Season’s Greetings from the Jewish Museum

Posted on December 25th, 2017 by

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

Unsurprisingly, the Jewish Museum of Maryland does not have very many Christmas cards in its collections.  We do have a few, though, including two sent by Philip Perlman to his friend Dr. Lucille Liberles around 1940.

 

Left: “Season’s Greetings,” circa 1939.  Right: “Christmas Greetings,” circa 1941. Both gift of D.C. Liberles. JMM 1980.29.67b, .64b

In 1936, Baltimore native Philip B. Perlman purchased Greenbank Farm, a 90-acre estate (complete with pre-1800 farmhouse) in the My Lady’s Manor area of Monkton, Baltimore County.  A lawyer and former newspaperman, he had earlier served as Secretary of State for Maryland; later he was appointed U.S. Solicitor General – the first Jewish man to hold the position – under President Truman.  In addition to his professional career, he was active in the local museum and art scene, including work with the Walters Art Museum and the Maryland Historical Society. Several sources mention that he had homes on Park Heights Avenue and at the Shoreham Hotel in DC, but his obituary in the Baltimore Sun also referenced his “country home on the Manor.”

Mr. Perlman surrounded by American antiques, possibly at Greenbank Farm. His Baltimore Sun obituary stated, “He acquired a notable collection of antique American furniture which he lodged in his country home on the Manor. He seemed to carry in his head the origins and dates of each piece.” (August 2, 1960)  Gift of D.C. Liberles. JMM 1980.29.72b

Soon after he purchased the farm, Mr. Perlman decided to make it the focus of his holiday greetings; rather than choose a holiday card featuring an illustration of a picturesque American scene, he used a photo of his very own picturesque farmhouse. Though not as ubiquitous as today’s photographic holiday cards, personalized photo cards were certainly available by the late 1930s; these two examples are mass-produced cards, with the name of the farm and the sender printed locally and original photos of the house pasted into the little window inside. (I particularly like the mob of sheep in the foreground of the earlier card; they don’t look terribly festive to me, but I can appreciate the intent.)

“To wish you a Merry Christmas and every happiness in the New Year / Philip B. Perlman,” circa 1939. Gift of D.C. Liberles. JMM 1980.29.67b

“Greenbank Farm / Monkton, Md. / Philip B. Perlman,” outer card design copyright 1940, circa 1941. Gift of D.C. Liberles. JMM 1980.29.64b

These two Christmas cards were sent to Perlman’s good friend Dr. Lucille Liberles, another Baltimore native. Both were Jewish, but Chanukah greeting cards weren’t really a thing at this time (at least not mass-produced ones), and I can see that a public figure like Mr. Perlman might choose to go ahead and send Christmas cards to his mailing list, regardless of his own religious inclinations.

Friends Philip B. Perlman and Dr. Lucille Liberles, circa 1950. Gift of D.C. Liberles. JMM 1980.29.73b

BONUS: Here’s an example of a Chanukah greeting card from the early 20th century … albeit one on a picture postcard of a train station, requiring the writer to make his own greetings:

Postcard: Photographic view of “New Union Station, Washington, D.C.,” published by I&M Ottenheimer, Baltimore. Postmarked Baltimore, December 25, 1910; addressed to Mrs. S. Szold in New York City. “Balto. Dec 22d 1910. Wishing you, and your family, a pleasant Hanucah [sic], and many returns of them. Mit Gruss, F. Gichner.”  Baltimore’s Sophie Szold and her daughter Henrietta were living in New York that year; the sender might have been Frederick S. Gichner of Washington, DC, perhaps visiting his family in Baltimore at the time. Museum purchase. JMM 1993.123.11

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Diving into the Associated Scrapbooks

Posted on December 22nd, 2017 by

This month’s JMM Insights comes from our archivist, Lorie Rombro. You can read more posts by Lorie here.

In the last few months I have begun working on a collection of scrapbooks from The Associated Jewish Charities. The books date back to 1919 and I have been recently investigating the late 1940’s and 1950’s scrapbooks of the publicity and campaign work of the Women’s Division. These books are incredibly interesting, giving a peek into a large, organized group of women working to help not only the Jewish community of Baltimore but people throughout the world. Reading and processing the scrapbooks has been a history lesson of the time period, here and abroad.

Scrapbooks have long been a way to preserve photographs, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, documents, and other assorted items.

The problem with scrapbooks is that they are often put together with materials that are detrimental to long-term preservation. In the past, scrapbook pages where made of poor-quality, highly acidic paper that deteriorates rapidly and discolors. The pages would also become brittle over time and then tear easily and crumble. Often, the binding of the album was not made for the increase in size caused by the materials placed in the scrapbook, causing the spine to break and pages to come out. Papers are attached to the scrapbook with harmful tapes and/or glue. Multi- paged letters or pamphlets may be fastened only by the last sheet, causing rips and tears, or folding and crushing of documents.

For all of these reasons I have been carefully cataloging, photographing and taking apart the scrapbooks. Archivists like me always struggle with the decision whether a scrapbook should stay together or be taken apart. If possible, we try to leave a scrapbook together, since it tells a story not only with the information inside of it but how someone chose to put it together. That is why if I do dismantle a scrapbook, I carefully document its original form for future researchers. To some, these scrapbooks may only seem to contain old bits of paper, but to us they are full of important historical information.

I wanted to share some of what I have found in the scrapbooks. Not only does it give a picture of the time it was made, but some of the pieces could be produced and used today.

The two images above are from the 1949 Women’s Division scrapbook.

We hope you laugh a little at these two postcards that went out to the husbands of the women volunteering! In 1950 over 1200 women participated in the campaign.

