“Baltimore, the Liverpool of America” – In Which Trillion Was Right All Along

Posted on January 26th, 2018 by

A blog post by Collections Manager Joanna Church. To read more posts by Joanna click HERE.

As always, it’s the odd little hidden gems in the collection that warm a registrar’s heart.  I recently happened upon this book, and – being a sucker for municipal encomiums of the past – I took a closer look.  Here for you today we have a Souvenir of Baltimore, printed in 1898 by A. Hoen & Co. of Baltimore, “compiled expressly for the American Pharmaceutical Association” in dedication “to its members in commemoration of the forty-sixth annual meeting, held August, 1898” in Baltimore.

Souvenir of Baltimore, 1898. Museum purchase. JMM 1987.140.1

Alas, the Jewish community is not featured with any prominence in this volume, in the photographs that make up the bulk of the book, the history of the city, or the contemporary statistics and achievements.  We can’t be ignored altogether, of course:

Among the photos of commercial institutions is this one of “Joel Gutman & Co., Dry Goods and Notions.” From Souvenir of Baltimore, 1898. Museum purchase. JMM 1987.140.1

Featured religious institutions include both “The Oheb Shalom Synagogue” (i.e. the Eutaw Place Temple) and “The Associate Reform Church.” From Souvenir of Baltimore, 1898. Museum purchase. JMM 1987.140.1

The Hebrew Orphan Asylum is listed here with other “Charitable institutions,” and Oheb Shalom and Har Sinai are listed amongst the city’s “400 churches [sic], representing nearly all denominations.” From Souvenir of Baltimore, 1898. Museum purchase. JMM 1987.140.1

We’re also represented in a less obvious – but still financially important – way, as the concluding statistics touting “the leading industrial and distributive trades” in the city include $15,000,000 for “Manufactured Clothing,” and $6,000,000 each for “Shirts, Drawers, and Overalls” and “Straw Hats” – all trades in which the Jewish community was quite active, if not indeed the leaders.

To me, though, the most striking thing about the book is this proclamation on the first page:

“Baltimore City, The Liverpool of America.” From Souvenir of Baltimore, 1898. Museum purchase. JMM 1987.140.1

Well okay, then.  Perhaps this mostly struck me as peculiar because I had just, less than an hour previously, been talking about Liverpool with a former resident. And I know only a very few facts about the city of Liverpool, most of which have to do with either music or football … neither of which topics bring Baltimore immediately to my mind (“Baltimore Hit Parade” and the Ravens notwithstanding). It’s clear that this comparison would have meant something to its readers in 1898, but this book never actually explains it.

Thus, as always, to the internet we go! It turns out this was not just a one-off comparison. Our friends at A. Hoen & Co. had earlier published a map of the city, with the same title, as a newspaper supplement in 1872; the Mercantile Advancement Company published a 231 page book, Baltimore: The Gateway to the South, the Liverpool of America in 1898; and in 1894 a local newspaper doubled-up on the city’s nicknames, publishing a two-volume celebration titled The Monumental City, the Liverpool of America: A Souvenir of the 121st Anniversary of the Baltimore American.

Title of the 1872 map by A. Hoen & Co.

More helpful, however, is this April 1875 article from Scribner’s Monthly (“An Illustrated Monthly for the People”) which makes the comparison more explicit, focusing on Baltimore’s industrial strengths, rapid rise in population, and “remarkable development of its terminal facilities” (i.e., the harbor and the railroads). Not only did that make us the Liverpool of America, it apparently made us “the fashion.”

I didn’t find the phrase used in the 20th century (at least not on an internet search), but in some ways the comparison stayed true, if progressively less flattering, as industry dwindled and each city’s future become rather less rosy … and then, in the late 20th century, an arts scene helped bring each city back to life.  But here’s Trillion to talk more knowledgably about it!

I lived in Liverpool for about ten years, initially for University but I stayed when I met my husband. It is a wonderful city, with a fascinating history and amazing people. If you ever have a chance to visit Liverpool I would highly recommend taking the opportunity, you don’t need to love The Beatles, but you will hear them almost everywhere you go in the city. I didn’t anticipate finding similarities between the two cities but as soon as I arrived in Baltimore they quickly became apparent. The biggest similarity is history, both cities were important ports meaning there was a huge amount of wealth at one point and an international community. The impact of this can especially be seen in architecture, both have some amazing historic buildings highlighting their status as international cities, plus they both have wonderful museum collections gathered from around the world.  Adding to this however both cities experienced trouble during the twentieth century and have seen this impact the way in which they are viewed nationally and internationally. It seems though that the local communities of both have come together to develop a thriving arts and culture scene that attracts visitors from around the world, bringing back just a little of that former glory.

 The cities have their differences, but I frequently find a certain comfort in the similarities, making Baltimore feel not quite so far away from home. ~Trillion

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A Research Dive: The Hebrew Orphan Asylum

Posted on January 24th, 2018 by

Blog post by JMM archivist Lorie Rombro. You can read more posts by Lorie here.

