Encyclopedia of Southern Jewish Communities

The Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience has been collecting information on Southern Jewish communities since its inception. When the Museum expanded to become the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, the effort only accelerated. Now as the Museum charts its new course, it maintains ties with the ISJL by sharing research and resources. The most compelling resource is the Encyclopedia of Southern Jewish Communities, an on-going effort to chronicle the experiences of Southern Jews in towns and cities across the region.

Click here to check out the Encyclopedia.


The Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience worked with over thirty historical advisors to create the core exhibitions currently on view. Below are just a small selection of the many secondary sources that talk about themes that are foundational to the Southern Jewish experience. Explore the works below, and let us know if you have suggestions!

General Works

  • Mark Bauman. ed., Dixie Diaspora: An Anthology of Southern Jewish History (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2006).
  • Marcie Cohen and Mark Greenberg, eds. Jewish Roots in Southern Soil (Waltham: Brandeis University Press, 2006).
  • Theodore Rosengarten, Eli N. Evans, and Dale Rosengarten. A Portion of the People: Three Hundred Years of Southern Jewish Life. Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press, 2002.

Early Settlers & the American Revolution

  • Ben-Ur, Aviva. Sephardic Jews in America: A Diasporic History. New York: New York University Press, 2009.
  • Diner, Hasia. The Jews of the United States, 1654-2000. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.
  • Greenberg, Mark. “One Religion, Different Worlds: Sephardic and Ashkenazic Immigrants in Eighteenth-Century Savannah.” In Jewish Roots in Southern Soil. Waltham, Mass: Brandeis University Press, 2006.
  • Hagy, James. This Happy Land: The Jews of Colonial and Antebellum Charleston. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2003.

Ashkenazic Immigration and Settlement in the South

  • Barkai, Avraham. Branching Out: German-Jewish Immigration to the United States, 1820-1914. New York: Holmes and Meier, 1994.
  • Diner, Hasia. The Jews of the United States, 1654-2000. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.
  • Kahan, Arcadius. “Economic Opportunities and Some Pilgrims’ Progress: Jewish Immigrants from Eastern Europe in the U.S., 1890-1914.” In The Journal of Economic History 38, no. 1 (1978): 235-51.
  • Lederhendler, Eli. Jewish Immigrants and American Capitalism 1880-1920. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
  • Weissbach, Lee. “Kentucky’s Jewish History in National Perspective: The Era of Mass Migration.” Filson Club Historical Quarterly, vol. 69 (1995): 255-274.

Internal Migration

  • Cohen, Michael. Cotton Capitalists: American Jewish Entrepreneurship in the Reconstruction Era. New York: New York University Press, 2018.
  • Friesel, Evyatar. “Jacob H. Schiff and the Leadership of the American Jewish Community.” Jewish Social Studies 2002 8(2-3): 61-72.
  • Hieke, Anton. Jewish Identity in the Reconstruction South: Ambivalence and Adaptation. Boston: Walter De Gruyter, 2013.
  • Rabin, Shari. Jews on the Frontier: Religion and Mobility in Nineteenth-Century America. New York: NYU Press, 2017.
  • Stone, Bryan Edward. The Chosen Folks: Jews on the Frontiers of Texas. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2011.
  • Weiner, Hollace. Jewish Stars in Texas: Rabbis and Their Work. College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 2006.

Navigating Their Place 

  • Faber, Eli. Jews, Slaves and the Slave Trade: Setting the Record Straight. New York: New York University Press, 1998.
  • Monaco, Chris. “Moses E. Levy of Florida: A Jewish Abolitionist Abroad.” In American Jewish History, vol. 86, no. 4 (1998): 377-396.
  • Morgan. D. T. “Eugenia Levy Phillips: The Civil War Experiences of a Southern Jewish Woman.” In  Jews of the South: Selected Essays from the Southern Jewish Historical Society. Macon: Mercer University Press, 1984: 95-106.
  • Sarna, Jonathan and Adam Mendelsohn. Jews and the Civil War: A Reader. New York: New York University Press, 2016.
  • Stollman, Jennifer. Daughters of Israel, Daughters of the South: Southern Jewish Women and Identity in the Antebellum and Civil War South. Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2013.

Peddler’s Cart 

  • Cohen, Edward. The Peddler’s Grandson: Growing Up Jewish in Mississippi. New York: Dell, 2002.
  • Diner, Hasia. Roads Taken: The Great Jewish Migrations to the New World and the Peddlers Who Forged the Way (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015).
  • Friedman, Walter. The Birth of a Salesman: The Transformation of Selling in America. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004
  • Schmier, Louis. Reflections of Southern Jewry: The Letters of Charles Wessolowsky, 1878-1879. Albany, GA: Mercer University Press, 1982. 
  • Vecchio, DC. “Making Their Way in the New South: Jewish Peddlers and Merchants in the South Carolina Upcountry.” In South Carolina Historical Magazine, vol. 113, no. 2 (2012): 100-124. 

The Merchant Store

  • Davis, Marni. Jews and Booze: Becoming American in the Age of Prohibition. New York: New York University Press, 2014.
  • Suberman, Stella. The Jew Store: A Family Memoir. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books, 1998.
  • Weiner, Deborah. Coalfield Jews: An Appalachian History. Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press, 2006.
  • Weissbach, Lee. Jewish Life in Small Town America. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005.

