The late 19th century saw increasing numbers of Eastern European Jews settling in Britain, fleeing economic hardship and increasingly violent anti-semitic persecution (particularly after the assassination of the Russian Tsar Alexander II in 1881). These primary sources look at different responses to the new Jewish residents in the late 19th and early 20th century.
The MRC holds the archives of William Wess and Aaron Rapoport Rollin, two men who left the Tsarist Russian Empire in the late 19th and early 20th century and settled in London. The collections include documents about their work as political activists and trade union organisers, together with some material about the Jewish communities in London at the turn of the century. The archives also reflect the multilingual environment in which Wess and Rollin lived - although some documents are in English, others are in Yiddish and Russian.
A small number of items relating to protests against proposals by the Home Secretary in 1916 to deport Russian refugees unless they joined the British army are also held at the MRC.
'Small clouds in the sky', 3 October 1884
Article in 'The Polish Yidel', a moderate socialist newspaper published in London in Yiddish between 1884-1886. The leading article in vol.1, no.11 comments on everyday anti-semitism experienced by East London Jews (as the original is in Yiddish a typed translation has been provided). A follow-up article was included in the next issue . The article and translation have been made available as pdfs, please contact us if you are unable to access this format.
'Jewish East London', 4 April 1887
Hostile article from the newspaper 'St James's Gazette', which outlines the "social, economic, moral, and political questions created by the existence of a vast colony of foreign Jews in Whitechapel and Spitalfields". More (undigitised) newspaper articles on Jewish communities in London are included in the archives of William Wess.
'The Jewish Community', 1889
Extract from Charles Booth's 'Labour and Life of the People', vol.1, 'East London'. This chapter was written by Beatrice Potter (better known by her married name of Beatrice Webb), and attempts to provide an outline of Jewish settlement and institutions in East London for a British audience. The chapter focuses on the new Eastern European immigrants, rather than the more established Anglo-Jewish community.
Correspondence about arrangements for a mass meeting in London. Invited speakers included key figures in the British socialist movement and Russian political refugees (including Eleanor Marx, Peter Kropotkin, Sergey Stepniak and John Burns).
Pocket diary and almanac which contains information considered to be useful for an Anglo-Jewish resident of Britain in the late 19th century.
Pamphlet, written by Joseph Finn, which was issued on behalf of eleven trade unions or trade union branches which represented Jewish workers. It provides a counter-argument to the "anti-alien" (i.e. anti-foreigner) resolution passed at the 1895 Trades Union Congress.
The Whitechapel meeting was reported in the Daily Chronicle.
Appeal on behalf of Russian Jews by the Conference of Jewish Trade Union Committees in London. It includes references to types of anti-Semitism experienced in Britain.