Once Upon a Time…06.06.2014

Posted on February 10th, 2015 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 Joanna Church at 410.732.6400 x236 or email jchurch@jewishmuseummd.org

 

2011078059Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times:  June 6, 2014

 

PastPerfect Accession #:  2011.078.059

 

Status:  Unidentified! Do you recognize anyone in this Beth Shalom Congregation (Carroll County) Hebrew School Class Vav-Zeyn, 2007?

 

 

 

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Get Ready for National Umbrella Day!

Posted on February 9th, 2015 by

UMBRELLAS section heading from the 1900 Baltimore Bargain House catalog. JMM 1991.33.1, museum purchase.

UMBRELLAS section heading from the 1900 Baltimore Bargain House catalog. JMM 1991.33.1, museum purchase.

Tomorrow, as I’m sure everyone knows, is a very important holiday: it’s National Umbrella Day.  This seems the perfect opportunity to take a look at some of the umbrellas and related material in our collections.  After all, Baltimore has a long history with this useful accessory.

Anna Smotritsky (1884-1960) of Baltimore in 1902, shortly before her marriage to Jacob Kornblatt.  Her knot-handled umbrella completes her fashionable ensemble. JMM 1988.140.49, gift of Joseph Meyerhoff Library of Baltimore Hebrew University.

Anna Smotritsky (1884-1960) of Baltimore in 1902, shortly before her marriage to Jacob Kornblatt. Her knot-handled umbrella completes her fashionable ensemble. JMM 1988.140.49, gift of Joseph Meyerhoff Library of Baltimore Hebrew University.

Many sources have claimed that the first umbrella ever seen in the United States was brought to Baltimore from India in 1772.  That story is difficult to confirm, but it may stem in part from this tidbit published in 1874, in J. Thomas Scharf’s The Chronicles of Baltimore; Being a History of “Baltimore Town” and Baltimore City from the Earliest Period to the Present Time:

“1772. In this year the first efforts were made in Baltimore to introduce the use of umbrellas as a defence from the sun and rain. They were then scouted as a ridiculous effeminacy. On the other hand, the physicians recommended them to keep off vertigos, epilepsies, sore-eyes, fevers, &c. Finally, as the doctors were their chief patrons, [umbrellas] were generally adopted. They were of oiled linen, very coarse and clumsy, with rattan sticks, and were imported from India by way of England.” (JMM 2000.135.5, gift of Robert L. Weinberg)

Whether or not the city was host to the first umbrella on these shores, it was indeed the home of the first umbrella factory in the US, started by Francis Beehler in 1828. Other Baltimore companies manufactured umbrellas and parasols throughout the 19th century, and by the 1920s the city could boast of being the “Center of [the] Umbrella Trade” (as proclaimed in a Baltimore Sun headline on September 30, 1922). The 1926 city directory listed 13 manufacturers and wholesalers, and claimed that “Baltimore manufactures over 5,000,000 umbrellas annually with a value of approximately $7,000,000.”

Umbrella and Parasol Manufacturers and Wholesalers listed in R.L. Polk & Co’s Baltimore City Directory for 1926. JMM 1992.164.6, Museum purchase.

Umbrella and Parasol Manufacturers and Wholesalers listed in R.L. Polk & Co’s Baltimore City Directory for 1926. JMM 1992.164.6, Museum purchase.

The 1926 list includes some familiar names.  Polan, Katz & Co., founded in 1906, was one of the better-known manufacturers; the company was in existence until 1981, when Charles Katz – son of one of the founders – retired. The JMM has a number of mid 20th century Polan, Katz & Co. umbrellas in our collections, from plain, serviceable examples to some that are a little more fanciful.  My personal favorite is this one from the 1940s, a 23” long umbrella with a clear plastic handle and a nylon canopy of golden brown, in a nice (and once again fashionable) ombré, decorated with jacks.

JMM 1988.57.1 Museum purchase

JMM 1988.57.1 Museum purchase

Another local brand, Gans Brothers (founded in 1888), was known for its charming slogan: “Born in Baltimore, Raised Everywhere.”  The company dealt in inventions as well as manufacture; family members and employees patented a variety of machinery designed to improve the umbrella-making process, as well as the finished products themselves.