Becoming Southern, Building Jewish Community

  • Evans, Eli. The Provincials: A Personal History of Jews in the South. New York: Atheneum, 1973.
  • Ferris, Marcie Cohen. Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010.
  • Leffler, Phyllis. “Insiders or Outsiders: Charlottesville’s Jews, White Supremacy, and Antisemitism.” In Southern Jewish History, vol. 21 (2018): 61-120.
  • Melnick, Jeffrey. Black-Jewish Relations on Trial: Leo Frank and Jim Conley in the New South. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2000.
  • Rogoff, Leonard. Down Home: Jewish Life in North Carolina. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010.
  • Wenger, Beth. “Jewish Women of the Club: The Changing Public Role of Atlanta’s Jewish Women, 1870-1930.” American Jewish History, vol. 76, no. 3 (1987): 311-333.
  • Whitfield, Stephen. “Commerce and Community.” Southern Jewish History, vol. 12 (2009): 115-226.

Entering a New Era

  • Cohen, Naomi. Americanization of Zionism, 1897-1948. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 2003.
  • Diner, Hasia. “The Encounter between Jews and America in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.” The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 11, no. 1 (2012): 3-25.
  • Garland, Libby. After They Closed the Gates: Jewish Illegal Immigration to the United States, 1921-1965. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014.
  • Malone, Bobbie. Rabbi Max Heller: Reformer, Zionist, Southerner, 1860-1929. Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press, 2013.
  • Sterba, Christopher. Good Americans: Italian and Jewish Immigrants During the First World War. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

World War II & the Holocaust

  • Powell, Lawrence. Troubled Memory: Anne Levy, the Holocaust and David Duke’s Louisiana. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000.
  • Puckett, Dan. In the Shadow of Hitler: Alabama’s Jews, the Second World War, and the Holocaust. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2014.
  • Shapiro, Edward. “A Call to Service: Rabbis Jacob M. Rothschild, Alexander D. Goode, Sidney M. Lefkowitz, and Roland B. Gittelsohn and World War II.” In Southern Jewish History, vol. 22, (2019): 89-125.
  • Suberman, Stella. The GI Bill Boys: A Memoir. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2012.

Civil Rights and Activism

  • Bauman, Mark and Berkley Kalin. The Quiet Voices: Southern Rabbis and Black Civil Rights, 1880s to 1990s. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2014.
  • Goldstein, Eric. The Price of Whiteness: Jews, Race, and American Identity Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006.
  • Greenberg, Cheryl. Troubling the Waters: Black-Jewish Relations in the American Century. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006.
  • Krause, Allen, Mark Bauman, and Steven Krause. To Stand Aside or Stand Alone: Southern Reform Rabbis and the Civil Rights Movement. Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama P, 2016.
  • Mendelsohn, Adam. “Two Far South: Rabbinical Responses to Apartheid and Segregation in South Africa and the American South.” In Southern Jewish History, vol. 6 (2003).
  • Webb, Clive. Fight against Fear: Southern Jews and Black Civil Rights. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2001.

Jewish Women Activists

  • Hasia Diner, Shira M. Kohn, and Rachel Kranson. A Jewish Feminine Mystique?: Jewish Women in Postwar America. New Brunswick, N.J: Rutgers University Press, 2010.
  • Moosnick, Nora Rose. Arab and Jewish Women in Kentucky: Stories of Accommodation and Audacity. Lexington, KY: UP of Kentucky, 2012.
  • Murphy, Sara Alderman. Breaking the Silence: Little Rock’s Women’s Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools, 1958-1963. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1997.
  • Rogoff, Leonard. Gertrude Weil: Jewish Progressive in the New South. Chapel Hill, NC: U of North Carolina P, 2017.
  • Trestman, Marlene. Fair Labor Lawyer: The Remarkable Life of New Deal Attorney and Supreme Court Advocate Bessie Margolin. Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 2016.
  • Umansky, Ellen. “Paula Ackerman: Pioneer in the Pulpit.” In Southern Jewish History, vol. 14 (2011): 77-117.
  • Wenger, Beth. “Jewish Women and Voluntarism: Beyond the Myth of Enablers.” In American Jewish History, vol. 79, no. 1 (1989): 16-36.
  • Zola, Gary, ed. Women Rabbis: Exploration & Celebration: Papers Delivered at an Academic Conference Honoring Twenty Years of Women in the Rabbinate, 1972-1992. Cincinnati: HUC-JIR Rabbinic Alumni Association Press, 1996.

Transformation of the South

  • Evans, Eli. The Lonely Days were Sundays: Reflections of a Jewish Southerner. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1993.
  • Moore, Deborah Dash. To the Golden Cities: Pursuing the American Jewish Dream in Miami and L.A. New York: Free Press, 1994.
  • Rockoff, Stuart. “Rise and Fall of the Jewish South,” Jewish Roots in Southern Soil. Waltham, Mass: Brandeis University Press, 2006.
  • Wenger, Beth. History Lessons: The Creation of American Jewish Heritage. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010.
  • Whitfield, Stephen. “Jewish Fates, Altered States,” Jewish Roots in Southern Soil. Waltham, Mass: Brandeis University Press, 2006.

Jews & Popular Culture

  • McGraw, Eliza. Two Covenants: Representations of Southern Jewishness (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2005). 
  • Tanny, Jarrod. “Between the Borsht Belt and the Bible Belt: Crafting Southern Jewishness Through Chutzpah and Humor.” In Southern Jewish History. Vol. 15 (2012): 119-167.

Whitfield, Stephen. In Search of American Jewish Culture. Lebanon, N.H.: University Press of New England, Brandeis, 2001.