The Girls

Jewish Women of Brownsville, Brooklyn, 1940-1995

By Carole Bell Ford

Subjects: Women's Studies
Series: SUNY series in Modern Jewish Literature and Culture
Paperback : 9780791443644, 248 pages, November 1999
Hardcover : 9780791443637, 248 pages, November 1999

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Table of contents

Reclaiming our Past


They Still Call Themselves "the Girls"
Profiles of Two Brownsville Women

Chapter 1
Fifty-One Percent of the Stories

Chapter 2
The Nurturing Neighborhood

Chapter 3
Jewish Women

Chapter 4
Coming of Age in the Forties

Chapter 5
The Cult of Domesticity
Coming of Age in the Fifties

Chapter 6
Unfinished Business
Becoming Your Own Person

Chapter 7
Looking Back

New Dilemmas






Tells the stories of the Jewish women who came of age in Brownsville, Brooklyn, in the 1940s and 1950s--the choices they made, and the boundaries within which they made them.


This book tells the stories of the Jewish women who came of age in Brownsville, Brooklyn, in the 1940s and 1950s. Through in-depth interviews with more than forty women, Carole Bell Ford explores the choices these women made and the boundaries within which they made them, offering fresh insights into the culture and values of Jewish women in the postwar period. Not content to remain in the past, The Girls is also a story of women who live in the present, who lead fulfilling lives even as they struggle to adjust to changes in American society that conflict with their own values and that have profoundly affected the lives of their children and grandchildren.

Carole Bell Ford is Professor, Mentor/Coordinator at Empire State College.


"I like the wonderful voices of the women and the author's own valuable opinions as a member of this group. This is her story as well as theirs and she is responsive to nuances in how they answer her questions in ways that are revealing. Women have been ignored in previous histories of Brownsville, and Ford does a fantastic job of retrieving their past for us. Ford has broken new ground here, and done it in a way that links her fresh story with what is known about American women's history. This is a distinctive ethnic story that is important in itself as well as being central to studies of American Jews, gender in the city, and working-class history." — Deborah Dash Moore, author of B'nai B'rith and the Challenges of Ethnic Leadership

"The book has rich and interesting information that really does not exist in other works on American Jewish life. Women who came of age in the 1940s and 1950s in Brownsville, New York are a fascinating cohort and the author has learned a great deal about them, their hopes, aspirations, and reflections on life." — Riv Ellen Prell, University of Minnesota