Invaluable Archives

Posted on November 20th, 2013 by

Since my last update, I have learned so much more about Baltimore Jewish history by processing a wide variety of collections. Entering the library closed stacks, I am never quite sure what lies in store for me within the mysterious archival boxes. In the case of the library closed stacks, no two collections are alike!

Over the past month, I accessioned photographs, cookbooks, invoices, holiday cards, invitations, financial documents, and all manner of fascinating manuscript materials for the archives. I strongly encourage anyone interested in Baltimore history to conduct research in our archives. I recently processed original documents pertaining to the career of Lun (Licien) Harris, a fashion illustrator who was an active preservationist and founding member of Baltimore Heritage. Lun Harris was appointed to the Baltimore City Planning Commission and voted against interstate highways through Baltimore. This month, I accessioned several of Harris’ photographs as well as original diplomas and awards for the JMM archives.

Here is a photograph of Lun Harris in a three-way mirror. The scan is available in the JMM’s digital records, but we also have the original in our extensive photograph collection.

2008.95.1

2008.95.1

Beyond  Lun Harris’ photographs, we also have various documents pertaining to this remarkable woman’s lifetime achievements courtesy of Linda Lapides. For example, here we have Harris’ gorgeous certificate commemorating her service with the Baltimore City Planning Commission:

 2008.95.12

2008.95.12

Although this scan is available for research most of the JMM’s twenty thousand catalog records are not digitized. Anyone interested in Baltimore history would benefit from the materials available in our archival collections. As much as I enjoy digitizing new accession materials,  I am amazed by the sheer volume of physical manuscripts, books, paintings, maps, blueprints, and other original documents in the archives. As a history student at UMBC, I am pleased that such a wealth of local history is readily available.

Another compelling collection from this past month, donated by Morton Esterson, includes more recent records. JMM archives include not only faded original manuscripts but also recent records of Jewish life in Baltimore.  These resources, preserved in the permanent collection, will be readily available for future generations. My interest in these recent documents in particular sprang from my personal contact with the Baltimore Jewish Council’s Holocaust Speakers Bureau as a UMBC Jewish student leader. While I was directly in touch with the Holocaust Speakers Bureau, I added original documents about their resources to the JMM archives. This coincidence speaks to the continuing relevance of the archives for Jewish life in Baltimore. The archives include resources with enduring meaning beyond the realm of academia. Other “modern” documents I added in the past few weeks include Rosh Hashana greeting cards – yet another surprising find in the library closed stacks! Although some of the collections I processed are more mundane than others, just by sheer exposure to this variety of documents I have learned so much about Jewish life in Baltimore. Once again, I look forward to the next collection!

After my last blog post, my classmates at UMBC pleasantly surprised me by mentioning that they follow the Jewish Museum of Maryland on social media. Please continue following the JMM on Twitter and Facebook!

twitter-icon Don't forget to Like us on Facebook!

 

Intern JenA blog post by Collections Intern Jen Wachtel. To read more posts by JMM interns, click here.

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Finding a Home in the Collections

Posted on October 30th, 2013 by

Within the first five minutes of my internship at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, I found myself in the midst of an intimidating board meeting. Over the course of the next two months, I realized that I had joined a dynamic staff and a group of enthusiastic Collections interns. So far, I have worked with a wide range of collections including photographs, oral histories, scrapbooks, rare books, invitations, and Bar Mitzvah cards. The most exciting evening of my internship was the day Jobi Zink entrusted me with the condition reports for two swords and a rifle for the Passages through Fire: Jews and the Civil War exhibit. You can find photographic evidence of my excitement at handling these objects on the JMM Facebook album or by clicking these links: Civil War Sword and Full Sword and Scabbard.

While most of the other collections are not as thrilling as swords and rifles, I gained valuable insight about Jewish culture in Baltimore and the rest of Maryland by processing multimedia collections. As an out-of-state undergraduate at UMBC, learning about Jewish life in all aspects of Baltimore’s history has helped me feel at home. I particularly enjoyed processing an affectionate oral testimony about Camps Louise and Airy. Growing up, I never attended Jewish summer camps, so I was intrigued to learn about this important aspect in the history of Baltimore’s Jewish youth. This record is now available in the JMM’s digital collections (Oral History #170).

