About Yizkor Books at NYPL: FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
NEW! Yizkor Book Spreadsheet with links (alphabetical list)
Read English translations of yizkor books on JewishGen
What are yizkor books?
What does NYPL have?
How can I find out the name/spelling/location of my town?
Is there a yizkor book for my shtetl/town/city?
Does NYPL have my yizkor book?
Why are some only available in print or microfilm?
Can I donate a yizkor book to the collection?
Where can I buy my own copy of a yizkor book?
Does NYPL have other materials about my town?
What if I can't read the language of a yizkor book?
How do I get started with Jewish genealogy?
Can I find information about pre-WWI immigration in a yizkor book?
Where can I find more information about landsmanshaftn?
Yizkor (memorial) books document the history of Jewish communities destroyed in the Holocaust. Most often privately published and compiled through the collective efforts of former community residents, they describe daily life through essays and photographs and memorialize murdered residents. Most are in Hebrew and/or Yiddish, although more English translations are being published now, especially through JewishGen, in online and print format.
NYPL’s yizkor book collection now includes about 760 yizkor books, of which about 680 which have been digitized, the majority through a partnership with the Yiddish Book Center. Researchers around the world can access these books online and in-person through the Dorot Jewish Division, and also purchase reprints from the Yiddish Book Center.
Finding Yizkor Books
Find the official, modern name of your town and its location by using JewishGen's Town Finder to look it up, or consult the gazetteer Where Once We Walked. Both provide variations of name spellings as well as geographic information (longitude and latitude).
Check JewishGen’s bibliographic database of yizkor books which includes information about existing yizkor books and which libraries hold them, including NYPL.
Check NYPL’s Yizkor Books Research Guide to find out which yizkor books are held by NYPL. The list is organized alphabetically by town/city name. Keep in mind that there are some spelling variations and that some yizkor books include more than one town. Ask staff in the Dorot Jewish Division for help. A complete list of yizkor books is available on JewishGen's bibliographic database.
Using Yizkor Books
The town names followed by an asterisk indicate books available in print or microfilm only. Usually this is due to permissions and formatting issues. If you are the copyright holder or the heir of a copyright holder for a yizkor book in our collection, please contact us with any questions or concerns.
I have a yizkor book (or a translation) in print or electronic format. Can I donate it to the collection?
Contact the Yiddish Book Center to purchase reprints. For originals, try an antiquarian bookseller.
For more books about Jewish communities, search the Library’s catalog. Use the town name as a keyword or subject heading. Other popular resources on Jewish communities in towns and cities include Pinkas ha-Kehillot (in Hebrew) and its summarized English counterpart, Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities Before and During the Holocaust. Other informational websites include JewishGen, Virtual Shtetl (for historically Polish towns and cities), and the YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe.
The yizkor book I found is in a language I can’t read (Hebrew, Yiddish, Hungarian, etc.). What do I do?
NYPL unfortunately does not provide translation services. Our staff can assist you by looking at the index and table of contents for relevant information or names.
- Check JewishGen’s yizkor book translation site for English translations, which may only be partial.
- Check NYPL’s catalog for printed English translations of yizkor books.
- Contact a translator - you can find lists of translators through Yiddish Book Center, YIVO, and Der Bay.
- Help sponsor a translation on JewishGen and make it available to others.
My ancestors emigrated before the first World War. Can I find information about them in a yizkor book?
Most yizkor books focus primarily on the period between the first and second World Wars and on the general history of the town/city. Unless your ancestors were famous, you may be unlikely to find them in yizkor books.Try JewishGen and Ancestry.com to find information about relatives who emigrated in earlier times.
You are more likely to find information in yizkor books about ancestors who remained in the town immediately before and during the second World War.
My ancestors were active in a landsmanshaft, or hometown association in the U.S. (an organization of immigrants from the same town or city). Where can I find more information?
Some landsmanshaftn published yizkor books, as well as other materials about immigrants from that town in their new home. See Landsmanshaftn in New York: A Quick Online Guide
JewishGen.Org Yizkor Book Project (translations, bibliographic database and more)