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Grant number like: FB-52404-06

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Victoria Saker Woeste
American Bar Foundation (West Lafayette, IN 47906-1288)

Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars
Research Programs

$40,000 (approved)
$40,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2006 – 12/31/2006

Fighting Antisemitism in Model T America

This project recasts our understanding of racial prejudice and group identity during the 1920s by linking a legal challenge to Henry Ford’s published antisemitism to the history of antisemtism, Jewish civil rights activism, and the nascent concept of group rights. Using newly discovered archival sources, I place the Ford episode in the larger context of Jewish organizational politics, which was marked by ambivalence over the use of litigation to achieve social change. American Jews believed that they could best lay claim to full civic participation by demonstrating their fitness as citizens. They won an apparent victory over Ford, who apologized in 1927, but they deferred formal legal recognition of group rights for decades.