1909 Exhibition of Jewish Farmers of America, Library of Congress photo
This post includes photos and references on the October 1909 Jewish Federation of Farmers conference and fair in New York City. It was held at the Educational Alliance at the corner of East Broadway and Jefferson. The most popular of the 225 exhibits were presented by the Baron Hirsch Agricultural College in Woodbine, New Jersey. Over 50,000 people visited the exhibit. Speakers included the Assistant Secretary of Agriculture, the honorable W.M. Hays.
The Cornell Agricultural College, one of the most important agricultural schools in the United States, as well as the New Haven Experiment Station, the New Jersey College of Agriculture and the Massachusetts Agricultural College, participated in the exhibition. In the 1935 History of the Baron de Hirsch Fund, the author called this participation “true public recognition: American universities taking part in an agricultural exposition organized by Russian Jews.” 1
Boy in Woodbine NJ Baron Hirsch Farming Colony c. 1900 from Center for Jewish History
Check out the article from SLATE at the link below, on why Jews don’t farm. It is written by a descendent of an immigrant to the Baron Hirsch farming community in Woodbine, New Jersey. It is fun to read. But, contrary to his thesis, there were Jewish farming communities in Ukraine and Bessarabia and even Siberia. In fact before the assassination of Czar Alexander II in 1881, Jews were allowed, and often encouraged, to buy land and farm in Russia.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries Baron Maurice de Hirsch, the builder of the Vienna-Constantinople Railroad, and his friends, sponsored the settlement of Eastern European Jews in many lands. They spent the equivalent of $2 billion in today’s dollars, working primarily in North and South America.
This blog was established to collect and tell the stories of the Jewish farmers that Baron Maurice de Hirsch supported in both North and South America and the follow-on stories of their descendants worldwide.
We present written works and visuals depicting the original immigrants and relating the achievements of the descendants of these immigrants. And there are many achievements. Our forebears were courageous and ingenious people as are their grand and great-grandchildren.
We hope you will send us your stories and permission to publish them. Click here to contact us. And if you have a particular question about this immigration phenomenon, let us know. We will research the answer and write a post.
MORE ON BARON HIRSCH
For the whole story, read the official history of Baron Hirsch’s Jewish Colonization Association, An Outstretched Arm.
For information on Baron Hirsch’s work in the United States through the Jewish Agricultural Society see this post by Professor Emeritus of North Carolina State University, Gary Moore.
Here you can find over 50 different books on the life and work of Baron Hirsch.
Also, check out this short summary of Baron Hirsch’s work with Jewish farmers.
Here is a 1910 report from the U.S. Government on “Hebrews in Agriculture”. including many of Baron Hirsch’s projects.
Click here for a list of the archives worldwide of Baron Hirsch-related documents, including correspondence with individual immigrants.