Yiddish Goes Digital (with a Little Help from Its Friends) November 29, 2012 – Tags: , , ,

The first page of the Polish Yidel, July 1884

Calling all Yiddish speaking people…

Two archives, one at Cornell University, the other at University of Warwick in the UK, have teamed up to digitize more than 1,500  pages from journals and newspapers originally written for working-class Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe.

Much of the original material has never been translated into English and with the number of Yiddish speakers in the world in significant decline the project was opened up to the public: 

 relying on individuals’ to help translate the publications, which include The Polish “Yidel” and “Hashulamith” newspapers and “The Ladies’ Garment Worker,” journal of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union and cover the period 1910-1918. As the project continues, more items in Yiddish relating to labor and particularly the garment industry, will be added continually as pages are transcribed. 

Screenshot of one of the projects wiki pages

“Crowdsourcing in libraries and archives has recently become popular, because it not only increases awareness and access, but also creates new communities of users who are actively involved, invested and excited in the projects.” says Kathryn Dowgiewicz, International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union project archivist at the Kheel Center.

Being a third generation garment industry worker (I worked in the garment district in the early 1980’s) of Eastern European descent, this project is of much interest and I am eager to follow its evolution. Unfortunately, my yiddish is limited to the pocketful of words that were in heavy rotation in Brooklyn in the 1960’s.

Cornell University Press Release: Yiddish Goes Digital (with a Little Help from Its Friends)

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