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Gender and Ethnicity: Life Stories of Jewish-American Immigrant Women in the First Half of the Twentieth Century


In the first half of the twentieth century, immigrants left oral and written testimonies of their experience in the United States, many of them housed in various ethnic-American archives or published by ethnic historical societies. In 1942, the Yiddish Scientific Institute in New York City encouraged Jewish-American immigrants to share their life stories as part of a written essay contest. In 2006, several of these autobiographical accounts were translated and published by Jocelyn Cohen and Daniel Soyer in a volume entitled My Future Is in America. Thus, this essay examines the autobiographies of two Jewish-American immigrant women, Minnie Goldstein and Rose Schoenfeld, with a view to comparing how their gendered identity (as women and as members of their families) has impacted their choices and lives in their home countries and in the United States in the first part of the twentieth century.