A Multiracial Jewish Family in Early America (Remote)

Laura A. Leibman
Professor of English and Humanities, Reed College
Thursday September 1
7-8:30 p.m. ET

An obsessive genealogist and descendent of one of the most prominent Jewish families since the American Revolution, Blanche Moses firmly believed her maternal ancestors were Sephardic grandees. Yet she found herself at a dead-end when it came to her grandmother’s maternal line. Professor Leibman will overturn the reclusive heiress’s assumptions about her family history to reveal that her grandmother and great-uncle, Sarah and Isaac Brandon, actually began their lives as poor, Christian, and enslaved in Barbados. Leibman traces the siblings’ extraordinary journey around the Atlantic world, using artifacts they left behind in Barbados, Suriname, London, Philadelphia, and, finally, New York. While their affluence made them unusual, their story mirrors that of the largely forgotten people of mixed African and Jewish ancestry that constituted as much as ten percent of the Jewish communities in which the siblings lived.

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