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< All Fellows and Scholars

Dr. Maggie Kirsh

Dr. Maggie Kirsh
2013-2014 Life Reborn Fellow

“Relief Agencies, Social Workers, and Constructs of Illness and Health, 1945-1950”

Professional Background

Dr. Maggie Kirsh is an adjunct professor at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. She earned her PhD in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2012. Her doctoral dissertation is entitled “The Lost Children of Europe: Rehabilitating Child Holocaust Survivors in Great Britain and Israel.”  While in residence in the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, Dr. Kirsh conducted research on her project entitled “Relief Agencies, Social Workers, and Constructs of Illness and Health, 1945-1950.”  Dr. Kirsh possesses skills in French, German, Hebrew, and Yiddish.

Dr. Kirsh has several soon-to-be published works to her credit, including “‘La politique de placement des enfants en Grande-Bretagne et en Palestine,” in L'enfant et la Shoah après 1945, ed. Ivan Jablonka (forthcoming); “Controlling the Narratives of Disaster and Recovery: Jewish Representations of the Child Survivor in Britain,” in Jewish Families, 1939-Present, ed. Joanna Michlic (forthcoming); and “Remembering the ‘Pain of Belonging’: Jewish Children Hidden as Catholics in World War II France,” in The Young Victims of the Nazi Regime: Migration, the Holocaust, and Postwar Displacement, eds. Simone Gigliotti and Monica Tempian (forthcoming). Her lectures and presentations include “Victims and Threats, Wanderers and Citizens: Rethinking the Process of Rehabilitation for Child Survivors in Great Britain and Palestine/Israel,” New Research on Children and the Holocaust Conference at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., in 2013; “Whose Redemption? Child Holocaust Survivors and Their New Lives in Britain,” at the Fifteenth Annual Milton and Shirley Salasky Lecture in Jewish Studies at Temple Beth El in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 2013; and “Assimilation as Rehabilitation: The Treatment of Child Holocaust Survivors by Relief Organizations in the Immediate Postwar Period,” for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, in 2012.

Fellowship Research

For her Life Reborn Fellowship Dr. Kirsh used the private writings of social workers, relief workers, educators, and psychologists in order to determine how relief groups and welfare agencies throughout Europe believed war impacted child development in a comparative study. While there have been studies of how agencies from individual nations have handled this, there has not been a study of how this was done in Europe and North America. Many psychiatrists and social workers of the time were concerned about the amount of gratuitous violence these children had seen and how some had repeated this violence after the war. Dr. Kirsh determined what measures, if any, the countries these children now lived in took to assess and aid them.

Dr. Mary ‘Maggie’ Kirsh was in residence in the Center from February 1 to May 31, 2014.