With the assistance of the UWM Stahl Center for Jewish Studies, Special Collections at the UWM Libraries acquired its first set of 78 Eastern European Yiddish posters (mostly for theatrical performances), that serve as documentation of performative presentations in Eastern Europe, especially Latvia, in the inter-war period.

The posters are “show-print” style advertisements for performances and presentations (theater, vaudeville, music, lectures, etc.) in Eastern Europe (mainly Latvia) in the 1920s and 1930s. Information in the posters include venue names, performance dates, titles and descriptions of performances/presentations, performer/presenter names (some with titles, brief bio info, and photographic image), and sponsor information. Personalities highlighted include Lithuanian actor and producer Rachel Berger, Russian film star Ossip Runitsch, and prominent Labor Zionist and Latvian parliamentarian Dr. Max Lazerson.

The posters range in size from 9″x 13″ / 23 x 33 cm (smallest) to 29″x 44″ / 23.66 x 111.75 cm (largest), with the majority about 23″x 36″ / 58.42 x 91.45 cm. All are letterpress-printed in wood and metal types, with some cuts and photographic imagery printed manly in black, but there are also red, blue, and rainbow-roll colors. Typography includes Hebrew, Cyrillic, and Roman (mainly Latvian).

As a partnership acquisition with the Stahl Center for Jewish Studies, the collection is intended mainly for teaching and research through the Center’s programs, but it has additional usefulness for Art and Design, History, language programs, the Milwaukee Jewish community, and in this digital form, Jewish/Yiddish teaching and research worldwide.

This digital collection also serves as the finding aid to the actual posters preserved in Special Collections. As a public collection, the Yiddish Poster collection in the UWM Libraries is fully available for use by the public in Special Collections (4th floor, Golda Meir Library). Special Collections’ hours are Monday-Friday, 10am-5pm, or by appointment (414.229.4345; libspecial@uwm.edu).