Jonathan Z. S. Pollack

Position title: Madison Area Technical College Fellow (2009-2010)

History, Madison Area Technical College

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Prosperity and Transience: Jewish Life in Madison, Wisconsin, 1850-2000

At the Institute, Pollack is working on Prosperity and Transience: Jewish Life in Madison, Wisconsin, 1850-2000, his history of Madison’s Jewish community. This work is a case study of American Jewish occupational and social mobility. Like their counterparts in many Midwestern cities, Madison’s Jews concentrated in retail trade in the late 19th century, scrap metal and grocery businesses in the early 20th century, and professional and academic fields in the mid-to-late 20th century. The presence of the University of Wisconsin in Madison served dual purposes in the Jewish community; at the same time that Jews came to Madison to attend or work for the University, the University sent its Jewish graduates far afield in search of professional employment opportunities. The solidly middle-class nature of Madison Jewish life, coupled with the migration patterns associated with smaller Jewish communities and professional career ladders, constitute the “prosperity and transience” of the title.

Pollack is Instructor in History and Chair of the Humanities Department at Madison Area Technical College. He is also the Project Director for Life During Wartime, a professional-development program for history teachers in grades 5-12, funded by the Teaching American History initiative of the U. S. Department of Education. Pollack’s publications include “’Is This We Have among Us Here a Jew’: The Hillel Review and Jewish Identity at the University of Wisconsin, 1925-31,” in Charles Lloyd Cohen and Paul S. Boyer, eds. Religion and the Culture of Print in Modern America (University of Wisconsin Press, 2008); The Voice of the People: Primary Sources on the History of American Labor, Industrial Relations, and Working-Class Culture (co-editor) (Harlan Davidson, 2004); and “Jewish Problems: Eastern and Western Jewish Identities in Conflict at the University of Wisconsin, 1919-1941,” American Jewish History 89:2 (June, 2001). Pollack earned his M A. and Ph. D. in History at the University of Wisconsin, and his A.B. in History at the University of Michigan.