Travels with Grace: Leisure in Leipzig

Posted on July 30th, 2019 by

Welcome to this week’s segment of our 2019 #TravelTuesday series: Traveling with Grace. Today we follow along as Grace heads to Leipzig and Magdeburg. To read more of Grace’s travels, click here. 

September 8, 1929

Sunday. We leave Karlsbad at 11:30 a.m. The manager of the Imperial gives mother and me each a bouquet of beautiful roses. We change trains at Eger and meet a charming young lady from Berlin in our train compartment. Arrive at Leipzig at 5:50 p.m. Enormous railroad station. Come to Hotel Astoria opposite station. Very modern and satisfactory in every way.

Augustus Platz in Leipzig. Via.

September 9, 1929

Monday. With private auto and guide we start out this morning at 9:30 to see the very interesting city of Leipzig. My impressions are that it is very clean, progressive, home of very specialized industries, chiefly printing to which is devoted a large section of buildings including schools wherein are taught the various sciences there unto appertaining. There is a fine large school where dead and dumb are taught arts and crafts. The university buildings cover a wide area as do also the many hospital buildings each having its specialty but closely grouped together for convenience, the maternity section one of the largest. In Leipzig is located the Supreme Court, highest tribunal of justice in all Germany, delegated to this city by Bismark. Here is the usual fine Opera House met with in German cities and the Cloth Hall Koncert Haus, so named because the Cloth Guild promoted and fostered music in earlier days. We ride through Johanna and Albert Parks, in the former the Bismark Memorial, in the latter the race tracks, past the large and well kept cemetery, the Russian Memorial Church, slightly different in design from the others I have seen. They took the gold plating off the dome during the war when they ran short of metals. One oddity on the street which draws my attention is a hearse and cab each distinct but combined on four wheels and drawn together by two horses. We ride through the fair grounds, over 80 buildings in different parts of town, now closed, in which every spring and fall, all the principal nations compete in trade for one week. The library of the University is a very handsome building. Among the many statues there is one to Luther (this town is chiefly Protestant, there being only one Catholic church here) and another to Habuemann, homeopathist. This latter is fenced around ever since the students played a prank by putting a chamber [pot?] beneath the chair on which the figure is seated. The Augustus Platz, one of the principal squares of the city, is surrounded by handsome buildings, among the others the museum of fine arts where there is a good collection and in the center is the Mendebrummen, a fitting ornament. But the outstanding monument of the city is that of the Battle of the Nations, a huge granite structure standing out in bold relief on a grassy knoll in a park which isolates it. Colossal figures of allegorical conception decorate it without and within, while its acoustic qualities are most remarkable. It is the tallest monument in all Germany.

Battle of the Nationals Monument. Via.

This afternoon we ride through a different portion of the city. The second most important industry is furs. Many are seen in the raw and one see some beautiful skins, though there are finished products as well, this being one of the chief fur markets of the world and the Jews have the monopoly of this trade. The residential section of Leipzig is very pretty and the homes are well set off by pretty flower gardens, Karl Tauschnitz Strasse one of the finest. There is one building decorated with frescoes of fairy tales and nursey rhymes, and another occupied by artists studios boldly decorated with murals in bight shades. The Thuringen Hof, 15th century restaurant, has walls painted with scenes from different operas and old wood carvings. The new City Hall is another of the imposing buildings which beautify Leipzig. A statue of Bach stands in front of St. Thomas church where he used to conduct his famous choir. Today is what they call Tauscher, a local fete celebrated by the children and we see many of them in the streets this evening masked and in comic outfits, carrying lanterns. It corresponds somewhat to our Halloween.

St. Thomas Church. Via.

September 10, 1929

Tuesday. Leipzig. We see more of the old city today, the Old Town Hall with Napoleonic museum, house where the great general lived during the battle of Leipzig. We walk through the shopping district (Petersstrasse the principal street, Theodore Althof the best department store). In Auerbach’s Kellar is where Goethe used to come when he wrote Faust on an old beer cask and the walls are decorated with murals representing scenes from this work. There is a large, well-kept covered market hall in Leipzig, poultry, flowers and fruit predominating, and an underground exhibition hall. This city looks extremely prosperous and it is said to pay more taxes per capita than any other German municipality.

