Northwestern Events Calendar


"To America on Foot”: Romanian Jewish Fusgeyers from 1900 in History and Memory"

When: Wednesday, May 18, 2022
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM CT

Where: Kresge Hall, 1515, 1880 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Nancy Gelman   (847) 491-2612

Group: The Crown Family Center for Jewish and Israel Studies

Category: Academic, Lectures & Meetings


"To America on Foot”: Romanian Jewish Fusgeyers from 1900 in History and Memory"

Dana Mihailescu, 2021-2022 Edith Kreeger Wolf Distinguished Visiting Professor,  Northwestern University

In 1900, during the great wave of Jewish emigration from Eastern Europe, a so-called fusgeyer movement became the most salient characteristic of Jewish emigration from Romania, given the high number of impoverished, alien, persecuted Jews who were on the brink of starvation and who suddenly decided to leave on foot towards the U.S. and Canada. My presentation considers the history and memory of the fusgeyer movement by tracking the 1900 representation of these emigrants in (Jewish/gentile) press articles, brochures, poems, and visual arts as well as the subsequent accounts due to Jewish cultural historians from Romania. I will compare these accounts from Romania with the American representation of the fusgeyer movement over time. I will show how the fusgeyer movement representation in the U.S. has been a conduit upholding transcultural networks of memory work. In this respect, I will consider the 1900-1903 press coverage of emigration on foot in the American Jewish and mainstream press, the 1900 visit to Romania and report of Robert Watchorn -- the U.S. government special agent sent to Romania by the Immigration Department, the 1903 Note of Secretary of State John Hay, M.E. Ravage’s 1917 autobiography An American in the Making, Jacob Finkelstein’s 1942 Yiddish-language “Reminiscences of a Fusgeyer from Romania to America” and Stuart Tower’s 2003 historical novel The Wayfarers.  

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