Shmuel Zanvel Pipe was born in 1907 in Sanok, central Galicia, Poland. Pipe learned the tailoring trade from his father. He was active in the youth organization Ha-Shomer ha-Tsair, advancing to the position of youth leader and educator. He became an enthusiastic collector for the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in Vilna, submitting Yiddish folktales and songs, children’s games, and other folklore materials.
Pipe was a product of YIVO’s efforts to develop mature and dispassionate scholars of East European Jewish studies. In 1930 he was among the collectors who participated in the YIVO seminar in Vilna, conducted by Yehudah Leib Cahan, who encouraged him to pursue gathering and studying folklore. Pipe was invited to become a YIVO aspirant (research trainee) from 1935 to 1939. In this capacity he contributed important studies on Yiddish folk songs, children’s songs and games, folk anecdotes about Napoleon and the Jews, Yiddish songs of Soviet Russia and sources of folk songs collected by Y. L. Peretz. Pipe also provided information about the folklorization of the songs “Der arbeter” (The Worker) by David Edelstadt and “Di mashke” (Whiskey) by Mikhl Gordon, and he researched folk songs for the YIVO volume of folklore (1938).
Upon completing his second year as an aspirant, Pipe became a research assistant at YIVO. While on a visit to his home in Sanok, he met the fate of his family in World War II and was killed in 1943 by the Nazis in Zasław, near Przemyśl, Galicia.
In 1971 Dov Noy and Meir Noy edited a volume of folklore studies devoted to Pipe, comprising the Yiddish folk songs that he collected from Galicia, his correspondence with his brothers, the folklorization of Edelshtat’s “Der arbeter,” copious annotations, notes, and indices.