“Whose Side Are You On?: Baltimore’s Immigrants and Civil War.”

Posted on January 31st, 2014 by

On Sunday afternoon of January 26th, the JMM was humming with chatter, school groups and chilly visitors taking shelter from the icy Baltimore air.  At 1 pm the commotion came to a pause when speaker Nick Fessenden, a retired history professor, took the stage in the orientation lobby of the JMM.  Fessenden presented an intriguing talk titled, “Whose Side Are You On?: Baltimore’s Immigrants and Civil War.” The audience grew quiet and listened attentively as Mr. Fessenden set the scene, drawing them back to the Baltimore of the 1850’s and 1860’s.

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Many audience members were surprised to learn that in the year 1860 more than 35% of Baltimore was composed of German, Irish and Jewish Immigrants and their children.  The city of Baltimore was split into sections – divided by race, religion, and social ranking.  Fessenden made no attempt to sugar coat many of the violent issues surrounding Baltimore and its politics during the Civil War era.  Polls were abused and controlled by the native born working class Marylanders.  Poll workers were targets of excruciating acts of violence.

Fessenden aimed to describe the difference between each minority group during this high-tension time.  The German immigrants were the largest immigrant population in Baltimore at a whopping 25%.  They were businessmen and farmers, and were spread across the entire social spectrum. About 7% of the German immigrant population was made up of Jews living in the city.

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Fessenden laid out the Jewish perspective during this turbulent time. In Southern Maryland, Jewish slave-holders were incredibly rare.  However, because the Jewish people felt insecure in a new, unknown country, they typically adopted the opinions of their neighbors. Jews in the south mostly empathized with the confederacy. On the other hand, Jews residing in Union areas took an anti-slavery stance. 

Fessenden’s talk concluded with a flurry of interesting and insightful questions from the audience.  The listeners questioned the violence in Baltimore, the voting system in Maryland, and various other questions surrounding Jewish life and culture in Baltimore during the Civil War.

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A blog post by Education Intern Molly Gamble. To read more posts by interns, click HERE. If you are interested in interning at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, you can find open internship opportunities HERE.

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MS 207 Hebrew Young Men’s Sick Relief Association

Posted on January 3rd, 2013 by

Here is one of our most recent Mansuscript Collections processed in the Spring of 2012.

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Hebrew Young Men?s Sick Relief Association Papers

1888-1978

?MS 207

?The Jewish Museum of Maryland

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ACCESS AND PROVENANCE

The Hebrew Young Men?s Sick Relief Association Papers were found in the collection of the Jewish Museum of Maryland and given the accession number 2006.48.001 and 1996.164.028.? The collection was processed in May of 2012.

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.

50th Anniversary committee Hebrew Young Men's Sick Relief Association, 1938. Courtesy of Paul Frankle. 2009.53.1

HISTORICAL NOTE

The Hebrew Young Men?s Sick Relief Association was founded in September 1888 by three recent immigrants; Aaron Grollman, Feivel Kirshner and Samuel Levi.? Its main purpose was to assist immigrant Jews from Russia and Lithuania settling in Baltimore.? They adopted the slogan:? ?Love, Brotherhood and Friendship?.? Services included:? assisting members in time of sickness, aiding widows and orphans, and in times of disaster offering aid to all regardless of faith.

The Association established a Chevra Kadisha to properly attend to deceased members.? In 1893 they purchased land and dedicated it for a cemetery. In 1936 a new cemetery was bought on Windsor Mill Road.? The organization next established an endowment fund where, upon the death of a member, $200.00 was paid to the widows and orphans to assist them and prevent them from becoming public charges.

In public disasters the Association did its share and offered aid to the suffering regardless of faith;? in February 1904 when Baltimore had its Big Fire, during World Wars I and II, and after the Balfour Declaration contributed toward the establishment and development of Israel.

The Hebrew Young Men?s Sick and Relief Association celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 1938 when it had nearly a thousand members.? The Association was still in existence as late as 1978.

SCOPE AND CONTENT

The Hebrew Young Men?s Sick Relief Association collection consists of administrative documents records and programs.? Records include constitution and by-laws in English and Yiddish, financial reports, agreements with cemeteries and minutes of meetings.

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Minutes include financial statements and rosters with the earliest in Yiddish.? There is information regarding programs and events from 1938 to 1978.

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Anatomy of a Family Circle Celebration

Posted on December 28th, 2012 by

A blog post by Barry S. Lever, Special Projects Consultant

http:///www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-hankin-family-100-20121216,0,1139305.story

The Baltimore Sun’s Maryland News section on Monday December 17, 2012, featured a half page article, “Hailing 100 years in America.” by Julie Scharper.

This story outlined how the original members of the Hankin Family arrived in Charm City in October 1912.  Personally, I delighted in the festivities so creatively and elegantly organized by my cousins as well as the Baltimore Sun feature article detailing the gathering.

Abram, and his new bride, Bessie Gorelick Hankin, along with Abe’s younger brother, Sam were the advance party of what is now a remarkable 6th generation family proudly tracing its lineage to those eight siblings and their parents,  Chaim and Surha Hankin.

Bessie, Abraham, and Sam

As Abe and Bessie’s eldest grandchild I had the good fortune to personally know all of the elder Hankin siblings, as well as their parents, Suhra and Chaim.  It is a personal delight to share those stories with my many cousins who were never privileged to know them. Behind the scenes the Jewish Museum of Maryland played a significant role for that Hankin Family 100th Anniversary Celebration.

As the largest regional Jewish Museum in the United States part of its mission is to collect and preserve the material and intellectual record of the Jewish experience in Maryland.

Sam Hankin’s grandson, Harvey Golomb, a Colorado cousin came to visit Baltimore and used the JMM‘s voluminous collection and expert staff to search the immigration records, photo images and oral histories.  From these and other sources he assembled a unique memoir, The Hankin Family: Journeys to America, making it available to the entire family.

Hankin Family Memoir

In gratitude for the Museum’s assistance, the Hankin Family Circle (HFC) donated a copy of this memoir to the JMM‘s collection accompanied by a copy of the minutes of the first meeting of the  Hankin Family Circle in April 1947.  In addition to the incredible archives and artifacts housed at the JMM’s Herbert Bearman Campus, the Museum is currently displaying a highly acclaimed exhibition, The Voices of Lombard Street.

This exhibition features many of the scenes that Abe, Bessie and Sam Hankin would have encountered when they stepped off the gangplank of the North German Lloyd Vessel, S.S. Main which docked that day at Locust point in the shadow of Fort McHenry.

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The JMM’s staff of docents looks forward to greeting you when you arrive to visit that exhibition and enjoy retracing what it was like to land on these shores as my immigrant family did on October 24, 1912.

On behalf of The Jewish Museum of Maryland I wish all of our members, website and on-site visitors, a Healthy, Happy and Peaceful 2013.

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