Gans Brothers advertisement, from The Jews of Baltimore by Isidor Blum (1910). JMM Library collections.

Gans Brothers advertisement, from The Jews of Baltimore by Isidor Blum (1910). JMM Library collections.

The only Gans Brothers example in our collections, a 38” long, black silk umbrella from the late 19th century, shows some of that innovation.  The handle is of repoussé silver in an elaborate floral pattern, striking in and of itself. Closer examination, however, shows function within the style. The wrist strap – rather than the typical fabric cord – is a sturdy chain that can be tightened by feeding it through a hole in the knob at the end of the handle. The tip-cup (where the handle connects to the shaft) has a lip that holds the ends of the ribs in place when the umbrella is furled; it slides down to release the ribs when needed. It’s not surprising that this useful bit is marked “Patent Applied For”, though I’ve not yet matched it with a successful patent (in my defense, there are over 50 “umbrella tip-cup” U.S. patents to choose from).

JMM 1988.184.1, gift of Dr. Emanuel Bernstein.

JMM 1988.184.1, gift of Dr. Emanuel Bernstein.

The handle has another interesting element: an engraved mark. In addition to a printed “Born in Baltimore, Raised Everywhere” label on the inside of the canopy, the manufacturers added an elaborately entwined “GB” on the end of the knobbed handle. The donor of this piece, Dr. Emanuel Bernstein, informed us that it was owned by his grandmother Bertha Gans, wife of company partner Moses Gans; it was thought that perhaps the initials were meant as B.G. for her name. However, Gans Brothers company letterhead and invoices from the turn of the last century show an official GB logo like this one. That’s not to say, of course, that this wasn’t in fact Bertha ‘s umbrella; and perhaps she got a kick out of having her initials on the handle, however coincidentally.

JMM 1988.184.1, gift of Dr. Emanuel Bernstein.

JMM 1988.184.1, gift of Dr. Emanuel Bernstein.

I hope these photos and artifacts have inspired you to celebrate National Umbrella Day, and that you’ll be sure to wield your favorite umbrella tomorrow. No rain in the forecast? Use it as a parasol or sunshade. No sun, either? (Based on how this winter has gone, that seems likely.) Well, an umbrella can still be handy, especially if it’s a nice substantial size. Use it as a walking stick, or just carry it around and pretend you’re a 19th century lady or gentleman.  I’m sure no one will look at you oddly; after all, everyone knows it’s National Umbrella Day!

Pre-Valentine’s Day Bonus Photo; Or, The Best Umbrella Photo Ever? 

Abraham and Carrie Katz Weinberg, in Atlantic City (perhaps on their honeymoon?) around 1896, did not let accessories like hats and umbrellas get in their way. JMM 1991.65.3, gift of Edgar Wolf, Jr. for the Estate of Carolyn Weinberg.

Abraham and Carrie Katz Weinberg, in Atlantic City (perhaps on their honeymoon?) around 1896, did not let accessories like hats and umbrellas get in their way. JMM 1991.65.3, gift of Edgar Wolf, Jr. for the Estate of Carolyn Weinberg.

JoannaA blog post by Collections Manager Joanna Church. To read more posts from Joanna click HERE.

 

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Museum Matters February 2015

Posted on February 6th, 2015 by

Language, Business, Politics, Community

Our Mendes Cohen-inspired programs in the next four weeks take us in many exciting directions.   Mendes, the Sephardi Jew, led us to the door of an expert on the Ladino language.  Mendes, the businessman, gave us an idea for a program on the business climate of antebellum Baltimore.  Mendes, the state delegate, put us on the trail of early Jewish entry into running for office.  And we even think that Mendes, the community leader, would be pleased to know that an important new technology from his lifetime (photography) was now a bridge between cultures (see the March 1 program and exhibit below).  Visit JMM this month and find your own moment of Mendes’ inspiration.

 

Upcoming Programs

Please note that unless otherwise noted, all programs take place at the Jewish Museum of Maryland (15 Lloyd Street, Baltimore, MD 21202). For more information and to RSVP for specific programs, contact Carolyn Bevans*: (410) 732-6400 x215 / cbevans@jewishmuseummd.org. For more information on JMM events please visit www.jewishmuseummd.org. *Carolyn is filling in for new mom Trillion Attwood from January through March.

