Samuel Kassow, Charles H. Northam Professor of History at Trinity College in Hartford and the author of the award-winning book, “Who Will Write Our History? Emanuel Ringelblum, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the Oyneg Shabes Archive,” has been elected a Fellow of the American Academy for Jewish Research (AAJR), the oldest professional organization of Judaica scholars in North America.
“Your election reflects the high regard in which your peers in Jewish studies regard your research and writing,” said Todd Endelman, a professor at the_University of Michigan and president of the Philadelphia-based AAJR, in making the announcement.
Founded in 1920, the AAJR enhances Judaic studies in North American universities by creating a fellowship for its members and by providing programs and opportunities for junior scholars and students entering the field. Fellows are nominated and elected by their peers. The Academy sponsors several programs, among them the Baron prize for the best first book in the field of Judaic studies.
Kassow, who graduated with a B.A. from Trinity in 1966 and has been a member of the faculty since 1972, is a West Hartford resident and a member of Beth David Synagogue. He has written numerous articles, as well as four books, including the one on “Emanuel Ringelblum; and Students, Professors and the State in Tsarist Russia: 1884-1917; Between Tsar and People: the Search for a Public Identity in Tsarist Russia; and The Distinctive Life of East European Jewry.”
The book on Emanuel Ringelblum has earned Kassow accolades and attention worldwide. He is the leading authority on Ringelblum, who, in 1940, established a secret organization named Oyneg Shabes in Nazi-occupied Warsaw to document Jewish life in wartime Poland and to compile an archive that would preserve the events for posterity. Ringelblum perished in 1944, but before he died, he hid thousands of documents in milk cans and tin boxes. One of the milk cans is on display in the Holocaust Museum’s permanent collection.
Kassow’s book on Ringelblum was selected by the Jewish Book Council as runner-up for the 2007 National Jewish Book Award, and was the winner of the 2008 American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies Orbis Book Prize for Polish Studies. He followed up “Who Will Write Our History?” with an introduction to a new catalog and guide, “The Warsaw Ghetto: Oyneg Shabes – Ringelblum Archive,” which was recently published by the Indiana University Press and is a comprehensive look at the once-buried Oyneg Shabes Archive.
His latest work, co-edited by Robert Moses Shapiro and Tadeusz Epsztein, is a comprehensive description of the contents of a 35,000-page archive that includes documents, materials from the underground press, photographs, memoirs, letters and more. It is housed in the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw.
Of Kassow’s book on Ringelblum, Peter N. Miller, writing in the April 9, 2008 issue of The New Republic, said, “It may well be the most important book about history that anyone will ever read. As a tale about why doing history matters, Samuel D. Kassow’s book has few equals in our collective record.”