Ten in the Twentieth: Baltimore Jews and Social Justice 1910s

Posted on February 8th, 2017 by

Article by Dr. Deborah R. Weiner. Originally published in Generations 2009-2010: 50th Anniversary Double Issue: The Search for Social Justice.

The Baltimore Jewish community has produced many leaders who have worked to make the world a better place. The range of issues they have addressed is impressive: from women’s suffrage to civil rights, labor relations to helping the elderly, refugee resettlement to eliminating poverty, and much more.

This chronology traces the careers of ten Baltimoreans who stood up for social change, with each person’s entry revolving around a turning point—one for each decade of the twentieth century. This is by no means a “Ten Best” list. The people included here are remarkable for what they accomplished, but others, equally remarkable, could have been chosen as well. These profiles should be seen as representative of a larger group of Baltimore Jews who have made major contributions to their communities and to the broader society in myriad ways.

The 1910s: Jacob Moses

Click here to start from the beginning.

1915: During a time of intense labor turmoil, Jacob Moses (1873-1968) is named arbitrator in Baltimore clothing industry disputes, selected jointly by union leader Sidney Hillman and manufacturer Sigmund Sonneborn. It is but one important facet of the career of this quintessential Progressive.

Jacob Moses. From Isidor Blum, The Jews of Baltimore (1910).

Jacob Moses. From Isidor Blum, The Jews of Baltimore (1910).

His concern with fairness made Moses not only a sought-after arbitrator, but an advocate for the rights of those he felt were treated unequally. As an attorney, state senator, Juvenile Court judge, and civic leader, Moses championed the principle of fair treatment under the law. He proposed juvenile justice reform because delinquent children did not have recourse to the legal protections of adults. He sought to establish a detention center for indigent defendants who could not make bail, because they were unfairly forced to languish in jail before being proved guilty. In 1924, he led a delegation that lobbied (unsuccessfully) for equal pay for female high school teachers.

Fragment of a newspaper cartoon about a strike by railroad shop workers in western Maryland. JMM 1963.42.15

Fragment of a newspaper cartoon about a strike by railroad shop workers in western Maryland. JMM 1963.42.15

Above all, Moses was a staunch feminist. He remained a vocal proponent of women’s suffrage after the premature death in 1918 of his wife Hortense, a suffragist and leader of Jewish women’s groups. In the 1920s he endorsed a national equal rights bill, proclaiming, “I believe that men and women should be equal in every respect before the law.” Moses also dedicated himself to Jewish causes. As a young man he presided over the Maccabeans, which aided Jewish youth; in the 1920s he became a leading Zionist—unusual for someone from a privileged German Jewish family.

Continue to The 1920s: Dr. Bessie Moses

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Fancy Conference Badges, 1909-1937

Posted on May 25th, 2016 by

Tomorrow is the first day of the 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Alliance of Museums, held this year in Washington, D.C.  Many of us are planning to attend, and in the upcoming days you’ll see plenty of social media updates as we enjoy several days of camaraderie, learning, and swag from the Expo Hall.

When we register tomorrow, we’ll get our nametags, printed clearly on heavy paper and perhaps strung on a nice branded lanyard. Now, I know that organizing several thousand badges is neither simple nor inexpensive, but for a meeting related to museums – many of which include historical collections – it always seems a shame that there’s no nod to the substantial, and considerably more glam, name badges of the past.

I do like an artifact that conveniently provides its own history, and convention badges of the late 19th to mid 20th century fit that bill. Granted, so do most badges from modern conferences, since the point is to state your name and location regardless of the materials of which it’s made. But while we’ll most likely get a piece of paper slipped into a clear plastic sleeve (which one is, rightfully, encouraged to recycle at the end of the event), our predecessors received a thing, meant to be saved: Satin ribbons with shiny printing, bright colors proclaiming one’s regional or professional allegiance, elaborate metal badges, gold fringe, and other embellishments, usually topped off with a small, discreet slot for the attendee’s name. Many cities had companies devoted to the production of these badges, and a big convention coming to town meant money for them as well as for the associated venues, caterers, and hotels.

Badge manufacturers in Baltimore, from the 1909-1910 Baltimore Business Directory (R.L. Polk).  Gift of Peppy Zulver. JMM 1990.168.2

Badge manufacturers in Baltimore, from the 1909-1910 Baltimore Business Directory (R.L. Polk). Gift of Peppy Zulver. JMM 1990.168.2

Since I’m not likely to get my wish this weekend, here are a few examples from our collection. I hope you’ll never be quite satisfied with your flimsy conference name tags again!

Satin ribbon with safety pin, made by G.N. Meyer Mfg., Washington, D.C. “Conference on the Care of Dependent Children, Called by President Theodore Roosevelt, Jan. 25-26 1909, Washington, D.C.”  Gift of Judge Jacob M. Moses. JMM 1963.42.13c

Satin ribbon with safety pin, made by G.N. Meyer Mfg., Washington, D.C. “Conference on the Care of Dependent Children, Called by President Theodore Roosevelt, Jan. 25-26 1909, Washington, D.C.” Gift of Judge Jacob M. Moses. JMM 1963.42.13c

Baltimore’s Jacob Moses, then Judge of the Juvenile Court of Maryland, was invited to speak at this conference in D.C. In his opening address, President Roosevelt urged attendees to “take a progressive stand, so as to establish a goal toward which the whole country can work.” Judge Moses’s speech – which a pencil notation on the top indicates was only to be “five minutes” – was entitled “How the Juvenile Court May Protect the Young Child.”

Left: Satin ribbon with metal badges, including the skyline of Milwaukee. “Nathan Trupp – Baltimore. Delegate 34th Annual Convention, July 6-7-8-9 1931. National Association of Retail Grocers.” Right: Satin ribbon with enamel and metal badges. “Maryland at the Chicago Convention 1934. National Association of Retail Grocers. Nathan Trupp, Baltimore, Md.”

Left: Satin ribbon with metal badges, including the skyline of Milwaukee. “Nathan Trupp – Baltimore. Delegate 34th Annual Convention, July 6-7-8-9 1931. National Association of Retail Grocers.”
Right: Satin ribbon with enamel and metal badges. “Maryland at the Chicago Convention 1934. National Association of Retail Grocers. Nathan Trupp, Baltimore, Md.”  Both gift of Irwin Kramer. JMM 2006.31.12, .15

 

Nathan Trupp of Baltimore served as President of the Maryland Grocer’s Association in the 1930s. He attended several National Association conferences across the U.S.  In 1931, in Milwaukee, President Hoover sent greetings to the foreign attendees on behalf of U.S. delegates; in 1934 in Chicago, attendees were able to enjoy the Century of Progress International Exhibition.

Satin badge with metal and enamel badges, and metallic fringe. “Member, The Royal Sisters Society of Baltimore, Inc.”  Gift of Helen Glaser. JMM 1998.114.9a

Satin badge with metal and enamel badges, and metallic fringe. “Member, The Royal Sisters Society of Baltimore, Inc.” Gift of Helen Glaser. JMM 1998.114.9a

The Royal Sisters Society of Baltimore was founded in 1937 by Mollie Gresser, Reba Cooper, and several others.  It was a philanthropic group, raising funds for various worthy causes around the city – but it was also a sisterhood, with formal meetings and regulated membership.  The slip of paper announcing this particular member’s name is gone, unfortunately.

JoannaA blog post by Collections Manager Joanna Church. To read more posts by Joanna click HERE.

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