Mapping the Distinctive Geography of Jewish Students at the University of Michigan in the 1930s

Joshua Gordon, Dr. Karla Goldman, School of Social Work, University of Michigan, 500 S State St, Ann Arbor, MI 48109

In the first few decades of the 20th century, elite northeastern colleges saw a steadily growing number of students from East European Jewish immigrant families, a reality that leaders affiliated feared would turn away students they considered more desirable. So, from the 1920s into the 1950s, they imposed quotas meant to limit Jewish student enrollment. The University of Michigan (UM) does not appear to have imposed the same restrictions. Perhaps as a result, many Jewish students from the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions set their sights on Ann Arbor. This research project focuses on UM’s Jewish student body in the classes of 1934 and 1939 in order to track the effect quotas at other schools may have had in shaping the distinctive geography of UM’s Jewish population, while seeking insight into Jewish experience at the University. Initial data was drawn from the Michiganensian yearbook, then cross-checked with alumni files at University of Michigan’s Bentley Historical Library. These data were compiled into a database and used to graph the geographic distribution of students in these classes. Using maps, graphs, and charts, we identified significant contrasts in the geography of Jewish and non-Jewish students which suggest that the perception of Michigan’s more welcoming nature toward Jewish students had an impact both on the experience of Jewish students and the student body of the University of Michigan. More research based on campus residential patterns, interview reports of New York applicants, and other information is necessary to further elaborate and confirm these conclusions.

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Joshua Gordon

Institution: University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Type: Poster

Subject: Philosophy, Ethics, & Religious Studies

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 9
Date/Time: Wed 12:00pm-1:00pm
Session Number: 6092