The Ice Cream Centennial: Baltimore’s Coolest History

Posted on July 26th, 2016 by

As an exhibitions intern, much of my time here at the JMM has been spent digging through artifacts on PastPerfect, the digital database of the museum’s collections. While usually my searches are geared towards certain subjects, often I’ll come across unrelated items of interest. One such instance was coming across a collection of fabulous photographs celebrating the Ice Cream Centennial in Baltimore. As a hardcore ice cream lover (as well as a professional scooper) I needed to know more about this special celebration- and learned that Baltimore, believe it or not, is the birthplace of commercial ice cream production!

The hero behind this phenomenon was a Baltimore milkman named Jacob Fussell, a Quaker born in Hartford County. Fussell found that unlike milk, cream had a more unpredictable supply and demand, often leaving him with a surplus of the stuff. So he decided that, instead of disposing of the leftover cream as he’d been doing, he’d rather turn the cream into more profit by turning it into a new product: ice cream!

And so in 1851 Fussell opened the first commercial ice cream factory in Seven Valleys, Pennsylvania, shipping the sweet stuff to Baltimore via train. He became so successful that he opened more factories. The mass production lead to a cut in costs, making ice cream more easily affordable to the lower classes and establishing its popularity across class lines.

One hundred years later, and ice cream had become not just popular but beloved. A huge celebration was held to celebrate the anniversary, featuring a speech by Governor Theodore McKeldin, the unveiling of a plaque honoring Fussell, and ten thousand free cups of ice cream!!

That morning, Governor McKeldin signed the Ice Cream Proclamation, which declared June 15, 1951 to be National Ice Cream Day.

That morning, Governor McKeldin signed the Ice Cream Proclamation, which declared June 15, 1951 to be National Ice Cream Day.

As seen above, the celebration had a huge turn out!

As seen above, the celebration had a huge turn out!

Many local ice cream companies participated in distributing free ice cream…

Many local ice cream companies participated in distributing free ice cream…

…including Hendlers!

…including Hendlers!

Movie stars Tony Curtis and Piper Laurie were also special guests at the event, here pictured with Carrie Fussell Craft, Jacob Fussell’s then-84 year old daughter. They co-starred in the movie The Prince Who Was a Thief, which was released later that month.

Movie stars Tony Curtis and Piper Laurie were also special guests at the event, here pictured with Carrie Fussell Craft, Jacob Fussell’s then-84 year old daughter. They co-starred in the movie The Prince Who Was a Thief, which was released later that month.

As a person with a passion for ice cream, I am happy to know that its wholesaling got the party it deserved, and hope that come 2051, the bicentennial will be celebrated with just as much fervor- and, of course, free ice cream!

While ice cream goes back way further than 1851, without Jacob Fussell and his Baltimore business, ice cream may not have become the world’s favorite dessert!

While ice cream goes back way further than 1851, without Jacob Fussell and his Baltimore business, ice cream may not have become the world’s favorite dessert!

Sources:

Funderburg, Anne Cooper. Chocolate, Strawberry, and Vanilla: A History of American Ice Cream. Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State U Popular, 1995. Print.

“Ice Cream Centennial Observed in Baltimore.” Reading Eagle 15 June 1951: 19. Print.

Thomas, Robert Bailey. “The History of Ice Cream.” The Old Farmer’s Almanac 2004. Boston: Jenks, Palmer, 1984. N. pag. Print.

All photos courtesy of the JMM.

emilia blog 2 picPost by Exhibitions Intern Emilia Halvorsen. To read  more posts by and about interns click HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Jews in Film: A Double Feature

Posted on July 25th, 2016 by

Ever since I started this internship, I have been learning more about Jewish life everyday. This rich culture, except for its portrayal in movies, was foreign to me just seven weeks ago. Now, as we come towards the end of the internship, and I am infinitely more knowledgeable, I had the idea to revisit a couple of the films I have watched that feature Jewishness: Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator and The Comedian Harmonists, to look at what they have to say about the Jewish experience with new perspective. I also have a more selfish motivation…to share these great movies with more people! These extraordinarily different films, unsurprisingly, tackle the subject in contrasting ways. Note: spoilers for both films will follow!

The Great Dictator (1940)

Image via.

Image via.

 

Charlie Chaplin’s first sound film, The Great Dictator, satirizes Adolf Hitler, fascism, and anti-semitism. One of this film’s many strengths is its incredible timeliness. It was released in 1940, a year before the attacks on Pearl Harbor and the United States’ entry into WWII. Chaplin’s character makes a speech to the audience at the end of the film , imploring the people of the world to exercise their humanity. The fact that, at the time he delivered that speech, the Holocaust was just beginning makes his message even more profound.

