Genealogy and Family History Workshop: A Quick Introduction

Posted on July 21st, 2011 by

A blog post by summer intern Codi Lamb.

On Tuesday, July 19, 2011, Deb Weiner, the JMM’s Research Historian and Family History Coordinator, held a genealogy workshop where the summer interns and some of the volunteers and staff were in attendance. The topic of discussion was what some of the best research methods are today to discover history about your family. The main focus was searching for Jewish families in Maryland since that is primarily what is done at the JMM.

A problem that can often arise is when you have family that has changed their name. Well to account for those issues a system called the Soundex Code was implemented to take these factors into consideration. Essentially this program was made to search for names in archival documents with the thought that people can possibly be related even if the spelling is slightly different. Amazingly this method of searching was patented in 1918 and 1922 by Robert C. Russell and Margaret K. Odell. Even more fascinating was getting to see the results of the Soundex Code when the interns and Deb Weiner took a field trip to the Hebrew Fellowship and Herring Run cemeteries.

These gravestones feature useful historical information that can be used when doing family research. On Jewish headstones in particular, there is often Hebrew that will tell who the parents of the deceased are. The information that is displayed on the stones are more than just historical, they tell you about the person that was laid to rest there.

While helping Deb search for the gravestones that needed to be photographed to help with a person’s family research, we came across of row of stones that were just children. Most were under the age of 11. While looking there was one that once had a ceramic photograph on the front of a child who died at the age of seven. Today that picture was found lying on the ground in three pieces. Not everything can remain in pristine condition and thankfully for those stones and items such as that photograph, there is an organization to help repair damaged plots. The Jewish Cemetery Association of Greater Baltimore is a non-profit group branched from The Associated that hires caretakers to help with the upkeep and repair of Jewish cemeteries (By the way, I am sure they are always happy to have volunteers if you are willing).

Finally before leaving the Herring Run cemetery I noticed that there were multiple stones on some of the graves and one of the interns kindly reminded me how people will often leave stones instead of flowers because the stones will last forever. Seeing those stones and the work that is being done to preserve the plots warms my heart. That’s because I know that even though some of these people may have been gone for many decades, they are certainly not forgotten by their loved ones or the Jewish community.


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Amalie Rothschild: Baltimore Artist

Posted on June 22nd, 2011 by

Taking a break from the recent findings/events with the medical aspect of the museum, I thought I would share the recent history lesson I received. I am not from the Baltimore area. I am not even from Maryland. I come from the hills of West Virginia (not Wrong Turn style though) so every day at the museum I learn something new about the area that I am working in and the people that inhabit it. Since my stay one item in particular has caught my eye or I should say the person that created this piece has intrigued me. Apparently, Amalie Rothschild is a rock star in the eyes of those that work for the museum so I wanted to see how she obtained this status.

Image of Amalie Rothschild from her book "Drawings," published in 1968.

After doing some detective work, I discovered that Rothschild was born in 1916 to a German-Jewish family in the Baltimore area. She lived in this area all through her teens and even into her college years. It was only when she had a fellowship in Paris that the possibility of her leaving Maryland surfaced. Lucky for Maryland, Rothschild was asked by her mother to come home and she agreed. After that it was history.

"Moses and the Burning Bush" from 1951, a new addition to the JMM's collections, 2011.18.1

The history that this includes is quite impressive. She co-opened a gallery, Gallery One, in Baltimore in 1959. In 1962 along with 18 other artists, she staged an exhibit to protest their work not being accepted by the jury for the Maryland Artists Exhibition. To list the boards, museums, colleges, and other Maryland art related things she has done would probably take up the rest of this blog so you get the point that she was very influential in this matter.

Once one finds success as Rothschild did, you would assume that it would be easy to travel to a place where art has a more prominent role. Instead, she chose to feed her skills into the community to make it more artist friendly. Learning so early on in my internship that there was this wonderful woman who took pride in her community by being a success close to home is a breath of fresh air. She did great things for Maryland that were not only through her art, and I hope people will still remember her for those contributions in the future. I know I will.

For more information about Amalie Rothschild, check out the Jewish Women’s Archive’s “We Remember” project.


A blog post by intern Codi Lamb.


Posted in jewish museum of maryland