Jewish Homegrown History: Immigration, Identity and Intermarriage is an interactive cultural history of Jews in America. It includes both an on-line multimedia archive and a traveling museum installation. The project is being developed under the direction of The Labyrinth Project, a research initiative on interactive narrative at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts.

By relying on our innovative “homegrown history” software, this project enables you to collaborate with scholars in writing Jewish cultural history. When you answer a simple questionnaire about your own history and contribute family photographs and stories, these contributions automatically call up related historical information—texts, archival photographs, movies—that contextualize your own materials. By publishing your own histories through this user-friendly interface, you are able to see the immediate effect of your own digital storytelling on the public record and the way it enriches, complicates or challenges what is already known. By engaging in this dynamic interplay between personal memories and public history, you become involved in historiography.

Thematically, our project explores what successive waves of Jews have contributed to the vibrant diversity of American culture. It focuses on Jewish immigration trajectories and the kinds of identity issues they have spawned, requiring immigrants to negotiate rival allegiances to Judaism and America, to the cities they left behind and the new ones where they settled, and to the kinds of Judaism with which they were affiliated. It also addresses patterns of intermingling with other ethnic communities encountered within these new locales. By focusing on these themes of immigration, identity, and intermarriage that recur in all émigré communities in the USA, the project strives to reach a broad public audience not limited to Jews.

In May 2012, a “pilot” exhibition on California will premiere at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. Each exhibition will feature the local region in which it is exhibited while still retaining the national scope of the Jewish experience in the U.S. and networked global connections to other sites where Jews have lived throughout the world.



Museum Partners

Judah L. Magnes Museum, Berkeley

The Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles

Research Partners

The Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West

The USC Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life

The USC Center for Religion and Civic Life

The USC School of Cinematic Arts



Marsha Kinder, Project Director, Exec. Director, The Labyrinth Project, USC

Rosemary Comella, Co-director, Creative Director, The Labyrinth Project, USC

William Deverell, Co-director, Director, Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West

Francesco Spagnolo, Co-director, Research Director at the Judah Magnes Museum, Berkeley



Marius Constantin, Designer & Programmer

Scott Mahoy, Interface Designer, The Labyrinth Project, USC

Huy Nguyen, Additional Programming



Rosemary Comella, Researcher, University of Southern California

Meredith Drake Reitan, Researcher, University of Southern California

Ava Kahn, Independent Researcher

Marsha Kinder, Researcher, University of Southern Califonria

Lynn Kronzek, Independent Researcher

Noah Shenker, Researcher, University of Southern California

Frances Spagnolo, Judah L. Magnes Museum, UC Berkeley

Karen Wilson, Researcher, University of California, Los Angeles



Victor Aurelio Bautista

Daniel Bydlowski

Renzi Go

Pearle Goh

Kristy H.A. Kang

Lilian Luan

Daniel Rabins

Eugene Soh

Alex Soon Lee Tan

Ran Yu

Ya Zheng



Historians and Jewish Studies Scholars

William Deverell, University of Southern California, Los Angeles

Hasia R. Diner, Prof. of American Jewish History & Prof. of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, New York University

Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeley

Marc Dollinger, San Francisco State College, San Francisco

Ava Kahn, Berkeley

Barbara Kirschenblatt-Gimblett, Professor of Performance Studies at the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University

Moshe Lazar, Comparative Literature, Specialist in Ladino and Sephardic Culture,University of Southern California, Los Angeles

Donald Miller, Director of Center for Religion and Civic Culture, Prof. of Religion, University of Southern California, Los Angeles

Deborah Dash Moore, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Michael Renov, Assoc. Dean of Cinematic Arts, Specialist in documentary theory and Holocaust studies, University of Southern California, Los Angeles

Fred Rosenbaum, San Francisco

George Sanchez, Professor of History, University of Southern California, Los Angeles

Jonathan D. Sarna, Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Prof. of American Jewish History in Dept. of Near Eastern & Judaic Studies, Brandeis University, Boston

Jeffrey Shandler, Rutgers University, New Jersey

Kevin Starr, Prof. of History, USC, Former State Librarian of California; Specialist in California History

Bruce Zuckerman, Director of the Casden Institute, Prof. of Religion, Founder of The Inscriptifact On-line Archive on sacred texts and objects, USC


Documentary Filmmakers and Artists

Isaac Artenstein, Award-winning Jewish Chicano, Independent documentary filmmaker, San Diego

Alan Berliner, Independent documentary filmmaker, New School of Social Research, New York

Michelle Citron, Chair, Interdisciplinary Arts Dept. at Columbia College in Wisconsin; Independent Filmmaker

Peter Forgacs, Independent Hungarian Filmmaker, Winner of the 2007 Erasmus Prize, Budapest

Broderick Fox, Occidental College, Los Angeles

Mark Jonathan Harris, School of Cinematic Arts, 3x Oscar winner for best documentary, University of Southern California, Los Angeles

George Legrady, Interactive Media Artist, University of California/Santa Barbara

Lynne Littman, Documentary filmmaker, Hollywood

Ruth Weisberg, Painter and Professor of Fine Arts, University of Southern Califronia, Founder of The Jewish Artists Initiative of Southern California


Museum Curators and Archivists

Stephen Aron, UCLA Assoc. Prof. of History, and Exec. Director for the Study of the American West at the Autry Museum of Western Heritage

Alla Efimova, Chief Curator, Judah L. Magnes Museum, Berkeley

Gwen Goodman, CEO and Emeritus Exec. Director of the National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia

Grace Cohen Grossman, Senior Curator, Skirball Cultural Center

Edward Kasinec, New York Public Library, New York

Catherine Quinlan, Dean, USC Libraries, Los Angeles

Marje Schuetze-Coburn, USC Libraries, Specialist in German émigré community in Los Angeles

Francesco Spagnolo, Research Director, Judah L. Magnes Museum, Berkeley

Karen Wilson, Research Associate at UCLA Center for Jewish Studies



Casden Institute at the University of Southern California
Friends of Tel Aviv University
Walter and Elise Haas Fund
Stephen O. Lesser
Muriel Mines Family
National Endowment for the Humanities
Righteous Persons Foundation
School of Cinematic Arts, University of Southern California
USC Provost's Office

For more information email: Marsha Kinder at or Rosemary Comella at