Suzanne M. Sinke is an associate professor of history at Florida State University, where her teaching blends comparisons of gender and migration among different countries. She is the author of Dutch Immigrant Women in the U.S., 1880-1920 (2002) and a coeditor of A Century of European Migrations (1991) and Letters Across Borders (2006). Her current research includes two projects: one relates marriage to international migration in the U.S. context, from "bride ships" to matchmaking websites, and the other examines the letters of a family of refugees from Austria during World War II.
Members of the Hasterlik family fled Vienna when Hitler came to power. They dispersed to Switzerland, the U.S., England, and Kenya. Their correspondence demonstrated both the desire to retain ties and the reality of hiding information. Topics from contracting polio to undergoing domestic abuse to facing anti-Semitic attacks all stayed out of the texts, at least for a time. In this family story worthy of cinematic treatment, the letters remind us why historians must investigate our sources carefully.