 

February

Epoca_1902_IssueLadino, a language of the Jewish Diaspora

Speaker Dr. Adriana Brodsky, St. Mary’s College of Maryland

Sunday, February 8, 1:00 pm

Program included with Museum admission

 

Explore Ladino, a Jewish language that developed in the wake of the expulsion of Jews from the Iberian Peninsula in 1492 as new Jewish communities settled in the Ottoman Empire. Professor Brodsky will introduce the history of this language, and present examples of the Ladino in early 20th Century America, as well as old and modern ladino songs.  Although many argue that Ladino is ‘dead,’ especially after the extermination of entire ladino-speaking Sephardi communities during the Holocaust, Brodsky argues that, in fact, this Jewish language is alive and well.

Adriana M. Brodsky, Associate Professor of Latin American History at St. Mary’s College of Maryland and has published on Sephardi schools in Argentina, and on Jewish Beauty Contests.

 

Audience Research Image - please use captionHelp Make a Museum: Audience Workshop for the Core Exhibition of DC’s New Jewish Museum

Sunday, February 8, 2:00 pm

Facilitator: Zachary Paul Levine, Curator, Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington

Program included with museum admission

The Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington (JHSGW) has asked for our help as our neighbors in DC make plans for their new facility (projected opening 2020). As part of that process, they are coming to Baltimore to collect thoughts on stories for the new museum’s core exhibition.  This workshop will include a series of activities designed to get participants thinking, talking, and sharing their counsel for this new project.  Participants will look at a handful of objects and stories, and discuss how, together, they tell the unique story of Washington DC’s Jewish community.  Of course, we will be listening too – as we think about ideas to improve our own site at JMM.

Image: President Calvin Coolidge spoke during the cornerstone laying ceremony of the 16th and Q Street building on May 3, 1925. JHSGW Collections.

 

1024px-View_of_Baltimore_-_William_H._BartlettClimbing the Ladder of Success in a Nineteenth-Century Boomtown: The Cohen Family in Early Baltimore

Sunday, February 15th, 1:00 P.M.

Speaker: Tina Sheller, Goucher College

When Israel I. Cohen died in Richmond, Virginia in 1803, his wife, Judith, packed up her belongings and moved herself and her children to Baltimore.  Why Baltimore?  Early Baltimore was a bustling port town of merchants, shopkeepers, skilled craftsmen, workers, and slaves.  How did these groups contribute to the dynamic expansion of the city’s antebellum economy? Who were the people that populated the growing port town, and how did the Cohens and other Jewish families adapt to life in a city soon to be known as “Mobtown?”  All of these questions and more will be answered as we journey back in time to the era of Boomtown Baltimore.

Tina H. Sheller is an assistant professor of History at Goucher College where she teaches courses in American history and Historic Preservation.

 

Jew Bill imageHow Jews Entered American Politics: The Curious Case of Maryland’s “Jew Bill”

Sunday, February 22nd, 1 p.m.

Rafael Medoff, The David Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies

 

During Maryland’s first decades, a “Christians Only” policy applied to those seeking public office. Dr. Rafael Medoff, a noted scholar of Jewish involvement in American politics, will take a candid look at the Maryland legislature’s debates in the early 1800s over political rights for Jews and other non-Christians –a controversy that sheds fascinating light on the process by which Jews entered the American political arena.

Dr. Rafael Medoff is the author of 15 books about American Jewish history, Zionism, and the Holocaust, including a textbook, Jewish Americans and Political Participation, which was named an “Outstanding Academic Title of 2003” by the American Library Association’s Choice Magazine.

 

March

The Girls’ Photography Project Exhibition Reception

Sunday, March 1, 1:00pm

Program included with museum admission 

In 2014, 15 African American and Orthodox Jewish girls ages 10-14 participated in a series of workshops that enabled them to learn about each other’s perspectives living in their northwest Baltimore City community. They learned to use a camera, take quality photos and most importantly, got to know one another while gaining an understanding of each other’s life experiences. The photos in this exhibit feature their view points and are truly one of a kind. 

