Institutional Scholarship

On the River, On the Road: Lower Mississippi Peddlers and their Judaism, 1820-1865

Show simple item record

dc.contributor.advisor Farneth, Molly B. Eckstein, Laura Newman 2016-07-20T11:27:12Z 2016-07-20T11:27:12Z 2016
dc.description.abstract Scholars who study the Jews of the Southern United States often struggle to understand how Jewish identity affected the way in which Jews presented themselves, the way in which outsiders viewed them, and the extent to which they felt integrated into society. Many scholars believe that Jewish religious practice was not just adapted, but sacrificed, as part of the process of integration into Southern life and culture. Looking specifically at the region of the Lower Mississippi, this thesis offers a different approach to understanding Judaism in the context of adaptation and integration. This thesis begins with a historical review of the role of Jews as merchants in the United States and how social and economic factors in the early and mid-19th century encouraged their entry into American society as peddlers, creating the "typical peddler profile. More specifically, the thesis examines why the Lower Mississippi was a unique and advantageous setting during this time period for Jewish merchants. This thesis argues that in the Lower Mississippi during the early and mid-19th century, Jewish religious practices and spaces were not sacrificed, but rather reconceptualized. Judaism became integrated into the merchant profession, manifested through economic and familial networks that allowed Jews to practice their Judaism even in the most remote of locales. Judaism was also intertwined with the liminal position of Jews within Lower Mississippian society: not black, yet not seen as fully white, allowing Jews to sell to a customer base that was both black and white. With their economic and familial networks and adaptive Jewish practices, the Jews of the Lower Mississippi were able to become fully participating, though distinct, members of the larger society while maintaining a form of Judaism.
dc.description.sponsorship Haverford College. Department of Religion
dc.language.iso eng
dc.title On the River, On the Road: Lower Mississippi Peddlers and their Judaism, 1820-1865
dc.type Thesis
dc.rights.access Open Access

Files in this item

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show simple item record Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as



My Account