Posted on May 25th, 2016 by Rachel
Tomorrow is the first day of the 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Alliance of Museums, held this year in Washington, D.C. Many of us are planning to attend, and in the upcoming days you’ll see plenty of social media updates as we enjoy several days of camaraderie, learning, and swag from the Expo Hall.
When we register tomorrow, we’ll get our nametags, printed clearly on heavy paper and perhaps strung on a nice branded lanyard. Now, I know that organizing several thousand badges is neither simple nor inexpensive, but for a meeting related to museums – many of which include historical collections – it always seems a shame that there’s no nod to the substantial, and considerably more glam, name badges of the past.
I do like an artifact that conveniently provides its own history, and convention badges of the late 19th to mid 20th century fit that bill. Granted, so do most badges from modern conferences, since the point is to state your name and location regardless of the materials of which it’s made. But while we’ll most likely get a piece of paper slipped into a clear plastic sleeve (which one is, rightfully, encouraged to recycle at the end of the event), our predecessors received a thing, meant to be saved: Satin ribbons with shiny printing, bright colors proclaiming one’s regional or professional allegiance, elaborate metal badges, gold fringe, and other embellishments, usually topped off with a small, discreet slot for the attendee’s name. Many cities had companies devoted to the production of these badges, and a big convention coming to town meant money for them as well as for the associated venues, caterers, and hotels.
Badge manufacturers in Baltimore, from the 1909-1910 Baltimore Business Directory (R.L. Polk). Gift of Peppy Zulver. JMM 1990.168.2
Since I’m not likely to get my wish this weekend, here are a few examples from our collection. I hope you’ll never be quite satisfied with your flimsy conference name tags again!
Satin ribbon with safety pin, made by G.N. Meyer Mfg., Washington, D.C. “Conference on the Care of Dependent Children, Called by President Theodore Roosevelt, Jan. 25-26 1909, Washington, D.C.” Gift of Judge Jacob M. Moses. JMM 1963.42.13c
Baltimore’s Jacob Moses, then Judge of the Juvenile Court of Maryland, was invited to speak at this conference in D.C. In his opening address, President Roosevelt urged attendees to “take a progressive stand, so as to establish a goal toward which the whole country can work.” Judge Moses’s speech – which a pencil notation on the top indicates was only to be “five minutes” – was entitled “How the Juvenile Court May Protect the Young Child.”
Left: Satin ribbon with metal badges, including the skyline of Milwaukee. “Nathan Trupp – Baltimore. Delegate 34th Annual Convention, July 6-7-8-9 1931. National Association of Retail Grocers.”
Right: Satin ribbon with enamel and metal badges. “Maryland at the Chicago Convention 1934. National Association of Retail Grocers. Nathan Trupp, Baltimore, Md.” Both gift of Irwin Kramer. JMM 2006.31.12, .15
Nathan Trupp of Baltimore served as President of the Maryland Grocer’s Association in the 1930s. He attended several National Association conferences across the U.S. In 1931, in Milwaukee, President Hoover sent greetings to the foreign attendees on behalf of U.S. delegates; in 1934 in Chicago, attendees were able to enjoy the Century of Progress International Exhibition.
Satin badge with metal and enamel badges, and metallic fringe. “Member, The Royal Sisters Society of Baltimore, Inc.” Gift of Helen Glaser. JMM 1998.114.9a
The Royal Sisters Society of Baltimore was founded in 1937 by Mollie Gresser, Reba Cooper, and several others. It was a philanthropic group, raising funds for various worthy causes around the city – but it was also a sisterhood, with formal meetings and regulated membership. The slip of paper announcing this particular member’s name is gone, unfortunately.
A blog post by Collections Manager Joanna Church. To read more posts by Joanna click HERE.
Posted on May 24th, 2016 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 email@example.com
Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times: September 18, 2015
PastPerfect Accession #: 2011.029.181
Status: Unidentified. Do you recognize this Levindale resident taking Sunday tea at the social services office in 1980?
Posted on May 23rd, 2016 by Rachel
While being a Navy wife can have its ups and downs, last week was a definite up. Chief Petty Officer Guy-Decker had temporary duty orders that sent him to the island of Oahu in the state of Hawaii.
He was to be busy with some super-secret operations of which we mere mortals may not know. To support his world-saving activities, the US Navy provided a plane ticket, a hotel room in Waikiki, a rental car and a per diem food allowance. What can I say? I tagged along.
I found Hawai’i to be among the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I had my breath taken away by the beauty of the landscape more times than I can count. I also found it to be instructive in ways I could never have anticipated.
