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Travels with Grace: The Wonders of Yellowstone National Park

Posted on January 28th, 2020 by

In today’s #TravelingWithGrace we explore more geysers, enjoy the landscapes of Wyoming, and even eat some fish. To read more of Grace’s travels, click here.

Saturday, July 19, 1947

Yellowstone Park, Wyoming

Weather: Fine

The governor of West Virginia is also staying here but plays second fiddle to Dewey who held a reception for all the guests last night as they queued up to shake hands with him and his wife (Charles among others). Today I took quite a long walk with Helene and then we sat on the porch, read and watched the ever-changing throngs milling around Old Faithful. From the porch we can see the whole upper geyser basin. Every now and then another fountain gushes up in the air and the plumes of white steam wave constantly. There is a geyser swimming pool too.

Vintage WPA poster for Yellowstone National Park, c. 1930-940, designed by C. Don Powell. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Sunday, July 20, 1947

Weather: Fine

Sat on the porch at Old Faithful this morning, our last day here, watching the geyser and writing letters. Left the hotel after lunch and rode to Canyon. Scenery along the way magnificent. First to Madison Junction, then the Gibbon river and Gibbon Falls, then the Norris Geyser Basin where we saw a [puddy?] geyser and one which was old rose in color. There is a plateau called white porcelain and it looks just like that. Some of the geysers in this area look and sound like steam locomotives. Our first view of the canyon and falls of the Yellowstone was breath-taking.

Norris Geyser Basin, c. 1940. Courtesy of the National Park Service.

Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River, c. 1892. Photo by William Henry Jackson, courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Monday, July 21, 1947

Weather: Fair

Last night we listened to a nice organ concert and several members of the Lyons Club sang solos very well. Today we went to Artist’s Point where we had a marvelous view of the lower Yellowstone Falls and part of the canyon. The colors are soft and lovely with yellow predominating. Hence the name. The water in the gorge is jade green where it is not flecked with foam and the walls shade from yellow to orange to brown with a but of red and gray for added interest. We saw an eagle’s nest high up in the crags. Lots of ospreys here.

Basalt columns in Yellowstone National Park, June 23, 2008. Photo by Brocken Inaglory.

Tuesday, July 22, 1947

Weather: Sunny to rainy

Left the hotel at 10 this morning going to the Northeast Gate. On the way we stopped to look at the Basalt Flow, a strange rock formation which looks like a double row of paling fences fused together and at one side of the road, overhanging it by several feet is a black basalt rock which looks like a curtain to a giant stage. Near here is Camp Roosevelt where we stopped for gasoline and notices the cabins which are very tiny and poorly furnished. We followed the Yellowstone River and later it joins the La Mar. In this section we saw several fawns and good-sized moose in addition to the ubiquitous bears, mostly brown. We passed a strange rock form like a sugar loaf which is called Salt Butte. Here we met some people who told us to go some 40 miles beyond the fate in Montana for more beautiful scenery. At this side of the park the mountains loom higher and rockier with seams of snow in their sides.

Cooke City Montana the North East entrance to Yellowstone Park, c. 1940s. Courtesy of the Montana Memory Project.

Outside the park we went thru Cooke City which looks just like a camp town. We stopped in a little clearing in the pines near a mountain stream with a background of high peaks and ate our picnic lunch which we brought from the hotel. As we went further the country took on a wilder appearance, the road mounting constantly and the mountains looming higher and blacker/ There are some beautiful groves of silver birches and the wild flowers are simply gorgeous: Indian paintbrush (bright scarlet), yellow buttercup, pink daisies, tiny white ones, blue bells, purple fire weed, wild roses, lavender thistle, poppies, sky blue forget-me-nots, Queen Anne’s lace and many more. Helene picked a large bunch as we are not allowed to gather any in the park.

We rode into Shoshone National Forest and went up a high mountain to the observation tower where a government watcher is stationed to look out for fires and make meteorological studies. He lives like a lighthouse keeper and is almost as isolated. He seemed genuinely glad to see us and invited us in saying that occasionally a motorcyclist visits him but rarely an automobile party. We are now at an elevation of 11,000 feet and there is a sea of shimmering snowy peaks around and seemingly on a level with us. While here a severe thunderstorm broke and the lightening display is quite formidable. For a little while it hailed and coming down the clay road was very slippery, so we all held our breath as the car once or twice skidded toward the edge. We went on a little further and saw some beautiful falls descending in speedy torrents throwing out volumes of spray and making a thundering noise as they plunged headlong from the upper precipices. We went up a zigzagging road called the switchback which went to the top of a 12,000-foot mountain and looked down on a countless number of little lakes, one of the most charming panoramas we have seen to date. Altogether it has been well worth the ride. We returned to the hotel about 6 and after dinner watched the dancing in the lounge which continues every night until 11. It is quite dignified.

