Since the organization began in 1925, YIVO has used questionnaires to collect the experiences of the Jewish people in their own words, gathering material on everything from Jewish folk legends to holiday preparation to children’s games. Over the decades, YIVO appealed directly to the community, collecting youth autobiographies and oral histories that covered topics such as the experiences of Jewish soldiers, life during the Holocaust, and stories of migration.
Many of those who answered YIVO’s questionnaires in the 1920s thought their stories were not worth writing down, but every response, no matter how similar, has variations that make it unique. Today, these sources form the core of YIVO’s collections and preserve a history that would have otherwise gone undocumented. They recollect times of prosperity, times of change, and times of great adversity.
Collecting Jewish stories is as important now as it was a century ago. We have heard from people around the world – from Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, England, Israel, Lithuania, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Scotland, Sweden, the United States, and Vietnam – from an eight-year-old to a ninety-six-year-old – and we want to hear from you.
Please help us document Jewish life during this time by sharing your experiences this Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Simhat Torah, and Shemini Atzeret, from the seemingly trivial to the extraordinary, so they can be preserved for generations to come.
To complete the questionnaire, go to