Briv funem Arkhiv: A Masquerade Ball in Warsaw, 1925

Alyssa Quint


Wel­come to In geveb’s briv funem arkhiv (let­ters from the archive) series, where we high­light archival finds that are too good not to share. You can learn more and sub­mit your own briv here, or see all briv posts here. Our first briv comes from Alyssa Quint, who has also sup­plied a translation.

I found this pamphlet in YIVO’s legendary RG8 called The Esther-Rachel Kaminska Theater Museum Collection, one of YIVO’s original Vilna Collections.

The collection began as a theater museum opened in 1926 in Warsaw to honor the legendary Yiddish actor, Esther Rachel Kaminska. Its founders, the Yiddish actors Ida Kaminska and Zygmunt Turkov, donated it to YIVO in 1927 and Max Weinreich and others went to great efforts to grow the collection. Grow it did! YIVO gave the the collection its own dedicated exhibition room and a staff of eight managed the collection and exhibition space. A few years ago, I was hired to survey the collection. It includes over 100 feet of material, which does not include its formidable poster collection now undergoing conservation and materials discovered in Lithuania over recent decades. All of this will be available digitally over the coming years. To be published soon: an online exhibition called A Tale of Two Museums about the museum origins of this important collection of Yiddish theater documents and the milieu of interwar Polish-Yiddish art theater that gave rise to it.

This treasure jumped out at me at the very beginning of my survey, as if to remind me of just how much fun I was having. It is a Yiddish pamphlet that circulated in 1925 Warsaw to advertise an annual masquerade ball held to raise money for the OZE (Obshchestvo okhraneniia zdorov’ia evreiskogo naseleniia), a Jewish-sponsored public health organization. With Halloween upon us, it’s good to know other communities of other eras took costuming seriously.


The Vilna Society of Health of the Jewish Population

The Hall of the Commerce and Industrial Club
Masquerade Ball
January 23 1925

Assembly 10 o’clock in the evening


1) Everyone must come well-rested, dead hungry, and faint with thirst
2) Attending the Masquerade Ball and conducting oneself according to the laws is the best way to preserve one’s health from sickness (from depression, certainly) for an entire year; until the next masquerade ball of the OZE

Balu Maskowego

w dniu 23-go stycznia 1925 g.
w salach klubu Nandlowo-Przemyslowego
Quint, Alyssa. “Briv funem Arkhiv: A Masquerade Ball in Warsaw, 1925.” In geveb, October 2019:
Quint, Alyssa. “Briv funem Arkhiv: A Masquerade Ball in Warsaw, 1925.” In geveb (October 2019): Accessed Oct 24, 2021.


Alyssa Quint

Alyssa Quint is the author of The Rise of the Modern Yiddish Theater (Indiana 2019) and curator of the forthcoming online exhibition A Tale of Two Museums.