Mud volcano, Yellowstone National Park, c. 1912. Created for the Northern Pacific Railway, courtesy of the Library of Congress.

July 23, 1947

Weather: Morning clear followed by rain

We visited the mud volcano basin this afternoon. The big sputtering gray bubbles fascinate me. On some of the lakes we saw a number of pelicans diving for fish. Another pretty sight are the large rocks near the upper Falls completely covered with sea gulls. A lot of fisherman (male and female) were out in boats or up to their knees in water despite the drenching rain.

At Fisherman’s bridge we met a little tow-headed boy proudly displaying his catch of 2 trout. I asked if he wanted to sell them. He hesitated and said, “If you wait 15 minutes, I will let you know.” In 5 minutes, he ran back nodding agreement and said he would sell them for 20 cents apiece. They were silver beauties fresh from the lake and I paid him willingly. We put them in a candy box which we had just emptied and then he ran back to say his mother wanted to snap his picture holding the fish. So, we took them out and he put them back on the hooks and posed with them help out conspicuously. When he gave them back, he said, “This is a good way to make money for my vacation. The only reason why I’m selling them though is because my mother won’t cook them.” The chef at the hotel however cooked them for me and I thoroughly enjoyed my dinner this cold evening, consisting of: tomato bisque, the broiled trout, peas, baked potato, fruit salad, fresh strawberry sundae and coffee. Today we found a card on our windshield “Hi neighbor, we’re from Balto. Md. too,” engraved Mr. and Mrs. Melvin Muhly. But we didn’t bother to look them up. Watched dancing and exchanged travel talk with others.

Thanks for reading “Traveling with Grace,” a series where we’re sharing (and annotating) posts from the travel diaries of Grace Amelia Hecht, native Baltimorean, b. 1897 and d. 1955. As mentioned in my introductory post transcription errors sometimes occur and I’ve made my best guesses where possible, denoted by [brackets]. – Rachel Kassman, marketing manager


Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Finding my Family’s Roots in Jonestown

Posted on January 27th, 2020 by

A blog post by Museum Educator Marisa Shultz! To read more posts from Marisa, click here.

You may not know this about me, but I am a bit of a genealogy nerd. Whether it’s tracing the branches of my family’s tree back to the docks of Ellis Island and the battlefield of Guilford Court House, or helping a friend learn more about their family’s story, I really enjoy the ‘detective work’ of genealogy. Who would have thought that my sleuthing would lead me here, to Baltimore’s historic Jonestown neighborhood?

In March of 2018, I visited the JMM for the very first time. I had just tracked my great-great-grandfather, Rabbi Simon Friedman, and his family to Jonestown through the census records. In every census record they were renting in a different home but always in or around Jonestown, living on Low, Orleans, Fayette, and Granby Streets during their time in Baltimore. I came here, honestly, hoping to get lucky. I was feeling stymied and stuck in my research, and I was hoping that I might find something on display at the JMM that would push my work forward. While I did not find the Friedmans on any of the panels, I learned a great deal about the world they lived in (and little did I know that my serendipitous trip here would lead me to apply for the Education and Programs Internship position that summer.)

So, I continued to pour over the family photographs and documents, learning more facts about the ancestors I was so desperately trying to connect with. I learned that Rabbi Friedman did not serve as a congregational leader but was a local Hebrew teacher. His two oldest children, Ida and Louis, had been born in Russia. His twin sons, Morris and Phillip were butchers, and Phillip served in the Army during WWII. My great-grandmother and youngest of the family, Bessie, eventually left Baltimore and moved to D.C. after meeting my great-grandfather.

In this photograph, Bessie Pasternak née Friedman (my great-grandmother) is seated in the first row, second from the left. She is posing with my great-grandfather’s family, many of whom were immigrants from a shtetl in Poland (but that’s another story for another time).

Recently, however, I made an incredible discovery that I had to share with all of you. As I was looking at a copy of my great-grandmother’s birth certificate, I noticed something that I had never bothered to notice before, the name of the midwife who delivered my great-grandmother. Rosa Fineberg. Her name might sound familiar to you. That’s because she’s featured in our Voices of Lombard Street exhibit.

This is a copy of my great-grandmother’s birth certificate. At the time of her birth, the Friedman family was living on Orleans Street. The document also indicates her father’s job as a reverend and that both of her parents had been born in Russia. In the bottom right-hand corner, Rosa Fineberg is listed as the medical attendant. 

Fineberg served as a midwife in Jonestown between 1890 and 1918. As the Voices exhibit explains “Every time she delivered a baby, Fineberg tied a knot in a piece of string that she wrapped into a ball as it grew. Before she died in 1926, her son unwound the ball and counted 2,000 knots.” My great-grandmother was one of those knots! In a way, the Friedmans were in the exhibit, just not where I was looking for them! While I still have so much to learn about this part of my family, this story in particular helped me realize that I am both living and working where part of my family put down its first roots in America. It makes me misty-eyed just thinking about it.

