Do You Have Your Library Card?

Posted on September 28th, 2017 by

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

September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month so, as a proud member of the (exceptionally nerdy) club of people who have memorized their library card number, I though I’d share the oldest example in our collection: a card permitting the borrowing of books from the library of the Young Men’s Progressive Labor Club of Baltimore, 1902.

Front (left) and back of a Yiddish library card issued by the Young Men's Progressive Labor Club, 1902. Gift of Barbara (Mrs. Howard) Merker. JMM 1978.16.1

Front (left) and back of a Yiddish library card issued by the Young Men’s Progressive Labor Club, 1902. Gift of Barbara (Mrs. Howard) Merker. JMM 1978.16.1

The front of the card includes space for the borrower’s name and address, along with the terms and privileges of being a card-holder; the back indicates the dates that books were borrowed and returned.  We have not yet fully translated the card (if anyone wants to have a go, please feel free to send us a translation!) but, as best we can tell, card No. 298 belonged to one Rosa Malka of 532 N. Central Avenue.

JMM 1978.16.1

JMM 1978.16.1

Unfortunately, I have not been able to pin Rosa down. According to the 1901 Baltimore City Directory, a Hyman Levy, plasterer, lived at 532 N. Central. In the 1900 census, the Levy family is listed at this address – but there’s no Rose or Rosa among them. In the 1903 City Directory, a man named Alex Hammond, laborer, is at the address; I can’t find him in the census, and he doesn’t seem quite as likely to have had a wife or daughter reading Yiddish books at the Young Men’s Progressive Labor Club. Without easy access to a 1902 City Directory* I have to guess that either another family lived at the address between the Levys and Mr. Hammond, or that one of the Levy family women – wife Annie, and daughters Rachel (age 10 in 1900) and Bessie (age 12) – had the Hebrew name Rosa Malka. (The third possibility is that we misread the street name; if anyone has another suggestion, I’d be happy to pursue it.) The donor of the card noted only that it was found “among old family books,” and so far I have not found any definite connections.

The date stamps on the back do not tell us the titles of the books Rosa checked out, and without an exact translation of the terms on the front, I’m only guessing that the rules allowed you to borrow one book at a time, getting a date stamp in the first column for check-out and a stamp in the second when it was returned. If that was the case, you can see that between May and October, Rosa read a book every one-two days: a girl after my own heart.

Coincidentally, our collections also include five books from the Young Men’s Progressive Labor Club library, “found in the basement of a Highlandtown rowhouse.”  Four of the library books are novels and plays written in Yiddish, but one – my favorite – is a copy of Camille translated into Yiddish.  All five of the books, published in New York City in the late 19th century, are stamped  in English with variations on “Young Men’s Progressive Labor Club, Baltimore, Md. Organized July 10 1896”, and all and show a great deal of wear – as library books frequently do.

An exceedingly well-read copy of Camille in Yiddish, published by Judah Katzenelenbogen, New York, in 1899. One of five books stamped with the name “Young Men’s Progressive Labor Club.” Gift of Orrin Yesko. JMM 1999.162.4

An exceedingly well-read copy of Camille in Yiddish, published by Judah Katzenelenbogen, New York, in 1899. One of five books stamped with the name “Young Men’s Progressive Labor Club.” Gift of Orrin Yesko. JMM 1999.162.4

The Young Men’s Progressive Labor Club is not well-documented, but happily several of these five books also include a stamp giving a slightly different version of the name: “Progressive Club Branch No. 9 of the Workmen’s Circle, Organized July 10, 1896, Baltimore, MD.” The Workmen’s Circle is more well-known, and in fact we have some later Workmen’s Circle library circulation materials in our collections as well … but those will have to wait for another blog post.

 

*I’d be happy to consult a 1902 directory, but we don’t have one here, and it’s not yet digitized through this extremely useful link at the University of Maryland Library.

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A slice of Baltimore life, 1910-1911

Posted on February 17th, 2016 by

Cover of "The Hired Girl."

Cover of “The Hired Girl.”