Rosenthal Park. Via.

September 11, 1929

Wednesday. We take a horse drawn vehicle that looks like it might date from Noah’s Ark today and ride through the principal parks including the Rosenthal where autos are not allowed. The people over here make much better use of their parks than we do as they are always much frequented, especially the zoos.

Palmengarten. Via.

September 12, 1929

Thursday, Leipzig. We spend this morning in the beautiful Palmengarten, a pleasant spot indeed in which to dream away a leisure hour or two. The radio is broadcasting a high order of music from Dresden which forms a very fitting complement to the lovely flowers, exotic shrubbery, lakes and fountains. At 4 p.m. we take the train for Magdeburg, the country stretches flatly I the distance. Windmills are a frequent feature of the landscape.

Magdeburg Postcard. Via.

September 13, 1929

Friday. We are at the Magdeburger Hof, the best the city affords, which is not saying much. We ride around today and see the sights of interest. There is an ancient air about the place and yet it is busy with commerce which extends over a great area. It claims four hundred thousand inhabitants, most of whom seem to be on the streets, which are unusually wide. Never have I seen such a crowded thoroughfare as the Breiteweg. The Dom is a fine Gothic structure whose steeples can be seen at a great distance owing the flat country. There are many pretentions homes which bespeak prosperity, a splendid park and the wachshaus where wonderful plants are cultivated, especially cacti here to be seen in every variety, and peppers in many colors. The old town hall is a quaint structure and before it stands the gilded figure of King Otto on horseback beneath its little Moorish cupola. Magdeburg is on the Elbe.

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Ernestine Rose, the First Jewish Feminist.

Posted on July 26th, 2019 by

Blog post by JMM intern Hannah Balik. To read more posts from JMM interns, past and present, click here.

“Slavery and Freedom cannot exist together” – Ernestine Rose

Next week, interns will be recording podcasts, which is an opportunity for us to talk about anything our hearts desire. I did of research on a few different topics, being the indecisive person that I am. I eventually found a topic but wanted to acknowledge the research I’ve done on previous ideas that I thought were fascinating and deserve to be shared. One of these things is the life of Ernestine Rose. I had not heard of Ernestine Rose before I started looking for podcast topics. Originally, I wanted to focus on Jewish abolitionists, as my senior project in college was on Jewish slaveholders, and it felt like an interesting compliment. I entered a few search terms into PastPerfect, the JMM’s archival database, to see what items in our collection match my topic of interest. I found a single image of Ernestine, with no other information other than her name. Intrigued, and supported by years of research experience, I read her Wikipedia page. I learned that Ernestine was integral to the first wave of feminism and was amongst other great activists of the time such as Susan B Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, and Frederick Douglass. She is considered the first Jewish feminist and was greatly important to the suffrage movement before she left America in 1869.

Ernestine Rose. Via.

Ernestine’s story is one of perseverance and outspokenness. Ernestine was born in the Jewish Quarter of Piotkrow, Russian Poland on January 13, 1810. She was the only child of a Rabbi and the daughter of a wealthy businessman. She received a robust secular and Jewish education. She was a “rebel at age five”, rejecting the religion of her father and questioning the justice of a God who would enact hardships on people, like the many religious fasts her father participated in. By 14, she outright rejected religion and the Jewish texts and traditions that supported the idea that women were inferior to men. When Ernestine was 16 years old, her mother passed away and her father arranged for her to be married. She refused and decided to go to court to have the contract dissolved herself. Through dissolving the courtship, she gained access to her mother’s inheritance, which she ended up giving mostly to her father, only keeping enough for herself to leave Poland.

