Jewish Atlantic World Database Live on the Web!

The Jewish Atlantic World Database is now open and free to use! In the collection, you will find over 5,000 images related to Jewish life in early America including nearly 3,000 photos of gravestones.  You will also find other types of of material culture (ritual baths, synagogues, houses, furniture, etc.) and archival documents (probate records and land evidence) from many of the key ports where Jews settled in North America and the Caribbean, as well as several crucial ports from which they immigrated (Amsterdam, London, Hamburg).  Also included in the database are samples of non-Jewish (and later Jewish) artifacts to allow students to better assess what made Jewish life distinctive.  Keywords allow visitors to connect artifact to other items related to the same individual, family, ethnic group, location, port town, or theme.  Right now you can browse or search, or look for gravestones by the individual's name or by cemetery.  Soon we hope to have a complete list of family names to browse as well.  You will also find resources to help you analyze the objects in the database or to use in the classroom.  Looking for something or someone and can't find it/them?  Let me know, as we are still adding items to the database each week!  Here are some important colonial Jewish families you will find in the database: Lopez, Henriquez, Senior, Curiel, Gomez, Hoheb, Hart, Rivera, Maduro, Seixas, and many many others.

Book coverThis collection began when I was doing research for Messianism, Secrecy, and Mysticism: A New Interpretation of Early American Jewish Life.  In this book, I am interested in the ways in which colonial American Judaism was as much an embodied religion as it was a textual or faith-based practice.  That is, I argue that we should think of colonial American Jews as a “people of the body” as well as a “people of the book,” and I look to the ways that everyday objects helped define and create Jewish identity. By sharing the images used to create this book, I hope to enable students, scholars, and family historians to trace the paths that early American Jews (and their objects) took, as well as to gain a richer sense of their everyday lives.

If you would like to learn more about the religious life of early American Jews and the objects they used, please feel free to order a copy of Messianism, Secrecy, and Mysticism: A New Interpretation of Early American Jewish Life from ISBS or Purchase of the book is optional, however; this website is freely available to the public as an educational, not-for-profit tool for teaching and learning.
Landhuis Klein Santa Marta (ca. 1700), Curacao. Home of Aaron Levy Maduro (1709-19); Jacob Joshua Naar (1819-56), and Joseph Jacob Henriquez (1856-62)