Browsing All Posts filed under »Jewish Economic History«

A Jewish-Russian Frontier Man

June 1, 2015


This is the story of Aharon Ya'akov Dukhan, a Jewish-Russian frontier man whose life spanned the second half of the nineteenth century. In Pale in Comparison, a paper that I am currently developing, I argue that even in as late a period as the one in which Aharon Ya'akov was active, Jews were, in a certain economic sense, countryside people. The rural frontier was an integral part of the ecology that defined the economic and demographic aspects of Jewish lives in the Pale of Settlement. Dukhan embodied the experience of the Jewish frontier, and his path exemplifies several of the empirical regularities that I find in the paper.

Pogroms, Networks, and Migration: The Jewish Migration from the Russian Empire to the United States 1881–1914

November 5, 2014


The migration of one and a half million Jews from the Russian Empire to the United States during the years 1881–1914 is commonly linked to the occurrence of pogroms, eruptions of anti-Jewish mob violence, that took place mainly in two waves in 1881–1882 and in 1903–1906. Although the common perception that pogroms were a major cause for Jewish migration is now questioned by historians, little quantitative evidence exists to support or refute this view. This paper addresses this question empirically, based on a large newly constructed data sets. The answer is a complex combination of a "yes" and a "no".

Pogrom-Driven Migration: The Case of Kalarash

April 10, 2014


Were Jewish immigrants from the Pale of Settlement to the United States really driven by pogroms? This is a question with which I deal empirically, using data on migration and on events of anti-Jewish violence. But before zooming out to the large statistical picture, it is important to verify anecdotally that one can find particular cases in which pogrom-driven migration did clearly occur. For this, I chose to dwell into a case study of a single Jewish town–Kalarash–that experienced a rather gruesome pogrom in October [o.s.] 1905. In this rather extreme case, I show here that indeed there was such a thing as pogrom-driven migration. That is, the pogrom was so devastating that the data shows without doubt that many Jews of Kalarash that would not have immigrated otherwise, were driven out by it in search of a safe haven in a new land. This is how it looked.

Who-is-a-Jew Algorithm

November 24, 2012


I present an algorithm that I developed to identify who was Jewish and who was not from among a population of immigrants who arrived in Ellis Island from the Russian Empire during the pre-WWI Age of Mass Migration. The algorithm has two main steps: Determine how “Jewish” were each first name and last name Determine whether each immigrant was Jewish or not based on his first and last names I explain how this algorithm works and show evidence indicating that this identification process works well.

Occupations of Jews in the Pale of Settlement

September 30, 2012


What were the occupations and trades the Jews were holding in the old country? The 1897 census of the Russian Empire tells us a lot about that, and in great detail. The summary data have been studied in the past, and the major facts are well known by historians. Based on my work on this census I present here the basics, for those who are less familiar with the case, and I also add a few of the interesting insights that come out of studying the more detailed data that I have recently coded from the census. The purpose is to expose the data and some of the patterns that it shows, and thus the discussion is more descriptive rather than interpretative.

Edward A. Steiner: A Writer on Immigration

August 24, 2012


Steiner (1866–1956) was a professor of Applied Christianity, for what it means, in Grinnell College in Iowa. He was born to a well-to-do Jewish-Slovak-Hungarian family in a Carpathian village, and was educated in Vienna and Heidelberg, from where he made a pilgrimage to his venerated Tolstoy in Russia. This pilgrimage was followed later by five more, as well as by a written biography

Most Common Jewish Names

July 24, 2012


I present here an analysis of the distribution of Jewish and non-Jewish names among immigrants who arrived at Ellis Island at the beginning of the twentieth century. It is a by-product of my work on the Jewish immigrants from the Pale of Settlement. The first sections explain a few technical details about the data. It is followed by the lists of most common Jewish and non-Jewish names and a few comments.