Filed Under Race and Ethnicity

Glenville's Racial Transition

The Jewish Community Federation collaborated with the Cleveland Board of Education to organize the Glenville Summer Tutoring Program in the summer of 1970. This program was designed to assist Glenville High School students, as the Call and Post describes, to "bone up on needed courses for the coming year." The Glenville Summer Tutoring Program is just one of many programs the Jewish Community Federation implemented to assist the Glenville community. What is the connection between the Jewish organization and the African American community of Glenville? Glenville was once a neighborhood that housed a largely Jewish population only thirty years before. Its rapid change begged the question of how the suburban Jewish community might relate to Cleveland, which one keen observer had dubbed a "City without Jews."

What was a quiet country escape east of Cleveland was annexed by the city in 1905. Migration trends in Cleveland shortly following the annexation saw Jews moving out of Woodland and settling in the Glenville area. Glenville eventually came to house the largest Jewish population within the city. However, during the Second Great Migration, African Americans moved away from the Jim Crow South and into northern urban areas such as Cleveland. Unlike non-Jewish neighborhoods, Jewish families often were more willing to sell their houses to African American families that were usually subject to racial discrimination within the real estate market, producing a "revolving door" of demographic change in Glenville. After selling their homes, the Jewish community moved out into the suburban Heights area due to the population influx and advances in their own economic situations, leaving the Glenville community with almost an entirely African American population.

African Americans comprised only 2 percent of Glenville's population of 61,614 in 1940. By 1950, the African American population increased to 40 percent of the 63,980 people living in the neighborhood. This drastic change could be easily observed by Glenville residents. Within the neighborhood, Jewish businesses were leaving, the school demographics rapidly switched from being predominantly Jewish to predominantly African American, large one-family houses were being rented out as multi-family dwellings, and synagogues were being converted into churches. The synagogue that once housed the congregation of Anshe Emeth Beth Tefilo was purchased by Cory Methodist Church after the congregation moved to what became known as Park Synagogue on Mayfield Road in Cleveland Heights.

What makes the Glenville neighborhood unique is the connection between the African American and Jewish community. Not only was there a relative lack of friction during the transitional years of the revolving door in the mid-twentieth century, the Jewish community continued to contribute to the Glenville community, not only with the Glenville Tutoring Project, but through many other initiatives sponsored or co-sponsored by the Jewish Community Federation.


What I Knew Was, I Was a Kid William Easterling describes his childhood growing up in the diverse Glenville neighborhood. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
Jewish Glenville Phil Hart discusses growing up in Glenville with a large Jewish population. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
One White Family Left Ora Sims remembers when only a single white family, purportedly too poor to leave, still sent its kids to Glenville High School. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection


The Jewish Migration, 1961 This map of the "Jewish Migration" eastward into the Heights suburbs was created by Judah Rubinstein, Research Director of the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland, in a report titled "Jewish Suburban Population Movement in Cleveland and Its Impact on Communal Institutions." Source: Western Reserve Historical Society. Jewish Community Federation Records of Cleveland, MS 4563, Box 11. Date: 1961
Glenville, 1874 Wood engraving of "Brookwood," the Glenville property of James Fitch, esq., published in 1874. Glenville was comprised of farms and summer estates in the late nineteenth century before Cleveland's early suburbanization transformed it into an urban neighborhood in the early twentieth century. Source: Cleveland State University. Special Collections. Cleveland Memory Project. Date: 1874
Glenville High School Choir, 1937 Glenville High School Choir waiting to perform at a choral competition at John Hay High School in May 1937. Source: Cleveland State University. Special Collections. Cleveland Memory Project. Date: 1937
Solomon's Delicacies Restaurant, ca. 1950 Solomon's Delicacies Restaurant was located in Glenville at 1044 East 105th Street on the corner of Massie Avenue. In 1955, the establishment moved out of Glenville to the Cedar Center shopping plaza in South Euclid, closer to the heart of the growing Heights Jewish community. If the 1965 Glenville Plan had been implemented, the East 105th and Massie building would have been demolished to accommodate a new shopping center as an urban renewal effort. Source: Cleveland State University. Special Collections. Cleveland Memory Project.
From Synagogue to Black Church Anshe Emeth Beth Tefilo sold its Cleveland Jewish Center to Cory Methodist Church in the 1940s as it anticipated its own move to Cleveland Heights. Source: Cleveland State University. Special Collections. Cleveland Memory Project.
Glenville High School Choir, 1965 Glenville High School Choir, directed by William Appling, rehearsing in February of 1965. Source: Cleveland State University. Special Collections. Cleveland Memory Project. Date: 1965
Glenville Tutoring Project, 1970 Tutors and students in the Glenville Tutoring Project, sponsored by Jewish Community Federation and the Cleveland Board of Education, end the program with a party and a sign out amongst the two groups. Source: Call and Post Date: August 1970
Glenville Tutoring Program, 1970 John Marx tutors Doris Simmons in math in the Glenville Summer Tutoring Program. The two are supervised by teacher, Mrs. Vivian Murphy. Source: Call and Post Date: August 1970


Glenville, Cleveland, OH


Marilyn Miller, “Glenville's Racial Transition,” Cleveland Historical, accessed September 23, 2023,