Deborah Dash Moore is the Frederick G. L. Huetwell Professor of History and Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan. She is the author of a trilogy covering the history of American Jews in the twentieth century, beginning with the experience of Jews in New York City, then moving on to GI Jews: How World War II Changed a Generation (2004), and ending with histories of Jews in the postwar decades. Her books have regularly garnered awards, including most recently a National Jewish Book Award for the coedited work, City of Promises: A History of the Jews of New York, With a Visual Essay by Diana L. Linden (2012). Her most recent book is Jewish New York: The Remarkable Story of a City and a People (2017).
Beginning in the 1930s, Jewish photographers established a new mode of American street photography, the origins of what would be called the New York School. Mostly working-class young people, some not yet out of high school, they produced a striking cultural efflorescence. Many were attracted by progressive politics. These neophytes rejected standard representations of New York as a vertical, inhumanly scaled Gotham. Despite their eagerness to join a burgeoning field of photography, they declined to portray city residents as ciphers defined by victimization. Instead they tried to capture the evanescent matrix of human interactions at street level. They set out to remake photography and the way New Yorkers were perceived. In the process, they changes how we understand America.