This picture is from the 1951 G-day handbook – check out all the do’s and don’t’s they’ve got listed!

Last is my very favorite which I believe could be used today – babies are always a good tug on the heartstrings. These are images from the publicity and booklets for the 1955 Women’s Division campaign.

Making a Scrapbook to Last

Today, making a scrapbook which will stand up to the test of time is easier. Choose a book which is made with acid free paper and pH neutral adhesives for the binding. Use acid free photo corners or other type of binding, make sure all the corners are carefully attached but do not use glue.

In this picture you can see how tape discolors and negatively affects paper.

You want to be able to remove anything placed in a scrapbook, you never know when you might need it again! Scrapbooks are an incredible way to document your family history, a trip, an important event or your organization – they are worth spending a little extra money on good supplies to make sure that future generations can enjoy them.

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The American Delegate(s)* at the First Zionist Congress Part 6

Posted on September 20th, 2017 by

Written by Avi Y. Decter. Originally published in Generations 2007-2008: Maryland and Israel

Sidebar III: “The Time is Now!” – The Editor of Ha-Ivri Publishes a Diatribe

Missed the beginning? Start here.

The Ha'Ivri Masthead, August 1897. Courtesy of Yeshiva University, Mendel Gottesman Library.

The Ha’Ivri Masthead, August 1897. Courtesy of Yeshiva University, Mendel Gottesman Library.

In August 1897, Katriel Hirsch Sarasohn, the publisher of the Hebrew-language newspaper Ha-Ivri in New York City, used his lead article to attack the New York Hoveve Zion [Lovers of Zion] Society for failing to send a delegate to the first Zionist Congress, soon to convene in Basel, Switzerland. Sarasohn contrasted the commitment of the Baltimore Zion Association with the ineffectiveness of its New York counterpart and employed the embarkation of Rabbi Schepsel Schaffer as a club with which to beat New York’s Zionist leaders.

Sarasohn was a highly critical and contentious publisher. In 1892 he had printed an attack on Shavei Zion by S. W. Natelson, denouncing the leaders of New York’s Shavei Zion and Hoveve Zion organizations in such inflammatory terms that Adam Rosenberg, an officer of Shavei Zion, felt compelled to sue for libel. Rosenberg accused Sarasohn of “publishing the most scandalous libels against the officers of Hoveve Zion charging them with swindling, humbugging the poor and embessling the Society’s funds.” The case achieved sufficient notoriety to be reported in the New York Times, and Sarasohn appears to have been compelled to cease his attacks on Rosenberg.[1]

This document is notable not only for what it can tell us about the state of Zionist organization in New York and Baltimore on the eve of the Congress, but also for what it says about the role of personality and politics in the Zionist movement. Soon after the first Zionist Congress adjourned a new Federation of American Zionists was organized, giving the Zionist movement in America greater coherence nad strength. But debate, dissent, and conflict persisted nonetheless.

The article, Ha'Ivri, August 1897. Courtesy of Yeshiva University, Mendel Gottesman Library.

The article, Ha’Ivri, August 1897. Courtesy of Yeshiva University, Mendel Gottesman Library.

The Article (in translation)

The learned Rabbi Dr. Schaffer of Baltimore has been chosen as a trusted delegate by the Zion Association of that city to represent them at the Zionist Congress in Basel. This organization, by choosing to send this distinguished and beloved rabbi to the Congress, revealed both its good taste and its true love of Zion and its adherents; and, aside from the honor it will gain by being the only organization in America that will have its name mentioned among the participants in the Zionist Congress, it will also enjoy the honor bestowed upon it for choosing such a distinguished delegate, as our Sages said: “A man’s agent is a reflection of himself.”

Of all the nationalist [i.e. Zionist] organizations in our country – at least in name – only the Baltimore Zion Association has sent a special delegate as its representative to the Zionist Congress in Basel. Instead of bombarding the world with loud proclamations and fliers, only this group quietly discharged its responsibility and duty, while New York’s Hovevei Zion created a tempest in a teapot and blew its horn about the Zionist Congress, but, when the time came to send even one delegate, they were overwhelmed with the pangs of childbirth like those of a woman in labor who wasn’t strong enough to give birth, unable to collect $100 to send the delegate on his way and acting as if they hoped to be rewarded for talking and not doing.

Isn’t it a laugh and an amazement to all who hear it, that the Hovevei Zion in New York – the city with the largest Jewish population in the world – let such a small amount as $100 prevent their sending a representative to show their love and commitment to the national goal. Indeed, it is a heartbreaking joke, but the surprise quickly dissipates with the realization that in reality this organization barely exists. The truth is that it is almost extinct, fading from the world with only its name still inscribed on its charter, while a few individuals who lack the spirit of the real Hovevei Zion have appropriated its name to crown and adorn themselves.

We say “genuine Hovevei Zion” because it is our strong belief there are many true lovers of Zion in our city, particularly those who founded this organization, those who supported it when it was doing well, and those who were devoted with all their being to the national goal: however, they don’t want to be affiliated with this current organization, which they left and which has turned away from its purpose. Why don’t the nationalists [Zionists] in New York City create a new society of select members that is managed in better order?

Is it because Hovevei Zion did not turn out well and they saw its disintegration, making them fearful about launching a new society that is true to the cause? Even G-d created and destroyed many worlds until he built this world, which He saw was good. Experience from past failures will show them how to be more cautious in the future. Arise and unite all you in New York who are true and honest lovers of Zion, because the time of redemption is now!

~The End~

Notes:

[1] Klausner, “Adam Rosenberg,” 25 lff. Sarasohn also carried on a lengthy feud with Wolf Schur, the publisher and editor of Ha-Pisgah. See Kabakoff, “The Role of Wolf Schur,” 431.

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