Assume that the class is assembling a new primary source reader for the study of American Jewish history. We need to assemble a collection of original documents on all aspects of American Jewish history from 1654 to 2003 that will cover the most important changes and trends from a first-hand point of view. It is your job as a researcher to go to the library and identify a document that is historically significant enough to earn a place in our document reader. Here are the basic guidelines to follow:

1) We want to cover aspects of American Jewish history that other publications have not covered before, so you must find a document that has never appeared in a primary source reader before. Try instead to find a document that is fresh and original and has something to teach students of the American Jewish experience.

2) What constitutes a “document” can be interpreted very broadly – it could be a speech, a letter, a short segment of a novel, lyrics to a song, an excerpt from an official government report, a proclamation by an organization, a law passed by Congress, a diary entry, a newspaper article, a sermon, etc. It needn’t be focused on the life of a famous person or major leader, but can relate to the life of an average person (i.e. Henry Seessell). In other words, it can be almost anything as long as it is an original source – NOT the observations of a historian looking back on the past, but an actual piece of evidence from the past.

3) In addition to providing a copy of the original source you find, you must edit your document. This means isolating the part of it you think is most significant and retyping it. The edited version must stand on its own, be of a manageable size (no more than a few pages long) and should include footnotes that cite the source of the document, explain the identity of people and organizations mentioned, and define foreign or unfamiliar terms. Your entry should follow the style of the handout from The Jew in the Modern World.

4) In order to convince the editors of our proposed book that the document you have found is worthy of inclusion, you have to draft a report explaining its historical significance. This report should include: 1) a short explanation of the document and its historical context (Who wrote it? When? Why?); 2) an analysis of the document that draws out is meaning and significance in greater detail; 3) an explanation of why the document is significant enough in the larger story of American Jewish history to merit inclusion. Your report should be typed, double-spaced (12 point type, standard margins) and between four (4) and five (5) pages in length.

See the resource guide below for possible places to search for original documents in the Emory Library.

All papers (copy of original source, edited document and supporting report) are due in class on Tuesday, November 21. All late papers will be marked down one grade for every day they are late.


Below are some suggestions on where to find original documents including articles from periodicals, published letters, and material from original manuscript collections, both at Emory and online. You are also encouraged to venture beyond the suggestions below and identify other sources, either through research in Emory libraries or–time permitting–by using interlibrary loan.

I. Manuscript Collections
Special Collections at Woodruff Library has some excellent manuscript collections and rare books of Jewish interest. Try going to Euclid’s Complex Search feature, searching on keywords “Jew” or “Jewish” and limiting the search to Library: GENERAL and Location: SPECIALCOL. Also, check out the American Memory website at, which has thousands of digitized documents from the collections of the Library of Congress. These collections, which include the papers of politicians like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, cultural figures like Woody Guthrie and Leonard Bernstein, and many, many other collections covering diverse aspects of American Life. Even though many of these collections do not pertain directly to Jews, there is much material on Jews in then. Use the keyword search feature (search on “Jew” “Hebrew” “Israelite” “Judaism” “Jewish” etc.) to look for mentions of Jews in these collections.

II. Published letters
There are many published collections of letters of American Jews such as Louis Marshall, Louis Brandeis, Jacob H. Schiff, Cyrus Adler (head of American Jewish Committee), Henrietta Szold (founder of Hadassah), Stephen S. Wise (Zionist leader and Reform Rabbi) and others. You may also find published collections of the letters of important figures in American history (ie. Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Adams, F. Scott Fitzgerald) who made reference to Jews or commented on the Jewish presence in America. These sources are all available in Woodruff’s general stacks. Search EUCLID under the name of the person to find the relevant books.

III. Periodical articles
Emory owns all of the following periodicals, where you may find articles that will be of use in your document assignment. Some of them are held by Woodruff Library, others by Pitts Theology Library. Older titles that are not on microfilm may have to be ordered from storage.

Aid to Jews Overseas (also Aiding Jews Overseas), 1939-1940s
American Hebrew (and various other titles), 1879-1950
American Israelite, 1854-1925 (edited by Isaac Mayer Wise, 1854-1900)
American Jewess, Jewish women’s magazine, 1895-1899
American Jewish Congress Monthly (try also Congress Monthly), 1978-
American Jewish Yearbook, 1899-present
Annual Report of the American Joint Distribution Committee
Annual Report of the National Conference of Christians and Jews
Brief, organ of the anti-Zionist American Council for Judaism, 1958-
Central Conference of American Rabbis, Yearbook (Reform), 1893-
Commentary, political magazine (initially liberal, laterĀ  neo-conservative), 1945-
Conservative Judaism, various issues, 1955-57, 1993-
Contemporary Jewish Record (superceded by Commentary), 1938-1945
Hebrew Union College Annual, 1924-present
Jewish Frontier, labor Zionist organ, 1977-
Jewish Herald, Houston, TX, 1911-1913
Jewish Ledger, New Orleans, LA, 1895-1963
Jewish Life, published by the Communist Morgen Freiheit Association, 1946-1957
Jewish Life, published by the Union of Orthodox Jewish
Congregations of America, 1975-
Jewish Record, Richmond, VA, 1909-1910
Jewish South, Atlanta, 1877-1879
Jewish South, Richmond, VA, 1893-5
Maccabaean, organ of the Federation of American Zionists,
Magnet, Atlanta, 1894
Menorah Journal, organ of the Intercollegiate Menorah Association, a campus-
based Jewish academic organization, 1937-1957
Moment, a contemporary Jewish issues magazine, 1975-
Present Tense, published by the American Jewish Committee, 1973-1990
Reconstructionist, organ of the Reconstructionist Movement, 1952-
Scroll, Atlanta, 1923
Sh’ma: The Journal of Jewish Responsibility, 1977-
Southern Israelite, Atlanta, 1931-1986
Tikkun, liberal Jewish political magazine, 1986-date

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