Posted on May 25th, 2016 by Rachel
Tomorrow is the first day of the 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Alliance of Museums, held this year in Washington, D.C. Many of us are planning to attend, and in the upcoming days you’ll see plenty of social media updates as we enjoy several days of camaraderie, learning, and swag from the Expo Hall.
When we register tomorrow, we’ll get our nametags, printed clearly on heavy paper and perhaps strung on a nice branded lanyard. Now, I know that organizing several thousand badges is neither simple nor inexpensive, but for a meeting related to museums – many of which include historical collections – it always seems a shame that there’s no nod to the substantial, and considerably more glam, name badges of the past.
I do like an artifact that conveniently provides its own history, and convention badges of the late 19th to mid 20th century fit that bill. Granted, so do most badges from modern conferences, since the point is to state your name and location regardless of the materials of which it’s made. But while we’ll most likely get a piece of paper slipped into a clear plastic sleeve (which one is, rightfully, encouraged to recycle at the end of the event), our predecessors received a thing, meant to be saved: Satin ribbons with shiny printing, bright colors proclaiming one’s regional or professional allegiance, elaborate metal badges, gold fringe, and other embellishments, usually topped off with a small, discreet slot for the attendee’s name. Many cities had companies devoted to the production of these badges, and a big convention coming to town meant money for them as well as for the associated venues, caterers, and hotels.
Badge manufacturers in Baltimore, from the 1909-1910 Baltimore Business Directory (R.L. Polk). Gift of Peppy Zulver. JMM 1990.168.2
Since I’m not likely to get my wish this weekend, here are a few examples from our collection. I hope you’ll never be quite satisfied with your flimsy conference name tags again!
Satin ribbon with safety pin, made by G.N. Meyer Mfg., Washington, D.C. “Conference on the Care of Dependent Children, Called by President Theodore Roosevelt, Jan. 25-26 1909, Washington, D.C.” Gift of Judge Jacob M. Moses. JMM 1963.42.13c
Baltimore’s Jacob Moses, then Judge of the Juvenile Court of Maryland, was invited to speak at this conference in D.C. In his opening address, President Roosevelt urged attendees to “take a progressive stand, so as to establish a goal toward which the whole country can work.” Judge Moses’s speech – which a pencil notation on the top indicates was only to be “five minutes” – was entitled “How the Juvenile Court May Protect the Young Child.”
Left: Satin ribbon with metal badges, including the skyline of Milwaukee. “Nathan Trupp – Baltimore. Delegate 34th Annual Convention, July 6-7-8-9 1931. National Association of Retail Grocers.”
Right: Satin ribbon with enamel and metal badges. “Maryland at the Chicago Convention 1934. National Association of Retail Grocers. Nathan Trupp, Baltimore, Md.” Both gift of Irwin Kramer. JMM 2006.31.12, .15
Nathan Trupp of Baltimore served as President of the Maryland Grocer’s Association in the 1930s. He attended several National Association conferences across the U.S. In 1931, in Milwaukee, President Hoover sent greetings to the foreign attendees on behalf of U.S. delegates; in 1934 in Chicago, attendees were able to enjoy the Century of Progress International Exhibition.
Satin badge with metal and enamel badges, and metallic fringe. “Member, The Royal Sisters Society of Baltimore, Inc.” Gift of Helen Glaser. JMM 1998.114.9a
The Royal Sisters Society of Baltimore was founded in 1937 by Mollie Gresser, Reba Cooper, and several others. It was a philanthropic group, raising funds for various worthy causes around the city – but it was also a sisterhood, with formal meetings and regulated membership. The slip of paper announcing this particular member’s name is gone, unfortunately.
A blog post by Collections Manager Joanna Church. To read more posts by Joanna click HERE.
Posted on October 21st, 2014 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 x226 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times: February 14, 2014
PastPerfect Accession #: 1987.065.211
Status: Mostly unidentified. Do you know these attendees at the 1953 Annual Convention of the Joseph M. Zamoiski Company, held December 20, 1952? Joseph Zamoiski is #6 in the photo!
Posted on September 29th, 2014 by Rachel
Greetings, blog readers! My name is Joanna Church, and I’m the new Collections Manager at the JMM. There’s something a little nerve-wracking about starting a new job; before starting here, I wondered: What will the office be like? How tricky is the commute? Will the new colleagues be pleasant? And is there a coffee maker?* For those of us who work with museum collections, however, there’s one almost-guarantee when joining the staff of a new museum: The collections themselves – no matter what they actually are – will be interesting. In my few weeks here at the JMM, this has definitely proved to be true.
I am a Maryland native, but new to Baltimore. Searching our database for something first-blog-post-appropriate, I found a foam hat that says “Welcome to Baltimore.” Thank you, hat!
1992.190.001, front view
This old-fashioned hat, with a four inch high crown, was made around 1990, mimicking the style of a circa 1900s boater (right down to the ‘woven straw’ look to the molded foam). The printed paper ‘ribbon’ around the crown reads in full, “Welcome to Baltimore UAHC NFTS ’91.” The donor, E.B. Hirsh, was one of thousands of delegates to the Union of American Hebrew Congregations/National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods biennial convention, held in Baltimore from October 31st to November 5th, 1991.
1992.190.001, side view
According to the Baltimore Sun there were plenty of important issues discussed at this meeting of representatives from over 850 Reform synagogues. Nevertheless, what’s a convention without a party? Our hat and its welcoming message have an opening-day-festivities vibe, suggesting that there were opportunities for fun amidst the more serious activities. (If any readers attended the conference and can share some info, please do!)
As for the type of hat itself, straw boaters or “skimmers” were popular summer headwear for men and women in the late 19th – early 20th centuries. Here are a few Baltimore residents sporting the style in 1924:
Abe Sherman, his father Moses, and two unidentified men at Abe Sherman’s newsstand in Battle Monument Square, August 1924. Donated to the JMM by Brig. Gen. Philip Sherman. 1989.021.001
By the 1950s, however, the boater had dwindled from everyday garb to costume, and it is most likely to be seen today on members of a barbershop quartet; actors in a production of, say, “The Music Man;” or attendees at a political rally. Though I can’t tell you exactly why a boater became appropriate convention-wear, it’s enough of a stylistic trope that plastic and Styrofoam hats are marketed specifically for these events. Our example was manufactured in the U.S. by the Lewtan Line, a company founded in 1947 by Marvin Lewtan.
…As you may have guessed by now, things are my thing. I look forward to sharing more of the stories and histories of the JMM’s fabulous artifacts, images, and archival records!
*Answers: Great; not bad so far; absolutely; and (thankfully) yes.
A blog post by Collections Manager Joanna Church.