MS 90 Reverend Hersz F. Kinek Circumcision Records, 1940-1967

Posted on June 7th, 2012 by

A few weeks ago I posted the finding aid for one of our midwife records collections.  Midwife records can provide a wealth of information for genealogists and historians.  The following finding aid is for another type of collection that also helps genealogists reconstruct the story of their ancestors – circumcision records. 

Reverend Hersz F. Kinek (1900-1976)

Circumcision Records, 1940-1967

MS 90

  The Jewish Museum of Maryland

Rabbi Hersz F. Kinek lighting the candles for Channukah on the bima at Congregation Beth Hamedrosh Hagadol, Dec. 14, 1947. 1989.2.2


The Board of Jewish Education Collection was donated to the Jewish Museum of Maryland by Isaac Kinek in 1990 as accession 1990.50. The collection was processed in Spring 2002 by Ed Schechter and Myrna Siegel.

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.

Bris dress worn by Joseph Kornblatt, c. 1904. Anna Osnot Smotrisky Kornblatt made the gown from her wedding dress train. 1987.130.24


Hersz Kinek was born in Lodz, Poland in 1900.  He lived in Belgium, Switzerland and Austria(where he learned to perform ritual circumcisions) before moving to Milan, Italyto accept a cantorial position with the Tempio Israeletico congregation. The Tempio awarded Kinek a life contract, and he resided there for 15 years. When Mousollini forced all Jews in Italyin 1938 to register as Jews, Kinek prepared his family to leave.  He applied for a visa to Palestine, but was denied entry by the governing British. With the help of an American relative Kinek sent an affadavit and was granted permission to come to the United States.  Kinek and his family were aboard a U.S.-bound ship when World War II broke out in September 1939. 

In Baltimore, Kinek became the cantor of Bais Hamedrash Hagodol Congregation, located then at the corner of Baltimore and Chester streets.  The Kineks moved from East Baltimore to Forest Park, and then to upper Park Heights Avenue, and Reverend Kinek served as the cantor for Shaarei Zion Congregation for approximately ten years before moving to Bnai Brak, Israel, in 1967. Kinek served as Baltimore’s leading mohel (ritual circumciser) during the years he lived there, performing the ceremony on thousands of children.

Circumcision set. 1998.109.1


The collection contains record books and forms of circumcisions performed by Reverand Kinek for 1940 through 1967.  The records from 1940 until April 12, 1951 are organized chronologically.  Records from April 12, 1951 are organized in reverse chronological order.  Records may contain the following pieces of information: name of the child in English and Hebrew/Yiddish; date of birth; date of circumcision; place of circumcision; name of father; name of mother; address of parents; telephone number.

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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

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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


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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.

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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


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