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Jewish Women In America

Jewish women first came to North America in 1654 - as part of a boatload of refugees, fleeing Dutch Brazil during its reconquest by Portuguese. By the American Revolution, an estimated 2,500 Jews were living in the American colonies. Over the centuries, the roles and impact of Jewish women in American (and Canadian) culture and life has been significant. Whether you are studying general movements, social histories or studying the lives of individuals, you will find the materials that you need here at the University Libraries. This guide is intended to help you get started. Please note the inclusion of online collections, websites and more guides - all of these will lead you to other important resources that you may need to consult. If you have any questions, be sure to ask the reference staffs in any of our campus libraries. We will be happy to assist you in any way that we can.

Table of Contents:

Getting Started: MNCAT & More
With any new research project, a good place to start is with a good book or article. The best place to find a good book to read on your topic is MNCAT. A search on "JEWISH WOMEN" brought up over 450 records. Otherwise, you will find listed here some encyclopedia and other reference materials that should give you a good overview and get you started on your project.
  • American Women's History: A Research Guide Introduction
    A well-designed and researched listing of largely web-based resources available for the study of women - including online repositories and other useful sources. See especially the section on Jewish Women. Developed and maintained by Ken Middleton of Middle Tennessee State University Library.
  • Gale Virtual Reference Library Authentication Required
    Reference titles from various publishers in many subjects, including art, biography, business, cultural studies, education, the environment, history, religion, science, and social science. Included are: The Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender, Encyclopaedia Judaica, Dictionary of American History, Encyclopedia of Religion, and the Dictionary of Women Worldwide: 25,000 Women Through the Ages.
  • Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia
    Available online @
    Andersen Immigration and History Research Center Quarto DS115.2 J49 1997
    Wilson Reference Quarto DS115.2 J49 1997
    "Annotated bibliography and guide to archival resources on thehistory of Jewish women in America. Includes bibliographical references and index."
    • Location(s): WILSON Reference Quarto DS115.2 J49 1997
    Andersen Immigration and History Research Center Quarto DS115.2 J49 1997
    Check MNCAT Record for Location and Availability
  • Library Catalog
    Search with the Library Catalog to find books, journals, etc. owned by the library. Search by keyword, subject, title, or author for materials on your topic.
  • Oxford Reference Online Authentication Required
    This resource brings together 100 language and subject dictionaries and reference works - containing well over 60,000 pages - into a single cross-searchable resource. Titles include: Concise Oxford Companion to American Literature, Oxford Excyclopedia of the Modern World, and A Concise Companion to the Jewish Religion.
  • Sage Knowledge Authentication Required
    Encyclopedias covering a wide range of subjects in the social sciences. Includes: Encyclopedia of Immigration and Migration in the American West, Encyclopedia of Gender and Society, Encyclopedia of Religious and Spiritual Development, Encyclopedia of Multicultural Psychology, Encyclopedia of Activism and Social Justice and the Encyclopedia of Urban Studies.
Indexes to Articles & Other Writings
The University Libraries subscribe to hundreds of online and print indexes and databases that cover all types of literature. Here are some excellent databases that should help you get started in finding good articles on your topic. Check out the "More Guides" section at the end for even more suggestions for good indexes.
  • America: History and Life Authentication Required
    This index provides historical coverage of the United States and Canada from prehistory to the present with over 2,000 journals including all key English-language historical journals.
  • Communication and Mass Media Complete Authentication Required
    Find academic journal articles on topics in mass media, film, television, marketing, and communications in business, health, and other communication studies.
  • Ethnic NewsWatch Authentication Required
    Full-text articles from over 300 American ethnic and minority newspapers including Asian-American, Jewish, African-American, Native-American, Arab-American, Eastern-European, and other multi-ethnic communities. Coverage dates back to 1990.
  • GenderWatch Authentication Required
    GenderWatch is a full text database of unique and diverse publications that focus on how gender impacts a broad spectrum of subject areas.
  • Index to Jewish Periodicals Authentication Required
    An index on Jewish history, activity and thought. This database provides a comprehensive guide to English-language articles, book reviews, and feature stories in more than 160 journals devoted to Jewish affairs. Most references are not found in standard periodical literature guides. Index to Jewish Periodicals is intended for students of Jewish thought and others interested in contemporary Jewish and Middle Eastern affairs.
  • MLA International Bibliography Authentication Required
    The MLA International Bibliography is a classified listing and subject index of scholarly books and articles on modern languages, literatures, folklore, and linguistics which has been compiled by the Modern Language Association of America since 1926.
