New Events

Visual Explorations of Jewish Histories in Florida Through Data Science:

A First Planning Session on October 18, 2022

Map of the Evergreen Jewish Cemetery, Jacksonville, Florida, Jacksonville Jewish Center Archives

With the exception of Marcia Jo Zerivitz’s recent comprehensive book on the Jews of Florida (2020), scholarship on Florida’s Jewry has been comparatively sparse, with many aspects of the cultural and social history of America’s third largest Jewish community still remaining under-explored. One of the major challenges to this work is the availability of relevant resources, particularly records made prior to the post-WWII population expansion in the south of Florida. Thanks to the Price Library’s National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant (2014), Jewish materials from communities in north Florida are being made more accessible online. These resources, together with existing materials in the P. K. Yonge Library of Florida History, and others spread across institutions around the state, hold massive untapped potential for data mining and analysis. Through such data analysis, previously hidden patterns of migration, settlement, community networks, and patterns of prejudice can be traced, historical changes in Jewish demographics across Florida can be mapped, and Jewish institutions (synagogues, mikve’ot, cemeteries) can be fully located on the Florida landscape.

Our core team, comprising Selim Balcısoy (director of BAVLAB – Behavioral Analytics and Visualization Lab at Sabancı University), Uzi Baram (Professor of anthropology, New College Florida), Burcin Bozkaya (Professor of Data Science, New College Florida), James Cusick (curator of the P. K. Yonge Library of Florida History) and Rebecca Jefferson (curator of the Price Library of Judaica), is interested in developing a planning project to collect, digitize and analyze documents and data related to Jewish heritage across Florida and to create a public-facing dashboard to disseminate the work.

We would like to invite scholars and librarians at the University of Florida active or interested in the fields of Southern Jewish history and culture, Jewish immigration and/or data science to join us for all or part of our first planning session on Tuesday 18th October, 2022, 9am-4pm. In this session, we aim to exchange information and ideas and to generate a research question for taking forward a grant-funded project to include partners and stakeholders across Florida.

This first planning session, including talks and discussion, will take place in the Smathers Library Conference Room. Please RSVP to Rebecca Jefferson, before FRIDAY 10/14 to help with catering planning. Click on the link below to see the schedule: