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Posted on February 21st, 2020 by

JMM Insights: February 2020

In this month’s edition of JMM Insights, Archivist Lorie Rombro shares a few more highlights from her work researching the history of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore in celebration of the Centennial. Check out a few of her past highlights at the end of this post!


One of the things I’ve noticed while working on the Associated Centennial Campaign is how, over the years, the Associated has been able to change their organizations to meet the needs of the Jewish community. Many organizations do not survive due to an unwillingness to make the hard choices that change requires. Through researching the past of the Associated however, I have been able to see their transformation over time, as they responded to the needs of the community. When an Associated agency ends its time, it is because a need has been filled or organizations are merging to provide the most effective help.

Preserving the history of the Associated means we can still look back at and appreciated the constituent organizations that started the Associated, but which no longer exist – because the needs of the community altered. In 1926, then President of the AJC Sidney Lansburgh said, “To keep pace with the rapid development of technique and methods in modern social service there must be continuous study and planning, and that, too, has become an important function of our Associated,” a commitment that continues throughout the Associated today.

I decided to share with you some of what I found about four organizations in particular: The Daughters in Israel, The Council for Milk and Ice Fund, the Hebrew Ladies’ Sewing Society, and the Young Ladies Benevolent Society. These organizations may not be around today, but they did not end because of a quick decision based cost. Rather, they were retired, revamped, and reorganized based on careful study.  I wish we had more information on these groups, so let me know if you have stories about some of these founding organizations of the Associated!

JMM 2017.68.1.14

Daughters in Israel

Founded in 1895, the Daughters in Israel maintained a home for girls without parents, mostly immigrants who came to the United States alone. The goal was to provide young working women with a “real home life.” Most of the young women worked close to the home, so in addition to being provided a room to live in, they would come home for lunch each day. Each week, the girls went on an excursion together, had a day for friends to visit, and were offered courses in dressmaking and cooking. The cost was $2 a week for room and board, which included housekeeping. While many of the girls were able to pay their own way, a few were funded by the organization as “scholarships.”

Daughters in Israel building at 1200 East Baltimore Street. JMM 2012.54.288.4

In 1896, the first home was started at 121 Aisquith Street before moving to 1111 East Baltimore and then to 1200 East Baltimore Street (where the Ronald McDonald House is today). In the first year of the Associated Jewish Charities, 74 girls were provided a home and only 22 needed scholarship assistance. In 1916 a summer retreat at “Buena Vista,” a former boarding house at Berkeley Heights in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Marylan,d was made available to the girls to have a week-long vacation away from the city. And in 1922, Camp Louise was presented to the Associated Jewish Charities by Aaron and Lillie Straus, specifically for the young women living at the Daughters in Israel home.

Young women vacationing c. 1917-1918. JMM 2019.000.5A

In the 1920s, the Associated Jewish Charities engaged the Bureau of Jewish Social Research, the predecessor to the Council of Jewish Federation and Welfare Fund, to undertake a survey of the Associated Jewish Charities and its constituent agencies. As a result of the survey’s findings it was decided that The Daughters in Israel organization should be closed.

JMM 2016.000.2

An article from the Baltimore Jewish Times by the board of The Daughters in Israel that I found in a 1929 Associated Jewish Charities scrapbook explains the closing:

“With the cessation of immigration and the change of the neighborhood from a residential to a business section, the Daughters in Israel became a home for girls presenting a variety of problems of health and vocational maladjustment. The long-term stay of these girls in the Home acted as a deterrent in development, destroyed incentive, created a sense of satisfaction with the status quo and made it impossible to develop a constructive program for the girls. The survey recommended that the building be abandoned; the girls placed in private homes, and all health and problem cases be referred to appropriate agencies for attention and supervision.” The home was discontinued in October 1928 although this appears to have been a difficult choice the articles finishes by saying, “A substantial sum of money has been saved by the change. More important, we feel the girls are now developing a sense of individuality, self-reliance, and self-support.

Council for Milk and Ice Fund

 JMM 1989.47.1

Founded in 1898, the Council for Milk and Ice Fund’s purpose was to distribute milk and ice to needy infants and to meet “the urgent need of the afflicted during the summer season, and the great numbers of sick and ill-fed babies.” The work was eventually expanded to include all to whom milk was important, including undernourished children, elderly, and those recovering from tuberculosis.

JMM 2017.68.4.17

The Milk and Ice Fund would become one of the original constituent agencies of the newly formed Associated Jewish Charities in 1920. In 1921, 42,746 quarts of milk were distributed and during that summer thousands of pounds of ice. By 1926, the organization also provided advice on health and hygiene to those they served. The work was supported by donations from local ice companies and funding from the Baltimore Sun newspaper.  It was incorporated into the Jewish Social Service Bureau in 1934 as refrigeration became more common in households and social welfare programs expanded.

Hebrew Ladies Sewing Society

Founded in 1856, the Hebrew Ladies Sewing Society’s mission was distributing clothing to poor Jewish women and children. In 1921, they distributed 3,649 pieces of clothing to men, women and children as well 3,188 yards of fabric, 1,286 pairs of hose, 1,000 sheets and pillowcases, and 29 infant layettes. The organization would be dissolved around 1922 with local synagogue sisterhoods (including Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, Temple Oheb Shalom, and Har Sinai Temple) taking over the group’s duties.

