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Post "Pale of Settlement": Ireland and Russia; from Michael Frank
Created by John Eipper on 08/31/20 4:14 AM

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"Pale of Settlement": Ireland and Russia; from Michael Frank (John Eipper, USA, 08/31/20 4:14 am)

Reader Michael Frank sent this comment in response to Edward Jajko (August 29th):

The original Russian term for Russia's "Pale of Settlement" area literally translates "boundary of permanent residence of Jews." This was shortened to "boundary of settlement" in the 1850s.

I believe the English translation, Pale of Settlement, is attributable to Michael Davitt. Davitt, among his various careers, was a freelance reporter working for the Hearst papers. He was sent to Russia to cover the 1903 Kishinev pogrom. His legacy is an exhaustive journalistic opus, summarized in his book Within the Pale. As it happens, Davitt was Irish, and a Republican. The primary focus of his life was representing the counties "beyond the pale," and more than likely imported the term from his homeland. I'm not aware of any English language citation predating Davitt.

JE comments:  Michael Frank introduced himself as a lifelong New Yorker and the retired Chief Information Officer of the Bank of New York's institutional brokerage subsidiary.  His contribution here solves the Russia-Ireland riddle.  The Czarist "pale" had nothing to do with Ireland until an Irishman made the connection.

Thanks for writing in, Michael!  Here's Wikipedia on your fellow Michael (Davitt; 1846-1906).  A fascinating figure, who was both an Irish Republican and an advocate of Zionism.  Read more:


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