AUSTIN, Texas—The University of Texas at Austin’s Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center has recently completed cataloging the extensive Isaac Bashevis Singer archive, coinciding with the centennial celebration of Singer’s birth.
Singer (1904-1991) is the Yiddish writer of such novels as “The Slave” (1962), “Enemies: A Love Story” (1972) and “Shosha” (1978). The archive is now open to the public for research, and the collection is described in an online finding aid available at Isaac Bashevis Singer Papers.
The papers occupy 180 boxes and represent the single largest collection of Singer’s manuscripts, many of them written in Yiddish.
“Singer’s archive was the most challenging one I’ve ever cataloged,” said archivist Katherine Mosley. “At the same time, it was one of the most rewarding, because it provides such a complete record of his writing career, and I know that it will be invaluable to researchers.”
Throughout the project, Mosley had the support of several volunteers who could read Yiddish and assist in identifying the working documents of the 20th century’s most acclaimed Yiddish writer.
During cataloging, Mosley found a number of works that have never been published, “certainly never in English translation,” as well as letters to Singer from his mother Batsheve (including those written 1939-1941 from the work camp where she died), and extensive correspondence with a number of contemporary Yiddish authors, such as Rachel H. Korn, Melech Ravitch, Abraham Sutzkever and Itzhak Yanasowicz.
To celebrate Singer’s centennial, the Ransom Center has contributed to “Becoming an American Writer: The Life and Work of Isaac Bashevis Singer,” an NEH-funded traveling exhibition featuring rarely seen documents, photographs and memorabilia drawn from the Singer archive at the Ransom Center. The exhibition traces the author’s life from Poland to America and includes Singer’s famous Yiddish typewriter, handwritten notes and letters, manuscripts, Singer’s 1978 Nobel Prize certificate and much more. The exhibition has visited the National Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts and Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, and is currently on display at Yeshiva University in New York City.
For more information contact: Travis Willmann, Harry Ransom Center, 512-232-3667.