Immigrants and Immigrant History
- Ancestry.com: Personal and Family Immigration research.
- Immigration History: Multiple categories related to immigration. A good site for teachers.
- Prohibition A Film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick: A comprehensive look at all aspects of Prohibition.
- Temperance and Prohibition: Ohio State University, College of Arts and Sciences. Includes essays on various aspects of Prohibition and a selection of posters, photos, and cartoons.
- American Jewish Historical Society: Contains archives “that reflect the history of the Jewish presence in the United States from 1654 to the present.”
- Bustle: Explores ten websites that focus on the true crime genre.
- American Civil Liberties Union: Various topics on current issues for women.
Immigrants and Immigration
Okrent, Daniel, 2019, The Guarded Gate: Eugenics and the Law That Kept Two Generations of Jews, Italians, and Other European Immigrants Out of America, Scribner, NY
This powerful, fastidiously researched book chronicles the generations of questionable scientific research and resolute personal opinions that fueled arguments for limiting immigration into the United States. The Guarded Gate is essential reading. Its message highlights that in our current American society, many of the pernicious, false assumptions about immigrants are still in play.
Yang, Jia Lynn, 2020, One Mighty and Irresistible Tide: The Epic Struggle Over American Immigration, 1924-1965, W.W. Norton and Company, Inc., New York, NY
Throughout its history, America has exhibited conflicting views and policies about who should be welcomed into our country and who should be denied entry. Yang chronicles the prevailing ideologies, politics, and people who represented opposing views about immigration, particularly in the years preceding the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act. Still today, we see disparate, passionate attitudes about immigrants flare up, yet again.
Rose, Peter, 1977, Strangers in Their Midst: Small-Town Jews and Their Neighbors, Richwood Publishing Co., Merrick, NY
Spanish and Portuguese Jews began coming to the Americas in the fifteenth century drawn by both expanded economic opportunities and the Inquisition that expelled them from their homelands. Over the next five hundred years, waves of Jewish immigrants arrived and mainly settled in urban areas. Rose explores the settlement by Jews in small towns in New York State and Pennsylvania, and their relationships with Christian neighbors.
Sarna, Jonathan, D., Ellen Smith, and Scott-Martin Kosofsky, Eds., 2005, The Jews of Boston, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT
This classic book is a series of essays about the history of Jewish presence in Boston and surrounding communities. Starting with the pre-colonial era, it brings us through centuries of Jews’ experience in Boston, which in the early years, was not as welcoming as other cities throughout the country.
Davis, Marni, 2014, Jews and Booze: Becoming American in the Age of Prohibition, New York University Press, New York, NY
Davis’s book provides an in-depth history of the involvement of Jews in the production and sale of alcohol starting from life in the Russian Empire and continuing into their American experience. Jews and Booze is extremely informative, well-researched, offers a comprehensive perspective, and reveals a little-known side of Prohibition.
Lerner, Michael A, 2007, Dry Manhattan: Prohibition in New York City, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA
Lerner carefully and enthusiastically documents the multiple layers of life in New York City in the 1920s and how the Volstead act influenced each level. NYC with its great ethnic and racial diversity, its complicated and powerful political relationships, and its thriving cultural and intellectual atmosphere, exemplified the ethical and moral conflicts at play during the fraught Prohibition era.
Okrent, Daniel, 2011, Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, Scribner, New York, NY
Okrent’s book is a prime source for information about the history of alcohol production, sales, and consumption both in the United States and abroad. It explains the long-term activities of the wets and the drys in this country, and which cultural groups controlled different aspects of the alcohol trade. This is an essential book for understanding Prohibition.
Blum, Deborah, 2010, The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York, Penguin Books, New York, NY
NYC in the 1910s and 1920s was a hotbed of politics, illegal activities, and unsolved murders. In 1918, the new chief medical examiner, Charles Norris and toxicologist, Alexander Gettler created the field of forensics. By scientifically identifying key characteristics of various poisons and their effect on the human body, they were able to learn how victims were murdered which often led to finding perpetrators.
