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AMST 486 Dr. Marcie Cohen Ferris
Shalom Y’all: The Jewish Experience in the American South Manuscript Exercise



Emma Mordecai’s Diary:
Emma Mordecai’s diary is a part of the Mordecai Family Papers (#847), a manuscript collection held in the Southern Historical Collection. A finding aid (guide) for the Mordecai Family Papers is available online at http://www.lib.unc.edu/mss/inv/m/Mordecai_Family.html, and a pdf of Emma Mordecai’s diary is available on Blackboard.

Directions:
Write a brief essay of between 450 and 600 words addressing one or more of the following sets of questions.

Questions:
What do these excerpts of Emma Mordecai's diary reveal about a Jewish woman's life on the Confederate home front? Do her diary entries suggest exceptionalism for the Jewish southerner's experience in the Civil War? Consider her attitudes toward the Confederate cause, her expressed fears and concerns, her contributions to the war efforts, and her daily activities.

What were Emma Mordecai's attitudes toward African Americans--both "servants" and "Negro" federal soldiers? Do her words convey complicity or active support of the institution of slavery? Consider the tone and diction used to describe her interactions and communications especially with "servants" as well as those words used to re-tell stories conveyed by others. Is there anything about her attitudes that stems from her Jewish upbringing, education, traditions, and faith?

What role if any did Jewish faith, values, and practice play in Emma Mordecai's daily life as described in her diary? In what ways, did Christian influences permeate her thinking and writing? How did her descriptions of synagogue on Saturdays and church on Sundays differ? In her view, what role did the "Lord" or "the Almighty One" play in the war and in her life?

Your essay is due on Monday, 29 September 2008.

Thank you to Laura Clark Brown **ljcb@email.unc.edu**, Head of Research & Instruction for the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, for sharing this document. Ms. Brown designed the assignment to guide Dr. Ferris's students' examination of this diary. Emma Mordecai was a Jewish woman living in Richmond during the Civil War.

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