About the Author

Dr. Melissa R. Klapper is Professor of History at Rowan University, where she teaches American, Jewish, and women's history. She received her BA from Goucher College and her PhD from Rutgers University. She is the author of Jewish Girls Coming of Age in America, 1860-1920 (NYU Press, 2005) and Small Strangers: The Experiences of Immigrant Children in the United States, 1880-1925 (Ivan R. Dee, Publisher, 2007).

20th-century Jewish Immigration

Primary Sources

Library of Congress. From Haven to Home: 350 Years of Jewish Life in America. This Library of Congress exhibit was originally organized to commemorate the 350th anniversary of Jewish settlement in America, usually dated to 1654. The online exhibit draws on a rich variety of sources from the Library of Congress and other repositories, including everything from sheet music to photographs to letters to pamphlets to periodicals. The documents are organized both chronologically and thematically to trace the major themes of the Jewish encounter with freedom in America and the continuous struggle of Jews in America to balance tradition with modernity.

PBS. The Jewish Americans. This six-hour documentary series traces Jewish life in America, with an emphasis on social and cultural history. The companion website includes historical documents, resources for educators and numerous video clips from the series on a variety of topics.

Jewish Women’s Archive. This virtual archive is a treasure trove of information about Jewish women worldwide but is particularly strong on American Jewish women. The site includes an award-winning encyclopedia, online exhibits, historical documents of all kinds, educational materials and lesson plans, several blogs related to Jewish women’s history and Jewish feminism, book and film guides, and oral histories.

Nadell, Pamela S., ed. American Jewish Women’s History: A Reader. New York: NYU Press, 2003. This edited collection brings together a combination of classic and recent essays on American Jewish women’s history, one of the most vibrant subfields of American Jewish history. Covering topics as diverse as Jewish women garment workers, modern dancers, and religious educators, the essays thoroughly demonstrate the central role women have played in the development of the diverse American Jewish community.

Wenger, Beth S. The Jewish Americans: Three Centuries of Jewish Voices in America. New York: Doubleday, 2007. Wenger’s book is designed as a companion volume to the PBS documentary of the same name, but it goes much further. The beautifully designed and lavishly illustrated book contains numerous documents and provides a comprehensive narrative of American Jewish history that combines social, religious, economic, cultural, and political perspective.