BARON, SALO (Shalom) WITTMAYER (1895–1989), historian. Baron was born in Tarnow (Galicia) and taken to Vienna early in World War I. He studied at the university there and received doctorates in philosophy (1917), political science (1922), and law (1923); he was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in Vienna in 1920. Baron taught history at the Jewish Teachers College (Juedisches Paedagogium) in Vienna during the years 1919–26. He went to the United States at the invitation of Stephen S. Wise to teach at the Jewish Institute of Religion in New York and remained at the Institute from 1927 until 1930. From 1930 to 1963 he taught at Columbia University, and served as director of the Center of Israel and Jewish Studies at Columbia from 1950 to 1968. From 1957 he also taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Baron was the first member of an American history faculty to teach Jewish studies. The many such chairs that now exist owe much to his example, and a substantial number of his former students are among their occupants.
Among Baron's many involvements in public and academic affairs were his presidency of the American Academy for Jewish Research (1940–43, 1958–66, and 1968 on); his presidency of the Conference on Jewish Social Studies (1941–54, 1963–67), and honorary presidency (1955–62 and 1967 on); his presidency of the American Jewish Historical Society (1953–55); his founding and presidency of Jewish Cultural Reconstruction, which after World War II worked in identifying and reclaiming the libraries and other cultural treasures despoiled by the Nazis; and his trusteeship of Tel Aviv University from 1967. From 1952 he was a corresponding member of the International Commission for a Scientific and Cultural History of Mankind. Baron's first major work, Judenfrage auf dem Wiener Kongress (1920), dealt with the Jewish question at the Congress of Vienna. He began to write articles as a youth and subsequently wrote many hundreds. Using his exceptional range of talents in many languages and disciplines,
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.