Wikimedia New York City/CYCO Yiddish Encyclopedia

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The digitization of the CYCO Yiddish Encyclopedia is one project that may be pursued by Wikimedia New York City. It is the only full-scale encyclopedia ever published in the Yiddish language, a language whose speakers are today largely concentrated in the New York metropolitan area.

It would be a project primarily to benefit the Yiddish Wikipedia (see article in English Wikipedia), so that the CYCO Encyclopedia articles may serve as a basis for modernized and updated Yiddish Wikipedia articles.

jidiʃ lɛbt · ייִדיש לעבט


The Encyclopedia[edit]

The 12-volume (5 volumes general topics, 7 volumes Jewish topics) Algmeine Encyclopedie in Yiddish (the 'CYCO Encyclopedia', for our purposes) was a work of unprecedented scope published in the 1930s and 1940s, and could be considered the Yiddish equivalent of the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica, on which many of the articles in English Wikipedia have been initially based on.


The Congress For Jewish Culture (also known as the Central Yiddish Cultural Organization, or CYCO), is a Yiddishist organization with an office at 25 East 21st Street in Manhattan, and was the original publisher of the CYCO Encylopedia. It is broadly similar to the better-known YIVO in purpose, but is a much smaller organization with its own views on Yiddish culture.

User:Pharos initially approached CYCO in mid-2005. After some discussion, they expressed enthusiasm for the release of the CYCO Encyclopedia under a free-content license to benefit the Yiddish Wikipedia provided (1) that the original CYCO Encyclopedia be preserved and available intact on Yiddish Wikisource and (2) that they receive technical assistance with the digitization of the books. It was also noted that CYCO still posssesed many bound copies of the CYCO Encyclopedia from its original printing in its offices, and the tragedy that the extensive scholarship that went into these volumes was not being made available to a wider audience.

Unfortunately, this was not a practical project for Pharos to pursue at the time, lacking personal experience in both Yiddish and OCR. But with the establishment of a local chapter, and an available group of like-minded people of different talents, the project becomes more feasible.

User:יודל (User:Yidisheryid on English Wikipedia), who is a native Yiddish speaker, became interested in the possible project in October 2007, and will soon arrange another meeting with CYCO. It is hoped that with the establishment of a Wikimedia New York City chapter, more local Yiddish speakers can participate.

CYCO has also expressed interest in having other of its publications available online, on Wikisource.

How to do it[edit]

  • Phase 0: CYCO authorization
    • Executive director actively working with us.
    • Has agreed to put under free content licenses once it is digitized.
  • Phase 1: ISBN registration
    • Necessary prerequisite for scanning by Google.
    • Will require some payments to be made.
    • Discussions are ongoing.
  • Phase 2: Book scanning
    • The books can be scanned by the Open Content Alliance for 10 cents a page; this is ~$500 total.
      • If you are interested in a donation for a part of this sum (you can sponsor one volume for ~$40), please send an e-mail to wikinewyork (at)
    • Discussions are ongoing.
  • Phase 3: OCR
  • Phase 4: Wikisource proofreading
  • Phase 5: Wikipedia adaptation

Interested volunteers[edit]

Yiddish-speaking volunteers[edit]

Other volunteers[edit]