JMM 2000.28.1

Young Ladies Benevolent Society

Organized in 1900 with 300 working young women as its membership (these women who were not well off but hoped to help those like them who were suffering difficulties), the Young Ladies Benevolent Society assisted young women over the age of 16, specializing in supporting those with physical and mental disabilities, as well as giving “relief to girls suffering from illness, furnish[ing] maternity care, act[ing] as guide and mentor to girls and young women in need of advice; in conjunction with the Daughters in Israel conduct[ing] Camp Louise, a summer vacation camp for working girls.” The organization also assisted the unwed mothers in the community.

In 1921, the Young Ladies Benevolent Society assisted 205 girls with financial support and provided 325 girls a low-cost vacation at Camp Louise.  In 1930, the Associated Jewish Charities created the Jewish Social Service Bureau which combined the Hebrew Benevolent Society, the Young Ladies Benevolent Society, and other organizations that provided social services to young adults and adults in the Jewish community.

Do you have stories, photos, or memorabilia related to these organizations, particularly the Hebrew ladies Sewing Society and the Young Ladies Benevolent Society? Let us know!

Check Out These Past Associated History Highlights!

100 Years of Scrapbooks

I am a “Greensteiner”

Camp Louise

Camp Woodlands

You can read more posts by Lorie HERE.


Posted in jewish museum of maryland

100 Years of Scrapbooks

Posted on October 11th, 2019 by

For this month’s edition of Performance Counts, archivist Lorie Rombro shares some of her favorite finds as she’s been researching the history of the Associated in preparation for the upcoming Centennial Celebrations. This week scrapbooks, next week Scrap looks! You can read more posts by Lorie HERE.

Performance Counts: October 2019

For the past two years I have had the pleasure of assisting the Associated in preparing historical information to celebrate the upcoming centennial. Searching through the over 3,000 photographs and archival files about the Associated at JMM (along with an additional 4,200 + photographs and records about the Jewish Community Center, Levindale, and many of the agencies that are part of the Associated), has been fascinating.

Associated Jewish Charities subscription mailer, 1925.

Two of the resources here at the Museum that I have really enjoyed working on for the centennial are the historic Jewish Times and our collection of scrapbooks about the Associated. From 1921 to 1931 the Jewish Times had an almost weekly page dedicated to the Associated. It began as Philanthropictopics: A Forum of the Associated Jewish Charities Baltimore. This name of the page lasted until 1923 (I understand why they changed it. Although fun, it was a mouthful.) to eventually become Associated News by 1929. These weekly updates would give a variety of information, history and yearly statistics on agencies of the Associated, events and classes that were happening, new officers and board members, information on dues collection and campaigning, and general information to help the community understand what the Associated did.

Left: Philanthropictopics, Jewish Times, June 1922. 1917-1925 Scrapbook, JMM 2017.68.1.56. Right: Associated News, January 3, 1930. 1926-1930 Scrapbook, JMM 2017.68.2.

My favorites were the “Day in the life of” series, where a featured Associated agency would give real examples of what they were doing and the story of a person who came to them for help. I also enjoy the helpful hints section, such as the plea to “Please Be Accurate” from January 1930. This feature was a quick note asking benevolent citizens to make sure that when seeking help for others, they gave the correct name and address to the Hebrew Benevolent Society so that the social workers did not have the uncomfortable moment of addressing the wrong family! I also always enjoyed following the sports sections: which Talmud Torah was up in the baseball tournaments and how the various Jewish Educational Alliance teams were doing.  Reading these columns gives not only a clear picture of what the Associated was doing but also what that work meant to the Jewish community.

Associated Scrapbook, 1926-1930, JMM 2017.68.2.

The Jewish Museum of Maryland houses one hundred and sixty-five scrapbooks on the history of the Associated and its campaigns. These incredible pieces of history span the years from 1918 to 1992 and are an enormous resource in looking at the last 100 years of the Associated and Baltimore’s Jewish community. These stuffed scrapbooks are full of newspaper and magazine clippings, mailers from the Associated, synagogue newsletters, and internal documents.

Article about the creation of the Associated Jewish Charities, July 23, 1920. JMM 2017.68.1.11.

Starting with information on both the Federated Jewish Charities and United Hebrew Charities, the scrapbooks collect articles from all the local papers on the amalgamation of the two organizations and the beginnings of the Associated we know today.

Information and statistics from all the constituent agencies of the Associated Jewish Charities, 1926. 1926-1930 Scrapbook. JMM 2017.69.2.1.

These scrapbooks are amazing. As I process them, I find more and more information that adds to our understanding of the history of the last 100 years. What’s also interesting is what’s missing – while we have the scrapbooks from 1917-1935, there are no documents for 1936-1946 in the scrapbook collection. The next materials start with a Women’s Division scrapbook for 1947. In fact, throughout our whole collection at the Museum, we have very few records for the Associated during those years.

When the Associated still sent out letters to the community in Yiddish. 1929-1931 Scrapbook. JMM 2017.68.4.13e.

These are just a few examples of the resources available in our collection that have helped me understand what the Associated Jewish Charities and its agencies did in its early years and its importance to the community. I can’t wait to celebrate the Centennial with our whole community!


Posted in jewish museum of maryland