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A Guide to the Stirt Family Collection

Finding aid created by Oren Okhovat and Katalin Franciska Rac

University of Florida Smathers Libraries - Special and Area Studies Collections
February 2016


Descriptive Summary

Creator: Stirt, Irving Jay
Creator: Stirt, David (Collector)
Title: Stirt Family Collection
Dates: 1923-2010
Bulk dates: 1938-1941
Abstract: Irving Stirt (1921-2012) grew up in Kaunas (Kovno), Lithuania and immigrated to the United States in 1940. He lived in New York, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Marinette (WI), during which time he completed high school, enlisted in the U.S. army, and married. Stirt's family, who remained in Kaunas, are presumed to have been killed by the Nazis in 1941. This small archive includes a diary, letters, documents, and photographs that evidence Stirt's departure from Lithuania at the age of 19, the death of his family and his multiple attempts at gaining information about them, and his early experiences as an immigrant living in America.
Extent: 0.6 Linear feet. 1 box and 1 volume.
Identification: MSS 0352
Language(s): Includes materials written in Yiddish, Hebrew,French, Lithuanian, Swedish, and English.
Access: Researchers should consult with Special Collections staff before using the collection because there are access restrictions. See the Access note for more information.
Online ContentItems from this collection have been digitized and are available online in the UF Digital Collections. For more information please see the note below.

Biographical/Historical Note

Irving Stirt, to whom most of the items in this collection belonged, was born as Isakas Stirtas (Itzhak Stirt) in Poltava, Ukraine (then part of the Soviet Union) on March 30, 1921. He grew up in Kaunas (Kovno), Lithuania and at the age of 18, received a U.S. visa and immigrated to the United States in January 1940. He lived in New York, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Marinette, Wisconsin, during which time he completed high school; enlisted in the U.S. army, serving in the Pacific; and married Sara Kramer. Stirt was able to leave Lithuania thanks to having been born in the USSR and fitting into the Soviet immigration quota. His parents and two sisters never left Kaunas. His sister, Rivka, and his parents regularly sent him letters from the family left behind in the Kovno Ghetto. Rivka's last letter, dated June 1941, is a gentle rebuke to Stirt for his role in the up-and-down relationship between her and his best friend, Chaim Rubin. After World War II, he repeatedly turned to the Red Cross and Yad Vashem to learn about the fate of his family. Stirt gave testimony that his sisters Rivka and Gitel, along with their mother and father, Sheine and Joseph, were all shot by the Nazis at Ninth Fort, Kovno on October 4, 1941, but it is unclear what evidence Stirt had of this happening.

Irving and Sara had one son, David Stirt, who is a local Gainesville sports writer, author of the book Saturdays at the Swamp, and a former producer for Fox Sports. David Stirt collected the material found in this collection in Karmiel, Israel, where Irving was living when he passed away in 2012.


Scope and Content

This collection documents the life of Irving Stirt and includes a diary, letters, documents, and photographs that evidence Stirt's departure from Lithuania at the age of 19, the supposed death of his family at the hands of the Nazis and his multiple attempts at gaining information about them, and his early experiences as an immigrant living in America. Letters exchanged with family and friends from Lithuania and the United States are mostly dated between 1938 and 1941, immediately before and after Stirt's immigration to the United States and before his family perished in the Kovno Ghetto. Stirt's diary (written in Yiddish and English) provides some details of his early life from 1938 until 1943, including his last days in Lithuania and his first years in America. In an excerpt from December 3, 1941, he writes "Meanwhile, it has been six months since I heard from my parents and I have no idea where they are. God knows if they're alive and well." Photographs, clippings, and letters are found among the pages of his diary.

Also included are some of Stirt's legal documents, such as his Lithuanian passport, naturalization papers, and travel records. There are two of his school diplomas from Lithuania, one of which is from the Ort Institute. Three Yad Vashem testimony forms show his repeated attempts to find out what happened to his family both before and after moving to Israel. There are also three photograph albums mostly showing his family and friends in Lithuania, with some additional pictures of his life in the U.S. In addition to the albums, there are several individual photographs with inscriptions on the back, some sent as postcards, others with some of the letters, and two passport photographs found in his travel documents. Further records include photocopies of a set of letters, a translation of Rivka Stirt's last letter, and a translation of Irving Stirt's diary.


Arrangement

This collection is arranged chronologically, with the exception of the photographs and albums being grouped together.


Access or Use Restrictions

Access

Due to possible privacy concerns with this collection, researchers should consult with Dr. Rebecca Jefferson, Head of the Price Library of Judaica (352-273-2650), to access the records.


Administrative Information

Alternative formats

Digital reproductions of selected items from this collection are available online via the University of Florida Digital Collections (UFDC). Please read the Permissions for Use statement for information on copyright, fair use, and use of UFDC digital objects.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Stirt Family Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Acquisition Information

The Irving Stirt Collection was recently donated to the Isser and Rae Price Library of Judaica by Irving's son, David Stirt.


Contents List

Box Folder
11 Irving Stirt school diplomas from Lithuania. 1934, undated
12 Irving Stirt correspondence with family and friends. 1938-1941, 1943, 1961
Volume
1 Irving Stirt’s diary. 1938-1943
Box Folder
13 Irving Stirt legal documents from Lithuania and U.S.. 1939-1940, 1943, 1952
14 Documents pertaining to Irving Stirt’s travels. 1940, 2010
15 Irving Stirt correspondence with family and friends. 1946, 1949, 1995
16 Yad Vashem testimonies. 1975, 1993, undated
17 Photocopies of letters. undated
18 Translation of Irving Stirt’s diary (pages 1 to 133) and Rivka Stirt’s last letter from Kovno Ghetto. undated
19 Stirt family and friends photographs. 1923, 1938-1940, 1942, 1993, 1995, undated
110 Stirt family and friends photograph album. 1938
111 Stirt family and friends photograph album. 1939
112 Stirt family and friends photograph album. 1939-1942

Selected Subjects and Access Terms

Emigration and immigration
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)
Jews, Lithuanian
Jews--Migrations
Lithuania--Kaunas



For further information, please contact: Special Collections Access Services.

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