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YIVO Photo and Film Archives Collections and Services

Vital Zajka

The YIVO Photo and Film Archives holds more than 200,000 images about Jewish life and culture all over the world. A large proportion of images focus on Jewish life in Eastern Europe, including Poland and Russia, as well as on the United States. The Photo and Film Archives reflects Jewish communal and family life, religious, political, economic and social life, and culture and the arts. The photo collection also documents the activities of many Jewish relief and charitable organizations. The Archives contains more than 3,000 Yiddish Theater photographs and 10,000 Holocaust-related images. The Photo and Film Archives also has more than 300 films and over 600 video recordings on various topics.

Researchers are advised to begin by referring to

The following YIVO websites hold extensive information about YIVO image resources. In some instances images are also posted online.
Guide to the YIVO Archives

YIVO Encyclopedia
People of A Thousand Towns

Jewish Life in Poland

A percentage of YIVO Photo Archives images have been digitized. While many of the Photo Archives holdings are not yet available online, the researcher is encouraged to browse through the above listed websites and to contact the Photo and Film Archives at to inquire about these images, to make appointments to visit the Photo Archives to view the originals, or to order copies of photographs.

Selected YIVO Photo Archives collections which have searchable inventories online:

YIVO Holocaust Photographs

Photographs of the Polish Jewish photographer, Alter Kacyzne

Collection of Postcards and Greeting Cards

Yiddish Theater photographs

United States Territorial Photographs

For images about other subjects, researchers should contact Vital Zajka at and provide a clear description of the research subject and the type of images required.

Due to the high volume of incoming research requests, off-site reference inquiries are limited to 20 minute sessions. If lengthier research sessions are required, researchers are requested to write to to make an appointment five business days in advance to visit the YIVO Photo Archives in person or to appoint a representative to carry out the research on her/his behalf.

For requests involving high resolution reproductions of an image, duplication fees and permission policies will apply. The fee structure for reproduction of images is listed at:

Reproduction policies are found here.

Ordering reproductions: Researchers must send a request with a list of items of interest via email to, fax [212-292-18920] or by regular mail [Vital Zajka, Photo and Film Archives, YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011], and state their name and affiliation, providing details on the project, and what kind of images are being requested.

If requesting specific items from the YIVO photo image online databases, the researcher is required to state the Collection name, Catalog number and Frame number, and provide URL links if applicable.

Upon receipt of the signed Permission to Publish and Reproduction Request forms, the average turn-around-time for an order is 5 business days. In case of complex and large-volume orders that period can be extended. Rush Orders are usually not accepted but in rare cases expedited orders can be fulfilled in 2 business days for a 50% surcharge.

Other YIVO Archives policies, hours and other useful information can be found at the following links:

Vital Zajka is information manager of the Photo Archives and Library at YIVO.