Caroll, Leah, 2017, Down City: A Daughter’s Story of Love, Memory and Murder, Grand Central Publishing, New York, NY
Leah Caroll’s childhood was darkly tinged by the violent death of her mother when Leah was four years old and by her father’s shaky life, and sorrowful early death. Her youth was deeply impacted by these two grim realities. Leah traveled an uncertain path into young adulthood, ultimately shedding some harmful behaviors she had seen in her parents. Slowly, she crafted her own creative, singular persona.
Fagone, Jason, 2017, The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted American’s Enemies, Harper Collins Books, New York, NY
Elizebeth Smith Friedman was a codebreaker, an unusual occupation for a woman in her era. She, along with her husband William, worked for federal agencies for much of their careers. Elizebeth, with William, helped solve puzzles that included catching rum-runners during Prohibition and protecting national security during WWII. Fascinating!
Orlean, Susan, 2018, The Library Book, Simon and Schuster, New York, NY
On April 29, 1986, fire engulfed the Los Angeles Public Library’s central branch. Hundreds of thousands of books were destroyed or severely damaged. In her incomparable style, Orlean delves into the library’s history, building design, its role in the community, and the possible cause of the fire. Although arson was suspected, no perpetrator was ever identified or prosecuted.
Robertson, Cara, 2020, The Trial of Lizzie Borden, Simon & Schuster, New York, NY
Did she, or didn’t she? It has been more than 120 years since Lizzie Borden was acquitted of the notorious murders of her father and step-mother in Fall River, Massachusetts. Prevailing attitudes regarding interpretation of the law, women’s roles, privileged society, unformed forensic science, and imperfect investigative techniques influenced the jury’s decision. We are likely never to know the truth.
The Boston Women’s Health Book Collective with Judy Norsigian (Author), 2011, Our Bodies, Ourselves ,Touchstone, New York, NY
In 1973, the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective published this milestone book for the purpose of informing women about their female bodies and how to advocate for their own needs. Since this original edition, OBOS has had many re-issues and has generated an array of other writings reflecting different stages in a woman’s life.
Clinton, Hillary Rodham and Chelsea Clinton, 2019, The Book of Gutsy Women, Simon and Schuster, New York, NY
Profiles of more than one hundred women from all backgrounds, talents, eras, and arenas illustrate women’s courage in challenging accepted practices, policies, and attitudes. Most of these women are familiar to us and others, less well-known, are brought to light in this book.
DeVries, Hendrika, 2019, When a Toy Dog Became a Wolf and the Moon Broke Curfew…, She Writes Press, Berkeley, CA
DeVries adroitly tells the agonizing story of her childhood in World War II Amsterdam when her father had been sent to a German labor camp and she and her mother were left to figure out how to survive on their own. Most poignant are the descriptions of how they stayed alive by eating tulip bulbs.
Diamant, Anita, 2015, The Boston Girl, Scribner, New York, NY
The Boston Girl describes the positive life and progress of a young Jewish immigrant. Although Addie Baum, the protagonist, comes from a humble background, she creates connections that help her get an education, introduce her to a life-style more sophisticated than her own, and give her a step up into a solid future.
Nadell, Pamela, 2019, America’s Jewish Women: A History from Colonial Times to Today, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, NY
Jewish women have been part of American history starting from the seventeenth century. Nadell brilliantly describes this phenomenon through multiple eras. Her section “A new kind of Jewess: Eastern European Jewish Women in America” reflects the background of many current-day Jewish women who remember immigrant grandmothers who arrived here in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A wonderful book!
Seligman, Scott, 2020, The Great Kosher Meat War of 1902: Immigrant Housewives and the Riots That Shook New York City, Potomac Books, Lincoln, NE
Thousands of poor, mostly uneducated, orthodox Jewish women gathered to boycott kosher butchers in New York’s lower East Side to protest the increasing cost of meat. These protesters set themselves against powerful politicians, impassive meat producers, and a wholesalers’ syndicate with the simple goal to feed their families according to the ancient, prescribed rules that govern what is permissible for Jews to eat.