Posted on March 25th, 2015 by Rachel
When you’re researching in our (or any museum’s) collections, intriguing artifacts often lead you to other intriguing artifacts. Our book collection includes this title that caught my eye while scanning spines: A Woman’s Thoughts About Women. It’s an 1864 edition of an 1858 essay, with one of those discreet Victorian “By the Author of…” attributions. As the title suggests, it was written by a woman: British novelist Dinah Maria Mulock Craik (1826-1887). The book falls into the popular advice genre, but is aimed at improving the lives of independent, single women, rather than the usual audience of housewives or fine ladies (and their servants). At the time of publication, the author was still Miss Mulock, not yet Mrs. Craik.
Donated by Robert S. Zetzer. JMM# 1998.86.100
Why does the Jewish Museum have this fine work? The inside cover includes the bookplate of a local woman, lawyer Rose S. Zetzer (1904-1998). I’m still learning the personalities in our collections, so I went to the database to look for more information.
Ms. Zetzer was born in Baltimore to Jacob and Baila Zetzer, Russian immigrants. In 1925 she graduated from the University of Maryland law school (where a fellowship is named in her honor), but had difficulty finding a job in the male-dominated field. So in 1940, she joined forces with Anna Carton, and they went ahead and formed the first all-female law firm in Maryland. Their offices were in the Munsey Building at Calvert and Fayette Streets, Baltimore. In our Zetzer collection we have this small poster printed by the owners, “welcoming the ladies” to the building:
Donated by Robert S. Zetzer. JMM# 1998.86.84b
Like all good artifacts, these two pieces raise questions the more you think about them. Did Mrs. Craik’s essay have a particular meaning for Rose Zetzer, or did she regard it as an historical novelty, amusingly related (or not) to her own life and career? Why did the ladies choose the Munsey Building – and were the landlords really all that ‘welcoming’? We know a fair amount about Ms. Zetzer’s career (read a little more about her life here and here, but in lists of impressive Firsts and Onlys, the smaller, everyday details of a person’s life can be lost. Items like these two, which might be considered little more than ephemera, can help bring those details back to life – even if only as a spark to the imagination.
A blog post by Collections Manager Joanna Church. To read more posts from Joanna click HERE.
Posted on March 24th, 2015 by Rachel
The Baltimore Jewish Times publishes unidentified photographs from the collection of Jewish Museum of Maryland each week. If you can identify anyone in these photos and more information about them, contact Joanna Church at 410.732.6400 x236 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times: July 18, 2014
PastPerfect Accession #: 2011.78.60
Status: Unidentified – do you recognize anyone from this Beth Shalom Congregation (Carroll County) photograph?
Posted on March 23rd, 2015 by Rachel
On March 10, 2015, two museum educators and a visitor services coordinator ventured to Edgewater, Maryland for a workshop called “Creativity in Museums.” This rewarding and inspiring workshop was hosted at the Historic Londontown and Gardens. Linda Norris presented this workshop based on her new book, Creativity in Museum Practice. We discussed the importance of looking outside your work for inspiration either in a physical setting, the media, or professionals from different museums. To get the creative juices flowing we did a brainstorming activity. We started with a problem and wrote down a solution on a piece of paper. Then the paper was passed to the person next to you. This activity allowed for all voices to be heard, but also challenging because it made you think outside the box.
Failure is inevitable in life and often occurs in the workplace. This can be damaging to our psyche and our creative process, but is necessary. In a small group we discussed an instance in our careers where we had failed and had to choose the best story. Linda called this activity “Failure Olympics.” The importance of failure is how we overcome and learn from it. We cannot assume what our audience will like or feel about a program or an exhibition, but gathering and testing out ideas will hopefully allow us to create something interesting and meaningful.
Participants of the Failure Olympics.
Historic London Town and Gardens was the next subject of an activity called SCAMPER. Each letter represented a word such as Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to Other Uses, Eliminate and Rearrange or Reverse. We explored the campus answering various questions for each word at different locations. It was not the best activity for March as the ground was wet and soggy from the snow and rain, but it was not an overall failure. SCAMPER helped us to re-imagine and re-purpose the space being used while learning about this history of this organization. “Creativity in Museums” permitted us to bring fresh and creative ideas back to the Jewish Museum of Maryland. We hope to apply these practices to future exhibitions and programs.
William Brown House