Drawn from the Ben Stonehill Archive, this website, in its initial release, contains over sixty songs drawn from the Ben Stonehill Archive. The Stonehill Archive totals over one thousand songs, and over time we will be working to put all of them up on this site.
In 1948, Ben Stonehill, a lover of Yiddish, was aware of how much had been lost to surviving Jews in terms of cultural heritage. He took on a project on his own, to obtain and lug heavy recording equipment from Queens to Manhattan. In the lobby of the Hotel Marseilles (West 103rd Street and Broadway on Manhattan’s Upper West Side), Stonehill recorded over a thousand songs from Holocaust survivors, who were being temporarily housed. This website is a tribute to him and to his performers.
As a working man, Stonehill did not have the time to transcribe and translate the songs he had collected. He had it in mind to write his own book, which was to be titled, “Legend of a Yiddish Song Collector.” His act of dedication and personal involvement with refugees is important, not only because of the many treasures he gathered, but because, by taking the time and trouble to record the voices of survivors and speaking to them in their own language, he was affirming their own identities. He and others let them know that some in America knew their language and that some cared about the world they had left behind.