Researching a Family “Dynasty” of Jewish Doctors in Baltimore

Posted on July 2nd, 2014 by

As a summer 2014 Exhibitions Research intern at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, I am helping develop the upcoming exhibition Jews, Health, and Healing.  The 2015 exhibition will explore how medicine shaped both the ways Jews are viewed by others and how they view themselves.  This intersection of culture and science has provided some fascinating ways of looking at the construction of identity and empowerment in the Jewish community.

A lot of my research has focused on the Friedenwald family “dynasty” of doctors.  Three generations of Friedenwalds practiced ophthalmology in Baltimore.   Using JMM’s archive collection I have looked at the Friedenwald manuscript collection, which includes correspondences, speeches, and diaries.

Some of the many boxes containing the Friedenwald collection.

Some of the many boxes containing the Friedenwald collection.

Our exhibit will pay special attention to Dr. Harry Friedenwald (1864—1950).  Harry was interested in the history of medicine, particularly Jewish contributions to the field.  This research led to the publication of his book Jews and Medicine: Essays in 1944.  The exhibition will feature a recreation of Harry’s study.

A photograph of Dr. Harry Friedenwald.

A photograph of Dr. Harry Friedenwald.

One of the most interesting things I have found in the Friedenwald manuscript collection is a letter from Harry to his son Jonas (another ophthalmologist) describing medical school quotas for Jewish students.  The July 21, 1922 letter describes a meeting that Harry organized with fellow doctors to review Jewish admissions to John Hopkins Medical school.  In the early twentieth century there were quotas to limit the number of Jewish medical students.  Harry wrote of the “inquisition” into the religious adherence of applicants.  This was conducted by asking for statements from each person’s mother.  Such policies were used to determine if an applicant was Jewish.  Harry hoped to end the quotas.

Harry’s July 21, 1922 letter to Jonas describing quotas at Hopkins.  One of the most difficult aspects of my research has been deciphering Harry’s handwriting!

Harry’s July 21, 1922 letter to Jonas describing quotas at Hopkins. One of the most difficult aspects of my research has been deciphering Harry’s handwriting!

Hopefully, this letter can be used in the Jews, Health, and Healing exhibition to illustrate the history of quotas on Jewish students in medical schools, as well as the broader story of discrimination in medicine.

Sarah MooreA blog post by Exhibition Research Intern Sarah Moore. To read more posts by and about interns, click Here.

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An Intern Prepares for Electrified Pickle

Posted on June 30th, 2014 by

Hi! My name is Arielle and I’m working at the Jewish Museum of Maryland this summer as an Education and Programming intern.  After two weeks on the job, I can honestly say that I’ve learned way more than I can write.  From observing tours, to working with visitors, to learning how to use Past Perfect, to attending meetings, to planning exhibits, this job has been quite a ride.  In addition, its also been a lot of fun!  I love the work that I’m doing at the museum.  Plus, the people that I’m working with make it even more fun and rewarding.  The community of staff and volunteers at the museum has been incredibly welcoming.  They are so phenomenal at what they do and they are great teachers when it comes to learning how a museum works.

“Intern Wrangler” and Senior Collections Manager Jobi taught all the interns how to handle collections items. I was fortunate enough to be able to work with this artifact – an eye glass case used by Optometrists back in the day – and prepare it for display.

“Intern Wrangler” and Senior Collections Manager Jobi taught all the interns how to handle collections items. I was fortunate enough to be able to work with this artifact – an eye glass case used by Optometrists back in the day – and prepare it for display.

On the job I’ve gotten to play a part in so many awesome upcoming things that will be taking place at the museum both this summer and this fall.  After sitting in on several meetings regarding the Electrified Pickle exhibit and helping put together the set of collections items that will be on display, I can honestly say that the exhibit which will be opening on July 13 is going to be amazing!  Among other themes, the exhibit deals with the Jewish relationship with technology and how it’s progressed over the years.  The topic is very engaging and the collections items we’ve gathered to show on display are fascinating. The exhibit should be very educational and I know we have several exciting programs coming up that will be going along with the exhibit!

