The Civil Rights History Project: Survey of Collections and Repositories
Perry E. Nussbaum papers
Repository: Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives
Collection Description (Extant): The Perry E. Nussbaum Papers (1908-1987) contain the correspondence, writings, and sermons of Perry E. Nussbaum, a prominent rabbi in Jackson, Mississippi. These papers highlight his work with Beth Israel Congregation, the civil rights movement and his attempts at interfaith work. Also included are articles and reactions to the bombing of his house and the Beth Israel temple in 1967.
In 1967 Nussbaum's house and temple were bombed. Though the perpetrators were never caught Nussbaum was sure that it was an act of anti-Semitism and not just a reaction to his work in the civil rights movement. This collection contains newspaper clippings of the bombings and subsequent investigation as well as correspondence between Nussbaum and fellow rabbis and others in which he discusses the situation. Researchers should examine the files on Beth Israel Congregation (2/1-5) and the Nussbaum home bombing (3/4-7)
Although Nussbaum wanted his congregation to come to terms with racism, he was also defending the Jewish southerners against the criticism of northern Jews and explain the challenges that were particular to the region. He repeatedly begged his northern counterparts not to judge the southern Jews too harshly, for they could not understand the awkward position that they were in. Though Nussbaum was aware of the financial and social pressures upon his congregants he did not excuse them from examining their conscience and acting upon it. An important file to look at regarding this is the Mississippi Assembly of Jewish Congregations (3/2). Nussbaum placed himself upon the precipice, knowing that he could not go back to a quiet life after his work with the Freedom Riders in the 1960s, but he did it nonetheless.
This collection contains important information regarding Nussbaum's work with the civil rights movement. Especially important is the file on the Freedom Riders (1/7), his oral history interview (4/6) and his memoirs (4/5).
Access Copy Note: The papers are open to all users and available in the reading room of the American Jewish Archives.
Digital Status: No
Existing IDs: Manuscript Collection No. 430
Extent: 1.2 linear feet; 3 Hollinger boxes
Finding Aid URL: http://americanjewisharchives.org/aja/FindingAids/PerryENussbaum.htm
Interviewees: Perry E. Nussbaum
Rights (CRHP): Contact the repository which holds the collection for information on rights
Civil rights movements--Mississippi
Civil rights--Religious aspects--Judaism
Freedom Rides, 1961