Elaine, Meet Stanley

Posted on April 3rd, 2013 by

debA blog post by Historian Deb Weiner.

We recently started to create a new genealogy resource: a database of Jewish babies born in Baltimore, as revealed by Jewish Times birth notices. So far, we’ve compiled around 700 names of babies born between 1928 and 1932. We’re also recording the names of the parents and the hospitals where the births occurred.

Sinai Hospital on East Monument Street, 1940. 2010.20.13.

Sinai Hospital on East Monument Street, 1940. 2010.20.13.

So the list can tell us some interesting things. Like, where were Jewish babies born during that time period? If you guess the obvious, Sinai Hospital, you’d be right—half the time. Around 48 percent of the babies listed in the JT were born at Sinai, then located on East Monument Street. In second place was Mercy Hospital, with 15 percent. Some 9 percent were born at the Women’s Hospital in Bolton Hill. (It later merged with another hospital to form GBMC.) In fourth place was Church Home Hospital in East Baltimore, with 8 percent. This hospital, by the way, is where Edgar Allan Poe died in 1849 after he was found, delirious, on Lombard Street between High and Exeter (later, the heart of Jewish East Baltimore). And how many were born at Johns Hopkins Hospital? One! A girl named Helen Udell. Why this particular distribution? I have no clue.

OK now to even more interesting stuff. What do you think was the most popular name for Baltimore’s Jewish baby girls from 1928 to 1932? Hint: look at the headline. Of the 367 girls whose names were listed, there were sixteen Elaines, topping the baby girl pool. In second place was Beverly, with fifteen names. I found that one hard to believe. There were eleven babies named Betty, nine named Phyllis, eight Myras, seven named Frances, Marilyn, Ruth, and Sonia. There were six Aileens, Charlottes, Harriets, Joans, Natalies, Rhodas, and Shirleys.

Around sixteen years later: Teens prepare to go onstage at the JEA. Left to right: Joan Levinson, Judy Brodsky, Betty Levy, Rhoda Wagner, Phyllis Erlich. 95.98.119

Around sixteen years later: Teens prepare to go onstage at the JEA. Left to right: Joan Levinson, Judy Brodsky, Betty Levy, Rhoda Wagner, Phyllis Erlich. 95.98.119

I was surprised there were more babies named Natalie than Barbara (four) or Hannah (three) or Bessie (two) or Susan (zero). And there were three girls named Leatrice, which I found odd, since I’ve never met one person with that name. I wasn’t surprised by the popularity of Phyllis—the name belonged to my mom (b. 1935), my dad’s sister, one of his cousins, and two of their close friends. I actually thought it would score higher.

Baby boys: Stanley led the way with thirteen out of 341 boys. Next was Howard with eleven. There were ten baby boys named Allen (or Allan), Marvin, and Richard. Nine were named David and Harold (or Harry). There were eight Bernards, Jeromes, and Roberts. Seven were named Alvin, Herbert, and Norman while six were named Arnold, Joseph, Leonard, Martin, and Samuel. There were only two Aarons, one Abraham (plus one Abram), two Benjamins, two Jacobs, one Israel, and no Isaacs. I guess the Bible had fallen out of favor during this period. Why name someone Israel or Isaac when you can name him Irving? (There were three of those, plus four Irwins, an Irvin, an Ira, and an Isadore.)

Around sixteen years later: Rambam Chapter of the AZA, northwest Baltimore. Even in this Zionist group, all but two of the identified boys had popular Americanized names. Back row: second from left, Irv Bowers, right end, Marvin Glass. Middle row: second from left, Al Blaker, center, Bernie Raynor. Bottom row: left end, Avrum Miller, right end, Hanan Sibel. 2008.117.1

Around sixteen years later: Rambam Chapter of the AZA, northwest Baltimore. Even in this Zionist group, all but two of the identified boys had popular Americanized names. Back row: second from left, Irv Bowers, right end, Marvin Glass. Middle row: second from left, Al Blaker, center, Bernie Raynor. Bottom row: left end, Avrum Miller, right end, Hanan Sibel. 2008.117.1

Lest you think there were more girls than boys born to Baltimore Jewish families, I should point out that birth notices for around 160 boys did not include names, while only 90 girls were unnamed. All told, there were around 500 boys and around 450 girls listed . . . I don’t know if that means that fewer girls were born, or that parents were more likely to send in birth notices for sons than for daughters.

In fact, this is not what you’d call a scientific poll—because I have no idea what percentage of the Jewish babies born during the period were listed in JT birth notices, or if a “certain kind” of family was more likely to have a birth notice than some “other kind” of family, which could skew the sample. But the results are suggestive nonetheless. By the late 1920s, the Baltimore Jewish population had become mostly Americanized, especially the young parents who were having these babies. They were the adult children of immigrants, American-raised if not born, and I think that tells you something about their choices.

