Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)




Hannah Rosen

Committee Members

Richard Turits

Jonah Goldwater


This thesis explores antisemitism in the nineteenth century South. It seeks to demonstrate the relative paucity of religious prejudice directed towards Jews by white southern gentiles until the late nineteenth century, despite the virulence of anti-black racism in white southern society at the time. This “paradox,” contrary to modern assumptions that disparate prejudices run together as has been documented by social psychologists, attracts attention. Historically, scholars made similar claims without much substantiation. Other researchers, such as Leonard Dinnerstein in “A Note on Southern Attitudes toward Jews,” challenged the possibility of southern Jewish acceptance relative to northern mores, pointing out an evidential gap. This thesis attempts to show that an atmosphere of acceptance of Jews was a fact of nineteenth century southern life, though this evaporated during the 1880s and 1890s. It also documents the existence of a strain of race-based philosemitism amongst white southern gentiles. The thesis focuses especially on Richmond and explores possible explanations for this phenomenon. It uses newspapers, journals, letters, travelogues, synagogue records, and speeches to illustrate the realities of southern Jewish integration in the nineteenth century.