MS 125 The Mansbach Family Papers

Posted on March 22nd, 2012 by

Family collections can take genealogy beyond the family tree.  Not only can genealogists dig out familial connections, birth and death dates, but they can sometimes see objects that their ancestors touched or even created – a letter written in their great-grandfather’s hand perhaps, or their great-aunt’s wedding dress.  But family collections are also useful to historians in general.  Where a genealogist sees a new branch to add to the family tree a professor might see a new perspective on immigration, a deeper understanding of culture, etc.  The following collection contains information about one family, but also information about immigration and the Holocaust

buy essays

Shabbat Challah cover used by the Masbach family. 1994.136.10

Mansbach Family

Papers, n.d., 1866 – c. 1975

MS 125

The Jewish Museum of Maryland


The Mansbach Family Papers were donated to the Jewish Museum of Maryland by Irene Mansbach Russel in 1994 as accession 1994.136 and 1994.142, in 2001 as 2001.074 and in 2003 as accession 2003.101.  Robin Waldman processed the collection in 2003.  Additional materials (including folders 80-85) were added in 2004 as accession 2004.47 and the finding aid was updated in April 2005 to reflect these additions.

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.

Leo Mansbach taken in Germany, 1939. 1994.142.55


Bernhard Mansbach (1900-1981), son of Hermann Mansbach and Sophie Loewenstein Mansbach, left Germany in February 1939 and arrived in England March 1939.  He had a tourist visa that did not permit him to work.  He lived with his brother, Leo Mansbach, and his parents, who came to England shortly after Bernhard, until October 1939 when he left England for the United States.  Hermann and Sophie settled in England, and Leo came to Baltimore in 1948.  A third brother, Edmund Mansbach, b. 1896, was never successful in leavingGermany.  He died in a concentration camp c. 1940-1942.

Hertha Phillips Mansbach (1905-1996) was born in Oberhausen, Germany to Bernhard Phillips and Jetchen Oberdorfer Phillips, and later lived in Mulheim.  Hertha left Germany in December 1939.  She traveled via train to Antwerp where she boarded a Holland-Amerika ship in January 1940 and sailed via South Hampton, England to New York, arriving January 20, 1940. Hertha Phillips married Bernhard Mansbach, whom she had known in Germany, on November 3, 1940.  They lived at 2120 Brookfield Avenue until February 1944, when they moved to 2613 Reisterstown Road.  Shortly thereafter, in April 1944, Hertha gave birth to their only child, a daughter named Irene Mansbach.

George Mansbach, who was not related to Bernhard Mansbach in any way, was an American who lived inBaltimore.  When Bernhard began writing to American citizens who bore his last name in an attempt to secure assistance in leavingGermany, George agreed to provide affidavits. Once Bernhard arrived inBaltimore, George was of further assistance, helping him to secure employment, and later helping Bernhard obtain a refund for his deceased brother Edmund’s ship fare to theUnited States.  Bernhard and Hertha invited George and his wife to their wedding, but the American Mansbachs were unable to attend.


The Mansbach Family Papers contain records that document the family’s attempts to flee Nazi Germany and establish themselves inEnglandand finally, in theUnited States.  Records include correspondence, affidavits, immigration documents and identity documents.  Both English and German documents are included in this collection.

Notes:  See database for location of related photographs 1994.142.55, 1994.142.62.1, 1994.142.62.2.  See also JMM OH #528, Irene Mansbach Interview, April 1, 2002 for further information.

Baltimore tailoring establishment where Bernard Mansbach worked, n.d. 1994.142.62.2


Posted in jewish museum of maryland

MS 113 Lena Barber Midwife Records

Posted on February 9th, 2012 by

Not long ago I posted the finding aid for MS 180 the Rosa Fineberg midwife records.  Midwife records are a rich resource for genealogists.  Besides the expected birthdates, the books also contain information about the occupations and origins of the parents.  We are lucky enough to have two collections and the following finding aid excerpt gives information about Lena Barber and her work. 

Lena Barber (c. 1860 – c. 1940),

Midwife Records, n.d., 1892 -1930

MS 113

   The Jewish Museum of Maryland

Lena Barber, c.1900. 1985.62.1


The midwife records of Lena Barber were donated to the Jewish Museum of Maryland by Rose Kushner in 1985 as accession 1985.062. The collection was processed in April 2003 by Robin Waldman.

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.


Lena Barber was a Russian immigrant who lived at 44 West York Streeti n South Baltimore who made a living as a midwife. She would walk to clients’ homes and would wear a white apron while she worked. She delivered most babies on her own, using just her hands, but Barber called in a medical doctor whenever complications arose during the birth. Her daughter or granddaughter often accompanied her when she went to deliver babies, and in most instances, they probably filled out the forms for Barber, because her English was not very practiced.

