The Historian of the Jewish People

Prior to World War II and the Holocaust, the great centers of Jewish life were located in Europe. Consequently, scant attention was paid to the history of the American Jew. In the wake of the destruction of European Jewry, the United States became the de facto intellectual center of Jewish life. Marcus was among the first scholars to recognize what he called "the growing importance of American Jewish history." In the early 1940s Marcus began to apply his broad historical erudition and background in research to the study of the American Jew. HUC's course on the history of the American Jew, which Marcus began teaching in 1942, may have been the first required course in American Jewish history taught at an American college.

In addition to publishing numerous articles in both the Anglo-Jewish press and scholarly publications, Marcus wrote or edited over a dozen books. A bibliography of Marcus's work begins in 1916 and runs through 1996, when two of his books were published posthumously. Some of his books, such as The Jew in the Medieval World (first published in 1938), are still used in college courses. Perhaps his most impressive works are his three volume Colonial American Jew (1970) and the four volume United States Jewry, 1776­1985 (1989­83). In addition, Marcus edited the two volume Concise Dictionary of American Jewish Biography (1994). These books serve as invaluable resources to those who study the American Jewish experience.