  • RAMBI [online]
    RAMBI - The Index of Articles on Jewish Studies - is a selective bibliography of articles in the various fields of Jewish studies and in the study of Eretz Israel. Articles are in English in Hebrew, Yiddish, and European languages, and are based scientific research, or contain important information for such research. Coverage is from 1966 to the present.
  • Religious and Theological Abstracts (online) Authentication Required
    Summaries of articles appearing in scholarly journals, covering a wide variety of periodical literature including Christian, Jewish, and other World religions. Provides English language abstracts of articles in English, Hebrew, Afrikaans, and major European languages.
  • Sociological Abstracts Authentication Required
    This core database for the field of sociology contains information on sociology and social policy worldwide. Sociological Abstracts includes citations from the 1952-present.
  • Women's Studies International Authentication Required
    International coverage of feminist writings. A compilation of ten databases covering journal articles, books, anthology chapters, and reports.
Important Online Collections & Resources
The Internet is now being used to archive and publish reports, collections, pictures, videos and other information. Here are some key sites with excellent information related to this topic.
  • American Jewish Committee Archives
    The entire archives of this organization are now digitized and accessible from this site. This includes radio and television broadcasts, oral histories and 105 years of their annual American Jewish Year Book, which provides "information and analysis about the American Jewish community, Jewish demography, Jewish history, and Jewish life worldwide."
  • American Jewish Historical Society
    "The American Jewish Historical Society provides access to more than 20 million documents and 50,000 books, photographs, art and artifacts that reflect the history of the Jewish presence in the United States from 1654 to the present. AJHS is the oldest national ethnic historical organization in the nation." the Portal to AJHS provides "a portal for researchers of all ages interested in American Jewish History, with links to hundreds of research resources around the country." The Collections link takes you to the digital collections from the American Jewish Historical Society. An essential resource.
  • American Memory Collection Finder Library of Congress
    Each link on this page "retrieves a list of American Memory online collections. From that list, you will be able to jump to an individual collection or search for items in those collections. You can also browse a list of Subject Headings that further describe the chief areas of content in our collections. Go to Finder Help for more information." Covers American History and Culture from 1400s to present in many subject areas. Excellent source of images and sound files.
  • Bibliography Bank - Association of Jewish Libraries
    A wonderful repository of annotated bibliographies on specific topics, such as: Jewish Parenting, Films in Hebrew, spirituality for adults, Jewish American Immigration and Jewish comics.Each bibliography is available in the database in both html or pdf format.
  • Center for Jewish History
    includes links to bibliographies of archival collections, plus Web exhibits, links and other educational resources, etc. Current web exhibits include "A Perfect Fit: The Garment industry and American Jewry, 1860-1960," and "Ida Kaminska: Grande Dame of the Yiddish Theater."
  • From Haven to Home: 350 Years of Jewish Life in America
    Celebrating this milepost, the Library of Congress physical exhibition is gone, but lives on online with over "two hundred treasures of American Judaica from the collections of the Library of Congress, augmented by a selection of important loans from other cooperating cultural institutions."
  • Internet Jewish History Sourcebook
    From Fordham University. "The Internet History Sourcebooks are collections of public domain and copy-permitted historical texts presented cleanly (without advertising or excessive layout) for educational use." Although mostly pre-modern, there are good links and information covering all time periods.
  • Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives
    This key institution, "committed to preserving a documentary heritage of the religious, organizational, economic, cultural, personal, social and family life of American Jewry," provides online exhibits and access to the important AJA Journal and other resources. Links include a set of sites dedicated to American Jewish History.
  • Jewish Theological Seminary Library - Digital Collections
    The Sylvia and Harry Rebell Digital Collections of the JTS provide a searchable archive of manuscripts, rare books, poems, pictures and other materials of interest. Under "Judaica Americana," nearly 100 pamphlets from 1725-1900 are included, as are 340 clippings from U.S. newspapers covering the years 1782-1898.
  • Jewish Women's Archive
    Established in 1995, the JWA's mission is to "uncover, chronicle, and transmit to a broad public the rich history of American Jewish women." The site offers an online encyclopedia, links to educational materials, online exhibits, and a "growing collection of reminiscences of recently deceased Jewish women."
  • North American Jewish Data Bank
    The North American Jewish Data Bank is the central repository of social scientific studies of North American Jewry. The Data Bank's primary functions are to (1) acquire, archive, and disseminate quantitative data sets and reports, both contemporary and historical and (2) encourage utilization of the archive through training and provide information about methods for studying Jewish communities. Our goal is to aid in understanding North American Jewish communities, and to improve the quality and utilization of research conducted about North American Jewry. We hold the National Jewish Population Surveys of 1971, 1990 and 2000-01, about 100 local Jewish community studies, and are working to acquire other surveys of American Jews. The Data Bank is the sole distributor of the NJPS 2000-01 dataset and has a large collection of related material. The North American Jewish Data Bank is a collaborative project of United Jewish Communities and the University of Connecticut's Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life and Roper Center for Public Opinion Research.
