The Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine is the main academic library and main scientific library information center of the Ukraine and one of the world’s 20 largest national libraries. It is located in Kiev Ukraine. The Jewish Archive at the Vernadsky Library is celebrating its centennial this year and has over 150,000 items including over 1,000 audio cylinders.. The archives original filing system was demolished by the KGB—the loss of descriptions of its holdings—but the holdings themselves were saved. Jewish books were stored with unwanted backlist Communist propaganda which functioned as a camouflage. The archive reopened when the Ukraine became an independent nation in the 1990’s.
There is a treasure trove of recordings that captured the community’s Jewish musical folklore—these records which were done before serious recording technology was invented had been digitized and released in CD format 1912-1947. See: http://audio.ipri.kiev.ua/index.html. It is not just music, but one release is the ” Jewish Agricultural Colonies of the Southern Ukraine” and another a 1913 collection of fieldwork conducted in the Jewish communities of Palestine.
The archive started in 1918 and expanded in the 1930’s when it received many recordings from St. Petersburg’s Jewish Museum—including S. Ansky’s (author of The Dybbuk) materials. The digitization of the discs occurred as the then president of the Ukraine (1997) was planning a visit to Israel and wanted to provide a thoughtful gift for this first time official visit.
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Thank you Saul Issroff and Jan Meisels Allen for sharing.