Digital History of the Jews of Boston (DH Jews of Boston) is an accessible and interactive resource for exploring Boston’s Jewish history. The projects to come out of DH Jews of Boston all highlight the ways in which the history of the Jews in Boston is intertwined with that of many other communities in the city. All of the projects on this site have been created–from design to execution–by Northeastern University students.
In the fall semester of 2020, the four students in our intimate inaugural class of HIST 2430, Digital Histories of Ethnic Boston, spent the semester learning to use a range of DH tools and about the history of the Jews and other communities in Boston. These students developed two very different interactive mapping projects. Harrison Beiser, Kayla Lavelle, and Shira Weiss created Mapping Shared Spaces: A Visual History of Boston’s Black and Jewish Communities, an interactive digital story-map exploring sites of shared significance–though often different use or meaning–for black and Jewish communities. In Shifting Neighborhoods: How Boston’s Jewish Communities Moved, 1850-2000, Jasper Trouerbach used historic synagogue addresses–and information on their founding, closing, and consolidation–as data points to track and visualize the internal migration of Jewish communities in and out of the city over a 150-year time span of synagogues. In the spring semester of 2021, Nate Gillin, a student in HIST 1294, Jews in the Modern World, built Boston’s Jewish Advocate: A Visual History of a Publishing Landmark, an interactive digital story-map that uses city landmarks to trace the 118-year story of the longest continually publishing English-language newspaper in America. In the fall semester of 2021, Several students in JWSS/PHIL 1285, Jewish Religion and Culture, decided to explore the use of 360-degree photography to create immersive photo essays of sites in the Boston as well as New York. Pushing beyond Boston, Liza Sheehy created an interactive map employing 360-degree photography to provide an immersive look into the architecture of over a dozen of Baltimore’s synagogues in Architecture and Migration: Baltimore’s Historic Synagogues 360.
As a continuing project, my hope is for DH Jews of Boston to build and expand its exhibits in breadth and depth by continuing to harness the creativity of Northeastern students.
Department of History and Center for Jewish Studies, Northeastern University College for Social Sciences and Humanities
Photos by Shira Weiss and Simon Rabinovitch.