People of a Thousand Towns

Search Tips

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The photographs in People of A Thousand Towns are searchable in several different ways. You can pick one of the following indexes to search on or perform a search on several indexes at once ("combination search").

Any search will return a list of pictures that meet your criteria. Click on the thumbnail pictures to see full catalog descriptions and larger images. Click on the large image on the full record page to see an even larger view of the photograph. (Note: Large-size images not available over the Internet.)

Indexes (click to get more information about each):

City and Town
Proper Names

City and Town Index

The City and Town Index permits searches for photographs from specific towns and cities in Eastern Europe. The A-Z index contains many variants of town and city names. This is the best type of search if you are looking for pictures from a specific town or city. For example:

Druskieniki, Druskininka, and Druskininkay are all variant names and spellings for the same town. Selecting any one of them will bring up the same set of pictures.

Terms used in the index represent Russian, Polish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Estonian, Hungarian, Romanian, Czechoslovakian, German, and Yiddish variants of place names. The list is comprehensive, but may not include every variant of place name.

To use the City and Town Index, click on "Browse" for the A-Z index, select a term, and then click the "Search" button. Or if you already know your city name, type it into the City/Town Name field and click "Search."

Country Index

You can search for photographs according to what country they belonged to between World Wars I and II. Available country searches are: Bulgaria, Caucasus, Central/East Asia (Armenia, Azerbaidjan, Bukhara, Uzbekistan), Czechoslovakia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, and Romania. (Note: some terms in this list are regions rather than countries.)

These geographical designations may not return comprehensive results. They are based on the cataloging system of the YIVO Archives, which assigns photographs to countries based on the map of Europe between World Wars I and II. For example, Munkacs (Munkatsch, Mukacevo, Mukachevo, Munkatsh) belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire before World War I, to Czechoslovakia from 1920-1938, to Hungary in 1938-1945, to the Soviet Union in 1945-1991, and to Ukraine today. In this catalog, you will find it in Czechoslovakia, the country to which it belonged during most of the interwar period. There are many similar examples.

Photographs from places which were part of Poland and the USSR during the period between World Wars I and II are not searchable by country, since they represent the bulk of this catalog and would return many thousands of photographs as search results. For photographs from these countries, please refine your search by searching the City and Town Index or by performing a keyword search.


The Keyword Index allows searches for photographs based on words in their descriptions. For instance, a search for the word fish will obtain the photograph/record with the description:

A group of vacationers at the resort pose on a porch with a large fish. (Hershl Freidkes is leaning on his cane at right.) (Druskieniki, Poland, 1926)

and any other photograph/record in which the word fish appears in the description.


  • The keyword index is not a subject term index. For instance, if you are looking for photographs depicting Jewish holidays, searching on holiday will return only some of the pictures related to Jewish holidays in the catalog. For a more complete return of pictures related to Jewish holidays, search also on the names of specific holidays, e.g., Passover, Rosh Hashana.
  • Searching on the singular form of a word will also return records with plural forms of the word. In other words, if you search for holiday, there is no need to also search for holidays.
  • Combination searches are possible. Specifying violin and orchestra returns records that contain both the words violin and orchestra. Specifying violin or orchestra returns records that contain either word.
  • Use the City and Town Index or Country Index to find photographs from specific places. But use the keyword index to find images with catalog records that refer to the town you are looking for. For instance, if you are looking for all pictures having anything to do with Odessa, and not just photographs made in Odessa, type Odessa as a keyword. This would cover such instances as a photo taken in Staraya Sinyava of a girl who was a gymnasium student in Odessa.
  • Use Keyword to search for proper names or names of organizations. Try using alternate spellings of names. In most cases, the standard used here follow the conventions of the Library of Congress and the Encyclopedia Judaica, but these rules only apply to the names of prominent individuals.


Search People Of A Thousand Towns for photographs taken in a particular year or time period. For example, typing in 1935 to 1935 will return photographs taken only in the year 1935, while entering the terms 1935 to 1938 will return a list of photographs taken taken in 1935 through 1938.

Photographer Index

You can search People Of A Thousand Towns by photographer. Most of the photographers represented in People Of A Thousand Towns are not famous. Those whose names are known to us tended to be ordinary commercial studio photographers who practiced their craft in Eastern Europe before World War II.

Note: Photographs credited to press agencies are not available for viewing over the Internet.

Proper Names

There is no index of individuals and/or organizations. See Keyword for tips on how to search for proper names.