NEW YORK (Jan. 6)
The launching of a ten-volume documentary history of the Jews in the United States, under the sponsorship of the American Jewish Tercentenary Committee, as a lasting memorial of the 300th anniversary of Jewish settlement in the United States, was announced today by Ralph E. Samuel, Tercentenary chairman. The entire project will cost $126,000.
Dr. Salo W. Baron, who is Professor of Jewish History, Literature and Institutions on the Miller Foundation at Columbia University, and president of the American Jewish Historical Society, is serving as editor-in-chief of the documentary history. He is chairman of the Tercentenary committee on research and publications.
Mr. Samuel said that two volumes of the series are expected to be ready for publication by June, 1955. They will the volumes covering the years from 1790 to 1840, and from 1865 to 1885. The entire project is scheduled to be completed during the next three years.
Initial funds for this scholarly project have been provided in part by the Jacob R. Schiff Fund Committee, Mrs. Felix M. Warburg, the Altschul Foundation, David and Emily Rosenstein, and Prof. Baron himself. The American Jewish Tercentenary Committee is conducting a special fund-raising campaign to secure the balance of the $126,000 needed for completion of the work.
Among the topics to be covered by the documentary history will be immigration, distribution of settlement, religious life, occupational and general economic adjustments, family and social life, politics, cultural patterns, and institutional development. Within each of these categories, the history will illustrate the impact of America upon Jews, the impact of Jews on America, and the meaning of the American Jewish experience to Jews of other countries.
Dr. Baron declared that researchers on the project have uncovered material dispelling the popular belief that mass Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe to the United States began in 1881. He said the evidence now showed that there was “a considerable immigration from Eastern Europe in the late 1860’s and early 1870’s.”
Discussing the concept of the documentary history, Dr. Baron declared: “American Jewish history should be studied from the vantage point of both American history and Jewish history. Until now, general American historiography has not reflected the area of so-called minorities, including Jews, and has left the job largely to the respective groups themselves. In this documentary history, we hope to marshal the resources of American historians as well as of those interested in Jewish history throughout the ages, combining both approaches. Thus we hope to shed an entirely new light on the Jewish part in American life.”