The songs in The Yosl and Chana Mlotek Yiddish Song Collection at The Workers Circle represent a sampling of folk and popular songs, many of which are scattered in various song collections; some appear in very rare and inaccessible collections; and some were never before published.
Songs that were written by identifiable authors one hundred years ago sometimes exceeded the popularity and diffusion of folk song. Many of these were often believed to have been created anonymously and at times, were altered and folklorized by the people who passed them on through a process of oral transmission. Such was the case with songs by the writers of the Enlightenment Period, Mikhl Gordon and Velvl Zbarzher; theatre songs by Abraham Goldfaden; popular songs by M.M. Warshawsky; songs by the labor poets in America, David Edelstadt and Morris Rosenfeld; and lastly, songs by Mordechai Gebirtig. Songs were never fixed and static, but were sometimes changed to fit later situations and conditions. Every effort has been made to identify the author of a song and to indicate adaptations of the original song to new circumstances.