From Plotzk to Boston, Mary Antin, Boston 1899 (49842)

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Listing Details

Lot Number: 49842
Title (English): From Plotzk to Boston: An Immigrant's Story
Note: First edition also 1899 was only 50 copies!
Author: Mary Antin
City: Boston
Publisher: W. B. Clarke Co.
Publication Date: 1899
Estimated Price: $300.00 USD - $600.00 USD
Content/listingImages/20200731/25e2aac4-c8fb-4abb-96ab-de360ad9523a_fullsize.jpg Content/listingImages/20200731/3febc360-27c4-4c11-bcc1-1bd7bd0548b1_fullsize.jpg


Physical Description

Second edition, [5?], 8-80 pp., octavo, 198:130 mm., light age and damp staining. A good copy bound in the original wrappers, rubbed.


Detailed Description   

From Plotzk to Boston is a memoir by author and immigration activist. It chronicles her emigration from her hometown of Polotsk in the Russian Empire (now modern Belarus) to the United States in 1894, focusing primarily on her observations of life in unfamiliar surroundings, the emotional trials endured by her family, and the hardships that accompanied their passage to and eventual settlement in Boston, Massachusetts. Her first major publication, it laid the groundwork for her later autobiography and most famous work, The Promised Land (1912)

Largely marketed towards Boston's community of Jewish philanthropists, From Plotzk to Boston immediately sold out its initial pressrun in 1899, with Lina Hecht, one of Antin's major benefactors, purchasing the entire first run of 50 copies, requiring the printing of a second edition. Contemporary reviews were also generally positive, with the New York Times concluding, “This story, in all its guilelessness, appealing as it does to human love, will certainly please readers, irrespective of race or creed.” Offering similar praise for her writing and the perceived authenticity of her work, the Boston Herald stated, “The whole narrative is very agreeably and naturally written, and nothing is introduced but what the child saw with her own eyes, endured in her own flesh and blood, thought in her own little head.” Other publications drew favorable comparisons with Israel Zangwill, the author of the book's preface and an accomplished Jewish writer himself, with the Kalamazoo Gazette proclaiming, “little Mary promises to become the most forceful Jewish writer of English in the world, not excepting Zangwill himself.

Mary Antin (born Maryashe Antin; June 13, 1881 – May 15, 1949) was an American author and immigration rights activist. She is best known for her 1912 autobiography The Promised Land, an account of her emigration and subsequent Americanization. Mary Antin was the second of six children born to Israel and Esther Weltman Antin, a Jewish family living in Polotsk, in the Vitebsk Governorate of the Russian Empire (present-day Belarus). Israel Antin emigrated to Boston in 1891, and three years later he sent for Mary and her mother and siblings. The family moved from Chelsea to Ward 8 in Boston's South End, a notorious slum, as the venue of Israel's store changed. She attended Girls' Latin School, now Boston Latin Academy, after finishing primary school.

She married Amadeus William Grabau, a geologist, in 1901, and moved to New York City where she attended Teachers College of Columbia University and Barnard College. Antin is best known for her 1912 autobiography The Promised Land, which describes her public school education and assimilation into American culture, as well as life for Jews in Czarist Russia. After its publication, Antin lectured on her immigrant experience to many audiences across the country, and became a major supporter for Theodore Roosevelt and his Progressive Party.

During World War I, while she campaigned for the Allied cause, her husband's pro-German activities precipitated their separation and her physical breakdown. Amadeus was forced to leave his post at Columbia University to work in China, where he became "the father of Chinese geology." She was never physically strong enough to visit him there. During World War II, Amadeus was interned by the Japanese and died shortly after his release in 1946. Mary Antin died of cancer on May 15, 1949.


Hebrew Description  



Encyclopædia Britannica's Guide to Women's History; wikipedia; Singerman 5511