There’s no denying the natural beauty.
On my second full day on the island, I decided to take in some history. My husband had the rental car with him on the Naval station, so I hopped a city bus into downtown Honolulu. My destination was the Iolani Palace. This magnificent residence, completed in 1882 is the only royal residence on American soil.
The front of Iolani Palace.
Taking a tour of an historic building, how could I not think of the LSS? I first noted the cool lanyard-encased iPods the palace handed all of the visitors. Along with a set of headphones, this device allowed me to take a self-directed tour of the building.
But the content of the tour is what really affected my thinking.
As I entered the ornate building, my feet clad in the provided booties to protect the floors, the helpful guide in my headset pointed out the etched glass windows, imported from France, the inlaid wood with hardwoods imported from Italy, the fine china, imported from England. “What the Heck!” I thought. “He had so many amazing natural resources right here in Hawai’i. Why did King Kalakaua use all of that European stuff?”
Just as I was disdaining this 19th-century royal, my iPod guide invited me to stand at what was the front door in 1882 and imagine myself a visiting dignitary from Europe. Look at the grand staircase and up at the electric lights. Electric lights, my digital host, pointed out, in 1882—before either the White House or Buckingham Palace could boast of electricity.
And looking at those literal light bulbs, the proverbial one lit above my head.
I apologized to his majesty Kalakaua in my mind. “I get it! You had to prove that Hawaiians were not ‘savages.’ You had to prove to the white Europeans who coveted your land that you were equals.”
And immediately I thought of our beloved Lloyd Street Synagogue, with its imposing columns. As you would learn if you were to take our All American Synagogue, Bell, Book and Candle tour, the synagogue was designed by non-Jewish architect, Robert Cary Long, Jr., a professionally-trained architect who was known for designing beautiful churches.
I’ve sometimes wondered that this church-building non-Jew was the architect of choice. But of course, Baltimore’s Jewish community also felt the need to prove they were not “savages.” When LSS was completed, it was fewer than 20 years after Maryland’s “Jew Bill” passed, allowing non-Christian (or at least Jewish) individuals to enjoy the same rights as Christian citizens. And only 15 years earlier, in 1830, the governor had had to intervene against obstructionist lawmakers to allow the congregation to officially incorporate.
In the case of the 19th-century Hawaiians, as with the Jewish community of Baltimore about 40 years prior, they were working to prove themselves to be not just as “civilized,” as the Europeans and their Christian neighbors, but twice as “civilized.”
The difference between the two communities is that the Baltimore Jewish community more-or-less succeeded; the Hawaiians’ story is more complicated. King Kalakaua’s successor, his sister, Queen Lili’uokalani (notably, the composer of possibly the most famous Hawaiian song, “Alaho Oe”) was deposed by a coalition of “Hawaiian-born citizens of American parents, naturalized citizens and foreign nationals” (i.e. no Hawaiian natives) with the support of the American Minister to Hawaii. Two years later, after a defeated uprising in her defense, Lili’oukalani was imprisoned in her own Iolani Palace by her opponents. It wasn’t long before the islands were formally annexed by the United States.
Perhaps because of my Lloyd Street Synagogue-Iolani Palace epiphany earlier in the week, when we attended one of the many luaus that take place every night, I felt the sense that I was in a place I didn’t really belong. I was keenly aware that the version of the culture I was viewing was caricaturized and then commodified for my benefit.
The luau dancers
I kept imagining what the Jewish equivalent of a luau might be. As our host on the bus ride to the beach-location taught us words in Hawaiian (“’aloha’ means ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye.’ It also means ‘love’”), I started to imagine the “oneg” party we might throw for tourists. “’Shalom’ means ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye.’ It also means ‘peace.’” I imagined the costumed dancers doing the horah; the giant pots of cholent and chicken soup and mounds of challah loaves.
My imagination replaced the dancing hula dolls intended for dashboards with davening yeshivah boys, and it made me a little nauseated. I felt in my bones how one-dimensional the Judaism of this tourist party would be. My beloved, rich, thick, complicated religion/culture/ethnicity reduced to slogans and bobble heads.
Can you imagine Yeshiva boys instead?
And yet, even (especially?) in its caricaturized, commodified form, the Hawaiian picture is so pretty, so pleasant. I couldn’t resist getting a selfie with the smiling hula dancers who waited by the hotel bus for just that purpose.
Smiling with the dancers
A blog post by Associate Director Tracie Guy-Decker. Read more posts from Tracie by clicking HERE.