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USING AREA STUDIES COLLECTIONS
CASE STUDIES: AMERICAN JEWISH WOMEN AND LATINAS
AREA STUDIES EXTERNAL SITES
|Jewish Community, Institutional, and Synagogue Publications
A variety of Jewish organizations, such as mutual aid societies, synagogues, educational institutions, and community organizations, have produced publications that can be used to document the activities of women. These publications, often with illustrations and lists of workers, are also helpful to genealogists working on family histories. Jewish women enthusiastically volunteered their services to organizations whose goals centered around home, community, and education.
Landsmanshaftn, Jewish beneficent societies that were formed by immigrants who came to the United States from the same village, town, or city of Eastern Europe, aided indigent, sick, and bereaved fellow Jews. Such a society would also support literary clubs, hold fund-raising galas, and issue annual and commemorative reports and journals. These publications contain information on women or women's activities and serve to illustrate ways in which women participated in both acculturation and maintenance of cultural ties. For example, the Yiddish- and English-language Byalistoker leben (an added title page notes that it celebrates the “Fortieth Anniversary of the Bialystoker Bikur Cholim of Brooklyn”), edited by Luis Palter ([Brooklyn]: Byalistoker biker hoylim fun Bruklin, 1937; F128.9.J5 B95 1937 Hebr), contains a report and photographs on the ladies' auxiliary of this organization to aid the sick. Poylish Idn/Poilisher Yid (Polish Jews), an annual edited by Z. Tygel (1870-1947) and later Abraham Goldberg (1933-42; New York: American Federation of Polish Jews; title varies, E184.J5 P6 Hebr), contains brief reports about Ezra, the network of women's auxiliaries of the Federation of Polish Jews in America.
Synagogues and Communities
Synagogue histories are a helpful source for information on women's activities in an organization's sisterhood, its religious school, and the eventual governance of the institution itself. There are more than twelve hundred monographs, pamphlets, and articles that give histories of synagogues and Jewish communities in the United States, of which at least three hundred are in the Library's collections. New histories continually appear, and women are increasingly credited as authors. Gerry Cristol's A Light in the Prairie: Temple Emanu-El of Dallas, 1872-1997 (Fort Worth: Texas Christian University, 1998; BM225.D35 E49 1998 GenColl) is representative. The Ladies Hebrew Benevolent Association of newly formed Dallas Temple Emanu-El sprang up in 1875 to ensure regular services and a religious education for children. The proceeds from a series of fund-raisers and “entertainments” permitted women to purchase a lot to build a future synagogue building.
A community history such as Carolyn Gray LeMaster's A Corner of the Tapestry: A History of the Jewish Experience in Arkansas, 1820s-1990s (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1994; F420.J5 L46 1994 GenColl) presents a broad sweep of the Jewish life of the entire state, including even the smallest towns. “The distaff side” is a section discussing organizational activity and giving brief personal biographies of women. From North Little Rock, we learn, for example, about Gertrude Green (1884-1970), who served with the Volunteer Services of the American Red Cross in France during World War I and became a national representative of the Women's Overseas Service League, traveling nationwide on the organization's behalf.
Kliger, Hannah, ed. Jewish Hometown Associations and Family Circles in New York: The WPA Yiddish Writers' Group Study. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992. F128.9.J5 J574 1992 GenColl.
Korros, Alexandra Shecket, and Jonathan D. Sarna. American Synagogue History: A Bibliography and State-of-the Field Survey. New York: Markus Wiener Publishing, 1988. Z6373.U5 K67 1988 LH&G, GenColl.
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