The exhibit has been sponsored by CHAI: Comprehensive Housing Assistance Inc. in partnership with Wide Angle Media. This project has been generously supported by: David and Barbara B. Hirschhorn Foundation, The Fund for Change at The Zanvyl and Isabelle Krieger Fund, Nathan & Lillian Weinberg Family Foundation, The Grandchildren of Harvey M. and Lyn P. Meyerhoff Philanthropic Fund, and The Samuel I. “Sandy” Rosenberg Fund.

The exhibit will be on display February 23-March 8, 2015.

 

More Programs

The JMM is pleased to share our campus with B’nai Israel Congregation. For additional information about B’nai Israel events and services for Shabbat, please visit bnaiisraelcongregation.org.  For more of this month’s events from BIYA, please visit biyabaltimore.org or check out BIYA on facebook. www.facebook.com/groups/biyabaltimore

 

Jewish Genealogy Society of Maryland February Meeting

The Jews of Eastern Europe in the Age of Mass Migration, 1881-1914

Speaker: Dr. Kenneth Moss, Director of the Jewish Studies Program, Johns Hopkins University

Sunday, February 22, 2015, 1:30 pm

Pikesville Library’s Meeting Room (1301 Reisterstown Road)

Program is free for JGSM members; $5 for non-members

For more information, check out www.jgsmd.org

 

Exhibits

Exhibits currently on display include The A-mazing Mendes Cohen (on display through June 14, 2015), Voices of Lombard Street: A Century of Change in East Baltimore, and The Synagogue Speaks!

 

Hours and Tour Times

The JMM is open Sunday-Thursday, 10am – 5pm.

Combination tours of the 1845 Lloyd Street Synagogue and the 1876 Synagogue Building now home to B’nai Israel are offered: Sunday through Thursday at 11:00am, 1:00pm and 2:00pm.  We will offer tours focused on the Lloyd Street Synagogue, Sunday through Thursday at 3:00pm and on Sunday at 4:00pm.  On November 9 we introduced a new Lloyd Street “1845: Technology and the Temple” tour at 3:00pm. This tour is available every Sunday and Monday at 3:00 until The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen closes in June 2014.

Please note that the JMM is open on President’s Day, Monday, February 16 from 10am-5pm.

 

Get Involved

The JMM is looking for volunteers to help staff our front desk, work in the gift shop, and lead tours as docents. No prior knowledge or training is required. All that is needed is an interest in learning about the JMM, our historic sites, exhibits, and programs and a desire to share this knowledge with the public. All volunteers are provided with thorough training. If you are interested in learning more about our volunteer program, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Ilene Cohen at 410.732.6400 x217 or icohen@jewishmuseummd.org.

 

Membership

 Revamped and revitalized, membership at the JMM is now better than ever – with new categories, benefits, and discounts to enrich every visit to the Museum for you and your friends and families.

All members receive our monthly e-newsletter, along with a 10% discount at the Museum store, free general admission to the Museum, free admission to all regular programs, attendance at exclusive member opening events and discounted weekday parking at the City-owned garage at 1001 E. Fayette Street.

Your membership provides much needed funding for the many programs that we offer and we hope we can count on you for your continued support. Memberships can be purchased online! http://jewishmuseummd.org/get-involved/museum-membership/ For more information about our membership program, please contact Sue Foard at (410) 732-6400 x220 or sfoard@jewishmuseummd.org.

 

Gift Shop

Purium comes but once a year…and so once a year we get funky and fun things in our Museum Shop such as this Knock-Out Haman Pen!  His eyes light up every time you punch!

Get a little silly this Purim!

Get a little silly this Purim!

Your hamentashen deserves the best display dish, and we have that too!

The Fast of Esther is March 4 and Purium is March 5…come and celebrate with us at the Jewish Museum of Maryland.

Membership in the JMM entitles you to a 10% discount in the Museum Shop

For more information, call Esther Weiner, Museum Shop Manager, 410-732-6400, ext. 211 or email at eweiner@jewishmuseummd.org.

Your Museum Shop Purchase directly benefits the aims and programs of the JMM

 

 

 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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