About is a database of Yiddish popular fiction, collecting and analyzing works of entertainment literature written in Yiddish and published as books and pamphlets and serialized in the Yiddish press.

A Woman’s Honor, The Lost Daughter, It’s Hard to be a Mother, The Masked World—these are just a few titles from the thousands of Yiddish pulp novels published during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Serialized as stand-alone pamphlets or in the pages of the Yiddish press, novels like these are twisting tales of murder and infidelity, adventure and political intrigue. Though labeled by critics as “trash” (shund in Yiddish), they were central to Jewish daily life throughout the global network of Ashkenazi Jewry. Today these texts remain largely unstudied even as scholars assert their importance to understanding Yiddish culture and its afterlives. This project aims to bridge this gap by producing a collaborative, open-access database that will synthesize shund’s varied and disparate archives and facilitate new scholarship. With a better understanding of what exactly constitutes shund, a group of scholars can together produce comparative histories of the genre while theorizing it as a paradigm for how marginalized cultures confront the modern world.

This site is currently in beta mode, as we continue to build the corpus and test out methods of analysis. The majority of the database currently catalogues Forverts, New York’s daily socialist newspaper. We are grateful to the Forward Foundation for generously collaborating with this project. And special thanks to the research assistants who entered in all the data! Check the news feed for updates on new entries into the database.

Check out this post for a longer explanation of what criteria was used for entering fiction into the database.

Comments, suggestions, questions? Send a note to [email protected].

This project is supported by grants from Harvard’s Milton Fund, the Dean’s competitive fund for innovative scholarship, and the Center for Jewish Studies. 

About Us

Saul Noam Zaritt

Saul Noam Zaritt is an associate professor of Yiddish literature at Harvard University in the departments of Comparative Literature and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. His book Jewish American Writing and World Literature: Maybe to Millions, Maybe to Nobody appeared with Oxford University Press in 2020. He is a founding editor of In geveb: A Journal of Yiddish Studies.

Matt Cook

Matt Cook
As Digital Scholarship Program Manager for Harvard Library, Matt supports diverse scholarly efforts with emerging computational methods, engaging learning spaces, and a campus-wide network of technological expertise. Matt’s personal research interests include 3D technologies (e.g. photogrammetry, VR, etc.) and embodied cognition. After studying philosophy at the undergraduate and graduate, Matt began working full time in libraries and developing new tools and systems to augment research and instruction across disciplines. As a researcher, Matt also study the state and trajectory of digital scholarship more generally, as well as what it takes to manage exploratory teams in libraries and the impact of new knowledge services related to physical fabrication and mindfulness.

Rachel Cressell

Rachel Cressell
Rachel Cressell is currently a graduate student in Linguistics at the University of Virginia. She received her undergraduate degree from the same institution in German Studies and Jewish Studies in 2019. As a researcher and Yiddishist, she has collaborated on projects with the University of Virginia, Princeton University, and Harvard University. Her interests lie with linguistic anthropology, Jewish languages, and the politics of language that emerged in Mandatory Palestine.

Jonah Lubin

Jonah Lubin is a student of comparative literature at the Freie Universität Berlin, interested in Yiddish Literature, translation studies, and Digital Humanities. He is the creator of the @random_forverts Twitter bot and is working on a database of translations into Yiddish.

A.C. Weaver

Weaver is a Yiddish translator, playwright, director and cultural organizer living in Northampton, MA. You can view photographs of their work at