In 1827 Berlin, the law said that all non-Prussian Jews needed to be sponsored by a German property holder, which Ernestine was not. She appealed directly to the King in order to be exempt from this rule, which he allowed. At this time that she was living alone in Berlin, she developed a room deodorizer that she sold to support herself and her travels. She traveled to Holland, Belgium and France, advocating for the oppressed wherever she traveled. In her travels she met an English man called Robert Owen. Owen was a utopian socialist with followers who refer to their ideology as “Owenism” Ernestine stayed in England for three years, lecturing alongside Owen on the principles on human equality.

Through lecturing with Owen, she met William Ella Rose, an Owenite and jeweler. They married in 1835 and moved to New York the next year. Ernestine continued lecturing widely across the United States, supporting causes such as abolition, religious toleration, public education, and equality for women. Her oral power earned her the nickname “Queen of the Platform.” Once while giving a talk in the south, a slaveholder told her he would have her tarred and feathered, had she been a man. She is also considered to be the first woman to publicly demand that women be given the right to vote in the state of Michigan. In the 1840s and 50s, she banded with a group of activists fighting for women’s rights and for the end of slavery. Some of these people included Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Paulina Wright, Sojourner Truth, William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass.

The end of the Civil War brought a smaller civil war to suffragettes and activists. Many people, including Frederick Douglass, urged suffragettes to ease their seeking of women’s vote until black men got the vote. Douglass frame this task as an “urgent necessity”. Rose proclaimed that “Emancipation from every kind of bondage is my principle,” She viewed civil rights and the women’s vote to be two sides of the same oppression and aimed to dismantle powers that kept both of those from happening. However, when the fourteenth amendment was passed and only gave men the vote, many women’s leaders took this opportunity to be very publicly racist, like how they couldn’t believe that people like black men and immigrants got the right to vote before “well-heeled American born women.” Rose was quoted harboring anti-immigrant sentiment, although she was an immigrant herself. In 1869, she said “We might commence by calling the Chinaman a man and a brother, or the Hottentot, or the Calmuck [meaning Mongolians], or the Indian, the idiot or the criminal, but where shall we stop? They will bring all these in before us.” However, she did not oppose black men acquiring the ability to vote as much as she was frustrated with the government for continually ignoring women. She framed the situation uniquely, asking “Why do [politicians] not at the same time protect the Negro woman?” Sojourner Truth agreed with Rose, saying, “If colored men get their rights, and not colored women theirs, they will be masters over the women, and it will be just as bad as it was before,”

The Revolution, a magazine run by Stanton and Anthony, and funded by notorious racist George Francis Train, once ran an article that recommended keeping “the Jews and the Chinese” out of the country. It described Jews and Chinese as “voracious, knavish, cunning traders,” and Jews in particular as “a race of mere bloodsuckers.” Rose was not involved in this newspaper, and never responded to their antisemitism, although she was probably aware of it. She did get in a ten-week-long letter exchange with the editor of the Boston Investigator after he said that the Jews were “a troublesome people to live in proximity with”, and that he hoped their numbers would not increase.

Ernestine Rose. Via. 

Ernestine and her husband moved to England in 1869 for reasons scholars are still unsure of. Carol Kolmerten, in The American Life of Ernestine Rose (1999) speculated that perhaps she felt tired battling anti-Semitism and anti-immigrant sentiment in her “feminist” circles and was frustrated by the racism that her colleagues spat. It is also said that she suffered from rheumatism, and that she was simply too frail to continue lecturing in the matter she was. In 1883, Susan B Anthony and Elizabeth Stanton went to London to visit her and attempt to convince her to return, unsuccessfully. Ernestine continued to give talks in England until her health forced her to retire in 1872. Her husband, William, died in 1882. From then until her death in 1892, she lived in isolation, only seeing a few friends who described her as sad and lonely.

