Manuscript Collection 3: Kraus Family Papers

Posted on September 3rd, 2015 by

Kraus Family Papers, n.d., 1836-1971 

MS 3 


The Kraus Family Papers were found in the collection of the Jewish Museum of Maryland in May 2003 without an accession number.  Unable to reconcile the collection with an existing accession, it has been assigned accession number 2003.053.  Erin Titter processed the collection in May 2003.

Access to the collection is unrestricted and is available to researchers at the Jewish Museum of Maryland.  Researchers must obtain the written permission of the Jewish Museum of Maryland before publishing quotations from materials in the collection.  Papers may be copied in accordance with the library’s usual procedures. 

lack and white photograph of members of the Kraus Family on a lawn swing, n.d.

JMM 2003.053.161


The Kraus family and its ancestors lived in the Fells Point section of Baltimore in the mid to late nineteenth century.  In 1851, William Floss purchased property near the corner of Bank and Bethel Streets in Fells Point.  William Floss married Sarah (d. c.1873) and they had two children, Simon W. and Hellen.  Simon W. Floss married a woman named Emma.  Hellen (d. c.1895) married Henry Adler.  Hellen and Henry are buried in Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Cemetery.  Simon and Emma did not have children as of March 26, 1887.  Henry and Hellen had at least two children, Sara F. and Gertrude B., although they may have had a third, Mattie, who died as a child.  Gertrude B. Adler married George W. Kraus and they had at least three daughters, Hellen, Edna, and Mabel.  It remains unclear how the Korte family is related to the Kraus family, but it appears that Matilda and Frederick Korte were at least good friends of Henry and Hellen Adler.  

Black and white photograph of four young men leaning on one another in a back yard, n.d.

JMM 2003.053.414


The Kraus Family Papers contain documents from three generations of the Kraus family, which lived in the Fells Point section of Baltimore.  The bulk of the records are deeds, mortgages, wills, and other probate records, however personal letters, certificates, and report cards from Western High School are also included in the collection.  Through these records, one can piece together a general family tree of the three generations included in this collection.  Also of interest are the personal letters written to Matilda Korte from her husband Frederick while fighting with the Union Army near Bermuda Hundreds during a failed attempt to march on Richmond in 1864.

couple with their three children seated on rocks, most likely in a state park

JMM 2003.053.068

This collection is divided into two series:

Series I.  Personal Papers, n.d., 1836-1971 includes all letters, certificates, wills, mortgages, deeds, report cards, and citations.  Folders are organized alphabetically by the last name of the individual.

Man and woman with baby, posing outside.

JMM 2003.053.100

Series II.  Photographs, n.d. includes all photographs previously known as PC 7, Reverend Leopold Kraus Family Photographs.  Like the papers, these photographs were found in the collection without an accession number.  Recognizing that the photographs are an extension of the papers, they received the same accession number as the papers.  Most of the photographs are unidentified. Folder titles were left the same as was the order.   I have added the generic title “Family Photographs” whenever another title was not provided.  Dates, where given, were estimates provided on the previous folder headings.

Black and white photograph of a group of school age girls standing in front of a brick wall, n.d.

JMM 2003.053.372

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Manuscript Collection 1: Dr. Stephen Laufer Papers

Posted on August 6th, 2015 by

Dr. Stephen (Schulim) Laufer (1894-1983) Papers


MS 1



The Dr. Stephen Laufer Papers were donated by Dr. Stephen Laufer and Mrs. Wilma Laufer Gabbay, a longtime resident of Baltimore, as 1983.5.  The collection was processed by Dr. Laufer, Mrs. Gabbay and Anne Turkos in 1982. Further information was added in 2003 by Robin Waldman with the assistance of Wilma Gabbay.

Access to the collection is unrestricted and is available to researchers at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the Jewish Museum of Maryland before publishing quotations from materials in the collection. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library’s usual procedures. 



Dr. Stephen Laufer was born in Bolechow in East Galicia on January 6, 1894, the first son and second child of Israel and Golda (Diengott) Laufer. He attended school in Bolechow until the age of twelve and then left for the neighboring town of Stryj to continue his education, as at that time Bolechow did not have a gymnasium. When World War I broke out in 1914, the Laufer family moved to Budapest, and Stephen obtained work in a leather factory. As he had only completed the seventh grade of gymnasium, he petitioned to take the examinations for the eighth grade and the matura. He successfully did this in 1915, returning to Stryj for the tests.

