Rhode Island Jewish Historical Association
The oldest local ethnic historical society in Rhode Island.

The RIJH Notes

An Overview of Rhode Island Jewish Historical Notes

RIJHA’s journal began publication in 1954 to help celebrate America’s Jewish Tercentenary. The founding editor was David C. Adleman, an attorney, who was also RIJHA’s founding president. He oversaw the journal, the first in this country devoted to state or local Jewish history, for 15 years.
Commonly referred to as The Notes, the journal was originally published twice a year, but in 1956 it became an annual publication. It has always been considered a communal endeavor, welcoming articles by professional historians as well as teachers, students, and many others with insightful and compelling stories to tell.

Many of the journal’s standard features were gradually introduced during its early years. For example, an index of articles began to appear with the fourth issue, in December 1955. Thereafter, the index was published quadrennially, with the completion of each volume. Two cumulative indexes have been published separately: for Volumes 1 through 7 in 1984 and for Volumes 8 through 11 in 1997. Beginning with the journal’s second volume, in 1956, the annual publication of a “necrology” paid homage to deceased Association members. There have also been occasional financial reports and highlights of annual meetings.

Freda Egnal compiled three major bibliographies of “The History of Jews in Rhode Island,” which were published in May 1963, November 1966, and November 1967. Carol J. Frost compiled an annotated bibliography of 195 items published between 1967 and 1989, which was published separately as the third issue of Volume 10 in 1989.

The journal’s second editor was Seebert J. Goldowsky’s, a physician, who served 17 years. Another editor with a lengthy record of service was Judith W. Weiss, an information specialist, who, over a decade, expanded the range of topics and length of issues.

In 2004, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Notes and the publication of more than 300 articles, the Association published The Jews of Rhode Island in cooperation with Brandeis University Press and University Press of New England. (It was part of Prof. Jonathan D. Sarna’s esteemed series on American Jewish History, Culture, and Life.) Two historians, George M. Goodwin and Ellen Smith, edited the volume, which consisted of 18 notable articles, three photo essays, four appendices, and four bibliographies.

In 2004, having become the ninth editor of the Association’s journal, Goodwin is now working on his 21st issue. Each has grown to approximately 200 pages and has included numerous photographs and other visual materials. Goodwin has been pleased to collaborate with two talented graphic designers, Bobbie Friedman and Stephen J. Logowitz, and Signature Printing of East Providence.

The journal’s content has continued to evolve in significant ways. For more than three decades, the focus had been on the distant rather than the more recent past. An official and perhaps authoritative tone had also been sought.

In recent decades, however, the journal’s coverage has included a far richer variety of topics and many personal points of view. While still paying homage to Newport’s colonial Jewish history, for example, there has been a sustained effort to understand how the Ocean State’s Jewish history has continually and surprisingly evolved.

The greatest challenge now facing The Notes is recruiting a new generation of writers, readers, and benefactors. Alas, there soon may come a time when a paper publication is no longer necessary. Indeed, writers and readers alike may have shorter attention spans or feel that so much of Rhode Island Jewish history has already been studied. Fortunately, however, our history will always remain fresh, challenging, and surprising through yet undiscovered sources and perspectives.

If you are interested in writing an article, please contact RIJHA’s office by phone or email. The editor will be quite pleased to discuss ideas with you. Please keep in mind that articles should be submitted through email as double-spaced document files. Good photos are also welcome, but these would be discussed closer to the time of publication. Now is the right time to launch an original or deeper exploration of the past!

Cumulative index of RIJHA notes
Use this link as a reference to find a specific article in the Rhode Island Jewish Historical Notes 

1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 2020s
Vol 1.1 Vol 3.3 Vol 5.4 Vol 8.2 Vol 10.3B Vol 13.2 Vol 15.4 Vol 18.2
Vol 1.2 Vol 3.4 Vol 6.1 Vol 8.3 Vol 10.4 Vol 13.3 Vol 16.1 Vol 18.3
Vol 1.3 Vol 4.1 Vol 6.2 Vol 8.4 Vol 11.1 Vol 13.4 Vol 16.2 Vol 18.4
Vol 1.4 Vol 4.2 Vol 6.3 Vol 9.1 Vol 11.2 Vol 14.1 Vol 16.2A Vol 19.1
Vol 2.1 Vol 4.3 Vol 6.4 Vol 9.2 Vol 11.3 Vol 14.2 Vol 16.3  
Vol 2.2 Vol 4.4 Vol 7.1 Vol 9.3 Vol 11.4 Vol 14.3 Vol 16.4  
Vol 2.3 Vol 5.1 Vol 7.2 Vol 9.4 Vol 12.1A Vol 14.4 Vol 17.1  
Vol 2.4 Vol 5.2 Vol 7.3 Vol 10.1 Vol 12.1B Vol 15.1 Vol 17.2  
Vol 3.1 Vol 5.3 Vol 7.4 Vol 10.2 Vol 12.2 Vol 15.2 Vol 17.3  
Vol 3.2   Vol 8.1 Vol 10.3A Vol 12.3 Vol 15.3 Vol 17.4  
        Vol 12.4   Vol 18.1  
        Vol 13.1