For my final project, I created an interactive timeline called “Southern Jews & Civil Rights: Attacks on Jewish Institutions from 1957-1958.” Through my multiple StoryMaps, I wanted to educate others on southern temple bombings during this era, as well as the social position of southern Jews in the region, Black-Jewish relations, and the rise of antisemitism after World War II in the United States. I find that some of these topics, especially southern temple bombings and southern Jews in social movements, are not talked about enough in historical scholarship today — American Jewish historians tend to focus on northern Jews, due to their ability to be more outspoken in their communities.
My timeline has many different pages! The main page, which houses the main timeline and map view, also contains background information on all of the topics above. From the main page, users can click on the hyperlinks in the timeline or map and explore a particular bombing or attempted bombing in detail. For each incident page, I included any newspaper coverage I found (with links to Newspapers.com), as well as a day-by-day description of what happened until the press stopped reporting on it.
All of the sources I used are available in a Google Doc, which is hyperlinked at the bottom of the webpage.
Below is my project poster from the in-class poster session:
At first, I didn’t think I would use newspapers as my main source, but I am glad I did! I was able to identify that some dates that are widely used amongst southern Jewish historians are incorrect or need further research. For example, the attempted bombing of a temple in Gastonia, North Carolina is often said to have happened on February 11, 1958, but the newspapers were already reporting on it by February 9, 1958. This is interesting, because many of the scholars I have read use letters from rabbis to secure and pin-point these dates. Additionally, I found some other bombing incidents, like threats to multiple temples in South Carolina, which are never discussed in scholarship.
Overall, I am very pleased with my project, and I am grateful that I learned how to use StoryMaps! I think it was the perfect medium to use for this project. It allowed me to have a lot of flexibility, spread out my information to multiple pages, and explore other ways to educate others. (I am horrible at geography and even amazed myself that I managed to make a map!)
While I like how this turned out, I do not want to be done with it! I definitely think there is some more room for improvement. I would like to work on making my descriptions of the days more engaging and add more archival resources in the future, like correspondence between rabbis, sermons after the bombings, television and radio coverage of the bombings, etc. I would also like to add the other incidents I found, as well as input more information on the bombings or attempted bombings of Black institutions that often happened at the same time, or a few days after Jewish institutions were threatened or decimated.
Please let me know if you have any questions or any suggestions! I really loved having class with you all.
I hope you enjoy and are able to learn something new with my timeline!
— Rachael Davis