Tablet: Pale of Settlement photos podcast

There’s another podcast at Tablet Magazine – this one focuses on the ethnographic expeditions through Russia’s Pale of Settlement from 1912-1914.

Read the text and hear the interview here.

Author S. An-sky recorded music, folk tales, photographs and every day life. Much of it had never been recorded before. A new collection of material – some 350 photos – has been recently rediscovered, resulting in a book with 200 of them.

He also recorded Jewish popular and liturgical music on wax cylinders. A few years ago, the University of Kiev digitally transcribed the music on those cylinders to CDs. I heard them at the Fehrer Music Archives at Beit Hatefutsot when Dr. Yuval Shaked was the archives director.

I especially enjoyed the music recorded in our TALALAY ancestral town of Mogilev, Belarus, when branches of the family still lived there. There were recordings by hazzanim, and likely the same people our family heard in person, as well as popular songs, which they likely sung themselves. It was a very connecting experience!

The photos bring to life the lives of our ancestors.

An-sky – his pen name – wrote popular plays, such as “The Dybbuk.”

The photos are the most comprehensive visual record available of these small towns and the people who lived there.

The book (pictured above) is Photographing the Jewish Nation: Pictures from S. An-sky’s Ethnographic Expeditions, edited by Eugene Avrutin and Harriet Murav, professors at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, about the importance of this collection for anyone interested in shtetl life in the Russian Empire.

David G. Roskies, author of “Yiddishlands: A Memoir” wrote about this new book:

“Here, recovered and recorded at the last conceivable moment, is the living shtetl, those market towns large and small that were once home to the majority of Jews in the world: a bucolic landscape amidst the poverty and mud; school children posing with their nattily dressed teachers; mug shots of potential nannies; Jews of every age engaged in all manner of trade; a huge outdoor wedding; beautiful synagogue interiors, complete with chandeliers and signs of the zodiac; ritual objects and sacred graves; the Rabbi’s house and the local church. Here, also, is the story of the intrepid explorers, children of the shtetl themselves, who tried to salvage this Yiddish-speaking civilization for future generations. No less miraculous are their spiritual offspring, who authored this superb collection of essays and discovered these remarkable photographs.”

The list of editors, some names are familiar to readers, is here:

Eugene M. Avrutin, Assistant Professor of History and Tobor Scholar in Jewish Studies, University of Illinois. Valerii Dymshits, Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies and Director of the Interdepartmental Center, “Petersburg Judaica,” at the European University, St. Petersburg, Russia. Alexander Ivanov, Senior Researcher at the European University, St. Petersburg. Alexander Lvov is Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies at the European University, St. Petersburg. Harriet Murav, Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Illinois. Alla Sokolova, Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies at the European University, St. Petersburg.

The Tablet link provides a gallery of photos from the book.

Yizkor Book Project: January new entries, updates

The Yizkor Book Project on JewishGen added – during January – six new projects, 11 new entries and 12 updates.

See below for these entries organized by country.
[P=new project, N=new entry and U=update]

P – Antopol (Shards of Memory: Messages from the Lost Shtetl of Antopol)

P – Dabrowa Bialostocka (Dubrowa: Memorial to a Shtetl)
P – Leczyca (Memorial book of Leczyca)
N – Jedrzejow (Pinkas Poland)
N – Myslenice (Wadowice Yizkor Book)
U – Brzeziny
U – Chmielnik
U – Goniadz
U – Kaluszyn
U – Katowice
U – Kolo
U – Kutno
U – Piotrkow Trybunalski
U – Zambrow

P – Kovel’ (Kowel; testimony and memorial book of our destroyed community)
P – Rava-Ruska (Rawa Ruska memorial book)
N – Ust’ye-Zelenoye (Pinkas Poland)
N – Zhuravno (Pinkas Poland)
U – Berezhany
U – Rozyszcze

P – Mad (The Jewish Community of Mad, Hungary)

N – Aukstadvaris (Pinkas Lita)
N – Babtai (Pinkas Lita)
N – Bagaslaviskis (Pinkas Lita)
N – Balninkai (Pinkas Lita)
N – Batakiai (Pinkas Lita)
N – Kretinga(Pinkas Lita)
U – Svencionys

N – Police, Czech Republic (Moravia)

To find the translations, click here.

Footnote: Vietnam War records, photos online today added 27,000 photos and records to its Vietnam War Collection, which now stands at more than 100,000 photos and documents. View it free throughout February.It provides viewers with a better perspective for this often misunderstood event in US history.

“Our partnership with the National Archives has proven to be invaluable as we work to make these records more accessible,” explains Russell Wilding, CEO of “Previously you were required to travel to Washington, D.C. to see these records. Now anyone can access the original records through the internet.”

Army Unit Service Awards include documents relating to Presidential Unit Citations, Valorous Unit Awards and Meritorious Unit Commendations. These were usually awarded to units going above and beyond the call of duty, and in most cases, showing exceptional valor. These documents contain: dates of service, duties performed and letters of recommendation

Army Photos feature various activities of the US Army during the Vietnam War. In nearly every case, there is a caption or description of what was happening and the names of soldiers in the photos. Everything ranging from daily duties to Bob Hope’s visits are captured, providing a glimpse into the soldiers’ lives.

Justin Schroepfer,’s marketing director, says that his father is a Vietnam War hero, but he can rarely get him to share his wartime experiences. “Going through these photos allowed me to visualize a little more what he went through and the sacrifices he made for his country,” he said.

The Vietnam War Collection at Footnote also includes:

The Interactive Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Photos of the Marine Corps in Vietnam – color
Photos of the Marine Corps in Vietnam – black and white

The online subscription site will continue to work with the National Archives to add more records.

A picture is worth a thousand words is an old adage, and these documents and photos tell a story that isn’t in textbooks.

It’s imperative that we preserve and share this side of history for future generations,” says Footnote CEO Russell Wilding. “We are encouraging everyone to come to and enhance these stories by adding their own comments, photos and documents.”

The Vietnam War Collection is free to the public throughout February.