Ernestine’s legacy has fallen out of the public eye. At her time, she was considered one of the most accomplished orators and activists, only to become unknown today. There are a few possible reasons for this – many historians point to her Jewishness in a game played by Protestants, or her immigrant status in a time when nativism was reigning, or maybe the fact that she was an atheist in a religious world. She also left America in 1869, the middle of her colleagues careers, for seemingly no reason and without notice. It is very sad that I had no idea that Ernestine existed and how many contributions she made to modern feminism. It was disappointing to want to learn about the Jewish leaders who came before you, only to be confronted with the short changes of them, like Rose’s anti-immigrant comments. However, we never learn about Ernestine the way that we do other early suffragettes and civil activists, who were much more openly racist and xenophobic, so it was great to open up this piece of history.

Sources [1] [2] [3]

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Finding History in the Collections

Posted on July 26th, 2019 by

Blog post by JMM intern Ariella Shua. To read more posts from JMM interns, past and present, click here.


I’m not a crazy history buff – I have to hear dates and names multiple times before I can remember them. But I’ve always liked knowing how old something is, or who used to use an item. It’s especially cool when these details connect an object to history we already know.

While working at the JMM, I’ve made a few such discoveries. I wasn’t searching for any particular connection. I was just recording the facts about a person, place, or time. The importance of these items to me, to Jewish history, or even to American history were bonuses that came with the facts I was searching for.

The first moment of historical significance came on my first day at the JMM. As we went on our first tour of the Lloyd Street Synagogue, we were taught its story. The synagogue is the third oldest Jewish house of worship in Maryland, and the third oldest still standing in the US. I’d already known that the JMM had historic objects in their possession. I had no idea that one of those objects was a building. Even better, I was excited to know that I’d now been in two of the top three oldest synagogues in the US. I had fallen asleep in the oldest, Touro Synagogue, a few years before (long story, but I hope to go back and see it for real in the future).

Inside the museum, I spend a lot of time in the “Voices of Lombard Street” exhibit. It provides an immersive walkthrough “tour” of Lombard Street, one of Jonestown’s Jewish neighborhoods, from the early 1900s. When schools and camps visit, I usually guide the kids through the sewing machine activity.

They “sew” together creations on a replica 1914 Singer sewing machine. I’ve used a sewing machine before, but it looks nothing like this one – the Singer on display requires pushing a heavy foot pedal in order to operate.

My assumption was that kids would never recognize the machine. But during multiple tour groups, kids tell me about their own experiences, sewing on more modern machines, or seeing old-fashioned sewing machines in their grandmother’s houses. It never occurred to me that an object that seems so obsolete to me is still relevant in many people’s lives, even in a different way.

Most of the historical connections I’ve made have been in the last few weeks. I am working on a project to discover the historical significance of Windsor Hills, a Baltimore neighborhood which large numbers of Jews once called home. While researching, I’ve come across the names of former residents who I know. I don’t know them personally – all I know is their names. Hutzler, Hollander, and Wolman will all be immediately familiar to any other Hopkins student. They all have buildings or rooms named after them at the school. I never expected to run into them at the JMM, yet here they are.

I’m spending a lot of time on PastPerfect, the JMM’s collections database, while I do my Windsor Hills research. Some of the connections I’ve found point to the darker history that was once in Jonestown. While doing an innocent search for ice cream, I came across multiple results for Hendler Ice Cream Company. Most of the records, photos, and ads that showed up in JMM collections are cheery ice cream pictures.


One, though, stood out for its offensive imagery. A 1925 poster for a frozen watermelon snack instantly registered in my eyes as racist. Yet in the 1920s, such an ad was perfectly acceptable – a sign of how much the times have changed.

Fortunately, most of my PastPerfect searches have resulted in records that are much less offensive. During my Windsor Hills research, I’ve even found some former residents who have made their mark on American history.

Jacob Beser, for instance, shows up again and again in the JMM’s collections.

I’d never heard of him before, but I quickly learned that he was the only crew member to participate in both of the Enola Gay’s missions: bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As it turned out, he and his family lived in Windsor Hills, and he was involved in the local Jewish community. Now, some of his former possessions are in the JMM’s collections, telling their history to those who want to find out more.

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