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Jews in the American Progressive Era; Cultural and Political Encounters in the Era of Mass Migration and Urban Reform, 1900 - 1920

Tue, December 18, 12:45 to 2:15pm, Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, Harborview 3 Ballroom

Session Submission Type: Panel Session


This panel explores various Jewish perspectives of the American Progressive Movement. The mass migration of Jews from Central and Eastern Europe to the US from the 1880s into the 1920s overlapped with a period often referred to in US historiography as the "Progressive Era." Scholars, however, have debated what exactly progressivism entailed and if the myriad social movements devoted to reforming American institutions constitute a coherent, and useful, framework for understanding this period. This panel is particularly interested in revealing unchartered and overlooked aspects of the Jewish experience with the various facets of progressivism. American Jews approached liberal and urban politics from a variety of vantage points, many supporting and abetting its general orientation, while other Jews felt ambivalent or even opposed progressive policies. What did American Jews think of the Progressive Movement? How can scholars of modern US and Jewish history arrive at better understandings of both American and Jewish political, economic, and cultural development over this period? What, if any, further implications does this story have for the trajectory of American Jewish politics over the twentieth century? This panel seeks to rethink both the Jewish relationship with early twentieth century urban liberalism and many of the historical assumptions made about the Progressive Era.

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