A few weeks ago, I received an information request about the Hebrew Orphan Asylum.  The person wanted to know if we could find information on if her grandmother and any of her siblings that had been placed in the Hebrew Orphan Asylum and why. She said that family lore said they had been there, but they had no proof of this. This began another interesting journey through the collections.

The Hebrew Orphan Asylum, c. 1870s. JMM 1984.118.1

The Hebrew Orphan Asylum which was established in 1873 by the Hebrew Benevolent Society, was located on the outskirts of the city (at the time) in Calverton Heights. It would stay at the same location until 1923 when the Hebrew Orphan Society and the Hebrew Children’s Sheltering and Protective Society, which merged in 1921, moved out to what is now Levindale on the recommendation of the newly formed Associated Jewish Charities. With in a few years the orphanage was closed with the children entering the fostering system and the residents of the Hebrew Home for the Aging moving in.

Because the person requesting information had done her research prior to contacting us I knew that sometime between the 1900 and 1910 her grandmother would have been in the orphanage. I began by looking at what we have in our collection, and identified a small book that listed all the girls and boys in the Hebrew Orphan Asylum. I was excited when I found her grandmothers name with the date of arrival and discharge next to her name.

This book has a list of all the children age when they arrived and most have a discharge date as well.

I was not expecting what I found next, two large books in good condition that contained the admissions records for the children from 1873-1896 & 1896-1917. Each book had an entry for each child providing information on the father, mother, siblings, reason for being placed, general health and additional information on family and behavior. The amount of information on each child varies but it allows for a picture of the child to begin. What was interesting is like most orphanages of the time the majority of orphans are “half” orphans, with either a mother or father placing them in orphanage for lack of funds or the ability to care for the child.  Glued and placed in between the pages of the book where additional documents which added to the record. Including court documents, medical records and most important letters of discharge. It was amazing to see where the children went, often home to a parent, taken in by an older sibling when they were able to care for them, a relative or on to a boarding house to stay at because they had a job.

One of the earliest records in the book on Moses Blum, one of the only full orphans in the records.

I was able to locate the record for this women’s grandmother and her great uncle, why they where placed and that two years later their mother came back for both children. The location of the home they where being discharged to and any notes on behavior during their stay. Like many children that had a living parent there where reports of them running away from the orphanage to their parent. One book was able to put to rest a families questions on their history and gave documented proof that the stories where true.

Most children under reason for admission was listed as insufficiency of means, poverty or like the above picture an ill parent.

Court record for the admission of two of her children Lena, age 6, and Hyman, age 4 into the Hebrew Orphan Asylum.

This request was accepted and Morris Fedder was given to the care of his sister.

A request to release Louis Cohen’s children into his care.

Not all children were placed in the Hebrew Orphan Asylum; often the Hebrew Benevolent Society of Baltimore would give additional funds to the family, mostly widowed women, so they could keep their children with them at home.

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Good News for the Hebrew Orphan Asylum!

Posted on February 13th, 2013 by

debA blog post by Research Historian Dr. Deb Weiner.

Recently there was good news in the fight to save the Hebrew Orphan Asylum, the endangered building that is Baltimore’s second most important Jewish historic site according to one expert (namely, me).

The Hebrew Orphan Asylum, early 1920s. JMM 1985.90.17

The Hebrew Orphan Asylum, early 1920s. JMM 1985.90.17

Our friends at Baltimore Heritage, Inc., the city’s leading advocate for historic preservation, report the following:

“With the Coppin Heights Community Development Corporation taking the lead, we have made great strides towards the preservation and reuse of this important West Baltimore landmark.

>Maryland’s Department of Housing and Community Development has granted the Coppin Heights CDC $100,000 to stabilize the building. Not only does stabilization address the building’s severely compromised roof but it also allows architects and engineers to work safely inside to assess conditions and complete redevelopment plans.

>Coppin Heights CDC has now secured $10 million in state and federal funding with support from the Maryland Sustainable Communities Tax Credit program, the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Credit program, and the New Markets Tax Credit program. This is great progress towards securing the resources necessary to restore the building and bring it back as an asset to the neighborhoods of Greater Rosemont.

>Finally, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown announced that West Baltimore, including the area around the Hebrew Orphan Asylum, is one of five new Health Enterprise Zones across the state – a program that opens up new incentives for providing medical care to residents in under-served neighborhoods like West Baltimore. The announcement comes as welcome news, as the Hebrew Orphan Asylum is slated to be transformed into the Center for Health Care and Healthy Living to help address the same health disparities that the new Health Enterprise Zone is designed to reduce.”

The Hebrew Orphan Asylum, 2010.

Congratulations and thanks to the Coppin Heights CDC, Coppin State University (the building’s owner), and Baltimore Heritage, Inc., for their tremendous efforts in trying to save this building and turn it into a valuable asset for West Baltimore.

The fight isn’t over – there is plenty that still needs to get done and the tax credit financing is contingent on finding some private financing as well. (Could the Jewish community possibly help with this??) But as Baltimore Heritage Inc.’s Eli Pousson says, “We’ll get there!”

For more on the story, see Jacques Kelly’s recent Sun article.

And for more on the building, see the Baltimore Heritage website.

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