Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Quarterly 15:2 (Spring 1995). Copyright © 1995 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Despite the emphasis on ethnicity and crosscultural contact that permeates the New Western History, western historians have neglected the Jews of the American West. Often mislabeled as German ethnics because of their surnames or ignored altogether, Jews of the interior West in particular have been left out of the intellectual revolution sweeping the field. Their modern demographic distribution in coastal and urban areas has been mistaken for their historic presence, and their contribution to local and regional culture has been overlooked. As a result, the Jews of large urban areas in the West have received the vast majority of scholarly attention. In existing historical treatments, Jews of the interior West were transient people of commerce and little else.