Department ofHistory

Tobias Brinkmann

Tobias Brinkmann

Malvin and Lea Bank Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and History

412 Weaver Building

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: (814) 865-4690

Curriculum Vitae:


PhD, Technische Universität Berlin, 2000
MA, Technische Universität Berlin, 1994
MA, Indiana University, Bloomington, 1994



My research focuses on migration history, especially on Jewish migration within and from Eastern and Central Europe to North America after 1800 and the wider context (American immigration, history of refugees, migration in modern Europe and beyond).

Currently, I am working on a book-length study that will reevaluate the history of the Jewish mass migration from Eastern Europe between 1860 and 1950. In this context, I am looking specifically at the close relationship between migration policies in different states, on both sides of the Atlantic and in Asia; the role of Jewish philanthropic associations; as well as the business of migration – and the agency of average Jewish migrants. The experience of Jewish migrants before and after 1914 highlights the transition from relatively free migration to severe restrictions on cross-border mobility and even forced migration immediately after 1914. Important themes of my research, such as “ethnic cleansing,” statelessness, sophisticated identity controls, forced migration, and the status of refugees, are as relevant today as they were during and after the First World War.

Recently, I completed the history of Chicago Sinai Congregation, Sundays at Sinai, a prominent American Jewish Reform temple that was established in 1861 by German-speaking Jewish immigrants. One of its signature reforms was the introduction of Sunday services, which have been celebrated since 1874. The drive towards religious Reform went hand in hand with a remarkable degree of civic engagement in Chicago and beyond.

Recent Publications:

Editor. Points of Passage: Jewish Transmigrants from Eastern Europe in Scandinavia, Germany, and Britain 1880-1914 (New York: Berghahn Books, 2013).

Sundays at Sinai: A Jewish Congregation in Chicago (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012).

Migration und Transnationalität: Perspektiven deutsch-jüdischer Geschichte [Migration and Transnationalism: Perspectives of German Jewish History] (Paderborn: Schöningh, 2012).

Jewish Migration, in: European History Online (EGO), published by the Institute of European History (IEG), Mainz 2010.

Awards and Service:

Research Fellow, The Newberry Library  (2009)
John F. Kennedy Memorial Fellow, Minda de Gunzburg Center, Harvard University (2007-2008)
Rabbi Harold D. Hahn Memorial Fellow, American Jewish Archives (2007)

Recent Courses:

HIST118 – Modern Jewish History: 1492 to Present
HIST302W – Undergraduate Seminar
HIST430 – Eastern Europe in Modern Times


Areas of Specialization: