Posted on October 30th, 2015 by Rachel
While we all are excited about the newest exhibit, Paul Simon: Words and Music, the museum is always hard at work. My name is Rachel Rabinowitz and I am the current Exhibitions intern here at the museum. I am lucky enough to be helping out with an exhibit coming next year to the museum. “Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and American Medicine” will highlight all the ways Jews have become involved with American Medicine. One of the ways the museum is able to showcase this amazing history is through object that our loaned to our museum. I was lucky enough to join Karen Falk, Joanna Church and Alicia Puglionesi on a recent visit to pick up some items from Sinai Hospital in downtown Baltimore. Although there were so many great artifacts, images, and objects to choose from in the library, we chose a select few to use in the exhibit.
Here are few of the items you may see in our upcoming exhibit:
This odd looking stethoscope confused the staff here as to its exact use. My research, through the internet and the help of my mother (a gynecologist) lead me to find out is it called a fetoscope. This device was first described by doctors David Hillis and Joseph De Lee in 1917 and 1922 respectively. This device allows a doctor to monitor the heartbeat of the fetus during labor. The metal headband was attached so that the doctor could have their hands free to deliver the baby. (Sources: Feinstein, N., & Health, O. (2003). Fetal heart monitoring: Principles and practices (3rd ed.). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Pub. QCOM – Fetal Heart Monitoring – History – Page 2. (n.d.). Retrieved October 12, 2015. http://utilis.net/fhm/2465.htm)
Children’s coloring book
This item stands the test of time as coloring is an activity that children seem to always love. This coloring book from the 1960s was created by the Sinai Women’s Auxiliary to help children understand what it means to be a patient in the hospital.
Hospital Gift Shop
One thing you will always see at a hospital is a gift shop. This image from the 1940s shows two women volunteering at the gift shop at Sinai Hospital when it was located on Monument Street. You may notice a lot of the same items that were sold in the gift shop then are still sold today such as magazines and candy.
Keep a lookout for these items in our upcoming visit! Feel free to comment about these images or any memories you have about Sinai Hospital here in Baltimore.
A blog post by Exhibitions Intern Rachel Rabinowitz. To read more posts from interns click HERE.
Posted on October 28th, 2015 by Rachel
Here at the JMM, some of our portrait collection is hung on move-able racks in one of our storage rooms, meaning there are certain faces that greet you when you access the archives.
Collections Storage Room 2, JMM, on a Tuesday
Last week, thanks to the position of the racks, one of our 19th century ladies caught my eye several times; when, coincidentally, I came across her catalog record, I decided to delve into a little research on her history.
Fredericka W. Herstein, mid 19th century, donated by David Herstein. JMM 2005.60.1
This is Fredericka (also known as Frädche) Wiesenfeld Herstein (1797-1873), painted by an unknown artist. Family information tells us that she was born and raised in Germany; her first husband, Joseph Wiesenfeld, died around 1820; by 1824, she had married Meyer Herstein. Immigration records show that in 1854 Meyer and Friedrike (Fredericka) Herstein, along with their daughter Bertha, traveled from Bremen to New York on the Hansa. Shortly thereafter they made their way to Baltimore, where their son Nathan may have already been established as a clothing manufacturer. Meyer died around 1858, and the 1860 census shows Fredericka living in the Baltimore household of Nathan and his young family. She died in 1873 and is buried in the Oheb Shalom Cemetery, Baltimore, as Fradche Herstein, “our beloved mother.”
At first glance the painting itself is not terribly informative. It is unsigned, with no inscriptions to tell us the date, sitter’s name, or place. On the other hand, it is in great condition and in a relatively modern frame, telling us that over the years Fredericka’s portrait was well cared for as a treasured family heirloom. Looking more closely, the image gives a few other clues to her story – not many, but enough to start the speculation engines.
The donor suggested this was painted in the 1840s, and the fashion – a gown with dropped shoulders and wide sleeves, and the sitter’s center-parted ringlets – could support that. However, a few factors (including the high, straight waistline) make me think it may be from the late 1850s, when those details would still apply, but would make up a slightly different silhouette if we were seeing her at full length. (Here are two summaries of mid-19th century fashions, from the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, if you’re interested.)
As much fun (seriously!) as it is to parse out the various details of a subject’s attire, when dating old photos and paintings it is important to remember that just because the fashion prints for a particular year are showing haute couture, not everyone adopted those trends immediately (or ever). What was hot in New York or Paris might not make it to the seamstresses and tastemakers of far-flung cities for quite some time. And who among us hasn’t clung to a comfortable and/or flattering garment, in defiance of shifting hemlines and changing color palettes? Fashion and clothing style are good clues, but they don’t always provide the definitive answer we’re looking for.
Detail view of Mrs. Herstein’s brooch. JMM 2005.60.1
Speaking of color palettes, that’s another telling element of this painting: the black gown and black lace cap indicate that she’s likely dressed in mourning, at least to some degree. The brooch pinned to the center of her collar features the image of a man, currently unidentified and perhaps the object of her grief. While it could be a son, or another recently deceased relative, or even her first husband Joseph Wiesenfeld (who died around 1820), I’m inclined to think it may be her second husband Meyer Herstein, who died in 1858. If so, then this was painted in the United States – possibly even in Baltimore – in the late 1850s, when she was herself in her early 60s, which I think matches her apparent age and fashion choices.
…And this is the tipping point of the slippery slope that should be avoided, or at least approached with caution, by imaginative Collections Managers. I can (and have!) come up with lots of theories and scenarios for the subjects of this and other portraits, but while entertaining, they shouldn’t be taken as anything other than speculation. In reality, I know that my reasoning is a trifle circular (1850s makes sense for the dress, so it must be Meyer’s brooch, so it must be the 1850s), and that there’s lots more research to be done before we can suggest with more conviction when this was painted, and under what circumstances. But that’s the fun of historical research! There’s always something else to look up, and more stories to uncover.
Fredericka asks: What do you think? JMM 2005.60.1
A blog post by Collections Manager Joanna Church. To read more posts by Joanna click HERE.
Posted on October 27th, 2015 by Rachel
The Baltimore Jewish Times publishes unidentified photographs from the collection of Jewish Museum of Maryland each week. If you can identify anyone in these photos and more information about them, contact Joanna Church at 410.732.6400 x236 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times: February 6, 2015
PastPerfect Accession #: 2002.107.083
Status: Unidentified – do you know any of these children and adults working on Ship-a-Box projects, in an undated photo?