • Life is with People. The Culture of the Shtetl. Shocken. 1952 (Zborowski & Herzog)
  • The Golden Tradition. Jewish Life & Thought In Eastern Europe. Holt-Rinehart-Winston. 1967 (Dawidowicz)
  • There once was a world: A 900 year chronicle of the Shtetl of Eishyshok. Yaffa Eliach. Recent book
  • Jewish Roots in Ukraine and Moldova: Pages from the Past and Archival Inventories. Routes to Routes Foundation & YIVO. Miriam Weiner. 1999. Just published.
II: Fiction
  • Any stories by Shalom Aleichem
  • Stories by IB Singer
III: Photo Collections
  • Polish Jews (Vishniac)
  • A Vanished World (Vishniac)
  • Image Before My Eyes (Dobroszycki & Kirshenblatt-Gimblett) YIVO, 1977.
  • Yiddishland (Silvain & Minczeles)
  • The Old Country (Shulman)
  • The Jewish World of Yesteryear (Salamander)
  • Poyln: Jewish Life in the Old Country/ Metropolitian/Holt/Yivo Books. Just published. (Kacyzne)
IV: Movie/Video
  • Fiddler On The Roof (Adaptation of Sholem Aleichem's story)
  • Image Before My Eyes (Axon Video Corp., NYC)
In America

I: History & Culture

  • World of Our Fathers (Howe)/ Best single volume of the Immigrant experience
  • How We Lived/ A Documentary History (Howe & Lebo)
  • The Promised City (Rischin)
  • A Walker In The City (Kazin)/ memoir
  • Portal to America: The Lower East Side (Shoener)/ Photos & excerpts from New York newspapers.
  • Bintel Briefs/ The advice column from "The Forwards"
  • The Lower East Side Jews. Dover. Ronald Sanders
II: Fiction
  • Call It Sleep (Roth)/ One of the great American novels
  • The Breadgivers (Yezierska)
  • Jews Without Money (Gold)
  • The Rise of David Levinsky (Cahan)
III: Films
  • Hester Street

  • Archives For Both Russian Jews and American immigrant Jews

  • JewishGen website: explore all links to other Jewish sites
  • Yad Vashem/ Israel (via the Internet)
  • Holocaust Museum library/ Wash DC
  • YIVO/ the pre-eminent collection of materials about and from Eastern European Jewish communities (in NY). YIVO is now part of the Center for Jewish History. Many of the institutions above have Jewish encyclopedias that will contain small articles on even small, obscure communities


    While some of the books above may touch on the Holocaust, I have not attempted to list the extensive resources that bear directly on the Holocaust.

    Good luck!

    Bill Schechter

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