YIVO was founded in 1925 as the first body devoted to Yiddish scholarship. In the interwar period it boasted a world-wide network of dedicated supporters, many poorly educated and desperately poor. Why did thousands of ordinary Yiddish- speaking Jews around the world see a small research institute as the pinnacle of Jewish culture in the Diaspora and even a substitute for national sovereignty?

About the Speaker: Cecile Kuznitz is Associate Professor of Jewish history and Director of Jewish Studies at Bard College. She received her Ph.D. in modern Jewish history from Stanford University and previously taught at Georgetown University. She has held fellowships at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, and the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

She is the author of several articles on the history of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, the Jewish community of Vilna, and the field of Yiddish Studies. Her book on Yiddish scholarship between the two World Wars tentatively titled The Palace of the People: YIVO and The Making of Modern Jewish Scholarship is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.