Friday, March 7, 2008

Shores of Refuge by Ronald Sanders

The complete title is Shores of Refuge, A Hundred Years of Jewish Emigration, by Ronald Sanders. The author begins in 1881 at the outbreak of the first pogroms in Ukraine. It began as a trickle, but by 1900 it would reach flood proportions, and in the decades that followed, it would wax and wane with the currents of anti-semitism. Drawing on archival materials--diaries, memoirs, interviews, reports--the author reconstructs the world these Jews left and the worlds they entered.

This book was different than everything else I had read about US immigration because it is about emigration, not immigration. It is the story about what life was like for people trying to escape the hard lives they lead in eastern Europe. The book helped explain the flow of people to and through the towns where they needed to be processed to receive the proper paperwork for travel. I now know that anyone who emigrated shortly after WWI who listed Brody, Galicia (Ukraine) may not have been born or raised in that town. Brody was a major processing center for the aid societies.

I've run several town "sounds like" searches on the Ellis Island database using the Steve Morse search engine. One thing that is consistent from town to town is the gap in arrival dates. For all of the searches I've run, there are no arrivals at Ellis Island from 1915-1919. During the war it was difficult, if not impossible to travel, except for maybe running from the latest battle.

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