I don’t normally walk around telling everyone about the last book I read, but this one seems appropriate for a mention here: The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz.  It’s an historical fiction young adult novel about a servant who works in Baltimore, which means it might as well have “ATTN: JOANNA” on the cover. (Since it doesn’t, I’m glad Rachel, our dedicated social media content discoverer, posted about it on the JMM’s Facebook page for me.)

 An unidentified couple on Eutaw Place, circa 1910.  Donated by Stanford C. Reed. JMM 1987.19.32


An unidentified couple on Eutaw Place, circa 1910. Donated by Stanford C. Reed. JMM 1987.19.32

Book reviews are a bit out of our purview, perhaps, but for what it’s worth I very much enjoyed this story of Joan, an exuberant, open-hearted farm girl who winds up working as a housemaid for the Rosenbachs, a well-to-do Jewish family.  I would have enjoyed it anyway – as previously mentioned, this kind of thing is right up my alley – but it was even better since, like the heroine, I too have been learning about Jewish Baltimore in the early 20th century. Though her characters are fictional, Schlitz (who teaches at the Park School) was careful to place them in the physical and social context of 1911 Baltimore; for example, the Rosenbachs own a department store, attend Har Sinai, and live on Eutaw Place. The author has said “I tried to make it as accurate as possible, but I took full advantage of the magical powers with which all storytellers are endowed” – in other words, ‘stop trying to find an exact match for everything, local historian!’ Nonetheless, every reference to the Phoenix Club or the Harmony Circle or even “Mr. Rosenbach’s friend the ophthalmologist”* gave me a happy moment of “Oh! That’s the thing that I just learned about,” and sent me to our database for images to help illustrate the world in which Joan and the Rosenbachs spent their days.

Hannah Mann’s 65th birthday celebration at the home of Joe Wiesenfeld, Eutaw Place, 1911.  Donated by Joseph Wiesenfeld. JMM 1990.2.49

Hannah Mann’s 65th birthday celebration at the home of Joe Wiesenfeld, Eutaw Place, 1911. Donated by Joseph Wiesenfeld. JMM 1990.2.49

William and Beatrice Levy with their children, 1911.  Donated by Janet Fishbein, Ellen Patz, Ruth Gottesman & Vera Mendelsohn Mittnick. JMM 2002.79.338

William and Beatrice Levy with their children, 1911. Donated by Janet Fishbein, Ellen Patz, Ruth Gottesman & Vera Mendelsohn Mittnick. JMM 2002.79.338

A member of the Weinberg family, with the family dog, in Druid Hill Park, 1910.  (The park’s flock of sheep play a role in the book.)  Donated by Jan L. Weinberg. JMM 1996.50.27k.6

A member of the Weinberg family, with the family dog, in Druid Hill Park, 1910. (The park’s flock of sheep play a role in the book.) Donated by Jan L. Weinberg. JMM 1996.50.27k.6

The Har Sinai confirmation class of 1911. (The book’s protagonist is glad to learn that the Rosenbach family’s laundry is sent out, so she won’t have to do more than iron; take a look at these nice white dresses and you’ll understand her relief!) Donated by Audrey Fox. JMM 1994.189.1

The Har Sinai confirmation class of 1911. (The book’s protagonist is glad to learn that the Rosenbach family’s laundry is sent out, so she won’t have to do more than iron; take a look at these nice white dresses and you’ll understand her relief!) Donated by Audrey Fox. JMM 1994.189.1

Interested in learning more about the book?

Here’s an interview with the author courtesy of the Jewish Book Council.

The Hired Girl recently won two awards for its portrayal of Jewish life: the Sydney Taylor Book Award, presented by the Association of Jewish Libraries, and the National Jewish Book Award (Young Adult), presented by the Jewish Book Council.  On the other hand, it is also enjoying lively discussion online due to some negative descriptions of Native Americans; that debate is summarized (and presented with both links and opinions) by the editor of the Horn Book, and discussed more thoroughly at American Indians in Children’s Literature.

