How to Find the Yiddish Story You’re Looking For

People often contact the Yiddish Book Center when they’re looking for a particular poem, play, or story. “Where can I find Peretz’s ‘Di frume kats?’” [the pious cat]; “Which Ansky volume has The Dybbuk?’'; or, “Where can I find Moishe Nadir’s essay on Mendele Mocher Sforim?” (As best as I can tell, no one has ever contacted the Center to ask about Nadir’s essay on Mendele, but it’s good to dream of a more perfect world.)

Our answers to these questions usually depended on a mix of memory, luck, and labor-intensive searching. So, to better serve our users -- and to improve the lives of our staff -- we decided to index the collected works of a number of the most popular Yiddish writers.

We are happy to announce that we have incorporated this information into our catalog and you can now search for specific specific stories or plays or novels by the following writers:

Sholem Aleichem
I.L. Peretz*
Mendele Mocher Sforim
Abraham Reisen
Joseph Opatoshu
Sholem Asch
Dovid Bergelson
S. Ansky
Moishe Nadir
Peretz Hirschbein

In addition, you can also find the contents of other, selected texts via search:

Kadia Molodowsky, Mayselekh (Warsaw 1931) and Yidishe kinder (New York 1945)
H. Leivick, Ale verk fun h. Leyvik, bd. 2: dramatishe shriftn (New York 1940)
Glatstein, In tokh genumen, eseyen 1949-1959 (Buenos Aires (1960)

* Contents for Peretz’s khsidish are currently unavailable and will be added next week.

For the time being, searches will only lead you to the specific volume. A search for Peretz’s “di frume kats,” for example, will bring up Di ṿerḳ fun Yitsḥaḳ Leybush Perets (New York 1920), vol 12.

Search results for "di frume kats"

Searches can be done in either Yiddish characters or in YIVO transliteration or in a mixture of both. Here, for example, I typed the last name of the author in transliteration, while writing out a portion of the title in Yiddish.

A search using both Yiddish transliteration and Yiddish characters

Typing in Yiddish characters may prove more reliable, especially for words of Hebraic origin.

Another tip to improve search results is to use the complete Library of Congress author heading. Take, for example, a search for the I.L. Peretz story “mayses.” A search for “peretz mayse” brings up 39 books, with the top search result a volume of stories called Mayses by Yehuda Elberg published by the Peretz publishing house. A search for “PERETZ, ISAAC LEIB mayses,” on the other hand, returns only eight books, including the indexed volume of his complete works.  

Improve your search results by using the complete Library of Congress author entry

Additional Notes and caveats:

  • As of now, the index is only live for search purposes. A display of the table of contents on the item page is forthcoming.
  • ​In some cases, there are multiple editions of these author’s collected works, with each addition having different volume headings. We have chosen to index representative editions from each writer.
  • Not every Complete Works actually contains the complete work of an author in question. In some cases, we indexed multiple complete works, or cobbled together various selected works, in order to try to attain a measure of completeness.
  • Can’t find something you expect to find? Contact [email protected] It could be a transcription error, or it could be that the story/poem/play in question wasn’t included in one of the selected editions.
  • ​Suggestions of future authors to index should likewise be sent to [email protected] .

The list of authors and titles continues to grow, and we will post updates about the project to our website.

Thanks to Amber Kanner Clooney, Corbin Allardice, Zeke Levine, Adam Cohn, Rebecca White, Catherine Madsen, Michael Yashinsky, and Sadie Gold-Shapiro for their work on the project.

-- Eitan Kensky