The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research has launched a $5.25 million project to digitize a swathe of its library and archive, creating the world’s largest online collection of Eastern European Jewish life prior to the Holocaust.
If completed, the Vilna Project will reunite YIVO’s pre-World War II library and archive for the first time in 70 years, making more than 1.5 million books and documents available to researchers around the world.
It might also solve, at least temporarily, a decades-long ownership struggle over thousands of Yiddish materials seized by the Nazis during World War II and kept in Lithuania to this day.
First, though, the scholarly archive organization must find the funds to complete the seven-year project. So far, YIVO has raised just $350,000.