We continue to work on the list—it should be interesting to see how the popular names change over time.  And here’s where I need to recognize the volunteers who are doing such a great job constructing this database. Thanks to Stefan Freed, Martin Buckman, Vera Kestenberg, and Harvey Karch! (And by the way, there were six Martins, two Harveys, one Stephan, and no Veras on the list.)

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MS 55 The Louis E. Shecter Collection

Posted on December 6th, 2012 by

Louis Shecter as a graduate from Baltimore City College, 1918. Courtesy of Louis E. Shecter. 1974.21.4

Louis E. Shecter (1901-1992) Collection

n.d., 1921-1985

 MS 55

Jewish Museum of Maryland

 ACCESS AND PROVENANCE

The Louis E. Shecter Collection was found in the collection as MS 55.  Multiple accessions have been identified as materials donated by and related to Louis E. Shecter and probably incorporated into MS 55: 1973.013; 1974.021; 1975.020; 1982.015; 1985.104; and 1985.105.  However, none of the materials in the manuscript collection can be positively identified with these accessions.  Because of this the collection was given the FIC accession number 2012.061. The collection was processed at some unknown date then reprocessed and given a finding aid in June 2012 by Jennifer Vess.

Access to the collection is unrestricted and is available to researchers at the Jewish Museum of Maryland.  Researchers must obtain the written permission of the Jewish Museum of Maryland before publishing quotations from materials in the collection.  Papers may be copied in accordance with the library’s usual procedures.

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

Louis Shecter (1901-1992) was born in Baltimore and graduated from Baltimore City College in 1918.  He began work at the Baltimore Sun then left for the Joseph Katz advertising company.  In 1928 he became the advertising director for the Hecht stores until 1931 when he and his brother-in-law, Jack L. Levin, started their own advertising company.  Shecter also began to invest in real-estate and businesses, ultimately owning several theaters (The Rosalyn, The Rex, The Roxy, and The Times – now known as the Charles Theater).  Other businesses included the Famous Ballroom and two bowling centers.

Rosalyn M. and Louis E. Shecter on their way to London aboard the R.M.S Queen Mary, 1946. Courtesy of Louis E. Shecter. 1982.15.17

In 1939 Shecter married Rosalyn Margareten (d. 2009).  Rosalyn was born inNew York City and attended first Hunter College then later the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) for sculpture.  Louis and Rosalyn had three children: Alan, Mark and Alyce.  In 1961 Rosalyn was appointed vice chair of the Maryland Board of Motion Picture Censors.  Rosalyn focused on preventing children from being exposed to adult content in films, and she played a minor role in the implementation of the current movie rating system.

Louis Shecter was involved with a number of political figures and also became a collector and promoter of the arts.  Shecter died on November 9, 1992.  Rosalyn died on November 24, 2009.

SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE

The collection is divided into three series: Series I. Louis E. Shecter, n.d., 1921-1985, Series II. Rosalyn Shecter, n.d. 1931-1984, and Series III. Children and Grandchildren, n.d., 1949-1983.  Series I. is further divided into eight subseries: Subseries A. American Jewish Congress, n.d., 1957-1983, Subseries B. Business, n.d., 1924-1984, Subseries C. Politics, n.d., 1944-1985, Subseries D. Genocide Convention and Civil Right Activities, n.d., 1954-1981, Subseries E. Charitable Contributions, n.d., 1945-1985, Subseries F. Art Collection, Museums and Culture, n.d, 1953-1983, Subseries G. Personal Correspondence, n.d., 1921-1984, and Subseries H. Misc, n.d., 1932-1984

Louis Shecter with Ladybird Johnson, 1962. Courtesy of Louis Shecter. 1975.20.33a

Series I. Louis E. Shecter, n.d., 1921-1985 contains correspondence, programs, clippings, and writings related to Shecter’s business dealings, civil rights activities, charitable contributions, art collecting, and personal life.  The series is divided into eight subseries. Subseries A. American Jewish Congress, n.d., 1957-1983 contains correspondence, press releases, newspaper clippings, meeting minutes and programs related to Shecter’s work with the American Jewish Congress in Baltimore.  Subseries B. Business, n.d., 1924-1984 contains correspondence and clippings related to Shecter’s work with the Joseph Katz advertising firm, the Hecht Company, his own advertising firm, his real-estate ventures, the Advertising club, etc. Subseries C. Politics, n.d., 1944-1985 contains invitations, correspondence, clippings and programs related to Shecter’s interaction with politics and political figures at the local and national level. Subseries D. Genocide Convention and Civil Right Activities, n.d., 1954-1981 contains correspondence, clippings and talks related to Shecter’s work promoting the Genocide Convention and Civil Rights.  Subseries E. Charitable Contributions, n.d., 1945-1985 contains correspondence, clippings, invitations, etc., related to Shecter’s involvement with charitable organization and his own charitable contributions.  Subseries F. Art Collection, Museums and Culture, n.d, 1953-1983, contains correspondence, newspaper clippings, lists, newsletters, magazines and minutes related to Shecter’s art collection activities, his donation of art, and his interactions with museums and other cultural institutions and organizations. Subseries G. Personal Correspondence, n.d., 1921-1984, contains Shecter’s personal correspondence including a collection of letters (photocopies) to and from H.L. Menken.  Subseries H. Misc, n.d., 1932-1984 contains membership materials to the Masonic Lodge and Beth Tfiloh, invitations, play programs, writings, etc.  All of the materials are organized alphabetically within each subseries.

