Notice: Access to Special Collections material, the Reading Room, and Instruction will temporarily be suspended starting on Aug.12, 2024 as the collection will be moved from the basement to 3 East. Normal operations are anticipated to resume late in the semester. Read more for current updates.
Notice: Access to Special Collections material, the Reading Room, and Instruction will temporarily be suspended starting on Aug.12, 2024 as the collection will be moved from the basement to 3 East. Normal operations are anticipated to resume late in the semester. Read more for current updates.
Notice: Maintenance affecting the library catalog will occur on July 26-29. The catalog will be available except for newly added e-resources, which will not appear until after the maintenance is completed and the backlog of changes can be delivered - possibly 10 days. In addition, renewals and changes to circulation status will not be visible in the EDS interface during this time.
Notice: Maintenance affecting the library catalog will occur on July 26-29. The catalog will be available except for newly added e-resources, which will not appear until after the maintenance is completed and the backlog of changes can be delivered - possibly 10 days. In addition, renewals and changes to circulation status will not be visible in the EDS interface during this time.
Notice: Due to ongoing construction, 4 East is currently closed to the public.  To obtain items located on 4 East, please place an online request for the item to be paged for you using the ‘Place Request’ button in the catalog. Please visit our Circulation FAQ page for assistance in using our catalog.
Notice: Due to ongoing construction, 4 East is currently closed to the public.  To obtain items located on 4 East, please place an online request for the item to be paged for you using the ‘Place Request’ button in the catalog. Please visit our Circulation FAQ page for assistance in using our catalog.

Telling Family Stories
Jews, Genealogy & History

American Jews are always telling family stories: in literature, in memoir, in film, through family trees, and around the kitchen table. What do these stories mean? What do they reveal, and what do they obscure? How do they help individuals understand their community, their ethnic identity, and their origins? How are these stories different from - and how are they similar to - the stories of other Americans? How has American history affected ordinary individuals' family stories? How have ordinary families' everyday decisions shaped American history?

Tea tins
Tea tins
Junior Jewish Cook Book
Junior Jewish Cook Book book cover
Love and Knishes: an Irrepressible Guide to Jewish Cooking
Love and Knishes: an Irrepressible Guide to Jewish Cooking book cover

This exhibit looks at some of the most important - and most interesting - ways that Jewish families in the United States have told stories about themselves: through family trees, through children's books, and through cookbooks. In each of these genres, American Jews have outlined their history and its relationship to their current lives. Jews have told stories about their religion, their culture, and their place in the United States.

L'Dor Vador From Generation to Generation
L'Dor Vador From Generation to Generation book cover
History of the Jews in America
History of the Jews in America book cover
Good Shabos
Good Shabos book cover
First Grade in Hebrew
First Grade in Hebrew book cover

Special Collections in the Michigan State University Libraries collects, houses, preserves, and makes accessible rare and unique materials, including notable collections of American cookbooks, textbooks and Sunday School books. Jewish American cookbooks, as well as cookbooks from other American ethnic groups, are actively collected.

Eat Hearty 'Es Gesundheit' Cookbook
Eat Hearty "Es Gesundheit" Cookbook book cover
Kiddush cup with Star of David motif Cup used on Sabbath and other Jewish holidays when reciting the blessing over wine (kiddush)
Kiddush cup with Star of David motif, used on Sabbath and other Jewish holidays when reciting the blessing over wine (kiddush)
Cooking the Sephardic Way book cover
Cooking the Sephardic Way book cover

As you examine this exhibit, compare these family stories to the ones your family tells about itself. How do families imagine their origins? How do families try to educate their children - and others - about their lives?

The history of American families begins with your family story.

Related Resources

Listen to a talk (1 hour 15 minutes) on Small Strangers: Immigrant Children in America, 1880-1925 by Melissa Klapper, Professor of History, Rowan University.

Browse through ethnic cookbooks in the MSU Libraries' Feeding America: Historic American Cookbook Project.