Stephen (Schulim) Laufer, far right, with friends David Kreppel and Abraham Hruszowski.  The three boys were in the same fourth year high school class in Stryj, Pland, 1910-1911. JMM 1983.5.6

Stephen (Schulim) Laufer, far right, with friends David Kreppel and Abraham Hruszowski. The three boys were in the same fourth year high school class in Stryj, Poland, 1910-1911. JMM 1983.5.6

In 1915 Laufer registered with the Austro-Hungarian authorities and was found fit for army service; he was exempted, however, on the basis of necessary work. In 1918 all exemptions were cancelled and he was drafted into the army but peace was declared before he saw combat.

After the war, Stephen’s family returned to Bolechow and he decided to continue his education in Vienna in 1918. He earned a degree in agricultural engineering and also a doctorate in agricultural chemistry at the Hochschule fur Bodenkultur in 1922. For one year he served as the director of an orphanage farm in Stanislawow, then as a teacher of science in a Jewish gymnasium in Kalisch, Poland, from 1923-1925.

Black and white copy print of the Streifer family from left to right:  Henry Streifer, Joseph Streifer, Miriam Streifer, Aron Streifer, Wolf Streifer, and Ann Streifer, 1902-1905.

Streifer family from left to right: Henry Streifer, Joseph Streifer, Miriam Streifer, Aron Streifer, Wolf Streifer, and Ann Streifer, 1902-1905.

In 1920 Laufer married Anna (Chana) Streifer, daughter of Wolf and Miriam (Pomerantz) Streifer, also of Bolechow. They had three children: Ruth, born in 1923, who married Jerome Morton; Irma, born in 1935, who married Jack Katz; and Irma’s twin, Wilma, who married Albert Gabbay.

Dr. Laufer had been active in the Zionist movement as a teenager. In fact his studies were designed to prepare him for work in Palestine. In September 1925, he left for Haifa with his wife, daughter and mother-in-law. While in Palestine they had no luck finding permanent employment. When their money ran out, the family decided to move to America as relatives of the Streifers were already living there. In February 1929 they sailed on the Alesia, a French ship, from Haifa to Providence, Rhode Island. They lived briefly in Jersey City and Brooklyn and the Bronx for several years, and then bought a home in Forest Hills, Queens, New York, in the summer of 1942, where they lived until 1982.

Dr. Laufer’s first position in the United States was as a chemist for Schwarz Laboratories, a consultant for the brewing industry. He stayed with the company for 46 years, retiring in 1975. He advanced to director of research, director of laboratories, and vice-president. He was in charge of the United States Brewers Academy, which was run by Schwarz Laboratories. Dr. Laufer published closed to 100 articles in the fields of food and fermentation. In 1936 he was honored with the Cincinnati Achievement Award of the Master Brewers Association of America. He is listed in American Men and Women of Science. Dr. Laufer died on October 4, 1983, in New York.



The Laufer Papers consist primarily of reminiscences, miscellaneous documents from his years spent in East Galicia, World War I money, receipts and correspondence. Also included are publications pertaining to the brewing industry.

The reminiscences written by Dr. Laufer cover his early years in Bolechow and Stryj until the outbreak of World War I. A cousin of Mrs. Laufer’s, Frymka Brawer-Pordes, wrote a recollection in German about a school excursion also prior to 1914. This is an amplified version of a chapter in Memorial Book for the Martyrs of Bolechow.

Dr. Laufer’s strong interest in Zionism is represented by receipts for contributions made to various organizations and correspondence. The letters (written in German and Hebrew) are regarding possible employment in Palestine during the years 1922-1928.

Reminisces  of Stephen Laufer, written 1977-78.

Reminisces of Stephen Laufer, written 1977-78.

The papers are divided into three series.

Series I. East Galicia, consists of Dr. Laufer’s and Mrs. Brawer-Pordes’ reminiscences as well as the Bolechow memorial book. Also included are report cards from high school in Stryj; miscellaneous documents pertaining to school, army and citizenship in Polish and German; and Ukranian and Austrian money. Each category is arranged chronologically.

Series II. Palestine, contains receipts for contributions to Zionist organizations, letters from facilities in Palestine regarding employment, handbills concerning the opening of Dr. Laufer’s school in Haifa, and the plan of the ship Alesia. The arrangement in each category is chronological. 

Series III. United States, consists of some of Dr. Laufer’s publications, a bound monograph and several articles.

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Handwriting Samples

Posted on January 23rd, 2015 by

Today, January 23rd, is John Hancock’s birthday – and thus, it is also National Handwriting Day.  Handwriting is near and dear to the hearts of archivists, historians, and curators because we encounter examples of it nearly every day, from centuries-old documents to modern collections folders hand-labeled in pencil.

