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Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Thesis: Campus only access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Eric Yellin


“American identity” has been examined and framed by historians as a process or result of social construction. This thesis is interested in how individuals take popular knowledge of national identity and use it to their own advantage. Identity holds some form of power — whether economic, political, or social — that incentivizes individuals to act and capitalize on identity in a manner favorable to themselves. The analytical framework of identity brokering and examination of identity as a form of social capital allows us to understand why, how, and what circumstances influence the decision to find “stake” in an identity. This thesis examines how individuals and print institutions intervened in the process of identity formation to create, negotiate, and express identity. Focusing on Richmond, Virginia, between the years 1893 to 1899, this thesis explores how a local newspaper, The Jewish South, and Richmond community came to understand and broker the relationship between two identities that were both separable and intertwined for some in this era: Jewish and American. Through weekly news coverage and opinion columns, The Jewish South encapsulated how identity was negotiated and capitalized upon by ordinary individuals, while simultaneously creating and promoting collective identities available for interpretation by both the Jewish and wider Richmond community. The editors and readers were unwilling to relinquish their stake in Jewish identity for assuming American or southern identity. They called for the audience to question the possibility of living as individuals with multiple identities, where every identity was equally valued and respected. In this way, The Jewish South offers a rich examination of the process of brokering identity. The central question this thesis addresses is, how did a community and its newspaper shape and understand both American and Jewish identity through personal and institutional negotiations.

Available for download on Tuesday, June 02, 2026