As an intern I never expected to have such an important say in the planning of an exhibit, but the JMM is unique because I think it really trusts its interns and treats us like members of the staff.  From this trust and responsibility, I have loved stepping up to the plate and learning by doing, instead of learning by watching.  I have gained so much by attending these exhibition planning meetings and researching artifacts. I can’t wait to help build the exhibit over the next two weeks and watch its success when it opens.

Looking at photographs on the computer program Past Perfect, trying to find the perfect photo to display in the “Electrified Pickle” exhibit.

Looking at photographs on the computer program Past Perfect, trying to find the perfect photo to display in the “Electrified Pickle” exhibit

In addition to helping plan the “Electrified Pickle”, I have also been given the opportunity to work on projects regarding the upcoming exhibit “The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen” which opens on September 14, and the chance to help organize the museum’s upcoming Holocaust Summer Teacher’s Institute. It has been a very fun and rewarding process doing both of these things and I can’t wait for the rest of the summer to see how much more I learn!

So, that all being said, I hope you stop by the museum this upcoming summer to check out the “Electrified Pickle” and come back again in the fall to see “The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen.”  I promise you won’t be disappointed! They should be both “Electrifying” and “Ahhh-mazing!” Hehe, get it?

So many Mendes, So little time! Be sure to come back in the fall to meet The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen yourself!

So many Mendes, So little time! Be sure to come back in the fall to meet The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen yourself!

You can even download your OWN Flat Mendes here or pick one up at the front desk next time you visit the Museum!

The Jewish Museum of Maryland is an amazing place and so far I couldn’t be happier spending my summer working as an intern here.

A blog post by Education and Programming Intern Arrielle Kaden. To read more posts by and about JMM interns, click here.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




An Introduction to an Internship

Posted on June 25th, 2014 by

World War II electronics. Credit: National Electronics Museum.

World War II electronics. Credit: National Electronics Museum.

On June 2, 20214, I began my internship at the Jewish Museum of Baltimore with two days of orientation. On Friday of that week, we were invited to the annual Volunteer Recognition Luncheon at the National Electronics Museum in Linthicum, Maryland.  That visit brought back memories of my father who loved those spools of copper wire, radio/television tubes, radios and televisions. He wound spools of copper wire seemingly for fun. He would have loved that museum. Even I loved that museum. How electronics helped win the world wars.

Dr. Friedenwald’s  lecture

Dr. Friedenwald’s lecture, 1896

On Monday June 8, I began work on the Dr. Aaron Friedenwald lecture from 1896, handling those fragile noted with white gloves then typing what I read also in my white collections handling gloves digitizing the lecture. The lecture may be part of the 2015 Exhibit  “Jews, Health, and Healing.

The lecture includes stone age medicine. The medicine man could repair compound fractures using sticks, twine, and mud for a cast.  He was able to relieve pressure of the brain, by drilling holes into the skull of the patient, sometimes more than once. The books of Genesis and Exodus sited what the Jews did and did not know about medicine on leaving Egypt. There were even women mentioned in the work both as midwives and actual physicians. There was a cavalcade of learned men who were both Rabbis and physicians who translated medical works on the side.

Flag House

Star-Spangled Banner House. Credit: Laureen Miles Brunelli.

On Friday June 13, Marvin Pinkert walked the Interns and a volunteer over to the Flag House as a (one-day early) celebration of Flag Day and to see another small museum.  General Flowers asked Mary Pickersgill to create a flag to fly over Fort McHenry. The flag was to be red, white, and blue. The measurements were to be 32 feet by 72 feet. The stripes were to be 2 feet wide and the stars 2 feet across. The flag was to be made of the lightest weight wool bunting purchased from ex-mother England.

The Flag House contained original household items: andirons, candle sticks, a desk,  chairs, a painting of General Benjamen Flowers, Mary Pickersgill and Rebecca Young’s young and handsome relative over the mantle of the fireplace.  Mary and Rebecca as well as Mary’s daughters and an indentured servant all sewed the flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore There were perfume bottles, handmade quilts, and many other period pieces of the late 18th century at the time of the War of 1812.

Barbara IsraelA blog post by Summer Exhibitions Intern Barbara Israelson. To read more posts by and about interns, click here.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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