The Great Dictator, is not, however an overly heavy film. It actually has a great deal in common with Chaplin’s earlier movies: cases of mistaken identity, physical comedy, and hilariously over-the-top characters. In one of my favorite sequences in the film, Chaplin’s farcical Hitler character plays with a giant globe balloon–representing his naive desire to conquer the world–only to have it explode in his hands. Charlie Chaplin weaves together comedy and political commentary so deftly that the lines between them are blurred.

Image via.

Image via.

The most symbolically meaningful feature of this film is the fact that Chaplin’s version of Hitler and the Jewish protagonist change places through the course of the film. The protagonist, known only as “the barber”, takes advantage of his resemblance to “Adenoid Hynkel” in order to bring down his regime with appeals to kindness. Charlie Chaplin made a point of creating a deep, human Jewish hero while Jews were being dehumanized just across the Atlantic. If I were to summarize the main point of The Great Dictator, it would be that Jews are human and deserve dignity; a simple but powerful message.

The Comedian Harmonists (1997)

Image via.

Image via.

I originally watched this film for a German class when we were studying the culture of the Weimar Republic. It follows the German music group, The Comedian Harmonists, through their rise in popularity, which ran parallel in time to the rise of the Third Reich. Three of the six group members–Harry Frommermann, Ari Leschnikoff, and Roman Cycowski–were Jewish. Harry, the protagonist, is also in a relationship with a non-Jewish German woman named Erna, and the film shows the danger that the Nazi regime posed to the couple. The most interesting aspect of this movie, to me, is the disbelief the characters express at each stage when the Third Reich gained power. When a group of Nazi soldiers vandalized the music store where Erna worked and attacked Harry, the store owners remarked that they couldn’t believe that could happen in Germany. Knowing the horrors that would unfold later, it was interesting to see the characters’ perspectives from the beginning.

What does The Comedian Harmonists have to say about being Jewish? It certainly demonstrates the danger of being a famous Jew in Germany during the beginning of the Third Reich and the painful choices they had to make in order to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.

Image via.

Image via.

I would recommend these two movies to anyone, regardless of their background. The Great Dictator makes sweeping, acute statements about the nature of humanity, while The Comedian Harmonists is more concerned with the daily dangers and conflicts of Jews living in Germany at the beginning of the Third Reich. As a lifelong fan of movies, I am thankful that the work that I have done in this internship has provided me with the experience to consider some of my favorite films in a new light! This is one of the many benefits of working at the Jewish Museum of Maryland!

Alice badgeBlog post by Exhibitions Intern Alice Wynd. To read  more posts by and about interns click HERE.

 

 

 

 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




The People’s Library

Posted on July 25th, 2016 by

Earlier this month the JMM interns took a field trip to the Library of Congress in Washington DC. Since all of us are passionate about history in some respect, we greatly appreciated the opportunity to tour such a historic building.

After arriving we were given a brief tour of the museum where we saw several truly amazing exhibits. Starting with a recreation of Thomas Jefferson’s personal library we saw presentations on New York, Jewish texts and the Library itself. Our guide took us to an office where we examined several of the oldest Jewish books that are known.

The Library of Congress is full of amazing architecture.

The Library of Congress is full of amazing architecture.

As I’m preparing to begin student teaching in history classes this Fall, I was extremely excited to visit the Library. It’s filled with American history as well as sections on every topic imaginable. Thomas Jefferson, a president who’s leadership I particularly enjoy studying, was fascinating and I am extremely impressed with the Library’s work on it. We learned that Jefferson not only kept a vast collection of books, he kept an extremely detailed record of all his texts. For every book he obtained he also included it’s price, who sold it and his thoughts on it. Our guide also explained to us that Jefferson wanted the Library to belong to the American people. His reasoning behind this was simple; he wanted an informed and knowledgeable American population.

After leaving the Library, the interns spent the rest of the afternoon in DC. We got lunch, walked around the other museums and saw a few vendors outside before the rain set in. I think opportunities like this are something special that comes with the internship. I have had several other internships in college, but none took us to somewhere as incredible as the Library of Congress. Special thanks to the museum staff and Rachel Kassman for organizing the trip for us.

I highly recommend the Library to anyone who is interested in History! Thanks for a great visit!

Ben SnyderBlog post by Education & Programs Intern Ben Snyder. To read  more posts by and about interns click HERE.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




« Previous PageNext Page »