Coalfield Jews Forged Niche as Retailers, Jewish Communities Flourished

Nov 4, 2006

Between the 1880’s and 1920’s there was an intersection of two historical phenomena in Appalachia. The railroads opened the region for the large scale extraction of coal and Jews from Eastern Europe came to the United States seeking opportunity.

Deborah R. Weiner's Coalfield Jews: An Appalachian History.
Credit Suzanne Higgins

In her book “Coalfield Jews: An Appalachian History,” Deborah Weiner writes “…their story is treated here as Jewish History and as Appalachian history, in equal measure.  The linkages that emerge between these two seemingly unrelated fields help to illuminate both.”

Weiner is a research historian and family history coordinator at the Jewish Museum of Maryland in Baltimore.

She spoke to Beth Vorhees in 2006 about her just-published book.