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Stirt Family Collection

Identifier: MSS 0352

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.


  • Creation: 1923-2010
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1938-1941


Language of Materials

Includes materials written in Yiddish, Hebrew, French, Lithuanian, Swedish , and English.


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.

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 two sons, Joseph, an anesthesiologist living in Charlottesville, VA and David, a local, Gainesville sports writer. David Stirt is the founder and publisher of Gator Bait sports magazine and the author of the book Saturdays at the Swamp. He collected the material found in this collection in Karmiel, Israel, where Irving was living when he passed away in 2010.


0.6 Linear feet (1 box and 1 volume)


Irving Stirt (1921-2010) 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.


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

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Acquisition Information

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

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.

A Guide to the Stirt Family Collection
Finding aid created by Oren Okhovat and Katalin Franciska Rac
February 2016
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America