This bibliography collects Jewish population surveys conducted throughout Western Pennsylvania between 1852 and 2017. These surveys were conducted by various entities, using a range of methodologies, each with nuances and shortcomings. Researchers looking to understand the usefulness and limitations of the major national population surveys are encouraged to consult the chapter “Patterns of Evidence: Identifying Community,” from Lee Shai Weissbach’s Jewish Life in Small-Town America: A History.
National surveys include “A Jewish Calendar for Fifty Years” (1854), “Statistics of the Jews of the United States” (1880), the entry for “United States” in the Jewish Encyclopedia (1905), and seven surveys conducted by the American Jewish Committee between 1907 and 1992 and published in its American Jewish Yearbook. These surveys provide some of the only known Jewish population statistics for many of the small-town Jewish communities in the tri-state region surrounding Pittsburgh in the 19th and 20th centuries.
The earliest population surveys compiled locally are estimates made by members of the Jewish community of Pittsburgh in the mid-19th century. These were submitted to the two major national Anglo-Jewish newspapers of the time: the Occident and American Jewish Advocate and the American Israelite. From the mid-1920s through the late-1950s, the Hebrew Institute of Pittsburgh conducted surveys of the Jewish elementary and high school student population. Although limited to children, these surveys provide useful neighborhood-level Jewish population estimates throughout the middle decades of the 20th century, as well as enrollment figures for public schools and Jewish religious schools.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh conducted six population surveys between 1938 and 2017. These surveys are limited to Pittsburgh proper and its major suburban areas. Census tract population data from the 1938 and 1963 surveys can be found in the appendices of “The Changing Pattern of the Distribution of the Jewish Population of Pittsburgh From Earliest Settlement to 1963,” published by Leonard Kuntz in 1970.