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about the collectors

Dr. John Appel, Professor Emeritus of American Thought and Language at Michigan State University and Adjunct Curator at the Michigan State University Museum, began his collection of immigrant and ethnic images in popular media in 1965. From his original motivation to illustrate lectures on immigration history, he began collecting a wide range of materials showing racial, ethnic and religious stereotypes in a variety of media popular between the Civil War and World War I, the heaviest period of immigration to the United States.  John Appel passed away in 1998.

Selma Appel, Adjunct Curator at the Michigan State University Museum, worked closely with John Appel in assembling and documenting this collection.  Her work at the Museum also extended to her lifelong interest in needlework of all kinds.  She co-curated a Museum exhibit on lacemaking traditions in 1999 and donated a Kit Quilt that is part of the Museum’s Great Lakes Quilt Center.  Selma Appel passed away in 2008.

The Appels contributed materials from their collection to numerous exhibitions on ethnic images and immigration throughout the United States and published several of their writings on the subject.

An Obituary by Eric Goldstein, Associate Professor of History and Jewish Studies, Emory University

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