A Family Pharmacy: AZO

Posted on July 17th, 2014 by

My role as an Exhibition Intern at the JMM has largely involved researching and reviewing subjects related to the upcoming Jews, Health, and Healing. My internship thus far has been incredibly rewarding, as I have investigated topics which I have never studied before, namely pharmaceutical history. I’ve read sixteenth century medicinal guide books, studied the changing corner drugstore, and cataloged countless prescriptions. Gradually, I began to gain a greater appreciation of the field, and saw the pharmacy as the true medical marketplace, where doctors, patients, and prescriptions come together.

However, as my supervisor, Curator Karen Falk, adeptly pointed out, I neglected one major detail in my research: how do we make this a Jewish Baltimore story? Individuals may recognize the immense Jewish presence in the field of medicine and pharmacy, but how will we portray this community in the exhibit? As I combed through the JMM’s impressive archives, I began to find the answer: the pharmaceutical fraternity.

An AZO window sticker dating from the 1940s. Courtesy of the Kramer-Labovitz Collection, accession #2001.61.2

An AZO window sticker dating from the 1940s. Courtesy of the Kramer-Labovitz Collection, accession #2001.61.2

The history of AZO parallels the Jewish experience of medical school. In the early twentieth century, American universities used race-based acceptance quotas to counter the tide of Jewish Americans eager to enter the medical professions. Jewish students in Philadelphia realized the challenges placed before them and decided to band together. In 1919, twelve Jewish students formed Alpha Zeta Omega with the goal of a 100% graduation rate. Just three short years later, AZO began to spread and the University of Maryland’s School of Pharmacy founded the Kappa Chapter.

The original symbol of AZO. It was originally referred to as the “Dead Man’s Club” or simply, “The Dozen.”

The original symbol of AZO. It was originally referred to as the “Dead Man’s Club” or simply, “The Dozen.”

Though AZO was not an official Jewish fraternity and does not remain one today, Judaism and the Jewish experience was very much at the core of the organization. (One can easily identify Jewish imagery in the organization’s original symbol.) Therefore, AZO developed into more than a fraternity, but a community with similar professional goals and values. In fact, Baltimore’s AZO was so close-knit that the organization founded the first women’s auxiliary: the Azoans.

A group of Azoans after a very successful fundraiser, circa mid-1930s. Courtesy of the Kramer-Labovitz Collection, accession #2002.2.31

A group of Azoans after a very successful fundraiser, circa mid-1930s. Courtesy of the Kramer-Labovitz Collection, accession #2002.2.31

The Azoans was a philanthropic organization of pharmacists’ wives and sisters.  The idea for the Azoans was born after Sadie Karpa attended a meeting of the AZO Pharmaceutical Fraternity in Cincinnati and realized how well the women worked together, but without organization.  The first meeting was held on October 15, 1931 at the home of Lee Kramer, the first president of the group.

 Part of the Azoans ritual was to commemorate the many symbols of the organization. The Azoans were very much a Jewish organization. Courtesy of the Ernestine Stiffman Collection, accession #89.109.19

Part of the Azoans ritual was to commemorate the many symbols of the organization. The Azoans were very much a Jewish organization. Courtesy of the Ernestine Stiffman Collection, accession #89.109.19

The woman’s organization developed charity events which would profit medical institutions in Baltimore and Israel. With countless bake sales and auctions, the AZOANS were able to purchase an ambulance for the Red Cross, donate an iron lung to Sinai Hospital, and provide dental care to the Baltimore School for the Blind.

An image from a 1953 Azoan scrapbook. Courtesy of the Ernestine Stiffman Collection, accession #89.109.19

An image from a 1953 Azoan scrapbook. Courtesy of the Ernestine Stiffman Collection, accession #89.109.19

The organization also developed into a vibrant Jewish social organization. When Azoans members had finished their charitable drives and functions, members would often gather together, socialize, and discuss issues of the day. The Azoans were famous for their skits, poems, and songs.

The Azoans were notorious rhymers. Attached is a song dedicated to Esther Pelovitz. Courtesy of the Kramer-Labovitz Collection, accession #2000.144.30

The Azoans were notorious rhymers. Attached is a song dedicated to Esther Pelovitz. Courtesy of the Kramer-Labovitz Collection, accession #2000.144.30

The women of the AZOANS represent the strength of Baltimore’s Jewish pharmacy community. Each neighborhood drugstore had its own loyal customers and its own corner. But, on the weekends, the owners and their wives would come together and discuss how their city could profit from partnership, better health, and better facilities. I hope that Jews, Health, and Healing can accurately display that passion.

