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Goldie Russler and Abraham Burstein papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 1117

Content Description

The Goldie Russler and Abraham Burstein Papers consist of personal and professional records of American Yiddish theater actress Goldie Russler (1904-1997) and her husband Abraham Burstein (1900-1992) from circa 1900-1992. The papers include personal correspondence between the couple, correspondence to and from family members in the United States, Israel, and Russia, as well as some professional correspondence from Russler’s association with the Artef (The Arbeter Teater Farband) and from Burstein’s business enterprises. Russler’s papers include scripts, manuscript music parts and song texts, photographs, clippings and other records related to her career as a Yiddish theater actress with Artef. Clippings are primarily in Yiddish and includes articles about Russler, Artef, and Yiddish theater from Morgen Freiheit and other Yiddish language periodicals. Burstein’s papers include business and financial records, correspondence, records of membership in philanthropic organizations, records related to wills and burial plots, and material related to family. Also included are Russler and Burstein family photographs and correspondence, primarily in Yiddish, Hebrew, and Russian. Records related to family history, before and after World War II, are included among the correspondence.


  • 1900-1992


Language of Materials

In English, Yiddish, Hebrew, and Russian.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Box 12 (audio tapes): Use of originals is restricted. Reference copies may be requested. Consult Access Services for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

The Goldie Russler and Abraham Burstein Papers is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased jointly with the Judaica Collection from Lorne Bair Rare Books on the Sinclair Lewis Fund and the Rosalyn and Joseph Newman Collection Fund, 2016.


The Goldie Russler and Abraham Burstein Papers is arranged into four series: Series I. Goldie Russler, 1925-1988; Series II. Abraham Burstein, 1930-1991; Series III. Russler and Burstein family papers, 1930-1992; and Series IV: Photographs, 1900-1980.


10.5 Linear Feet (15 boxes)

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The Goldie Russler and Abraham Burstein Papers consist of personal and professional records of American Yiddish theater actress Goldie Russler (1904-1997) and her husband Abraham Burstein (1900-1992) from circa 1900-1992.

Goldie Russler (1904-1997)

Goldie Russler was a Jewish actress active in American Yiddish theater in New York in the 1920s and 1930s, and in the Artef (Arbeter Teater Farband), an American Yiddish theater company. Goldie was born on August 1, 1904 to Hetya and Menachem Aaron Russler in Klishkovtsy, Bessarabia, Russian Empire (Klishkivtsi, Ukraine) and had five siblings, Yona (Weisman), Ephraim, Shoshana, and Benjamin, some of whom later moved to Israel. Goldie immigrated to the United States in 1920, arriving in New York on the Nieuw Amsterdam on September 7, 1920 under the name Golda Rosler. She performed in amateur theater productions throughout the 1920s. Goldie performed in her first Artef production, Aristocrats, in 1929 and went on to appear in fourteen Artef productions from 1929-1938 including Rekrutn (1934), Yegor Buliche (1933-1934), and Dostigayev (1934-1935). She was a member of Artef’s 1938-1939 traveling troupe and directed productions at Camp Kinderland in Hopewell Junction, New Jersey. Goldie became a naturalized United States citizen on December 19, 1938. She married Abraham Burstein on June 14, 1946 and changed her name to Goldie Burstein. She lived in New York City until her death on December 5, 1997.

Abraham Burstein (1900-1992)

Abraham (Abram) Burstein was born on June 12, 1900 in Bessarabia, Russian Empire (Ukraine) to Rabbi Shmuel Burstein and Miriam Shaindel Cahane, and had five siblings Sheiva, Rabbi Meyer Cohen Burstein, Pinchas, Sarah, and Hanna. His mother and sister Hanna were murdered at Babi Yar in September 1941. Abraham immigrated to the United States on June 2, 1921. He founded the Manhattan Slipper Company in 1928 which he ran until the late-1950s. Abraham married Yiddish theater actress Goldie Russler on June 14, 1946. He later worked as an economist. Abraham lived in New York City until his death on April 30, 1992.

Artef (Arbeiter Teater Farband) (circa 1929-1940)

The Arbeter Teater Farband (Workers Theater Association), known by the acronym, Artef, was an American Yiddish theater group organized circa 1929 by the Young Workers' League. The Artef was influenced by communist groups and often performed works that reflected an American Jewish proletarian ideology. The Artef performed plays in both Yiddish and English gaining a wider audience in the late 1930s. At its founding Kalman Marmor was president, Y. Adler, G. Sander and David Abrams were secretaries and Jacob Mestel was the director. The Artef was dissolved in 1940.

Processing Information

Collections are processed to a variety of levels, depending on the work necessary to make them usable, their perceived research value, the availability of staff, competing priorities, and whether or not further accruals are expected. The library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit. This collection received a basic level of processing, including rehousing and minimal organization. Information included in the Description of Papers note and Collection Contents section is drawn from information supplied with the collection and from an initial survey of the contents. Folder titles appearing in the contents list below are often based on those provided by the creator or previous custodian. Titles have not been verified against the contents of the folders in all cases. Otherwise, folder titles are supplied by staff during initial processing. This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description. These materials have been arranged and described according to national and local standards. For more information, please refer to the Beinecke Manuscript Unit Processing Manual. Yiddish and Hebrew names, titles, and quotations in their original languages have been transliterated in accordance with Library of Congress guidelines. Some nitrate negatives were found among the photographs. Negatives matching extant prints were discarded in 2019 in compliance with Yale University policy. Negatives lacking matching prints were digitized and then discarded following digitization.

Guide to the Goldie Russler and Abraham Burstein papers
Eve C. Neiger
December 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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Access Information

The Beinecke Library is open to all Yale University students and faculty, and visiting researchers whose work requires use of its special collections. You will need to bring appropriate photo ID the first time you register. Beinecke is a non-circulating, closed stack library. Paging is done by library staff during business hours. You can request collection material online at least two business days in advance of your visit, using the request links in Archives at Yale. For more information, please see Planning Your Research Visit and consult the Reading Room Policies prior to visiting the library.