Baltimore City law required that every person practicing midwifery in the City of Baltimore had to keep a register of births and had to enter the information in that register, as provided by the Office of Registrar of Vital Statistics of the Board of Health. That information further had to be copied onto a monthly schedule, which was in turn delivered, signed, to the office of the Commissioner of Health on the first, second or third day of every month. As noted on the Return of a Birth form in the records, “Any such person or persons who shall hereafter fail to comply with the provisions…shall be subjected to a fine of ten (10) dollars for each offense.” Forms were provided by the City office, and copies of each form were both retained by the midwife and turned in for recordation by the City.

essay online
Cover of 1892-1893 record book. 1985.62.2

Lena Barber’s life and death dates were estimated by her great-grandson, Steve Barber, based on the following information:

Lena came to the United States in 1883 with two children. She was already widowed when she came (fromRussia), and subsequently remarried in Baltimore and had one more child. Steve’s father was one of Lena’s grandsons. Steve’s father and mother were married in the spring of 1940, and Lena attended the wedding. She died a few months afterward.

Note: For more anecdotal information, see Kellman, Naomi, “Grandmother was a Midwife,” Baltimore Jewish Times, September 24, 1982.


Lena Barber recorded the details of the births she facilitated in a series of at least sixteen notebooks. Sixteen notebooks are included in these records, but a gap from the years 1923-1928 indicates that at least one notebook might be missing. Information that was recorded included:

Sex, and No. of Child of Mother; Name of Child (in later notebooks); Race or Color; Date; Place of Birth; Full Name of Mother; Mother’s Maiden Name; Mother’s Birthplace; Full Name of Father; Father’s Occupation; Father’s Birthplace

Also included among the records are a photograph of Lena Barber, several examples of the paperwork she was required to utilize for compliance with city law, and some of her undated notes on births she performed.


Page 1 of the 1892-1893 record book. 1985.62.2


Posted in jewish museum of maryland

The Leo V. Berger Immigrant’s Trunk

Posted on January 31st, 2011 by

On Sunday, February 6, the Leo V. Berger Immigrant’s Trunk living history performance will travel to Beth Israel Congregation’s Hebrew School in Owings Mills. While there is nothing unusual about this – after all, the Immigrant’s Trunk is a JMM outreach program that travels frequently – what is special about this performance has to do with a member of the audience with a unique perspective on the story.

The program interprets the life of Ida Rosen Rehr – a real life Jewish immigrant from Ukraine – who settled in Baltimore in the early 20th century. Ida came from a large family in a small shtetl in Ukraine where her father was the town’s rabbi. She left behind her parents and five siblings to join her older sister and uncle in Baltimore. Professional actor Katherine Lyons tells her story as she unpacks a trunk containing reproduced family photos from the JMM collections as well as artifacts meant to represent aspects of her daily life as a Jewish immigrant living in East Baltimore in the early 1900s.

The program was created eight years ago as a means of bringing immigration history – a key JMM theme – to life in an engaging manner for students at Jewish day and congregational schools. Since its inception, the program has been performed for thousands of students, teachers, and adults; it now travels regularly throughout the state (and beyond) to public, private, and parochial schools as well as senior centers and community organizations.

One of the reasons for the program’s success is because of the rich story at its heart. When we initiated this project, JMM staff began combing our archives in search of interesting photographs and documents that we could assemble to tell the story of a fictional character. We were delighted when we stumbled upon a collection of materials devoted to Ida. The collection included a scrapbook filled with handwritten index cards that recorded responses to oral history interview questions that Ida’s granddaughter Roz had conducted with her as a Hebrew school project. The scrapbook also contained photographs that documented Ida’s life and documents such as her naturalization certificate.

With such an abundance of materials devoted to Ida, clearly we had found the right person on whom to base this program.

We became even more excited after we hired historian Dean Krimmel who, thanks to some wonderful detective work, located the ship manifest with Ida’s name on it. From the manifest we learned the address in Baltimore where Ida lived upon arrival, the fact that her sister Minnie paid for her travel, and that she had $5 in her possession when she arrived in Baltimore’s Locust Point!

Ship manifest listing Chaye (Ida’s name before it was changed in the US) Rosen

Dean also managed to get us in touch with Ida’s daughter, Dorothy Sherman, who, at the time, was living in Owings Mills. One of the high points of the entire project was connecting with Dorothy and her daughter Roz (the granddaughter whose scrapbook launched the whole project) and having the chance to fill even more details about Ida’s life. From Dorothy we learned that Ida worked as a seamstress in Sonneborn Factory where she had to struggle with the fact that she had to work on Saturdays (in the performance, she talks about how difficult this was for her as the daughter of a rabbi). We also learned the sad fate of her family who remained in Ukraine – with the exception of one sister, they all perished in the Holocaust. Dorothy donated additional artifacts from Ida for use in the performance including a fabulous coat with a fur collar purchased at Hutzlers that has Ida’s name sewn into the lining!

All of this brings us back to the upcoming performance on Feb. 6. Ida’s great-grandson will be in attendance at the show as will his mother Roz. We are so grateful to the Rehr family for all of their assistance in creating this innovative program and for helping us keep Ida’s memory alive. To learn more about the Leo V. Berger Immigrant’s Trunk or to schedule a program, please contact Deborah Cardin, 410-732-6400 x236 /

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

« Previous PageNext Page »