A Research Dive: The Hebrew Orphan Asylum

Posted on January 24th, 2018 by

Blog post by JMM archivist Lorie Rombro. You can read more posts by Lorie here.

A few weeks ago, I received an information request about the Hebrew Orphan Asylum.  The person wanted to know if we could find information on if her grandmother and any of her siblings that had been placed in the Hebrew Orphan Asylum and why. She said that family lore said they had been there, but they had no proof of this. This began another interesting journey through the collections.

The Hebrew Orphan Asylum, c. 1870s. JMM 1984.118.1

The Hebrew Orphan Asylum which was established in 1873 by the Hebrew Benevolent Society, was located on the outskirts of the city (at the time) in Calverton Heights. It would stay at the same location until 1923 when the Hebrew Orphan Society and the Hebrew Children’s Sheltering and Protective Society, which merged in 1921, moved out to what is now Levindale on the recommendation of the newly formed Associated Jewish Charities. With in a few years the orphanage was closed with the children entering the fostering system and the residents of the Hebrew Home for the Aging moving in.

Because the person requesting information had done her research prior to contacting us I knew that sometime between the 1900 and 1910 her grandmother would have been in the orphanage. I began by looking at what we have in our collection, and identified a small book that listed all the girls and boys in the Hebrew Orphan Asylum. I was excited when I found her grandmothers name with the date of arrival and discharge next to her name.

This book has a list of all the children age when they arrived and most have a discharge date as well.

I was not expecting what I found next, two large books in good condition that contained the admissions records for the children from 1873-1896 & 1896-1917. Each book had an entry for each child providing information on the father, mother, siblings, reason for being placed, general health and additional information on family and behavior. The amount of information on each child varies but it allows for a picture of the child to begin. What was interesting is like most orphanages of the time the majority of orphans are “half” orphans, with either a mother or father placing them in orphanage for lack of funds or the ability to care for the child.  Glued and placed in between the pages of the book where additional documents which added to the record. Including court documents, medical records and most important letters of discharge. It was amazing to see where the children went, often home to a parent, taken in by an older sibling when they were able to care for them, a relative or on to a boarding house to stay at because they had a job.

One of the earliest records in the book on Moses Blum, one of the only full orphans in the records.

I was able to locate the record for this women’s grandmother and her great uncle, why they where placed and that two years later their mother came back for both children. The location of the home they where being discharged to and any notes on behavior during their stay. Like many children that had a living parent there where reports of them running away from the orphanage to their parent. One book was able to put to rest a families questions on their history and gave documented proof that the stories where true.

Most children under reason for admission was listed as insufficiency of means, poverty or like the above picture an ill parent.

Court record for the admission of two of her children Lena, age 6, and Hyman, age 4 into the Hebrew Orphan Asylum.

This request was accepted and Morris Fedder was given to the care of his sister.

A request to release Louis Cohen’s children into his care.

Not all children where placed in the Hebrew Orphan Asylum often the Hebrew Benevolent Society of Baltimore would give additional funds to the family, mostly widowed women, so they could keep their children with them at home.

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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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