A sample of archival folders, each labeled by a different JMM staff member or volunteer.

A sample of archival folders, each labeled by a different JMM staff member or volunteer.

However, as computers and tablets and smartphones become more and more prevalent in U.S. culture, the art of penmanship has been dropped from some schools’ course schedules. Educators debate the pros and cons of skipping the cursive lessons, while grandparents bemoan the fact that little Emily and Mason can’t read their birthday cards unless they’re written in print.

From my point of view, the problem with not being able to write in cursive is that then you can’t easily read it. Perhaps the upcoming generation of historians – and, in the more immediate sense, upcoming summers of student interns – will have trouble reading a legal document written in clear, careful Copperplate, let alone something written in a more hurried or idiosyncratic hand.  Yes, deciphering someone’s individual writing style takes time and practice (there’s nothing quite like the revelation that the 19thcentury diary author, whose tiny smudged entries you’ve been struggling with for hours, never crossed her t’s).  It helps, though, if you’re at least familiar with the underlying structure of the writing: two bumps is an n, three bumps is an m, that swoopy thing in the front is a T, etcetera.

Diaries, journals, cookbooks, letters, legal documents, bills, photograph captions, business records, and more: handwritten information is everywhere in our archives.  So, at the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, I urge everyone to brush up on – or start learning – penmanship skills.  Historians of the future need you!  And in celebration of National Handwriting Day, I offer a few examples from our collections.  See if the partial transcriptions included here match what you can decipher . . . then go home and handwrite someone a letter.

Donated by Paul and Rita Gordon.  1995.104.030

Donated by Paul and Rita Gordon. 1995.104.030

Studying the history of organizations and businesses can require a willingness to immerse yourself in the handwriting of the past.  Here’s a page of meeting minutes for the first meeting of the Frederick Section of the National Council of Jewish Women, written by Recording Secretary Mrs. Leo Weinberg. It begins: “March 23rd 1921. Realizing that ‘In union there is strength’ and appreciating the necessity for co-operative and harmonious action, The Jewish Women of Frederick met Wednesday March 23rd 1921 on the second floor of the Masonic Temple for the purpose of organizing The Frederick Section, Council of Jewish Women.”

Donated by Mrs. Gerald Heller. 1962.9.1

Donated by Mrs. Gerald Heller. 1962.9.1

Written on a scrap of cardboard from a larger container, this handwritten note commemorates an apparently epic games party near Eutaw Place, Baltimore: “Progressive whist given at the new home of Mrs. Hennie Strouse, 1628 Madison Ave., October 20, 1907.” It’s signed by attendees including Morton Emanuel Hecht, Rosalyn W. Sawyer, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph M. Mann, “Kid” Nusbaum, Phil Rose, and Sadie, Helen, and Joseph Ulman.

Donated by Rose Kushner. 1985.62.2

Donated by Rose Kushner. 1985.62.2

Midwife Lena Barber of Baltimore kept records of all the births she attended, making handwritten notes in pre-printed journals such as this volume from 1892-93. Here are two records from February 1892: on the lefthand page is male baby born to Anna and Louis Glaubenfeld, and on the right is a female baby born to Hana and Samuel Block. Interestingly, comparison of the writing on various pages – such as the two pages pictured here – shows several different writing styles throughout the book, indicating that more than one person was helping Barber keep track of things. Sometimes, a handwritten document reveals more than just the information that’s written down.

Donated by Mrs. Samuel Block.  1971.20.260

Donated by Mrs. Samuel Block. 1971.20.260

It isn’t only paper collections that require some handwriting knowledge; photographs are frequently captioned by hand.  This image of Harry Greenstein (seated in the center) surrounded by well-wishers has this handwritten note on the front: “With affectionate greetings on my 30th Anniversary as Executive Director of Associated Jewish Charities, 5/1/1958, [signed] Harry Greenstein.”

Donated by Mrs. Gerald Heller. 1962.9.2

Donated by Mrs. Gerald Heller. 1962.9.2

In 1865, Isaac Strouse of Baltimore went to Europe. During his travels he kept a journal, written in pencil in a leather-bound, pocket-sized blank book.  The page shown here begins, “I have spend [sic] my time up in [Dek?] from 1/2 after 6 to 8 in walking about & conversation & now I am in the smoking salon …” …and here’s where my handwriting-deciphering skills fail me; I’m not sure about that “Dek.”  (Brackets indicate a word the transcriber is unsure about.) A full reading of the surrounding pages will likely provide some hints, but in the meantime, do any blog readers have any ideas what that word says or means?

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

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