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Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission


MJH- History of Antisemitism: Henry Ford

Event details
Calendar   General
Location Virtually via Zoom
Date Mon, Jun 10, 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Duration   1h

Antisemitism flourished in early twentieth-century America. The Great Wave of Immigration from 1881 to 1914 brought 2.2 million eastern European Jews to America, fleeing persecution and seeking opportunity. They were often met with suspicion, and even violence. One such person who is emblematic of the antisemitism of this time is Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company. In 1918, Ford purchased a newspaper, The Dearborn Independent, where he published antisemitic articles that would later become four volumes titled The International Jew. Based on The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which described an international ruling conspiracy, the article series alleged that such a conspiracy was infiltrating America. These articles ran from 1920 to 1924, reaching hundreds of thousands of readers and legitimizing ideas that otherwise may have remained on the fringe.

Join the Museum for a panel discussion about Henry Ford’s antisemitism and its wide-ranging effects with Hasia R. Diner, Professor Emerita in the Departments of History and the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University; Steven Watts, author of The People’s Tycoon: Henry Ford and the American Century; and Victoria Woeste, author of Henry Ford’s War on Jews and the Legal Battles Against Hate Speech. They will be in conversation with Britt Tevis, Rene Plessner Postdoctoral Fellow in Holocaust and Antisemitism Studies at Columbia University.

Hasia R. Diner is Professor Emerita in the Departments of History and the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University. She is the author of numerous books, including In the Almost Promised Land: American Jews and Blacks 1915-1935 and Roads Taken: The Great Jewish Migrations to the New World and the Peddlers Who Forged the Way.

Steven Watts is Professor Emeritus at the University of Missouri, where he has won numerous teaching and research awards and served as chair of the Department of History. Watts has written eight books, including biographies of Walt Disney, Henry Ford, Hugh Hefner, Dale Carnegie, John F. Kennedy, and, forthcoming in August 2024, Will Rogers. His articles and essays have appeared in venues such as Newsweek, National Review, Salon, The Nation, The American Spectator, The American Mind, The Journal of American History, American Quarterly, and Chronicle of Higher Education. Watts has made many media appearances including the History Channel, PBS, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, CNBC, C-SPAN, Fox, Bloomberg News, Telemundo, NPR, the BBC, and dozens of radio stations around the United States and in western Europe.

Victoria Saker Woeste is a historian specializing in U.S. legal and constitutional history. Her degrees are from the University of Virginia and the University of California at Berkeley. She has taught at Amherst College, Northwestern University, Indiana University McKinney School of Law, and Cairo University Egypt. For twenty five years, she was a member of the research faculty at the American Bar Foundation in Chicago. Her first book, The Farmer’s Benevolent Trust: Law and Agricultural Cooperation in Industrial America 1865-1945, tells the unknown history of monopolistic organizations that enabled farmers to set prices for their crops much as labor unions act on behalf of workers. The Farmer’s Benevolent Trust was awarded the Law and Society Association’s J. Willard Hurst Prize for the best book in legal history and named a Choice Outstanding Academic Book for 1999. In dissertation form, the book received the Herman Kroos Prize from the Business History Association. Her more recent book, Her most recent book, Henry Ford’s War on Jews and the Legal Battle Against Hate Speech, relates the story of Ford’s antisemitic, libelous campaign against prominent Jewish Americans during the 1920s using previously undiscovered unpublished sources. Henry Ford’s War is currently in development for film and television with Leviathan Productions of Los Angeles, California. Coverage of her scholarship and her own commentary have appeared in the Washington Post, History News Network, Newsweek, the Huffington Post, and the Chronicle of Higher Education. She has published numerous scholarly articles in Law and History Review, Law and Social Inquiry, the Journal of American History, Perspectives on History, and California Legal History.

Britt P. Tevis, J.D./Ph.D., is an American Jewish historian whose work focuses on the intersection of Jews and American law with a special emphasis on the study of antisemitism. Her work has appeared in American Jewish History, American Journal of Legal History, and the Journal of American History.

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