Book Talk: Information Hunters

Wednesday, May 5, 2021 at 1:00pm

Online
New York, NY 10001

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Information Hunters examines the unprecedented American effort to acquire foreign publications and information in World War II Europe. An unlikely band of librarians, scholars, soldiers, and spies went to Europe to collect books and documents to aid the Allies’ cause. They traveled to neutral cities to find enemy publications for intelligence analysis and followed advancing armies to capture records in a massive program of confiscation. After the war, they seized Nazi works from bookstores and schools and gathered countless looted Jewish books. Improvising library techniques in wartime conditions, they contributed to Allied intelligence, preserved endangered books, engaged in restitution, and participated in the denazification of book collections. Information Hunters explores what collecting meant to the men and women who embarked on these missions and how the challenges of a total war led to an intense focus on books and documents. Book and document acquisition became part of the apparatus of national security, military planning, and postwar reconstruction. These efforts also spurred the development of information science and boosted research libraries’ ambitions to be great national repositories for research and the dissemination of knowledge that would support American global leadership, politically and intellectually.

Kathy Peiss is the Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Professor of American History at the University of Pennsylvania. Her work explores modern American cultural history, gender and sexuality, consumer culture, and the history of books, libraries, and information. Other books include Cheap Amusements: Working Women and Leisure in Turn-of-the-Century New York (1986), Hope in a Jar: The Making of America's Beauty Culture (1998), and Zoot Suit: The Enigmatic Career of an Extreme Style (2011). She has also served as a consultant to museums, archives, and public history projects, and appeared in the documentary films New York, Miss America, and The Powder and the Glory.

Author Kathy Peiss in conversation with YIVO Executive Director Jonathan Brent

All times are Eastern Standard (US and Canada).

The estimated length of this program is 60 minutes.

This event is co-sponsored with the YIVO Institute of Jewish Research

Free with RSVP

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