  • Preserving Our Past for the Future Images of Pioneer Jewish Families
    An online exhibit from the Ira M. Beck Memorial Archives of the University of Denver's Penrose Library. 'Jewish families have been in Colorado since the gold rush days of 1859 and played many important roles, including that of helping health seekers who flocked to Colorado. These photographs, textiles and objects reflect the lives of Colorado Jewish families and their communities from the late 1800s to the 1970s."
  • Unpacking on the Prairie: Jewish Women int he Upper Midwest
    "This site explores Jewish women's experiences in unpacking, rearranging, and remodeling their heritage in the Upper Midwest. It also relates how their female descendants redefined that legacy in order to create a more egalitarian community." From the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest.
  • Women in Judaism: A Multidisciplinary Journal
    This is an "academic, refereed journal published exclusively on the Internet, and devoted to scholarly debate on gender-related issues in Judaism. The ultimate aim of the journal is to promote the reconceptualization of the study of Judaism, by acknowledging and incorporating the roles played by women, and by encouraging the development of alternative research paradigms."
  • Women Working, 1800 - 1930
    Women Working, 1800 - 1930 provides access to digitized historical, manuscript, and image resources selected from Harvard's library and museum collections. This collection explores women's roles in the US economy between the turn of the 19th century and the Great Depression. Working conditions, conditions in the home, costs of living, recreation, health and hygiene, conduct of life, policies and regulations governing the workplace, and social issues are all well documented.
Key Websites & Gateways
These megasites have been selected because they all include links to tens or hundreds of wonderful web sites that might be of value in your research. The descriptions should help you select the best one for your needs.
  • Academic Guide to Jewish History
    A wonderful megasite of "major print & Internet scholarly resources" compiled and maintained by Jenny Mendelsohn, University of Toronto Libraries.
  • American Women's History: A Research Guide Introduction
    A well-designed and researched listing of largely web-based resources available for the study of women - including online repositories and other useful sources. See especially the section on Jewish Women. Developed and maintained by Ken Middleton of Middle Tennessee State University Library.
  • Digital Librarian: Judaism
    Subtitled "a Librarian's Choice of the Best of the Web," this site provides links to a variety of resources - from web sites to full-text resources - on all related topics.
  • H-Judaic - Jewish Studies Network
    An affiliate of Hebrew College and Shamash, "JSN is the premier electronic source concerning Judaica and the academic study and discussion of Judaism ancient, mediaeval, and modern."
  • Jewish-American History Foundation
    Links include sections on 'Jews in the Civil War" and "Jews in the Wild West" which contain links to good sources of source materials. The "Links" tab contains excellent information as well.
  • United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    "A living memorial to the Holocaust [that] inspires citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, promote human dignity, and prevent genocide." The site includes online exhibits, lists of resources, links and other materials.
  • Women’s Bureau (US Department of Labor)
    "Created by law in 1920 to formulate standards and policies to promote the welfare of wage-earning women, improve their working conditions, increase their efficiency, and advance their opportunities for profitable employment...For 89 years, it has been meeting that mandate -- identifying the topics working women care about most, aggressively researching the issues, and pioneering innovative programs to address them -- amidst the ever-changing compass of our nation."
More Guides & Resources
The University Libraries have access to tens of thousands of journals and almost 7 million books! The following guides will help you locate even more good places to do your research.
  • American Studies
    This guide provides information on some of the core reference and research materials in the field of American Studies.
  • Archives for Research on Women and Gender
    By no means comprehensive, this list from the University of Texas, San Antonio, is still useful to identify archival collections that might have value for regional or local history.
  • Essential Readings in American Jewish History
    Sadly, all the links are to Amazon, however you may find some copies available over Google or through local libraries. Maintained by the American Jewish Historical Society, the goal is to outline "some of the elemental scholarly works on the history of Jews in the Americas."
  • History, United States
    This subject covers: political, economic, social, industrial and cultural history of the United States. Other related topics are: Economics (general aspects); Political Science (general aspects); Politics, United States; and Sociology (general aspects).
  • Jewish Studies
    Study of Jewish culture, history, literature, languages and religion.
  • Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies
    This subject covers: the intellectual and research component of the women's movement for equal rights. "Women's studies aims to transform all areas of education including curriculum, research, writing and teaching, and to prepare women to change society. It argues that a systematic consideration of gender is a fundamental condition of any adequate analysis or knowledge of contemporary society." -- p. 30, The Dictionary of Feminist Theory, 1995, Maggie Humm.

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