This photograph is of the Voices of Lombard Street panel dedicated to Rosa Fineberg and her business. In the case is her Midwife Certificate of Registration as well as one of her record books.

I think the other thing that I love so much about genealogical research is that it so often forges a deeply personal connection with history. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how heirlooms, family stories, photographs, and even documents can not only help us understand the past, but also profoundly connect us to the past. I’ve been working on a very exciting project that will add to our current Ida Rehr Living History Character performance. I don’t want to spoil too much about the project now because you’ll get to learn more about it in our next month’s Performance Counts newsletter. However, I will share that Ida Rehr’s story was saved because her granddaughter interviewed her for a school project, and this new project will challenge students to think about how material culture (heirlooms, documents, etc.) can help tell their families’ stories and even their own personal stories.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Being Welcoming is Much More than Saying Hello

Posted on January 24th, 2020 by

From Visitor Services Coordinator Talia Makowsky. To read more posts from Talia, click here.

Museums are always my favorite places to visit. Wherever I travel, they’re one of the go-to attractions I look up ahead of time when I plan my trip. Growing up, my parents took my brother and I on regular trips to different kinds of museums and similar educational institutions, which make up some of my favorite childhood memories. I recall playing with water features in COSI, or the Center of Science and Industry in Ohio, wandering the halls at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and even climbing to the top of a giant elephant that used to serve as a hotel in New Jersey.

Lucy the Elephant. Photo by Jack Boucher, Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division: Historic American Buildings Survey.

Having the opportunity to visit these places, and parents who had the means to provide and actively encouraged creative learning, helped shape who I am today. For me, these institutions have shown me new ways to experience culture, science, and history, and have widened my world view.

However, not everyone feels welcome at museums. This happens for a lot of reasons. The space may not be fully accessible for a person with limited mobility. The signs may be written in a language that isn’t native to a guest. Someone may get overwhelmed by sensory-heavy elements in an exhibit, such as noise or videos. The stories in a museum may not reflect a person’s identity, making them feel left out.

Regardless of the reason, I see it as my personal responsibility to try and make JMM as welcoming to as many people as possible. Working as the Visitor Services Coordinator, I’ve learned a lot about our current audience and their needs, and I’m researching new ways to accommodate even more people at our site. This work of inclusion is an on-going project that will never be finished, but as I think about this next year at JMM, I plan to make it my priority, and I know it’s a priority of the Museum staff, as we work to connect people to Jewish experiences and Marlyland’s Jewish community to its roots.

It’s a daunting goal, to make the Museum even more inclusive and welcoming, but I find inspiration from Pirkei Avot, a Jewish text that is generally referred to as “the ethics of the fathers”. There’s a famous line of wisdom that says, “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it (2:21).” Throughout my life as a Jewish person, I’ve come back to that line as a guide, especially as I tried to find my purpose as an adult. It’s led me to the work I do today, even at the Museum, and I wanted to share some of that work with you.

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, the Museum has acquired Assistive Listening Devices or ALDs to use on guided tours. These devices allow a docent to transmit their voice and those on the tour can speak through them as well. The ALDs are a useful tool for people with hearing loss or who are Hard-of-Hearing, but they can be used by anyone. They make it easy for our docents to speak to a large group of people and are great for people who want to wander our exhibits while still listening to the guide. It’s been rewarding hearing the feedback from our guests and our docents, about how the devices are helping to enhance their tours.

Our devices are available to use on any of our public tours and for all our adult group visits.

Learning is a big part of becoming a more accessible site. Paige Woodhouse, our School Program Coordinator, found a webinar through the American Association for State and Local History, or AASLH, called “Increasing Accessibility and Inclusion at Community Organizations”. We’ve only completed the first of the two-part webinar, but it led to Paige and I discussing how we can make it easier for neurodiverse people to visit the Museum, such as people with autism spectrum disorders. Some resources we’ve seen at other institutions are sensory bags which are kits filled with different tools such as fidget toys and noise-cancelling headphones. A family can check this back out at the front desk, to use during their visit to help a child who may be sensitive to sounds or needs a distraction while waiting in line. Another resource is social stories, which are documents that give helpful information about visiting, wait times, loud spaces or quiet spaces.

These bags can be made independently or are given out as part of programs such as through Kulture City’s Sensory Inclusive program. Photo courtesy of Zimmerli Art Museum/Rutgers University.

We hope to create similar resources at the Museum soon, which we’ll announce as we add them. We also want to create a language directory of our docents, to better provide tours to people for whom English is a second language, and we’re continuing our work with Keshet to provide more inclusion to the LGBTQ+ and Jewish community. Of course, there’s always room for improvement as learn more about our audiences and new tools that are being created every day. If you ever have a suggestion that would improve your visit to the Museum, please reach out to me at or (443) 873-5164.


Posted in jewish museum of maryland

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