To close, a speech given by Ms. Lee Kramer. Courtesy of the Kramer-Labovitz Collection, accession #2000.144.30

To close, a speech given by Ms. Lee Kramer. Courtesy of the Kramer-Labovitz Collection, accession #2000.144.30

Mandy BenterA blog post by Exhibition Research intern Mandy Benter. To read more posts by interns, click HERE.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Kicking off the Electrified Pickle!

Posted on July 16th, 2014 by

You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a room full of little kids jump off their seats to go inhale from a smoking beaker full of blue liquid—that may have, if my memory serves me well, been described as “carbon dioxide burps.”

Kids and adults alike had a grand time at our opening for The Electrified Pickle! Although the smoking beaker of blue liquid didn’t happen until the end of the event, with the spectacular Extreme Jean show, the whole day was full of new experiences for our visitors.

More than just a pencil...graphite is a great conductor!

More than just a pencil…graphite is a great conductor!

From 11am to 3pm, we had three stations set up for experimental demonstrations that showcased the myriad ways to harness electricity through common household items. Our wonderful volunteers from the world of engineering made pencils into sliding light dimmer switches, potatoes into batteries, and, yes, pickles into glowing sources of light (and smell)!

Look at that pickle glow!

Look at that pickle glow! Many thanks to “In A Pickle” for donating these de-LIGHT-ful dills!

In addition to the demonstrations, we had hands-on stations where visitors could “get stuck in” conductive and insulating play dough and origami flowers and frogs that lit up with the help of LEDs and batteries.

Testing the difference between insulating and conductive play dough.

Testing the difference between insulating and conductive play dough.

Creating light up flower boxes!

Creating light up flower boxes!

GirlsRISEnetLogoBigSome of the funding that helped us put together the activities for the day came from a grant awarded to us by GirlsRise Net—an organization dedicated to encouraging girls to become interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields.  There was no way we were passing up the opportunity to combine a day dedicated the power of electricity with Girl Power! Fortunate for us, the Baltimore metropolitan area has a wide network of female scientists and engineers, which we tapped into for volunteers to help explain the science behind the demonstrations. While we didn’t want to exclude boys from the day’s activities, we did want to strike an emphasis on the presence of women in science and engineering fields.

Potatoes as....batteries? Yup!

Potatoes as….batteries? Yup!

Inside the exhibit itself, visitors of all ages delighted in trying out scientific interactives that we had borrowed from one of our partners, the National Electronics Museum.

Checking out the interactives on loan from the National Electronics Museum.

Checking out the interactives on loan from the National Electronics Museum.

They're fun (and fascinating) for everyone!

They’re fun (and fascinating) for everyone!

MECU-Neighborhood_0At 5pm, we transitioned from our daytime activities to our evening Electrified Pickle Community Kick-off Party, generously supported by a MECU Neighborhood grant! We started the evening with the scientific stylings of Extreme Jean. She demonstrated some wacky aspects of science, such as manipulating air streams to enable her to fill out a 5 foot plastic bag with just one breath. And what science show would be complete without having some fun with dry ice?

Fun with dry ice!

Fun with dry ice!

It's a scientific playground with Extreme Jean!

It’s a scientific playground with Extreme Jean!

After the show, representatives from another one of our partners, Mosaic Makers, got us started on our community art project. With a little help from our friends and visitors, we will be making a mosaic that will be used to decorate our newest building at 5 Lloyd St. The mosaic will be out for visitors to add to for the next 5 weeks, as we continue with The Electrified Pickle.

Hard at work on our neighborhood mosaic!

Hard at work on our neighborhood mosaic!

Come check out the exhibit and more exciting workshops and demonstrations this Sunday, with Print This! For more information about the day and about the following three Sundays, check out the “Events” section of our website!

PRINT THIS! on Sunday, July 20th, 11am - 3pm.

abby krolikA blog post by Visitor Services Coordinator Abby Krolik. For more posts by Abby, click HERE.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Once Upon a Time…12.27.2013

Posted on July 15th, 2014 by

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 Deborah Cardin at 410.732.6400 x236 or email info@jewishmuseummd.org

 

1994205032Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times:  December 27, 2013

 

PastPerfect Accession #:  1994.205.032

 

Status:  Unidentified – do you know anyone at this outing to a local park? Photo taken August 1989.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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