Resource Spotlight: Jewish Life in America, c1654-1954

Thanks to Northwestern University Libraries we have access to a new database, Jewish Life in America, c1654-1954, Sources from the American Jewish Historical Society, New York.

The database contains full-color, full-text searchable digitized primary source materials on the history of Jewish communities in America from their first arrival in New York in 1654 to today. It draws on the archives of the American Jewish Historical Society, New York. Founded in 1892, it is the oldest national ethnic historical organization in the United States and maintains an archive of more than 20 million documents, 50,000 books, photographs, art and artifacts.

Per Adam Matthew Digital, the database publisher, the collection provides insight into the following key topics in the history of Jewish communities in America:

  • The evolution of early Jewish Settlements in areas such as New York, Rhode Island and Philadelphia.
  • The immigration process and structures of support for those arriving from the Old World – the differing experiences of immigrants and, from the late 19th century, strategies adopted at Ellis Island and in Galveston.
  • The role of Jews in the American War of Independence and the Civil War.
  • The role of the synagogue as a focal point for Jewish communities.
  • The development of Jewish schools and charitable institutions.
  • Westward expansion and the attempts to establish Jewish farms.
  • The Jewish Diaspora – the influx of Jews from Western Europe, Eastern Europe and other places around the world, and their dispersal across America.
  • The garment industry, peddling, general stores, finance and diversification into other industries.
  • The development of differing strands of Judaism in America – Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionism and Orthodoxy – and the roots of this in patterns of immigration and in societal changes.
  • Reaching out to Jewish communities around the world – especially to Russia, Romania, Germany and Eastern Europe.
  • American Jewish involvement in the Spanish-American War, the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil War, World War I and World War II.
  • Involvement in Civil Rights and Minority Rights issues

If you would like to read more about the American Jewish Historical Society or the collections available in this database, see the Jewish Life in America User Guide provided by the publisher.

Thanks to Northwestern University Libraries for making this extensive collection available to the full Northwestern community.  As a reminder, you can see other non-legal databases that we have access to courtesy of University Libraries via their A-Z database list.

Posted in Resource Spotlight
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