I am a graduate student at Portland State University in the beginning stages of a Masters thesis on the Am-Olam movement in the United States in the 1880s. The Am-Olam settlers created socialist Jewish agrarian communities in Oregon, Utah, North Dakota, New Jersey, Michigan, and Louisiana in the 1880s. I am looking for information on the influences, motivations and aspirations of two groups: 1) the Russian-Jewish socialist immigrants and 2) the German-American Jews who financed the immigration.
I have been researching sources, and have had some luck through the NY Public Library (the Baron de Hirschfield and the Jewish Colonization Association collections), and the Oregon Historical Society (the New Odessa Community collections) but am having a hard time finding any discussion (primary or secondary) of women in this movement(although weddings were mentioned, so they must have existed). If anyone has any relevant information, I would really appreciate the assistance. Thanks.
>From Janet Darley EN_S423phoenix.king.ac.uk 24 Sept 1996
There is (was?) a historian at the University of Utah (Salt Lake City, Utah 84112) Robert Goldberg who did some work on the community established in Utah. Additionally there are some oral history archives of the Jewish community at the Univ. of Utah library that should contain some interviews with people whose parents immigrated to Utah under the auspices of this orginisation and were actually born at the agricultural community.
>From Maria Elena Raymond email@example.com 24 Sept 1996
I am forwarding your message to H-West, where we had a discussion on the Jewish agrarian movement about 6 months ago. I'm sure Elliott West can help you in accessing the discussion thread.
American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati
American Jewish Historical Society at Brandeis
Rikoon, J Danford, ed Rachel Calof's Story: Jewish Homesteader on the Northern Plains (Indiana U Press, 1995)
>From Al Holland firstname.lastname@example.org 25 Sept 1996
This is but a shard of a recollection, but the suburb of Sacramento, CA, still known as Orangevale, was originally developed in the 1880s as ten acre farmsteads intended to be marketed to refugees of that era's eastern European pogroms. It was the venture of one Harris Weinstock and others. I can recall his name because he and his half-brother founded a long line of drygoods into department store enterprises. Because the real estate was marketed to the families you may find something that will at least offer proxy variables for women's roles, realms or realities. The venture did not flourish, likely because the predominately urban emigrants were better suited to commerce than agriculture. I'd start at the Sacramento County Archive and Museum Collection Center, (916) 254-7072. >From Ron James email@example.com 25 Sept 1996
You might consider looking at Wilbur Shepperson's _Retreat to Nevada: A Socialist Colony of World War I (1966) but be careful with his footnotes since he is often misleading. Also, Robert V. Hine's _California Utopian Colonies (1951) might be useful. My office has produced a chapter on Nevada's Utopian movements in "Nevada's Comprehensive Preservation Plan"(1989,1991). The Oregon SHPO has a copy...ask for James Hamrisk, and tell 'em Ron sent you. Nevada had a "Hebrew Agricultural Utopian Colony" founded in 1897 to assist Russian and Polish Jews. Let me know if I can help further (702) 687-6360.
>From Judy Chesen firstname.lastname@example.org 26 Sept 1996
The National Public Radio program "All Things Considered" has produced several programs within the past year or two concerning Jewish agricultural settlements within the United States at the end of the last century and the beginning of the present century. You might contact them in order to obtain the information on the programs. They may prove helpful.
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