International academic conference:
YIVO in Vilna: Institution, Personalities, and Legacy
Dedicated to the 90th Anniversary of YIVO's Establishment and the 75th
Anniversary of its Transition to New York
21-23th April 2015, Vilnius, Lithuania
In spring 1925 the institution known as the Yidisher visnshaftlekher
institut (YIVO) was established in Vilna. It became one of the most famous
research centers of East European Jewish culture, history, linguistics and
literature, gathering and preserving the heritage of the Yiddish language.
During the Second World War the YIVO headquarters was transferred to New
York, where it continues its work today; yet part of the heritage that YIVO
managed to collect was preserved in Vilna. In the context of today‘s
Vilnius the symbolic meaning of YIVO – one of the famous icons of the
Jewish community‘s past – remains. YIVO in New York continued the work of
the institution, its academic tradition and spirit while adapting to the
post-war environment in New York.
The conference‘s focus will be the Vilna period of YIVO’s activities and
its intellectual, social, and cultural contexts, as well as the
institute’s transition to New York. It will also consider the relevance of
YIVO’s work to today’s academic research in and institutional structure for
the study of East European Jewry. Finally, the conference invites
discussion of the impact of YIVO not only on scholarship but also on the
identity of the local Jewish community, analyzing the creation of the
institute‘s self-image and Vilna’s place in it.
The conference seeks to discuss the following questions:
1. YIVO’s activities and main achievements in the interwar period;
2. YIVO’s relationship with other Jewish cultural and educational
institutions in interwar Vilna, in particular the Yiddish secular schools.
3. The methodology and organization of YIVO’s scholarly work, their
impact on Jewish studies in pre-war Eastern Europe, and their relevance
4. The role of YIVO in formulating Vilna’s identity as a centre of
modern Jewish culture and Vilna’s importance to the self-image of YIVO.
5. YIVO’s relationship with other academic institutions in Vilna and
with contemporaneous centers for Jewish studies throughout the world.
6. YIVO as a transnational organization with a worldwide network of
branches and donors; contacts between YIVO in Vilna and its branches, most
notably in New York, in the pre-war period
7. YIVO’s transition to New York and the legacy of Vilna in its
8. YIVO during Soviet Years (1940-1941) and World War II;
9. Fate of YIVO people and books
To submit a proposal, please send a title and description of your proposed
presentation of no more than one page together with a brief CV to:
firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for proposals is: the October 1,
2014. For more information, please contact: email@example.com.
Some support for travel and housing expenses will be available, pending
confirmation of funding.
A program of events celebrating YIVO’s 90th anniversary, with a focus on
its post-war history in the United States, will take place at the YIVO
Institute for Jewish Research in New York in May 2015.
Centre for Studies of the Culture and History of East European Jews
YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
Vilnius University, Faculty of History
Lithuanian Institute of History
Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore