Linda J. Borish

Linda J. Borish

Linda J. Borish

Dr. Linda J. Borish
Associate Professor
Ph.D., in American Studies, University of Maryland College Park (1990)
19th-Century American Social and Cultural History; American Sport History; Women’s History; American Studies; Material Culture

Office: (269) 387-4061

4356 Friedmann Hall

Mailing Address
Department of History
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5334


I teach courses in American history and culture at the undergraduate and graduate level and draw on my experience researching and working with material culture at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. I teach for undergraduates U.S. History survey and HIST 2125 Sport in American Culture and writing intensive 3000 level courses in U.S. History 1820-1898, American Sport History and others and 4000 level baccalaureate writing courses including HIST 4016 Artifacts in American History and HIST 4006 Race and Ethnicity in American Sport History (new course). At the graduate level I teach courses in readings in 19th century American history, graduate seminars in Material Culture, Gender and American Culture, American Sport and Social History, and other research seminars. I have directed Ph.D. dissertations and M.A. theses.


My research focuses on American women and sport history, and gender and ethnicity. My publications on antebellum New England rural and urban women’s reforms appear in international scholarly journals and my current research on Jewish women in American sport history is part of a book project for submission to a university press under advance contract.  I have co-authored, Sports in American HistoryFrom Colonization to Globalization (Human Kinetics 2008) and served as Executive Producer, Historian, Co-Script Writer for the documentary film, “Jewish Women in American Sport: Settlement Houses to the Olympics” (2007) Producer/Director Shuli Eshel in conjunction with Maccabi USA/Sports for Israel; publications include chapters in numerous scholarly books and I have co-edited special issues of international journals like Rethinking History: The Journal of Theory and Practice, and The Journal of Sport History.  I serve on various academic editorial boards and in academic associations.

Fellowships, Grants, and Honors

Visiting Scholar at the Center for Jewish History, New York City, for research on book manuscript on Jewish Women and Sport in American Culture, 1880-1940, May – August, 2012; selected for a three month residency for research on specific collections at the American Jewish Historical Society and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Studies, Center for Jewish History.

Academic Advisory Committee, The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, Brandeis University, June 2011-present, working with international scholars for evaluating academic work on Jews and Gender.

Instructional Development Grant, College of Arts and Sciences, Western Michigan University, May 2011. Awarded for developing project about Use of Historical Databases, Web Resources for Historical and Material Culture Sources in HIST 3191 American Sport History, writing intensive course, and for travel to present paper at North American Society for Sport History conference, May 27-31, 2011 Austin, TX; worked with History Liaison Librarian to develop a guide of web resources to facilitate student improvement in research and writing in American sport history and other upper level courses.

The Hadassah-Brandies Institute Special Project Research Grant for documentary film project, Settlement Houses to Olympic Stadiums: Jewish Women in American Sport,submitted in conjunction with my historical advisor role on Jewish + Female = Athlete: Portraits of Strength From Around the World, Jewish New Year Calendar and Exhibition, March 2006.

Research Associate, the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, Brandeis University, for research and projects in American sport history focusing on Jewish women’s’ studies and gender studies, appointed by Founding Director, Dr. Shulamit Reinharz, 2006-2007; 2007- present.

Lewis Walker Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnic Relations Grant, Western Michigan University, for the exhibition project “Jewish + Female = Athlete: Portraits of Strength From Around the World,” April 2007.

The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute Research Award Grant,  for research on book project, "Not Merely Confined to the Gymnasium”: Jewish Women in American Sport, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, awarded December 2004.

Select Publications

“Jewish Women in the American Gym: Basketball, Ethnicity and Gender in the Early Twentieth Century,” chapter in Jews in the Gym: Judaism, Sports, and Athletics. Ed.  Leonard Greenspoon, Vol. 23, Studies in Jewish Civilization series (West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press 2012, forthcoming).

“American Jewish Women's Voices in Sport History: Heritage and Identity in Documentary Film and Research,” in People in Sport History – Sport History for People, Ed. Kalle Voolaid, Proceedings of the International Society for the History of Physical Education and Sport, ISHPES Seminar, Tartu, Estonia, 2008 (Tartu, Estonia: Estonia Sports Museum, International Society for the History of Physical Education and Sport, 2011), pp. 108-120.

“Jewish American SportswomenSwimming, Gender and Reform in the Early Twentieth Century, “ Chapter inHaus der Wannsee-Konferenz/House of Wannsee Conference Jüdischer Sport und Jüdische Gesellschaft- Ausgewählte Aspekte - Jewish Sport and Jewish Community, Selected Topics,Redaktion. Toni Niewerth / Tomasz Jurek, and Wolf-Dieter Mattausch (Berlin, Germany: Gorzow, 2010). pp.395-418.

“Place, Identity, Physical Culture and Sport for Women in Jewish Americanization Organizations” in STADION:Internationale Zeitschrift für Geschichte des Sports/International Journal of the History of Sport/ Revue International d' Histoire du Sport, “Sport and Religion” Special Issue, 35 (2009): 87-108.

“Transformations in Recent American Sport History,” in “Forum: American Sports Revolution,” Journal of Sport History, Vol. 36: 3(Fall 2009): 401-410.

Linda J. Borish, Mitch Kachun, and Cheryl Lyon-Jenness “Rethinking a Curricular “Muddle in the Middle”: Revising the Undergraduate History Major at Western Michigan University,” Journal of American History, Vol. 95: 4 (March 2009): 1102-1113.

Sports in American History: From Colonization to Globalization, co-authored with Gerald R. Gems and Gertrud Pfister (Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Publishers, August 2008), 384 pp.

“Jewish Women, Sports, and Chicago History,” Chapter in Sports in Chicago, Ed.  Elliott J. Gorn, Sport and Society Series, (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2008), pp.62-77.

“Benevolent America: Rural Women, Physical Recreation, Sport and Health Reform in Ante- Bellum New England,” Chapter in Sport and American Society: Insularity, Exceptionalism, “Imperialism”, Eds. Mark Dyerson and J.A. Mangan, Sport in the Global Society Series (London, UK: Routledge, 2007), pp. 1-29.

“Michigan Jewish Women, Physical Culture and Sport in the Early Decades of the Twentieth Century” with Elizabeth A. Zanoni, Michigan Jewish History, (forthcoming Fall 2006).

“Benevolent America: Rural Women, Physical Recreation, Sport and Health Reform in Ante-Bellum New England,” The International Journal of the History of Sport, Vol. 22, 6 (November 2005): 946-973.

Other Professional Activities

Executive Producer, Historian, Co-Script Writer for the documentary film, “Jewish Women in American Sport: Settlement Houses to the Olympics” (2007) Producer/Director Shuli Eshel in conjunction with Maccabi USA/Sports for Israel;


Department of History
4301 Friedmann Hall
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5334 USA
(269) 387-4650 | (269) 387-4651 Fax