Associate Professor Adam Mendelsohn

A Mendelsohn

Adam D. Mendelsohn is Associate Professor of Historical Studies and Director of the Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies.

Much of his research focuses on the relationship between Jews in America and the British Empire prior to mass eastern European migration. While the time-period that he works has remained consistent – the mid-nineteenth century – the themes he has explored have been more varied: economic mobility, cultural production, and religious innovation. His latest project draws on “big data” – a large database of Civil War soldiers – to reconsider the experience of Jews during this period. 

He is the author of The Rag Race: How Jews Sewed Their Way to Success in America and the British Empire (New York University Press, 2014), winner of a National Jewish Book Award and of the Best First Book Prize from Immigration and Ethnic History Society, and co-editor of Jews and the Civil War: A Reader (with Jonathan D. Sarna, New York University Press, 2010) and Transnational Traditions: New Perspectives on American Jewish History (with Ava Kahn, Wayne State University Press, 2014).

Adam was Chief Historian of the exhibition The First Jewish Americans at the New-York Historical Society, and co-curator of By Dawn’s Early Light at the Princeton University Museum of Art and the Centre for Jewish History. He is co-editor of the journal American Jewish History.


Select publications:

The Rag Race: How Jews sewed their way to Success in America and the British Empire, (New York University Press, 2015)

Transnational Traditions: New Perspective on American Jewish History, with Ava Kahn (Wayne State University Press, 2014)

Jews and the Civil War: a Reader, with Jonathan D. Sarna (New York University Press, 2010)

By Dawn’s Early Light: Jewish Contributions to American Culture from the Nation’s Founding to the Civil War (Princeton University Library, 2016), exhibition catalog with 13 original essays


Office Hours:

Please email for appointment times.


Contact details:

Office: Beattie 235 and Kaplan Centre, Upper Campus, UCT
Phone: 021 650 4730