Louis Shecter and Senator Edward Kennedy reviewing a painting of President Kennedy and Governor Tawes at the opening of JFK Highway. Courtesy of Louis E. Shecter. 1975.20.25a

Series II. Rosalyn Shecter, n.d. 1931-1984 contains correspondence, diplomas, booklets, publications, newspaper clippings, scrapbook pages and genealogical material related to Rosalyn’s education, work and family.  A large portion of the collection relates to Rosalyn’s work with the Maryland State Board of Motion Picture Censors.  The folders are organized alphabetically except for the genealogy materials which are placed at the end of the series.

Rosalyn Shecter being sworn in as chairman of the Maryland Board of Motion Picture censors, 1968. 1974.21.18a

Series III. Children and Grandchildren, n.d., 1949-1983 contains correspondence, invitations and writings related to Louis and Rosalyn’s children and grandchildren.  The series is arranged alphabetically.

Rosalyn, Louis, Alan and Mark Shecter, 1950's. Courtesy of Louis E. Shecter. 1974.21.20

RELATED COLLECTIONS

The American Jewish Historical Society and Syracuse University Library both have Louis E. Shecter Manuscript collections.

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Louis Shecter with Israeli athletes at the Olympic Games in Helsinki, Finland, 1952. Courtesy of Louis E. Shecter. 1975.20.1

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Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Explore Your Roots: The Robert L. Weinberg Family History Center

Posted on November 26th, 2012 by

A blog post by Deborah Weiner, Family History Coordinator.

In a typical week, the Jewish Museum of Maryland receives ten requests for help from individuals looking for information about their families.

Our Robert L. Weinberg Family History Center, located in the JMM library, assists all kinds of people with all kinds of needs. Some seek a relatively simple yet crucial detail, like “where is my grandmother buried?” Others, compiling family trees or writing family histories, want us to give them “everything we have” on their ancestors. In every case, we draw on a tremendous resource to assist them: our Family History collection.

A very creative family tree. JMM 1997.125.37

Even in the Internet age, with so much genealogical information available on the web, our Family History collection constitutes a unique resource that allows us to provide genealogical services unusually extensive for a regional Jewish museum. Here are some highlights:

  • Our cemetery database includes more than 60,000 names of individuals buried in Maryland Jewish cemeteries. While most of the listings are from cemeteries in the Baltimore area, we also have listings from Annapolis, Cumberland, Frederick, Hagerstown, and Salisbury. 

Rosedale cemetery.

  • Funeral records from the Jack Lewis Funeral Home from the 1920s-1930s, 1950s-1960s. This firm, no longer in existence, rivaled Levinson & Bros. in popularity through most of the 20th century.
  • Indexes of records of several Baltimore midwives and mohels allow access to thousands of births and circumcisions from the late 19th to mid 20th centuries.

Rev. A.N. Abramowitz, Baltimore mohel. His circumcision records are part of the JMM family history collection. JMM 1988.155.3.

  • Obituaries from the Baltimore Jewish Times from the 1920s to today, indexed for some decades.
  •  Genealogies and family trees from more than 400 Maryland Jewish families.

These resources were developed through the efforts of numerous volunteers as well as the cooperation of Maryland’s Jewish cemetery associations and congregations. We are constantly working to expand our resources; for example, two volunteer projects now underway include the creation of an index of engagement, marriage, and birth notices in the Baltimore Jewish Times, and a renewed effort to record as-yet-uncharted sections of the historic—and massive—Rosedale cemetery. (We recently crossed the 10,000 mark of burial listings at Rosedale.)

Over the past several years we have worked to make our collections accessible online. Most notably, we partnered with the Jewish Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) to make our burial listings available on JOWBR’s fully searchable online database. We are currently working with JewishGen, JOWBR’s “parent,” to make more of our resources available on the JewishGen website.

JMM 1991.20.30.

There are three ways you can access our Family History collection: online at JOWBR or at our own website (where we’ve posted pdf files of cemetery burials and other indexes), by visiting the museum to do on-site research (by appointment), or by using our research-by-mail service, where we do the research and send you the results (for a fee).

Genealogy is a burgeoning field, as many people have become interested in finding their “roots.” Fortunately anyone with a connection to Jewish Maryland has a great place to start: the Robert L. Weinberg Family History Center of the Jewish Museum of Maryland.

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