Hadassah-Brandeis Institute

Preaching the Promised Land: Mary Antin's American Religions


Project Information

Rachel B. Gross, Associate Professor in American Jewish Studies, San Francisco State University, is writing a religious biography of Mary Antin, author of  The Promised Land. Once one of the most famous Jewish women in the United States, Antin and her autobiography shaped American conversations about immigration and Jews’ ability to be American citizens. In the years following the national acclaim of The Promised Land, Antin participated in a wide range of innovative religious communities even as she battled mental illness. But Antin never renounced her Judaism and, over the course of her life, she approached her religious explorations as a Jew and as a disabled woman.

Dr. Gross requires and intern to assist with transcribing handwritten correspondence between Antin and her friends, community members, and intellectual conversation partners. The largest amount of the material is from Gould Farm, a mental health facility, intentional community, and working farm in the Berkshire Mountains that was an important part of Antin’s life between 1923 and her death in 1949. There are letters between Antin and friends at the Farm, especially founder Agnes Gould, as well as other letters and documents such as Christian sermons delivered at the Farm between the 1920's and 1940s. The intern will transcribe these mostly handwritten letters, briefly summarize them, and discuss the ways they demonstrate Antin's varied religious experiences.

Profile of Appropriate Candidate

  • Ability to read cursive is essential
  • Interest and knowledge of U.S. Jewish history and some familiarity with U.S. Christianity is helpful.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • Familiarity with Google Docs.
  • Strong time management and organization skills.