Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

Professor’s book explores Jewish women’s experiences in American West

After growing up and attending college in New York, Jeanne Abrams was awed by the wide-open space and the “tremendous feeling of the possibilities” when she arrived in Colorado in 1973.

In her book, Jewish Women Pioneering the Frontier Trail, A History in the West (New York University Press, 2006), Abrams explores that feeling of unlimited opportunity through the experiences of Jewish women in the early American West, focusing on their integral role in areas of social welfare and progressive reform.

Abrams, associate professor at Penrose Library and director of DU’s Beck Archives and the Rocky Mountain Jewish Historical Society, gathered information for her book from hundreds of primary and secondary sources, including diaries, photos, letters and memoirs.

Abrams’ book seeks to intrigue readers with inspiring stories of women such as Frances Wisebart Jacobs, Denver’s “Mother of Charities” and the impetus behind the creation of the National Jewish Hospital and the organization that is now the United Way.

The book explores how Jewish women helped build early Jewish communities and institutions, their impact on social welfare, how they embraced education and their involvement in politics, particularly women’s suffrage.

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