Most of my work is in the form of paper documents – ranging from Hebrew diplomas, High Holy Day Cards and Bar Mitzvah invitations to family photos and newspaper clippings from Jewish businesses. I am especially intrigued by the sheer extent of the collections donors such as Linda Lapides saw fit to donate to the JMM collections. Within her file, I found a vibrant story of Jewish life evolving and changing within the city of Baltimore. Perusing her donations helped me realize that Jewish life extended far beyond the walls of the synagogue in Baltimore City.  My favorite piece of the collection was a German-language book representing the early Zionist movement, encouraging Jewish people to migrate to what was then British Palestine (Palästina). This was an exciting opportunity to practice my German language skills! In the next file, I stumbled upon two scrapbooks and a large collection of photographs detailing the development of the family-owned Greenberg’s Jewelers – yet another reminder of Jewish life outside of the synagogue. I can’t wait to find out what else lies in store for me to process in the library closed stacks!

Intern JenA blog post by Collections Intern Jen Wachtel. To read more posts by JMM interns, click here.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Student Visits to the JMM!

Posted on October 28th, 2013 by

This week, the Jewish Museum of Maryland welcomed students from Mount Washington Middle School and the Jewish Community Center to visit our exhibitions and synagogue.

6th grade students learning about the historic Lloyd Street Synagogue (Photo courtesy of Mr. Kaiser).

6th grade students learning about the historic Lloyd Street Synagogue (Photo courtesy of Mr. Kaiser).

On Monday, students from the 6th grade class at Mt Washington Middle School, along with their wonderful teacher Mr.Kaiser, learned about the American Civil War, American immigration history from here in Baltimore, and toured the Lloyd Street synagogue, the oldest synagogue in our entire state.

While in our new exhibition “Passages Through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War,” the students saw a glimpse of the war that most had not seen, the role of Jewish people in the Civil War. Here the students participated in two hands-on learning activities. First, students read a letter written by a girl to her father who was off in the war and then the students wrote a similar letter of their own. Second, the 6th graders created their own civil war monument just like the many monuments that can be found at battlefields across the country.

Next, the students learned more about the life of a Jewish immigrant right here in Baltimore, Maryland in the Voices of Lombard Street exhibition. While making their way through the exhibition, the students participated in a scavenger hunt to enhance the tour.

Finally, the 6th grade took a tour of the Lloyd Street synagogue, the oldest synagogue in the state of Maryland and the third oldest synagogue in the entire country. On their tour, the students learned about the essential parts of a synagogue, the history of the building, and hidden aspects of the building that have been revealed through archeological work. To go along with the tour, the students participated in an archeological activity in which they did a mock excavation to find artifacts that are in the museum’s collection.

For more information on the 6th grade’s visit to the museum, head over to Mr. Kaiser’s blog.

Searching through the Voices of Lombard Street exhibition while on a scavenger hunt (Photo courtesy of Mr. Kaiser).

Searching through the Voices of Lombard Street exhibition while on a scavenger hunt (Photo courtesy of Mr. Kaiser).

Gettysburg might have over 1200 monuments and markers, but its got nothing on this one made by Mount Washington Middle (Photo courtesy of Mr. Kaiser).

Gettysburg might have over 1200 monuments and markers, but its got nothing on this one made by Mount Washington Middle (Photo courtesy of Mr. Kaiser).

Smile and say "Synagogue!"

Smile and say “Synagogue!”

On Wednesday, kindergartners from the Jewish Community Center (JCC) came to learn about immigration here in Baltimore and tour the historic Lloyd Street synagogue

First, the students toured the upstairs of the synagogue and participated in a scavenger hunt activity. Next, the students went downstairs to the Synagogue Speaks exhibition to learn more about the history of the building and participate in hands-on learning activities. The kindergartners built a new synagogue of out blocks, modified the Star of David stained glass window that can be found in the synagogue, and used matching cards to learn more about Jewish religious objects.

After their tour of the synagogue, the students explored the Voices of Lombard Street exhibition to learn more about life of Jewish immigrants here in Baltimore, Maryland. In the exhibit, the kindergartners played dress up with historic clothes and partook in another scavenger hunt.

Students viewing a copy of the Torah.

Students viewing a copy of the Torah.

Redesigning a new version of the Lloyd Street Synagogue out of blocks.

Redesigning a new version of the Lloyd Street Synagogue out of blocks.

Students making their own version of the Star of David stained glass window found in the upstairs of the synagogue.

Students making their own version of the Star of David stained glass window found in the upstairs of the synagogue.

Looking into the chicken cage in the market section of Voices of Lombard Street.

Looking into the chicken cage in the market section of Voices of Lombard Street.

Both groups of students seemed to have a great time exploring and learning at the museum this week. It was truly a pleasure to have both groups at the museum and we can’t wait for them to come back again soon!

A blog post by fall education intern Andrew Hallman. To read more posts by interns, click here.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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