All in all, both the book itself and the response to its characters and themes are, I think, worth your time. And that’s your unofficial bookclub recommendation for February!

*I have convinced myself that this is a reference to Dr. Harry Friedenwald, though I suspect I’m too immersed in “Beyond Chicken Soup” preparations and am seeing Friedenwalds where none exist.

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

 

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Volunteer Spotlight on: Judy Tapiero

Posted on December 7th, 2015 by

Judy Tapiero is volunteering to organize the Anne Adalman Goodwin Library of the Jewish Museum of Maryland. That’s what she did in her professional life – she was a library consultant.  She organized and set up libraries for companies and associations.

She has lived in Baltimore for 10 years. Born in England, she arrived in the United States in 1956 when her family moved to Scarsdale, NY, to be near New York City, in a community with good schools.  Her father, Oskar Rabinowicz was born in Aspern, Austria near Vienna. His family moved to a small town in Czechoslovakia, then moved to England when Hitler moved into Czechoslovakia. He had joined the Zionist movement while in college. He taught Byzantine history but then became a banker and scholar when he moved to England.  He wrote the book Winston Churchill on Jewish Problems: A Half Century Survey.  The book History of Jews in Czechoslovakia was dedicated to him.  Judy labeled him quite the Renaissance man. Her father wanted her to have a profession so she attended Brandeis University.  Her mother was an accomplished sculptor who exhibited her pieces and won juried competitions. She was also involved with Friends of the Hebrew University and their synagogue.

After college, Judy moved to Montreal with her husband but couldn’t work without a visa so she pursued the Library degree program at McGill University.  When they moved to the New York area she completed the Library degree program at Rutgers.  Along came their two children, so she volunteered at their synagogue and opened their library where she facilitated Library Hour at the synagogue school library.   Once the children were older, she began in Princeton then commuted to New York City to work, setting up libraries for consulting firms.

Judy Tapiero

Library Volunteer Judy hard at work!

Very few people do exactly what Judy does. She founded a consulting firm to organize and set up libraries that someone else then runs. Her goal is to make sure each library continues. She hones the collection to make it relevant to the mission of the organization.  At the JMM, she realizes that we cannot discard any Institutional Archives and that there is more and more digital information.  Library collections are changing and she wants to assure that everything is retained in its best form. Judy describes what she is doing at the JMM as a “labor of love.” It is taking a lot of time but she is glad to donate hers.  First, she has to review what is in the data base and compare it with the card catalog. Next, she reviews all of the cards to determine which are copies (each book has 4 – 5 cards, depending upon the description).  There is an author file, title file and subject file.  Her hardest task is determining single subject cards. She endeavors to reduce the card file by half, to eliminate duplications.  There are currently ~2500 volumes, plus Hebrew and Yiddish books that are now in English.

People are increasingly interested in library contents today because it has become so much easier to search. Judy adds that the The Robert L. Weinberg Family History Center for genealogy at the JMM is very good.  She looks forward to developing that more too.  She is attempting to make everything more user friendly so that more people will use it.

She suggests that the JMM library could use an infusion of new books. Before donating books elsewhere, she hopes that members and others will consider the JMM for books having to do with Judaism and Maryland – the books must have this connection to be of use to our collection.

Her greatest surprise in volunteering at the JMM has been her discovery of some unbelievable “treasures.”  In particular, she mentioned the books with colorful fold-out maps. She is also impressed by the Museum’s collection of rare books and hopes that one day they can be put on display so that visitors will be able to appreciate them too.

If anyone reading this has a love for books like Judy, please contact Volunteer Coordinator, Ilene Cohen, as once this phase of the library project is completed, volunteers will be required to physically move things around.

ilene cohenA blog post by Volunteer Coordinator Ilene Cohen. The first Monday(ish) of every month she will be highlighting one of our fantastic JMM volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering with the JMM, drop her an email at icohen@jewishmuseummd.org or call 410-732-6402 x217! You can also get more information about volunteering at the Museum here.

 

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