Shifting “ghettos”
Established Jews, Jewish immigrants, and African Americans in Chicago, 1880–1960
ByTobias Brinkmann
Pages 17

In 1928, the sociologist Louis Wirth published his dissertation titled "The Ghetto." Like other students of the influential sociologist Robert Park at the University of Chicago, Wirth ventured into the city, conducting interviews with immigrants. The research of Wirth and other young Chicago sociologists occurred in the early 1920s when most of the post-1880 migrants from Eastern and Southern Europe in Chicago were on the move, leaving densely settled inner-city neighborhoods for areas further west and north, often acquiring small bungalow-style houses. Writers such as Berthold Auerbach and Leopold Kompert promoted nostalgic views of a Jewish past and Gemeinschaft that found wide acclaim among Jewish readers in a period of rapid social transformation. The digitization of the Chicago Defender makes it possible to trace how often the term "ghetto" was mentioned in the pages of the main African American daily. The analysis shows that "ghetto" was only used up to three times annually during the 1920s.