Diving into the Associated Scrapbooks

Posted on December 22nd, 2017 by

This month’s JMM Insights comes from our archivist, Lorie Rombro. You can read more posts by Lorie here.

In the last few months I have begun working on a collection of scrapbooks from The Associated Jewish Charities. The books date back to 1919 and I have been recently investigating the late 1940’s and 1950’s scrapbooks of the publicity and campaign work of the Women’s Division. These books are incredibly interesting, giving a peek into a large, organized group of women working to help not only the Jewish community of Baltimore but people throughout the world. Reading and processing the scrapbooks has been a history lesson of the time period, here and abroad.

Scrapbooks have long been a way to preserve photographs, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, documents, and other assorted items.

The problem with scrapbooks is that they are often put together with materials that are detrimental to long-term preservation. In the past, scrapbook pages where made of poor-quality, highly acidic paper that deteriorates rapidly and discolors. The pages would also become brittle over time and then tear easily and crumble. Often, the binding of the album was not made for the increase in size caused by the materials placed in the scrapbook, causing the spine to break and pages to come out. Papers are attached to the scrapbook with harmful tapes and/or glue. Multi- paged letters or pamphlets may be fastened only by the last sheet, causing rips and tears, or folding and crushing of documents.

For all of these reasons I have been carefully cataloging, photographing and taking apart the scrapbooks. Archivists like me always struggle with the decision whether a scrapbook should stay together or be taken apart. If possible, we try to leave a scrapbook together, since it tells a story not only with the information inside of it but how someone chose to put it together. That is why if I do dismantle a scrapbook, I carefully document its original form for future researchers. To some, these scrapbooks may only seem to contain old bits of paper, but to us they are full of important historical information.

I wanted to share some of what I have found in the scrapbooks. Not only does it give a picture of the time it was made, but some of the pieces could be produced and used today.

The two images above are from the 1949 Women’s Division scrapbook.

We hope you laugh a little at these two postcards that went out to the husbands of the women volunteering! In 1950 over 1200 women participated in the campaign.

This picture is from the 1951 G-day handbook – check out all the do’s and don’t’s they’ve got listed!

Last is my very favorite which I believe could be used today – babies are always a good tug on the heartstrings. These are images from the publicity and booklets for the 1955 Women’s Division campaign.

Making a Scrapbook to Last

Today, making a scrapbook which will stand up to the test of time is easier. Choose a book which is made with acid free paper and pH neutral adhesives for the binding. Use acid free photo corners or other type of binding, make sure all the corners are carefully attached but do not use glue.

In this picture you can see how tape discolors and negatively affects paper.

You want to be able to remove anything placed in a scrapbook, you never know when you might need it again! Scrapbooks are an incredible way to document your family history, a trip, an important event or your organization – they are worth spending a little extra money on good supplies to make sure that future generations can enjoy them.

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Talmud to Tik: Iraqi Jewish Heritage Day

Posted on November 17th, 2017 by

JMM Insights: November 2017

On October 15th the Jewish Museum of Maryland opened our latest exhibit Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage. We have held six public programs in connection with the exhibit in its first month, averaging an audience of 75+ for each event. However our biggest program is yet to come. I have asked Trillion to outline the festivities we have planned for the first Sunday in December. 



Talmud to Tik: Iraqi Jewish Heritage Day is a full day celebration of the rich culture developed by the Jewish community in Iraq and preserved by their descendants across the globe.  I believe our guests will find something suitable for all ages and all tastes and that we will enable greater Baltimore to make a personal connection with that culture.

What can you expect on the day? Here are some of the highlights.

Rabbi Haim Ovadia will be joining us from Washington, DC to perform two concerts that will explore the origins and diversity of Jewish Iraqi music. The morning concert at 11am will be especially designed for kids and families, while the afternoon concert at 2 pm is for everyone.

Feel like dancing?  Enjoy and learn some of the traditional dances of the Iraqi Jewish community with the Silk Road Dance Company. This troop of dancers will actually put on three different performances on the 3rd, starting at 12:30, 1:30 and 3:30 pm.

If there is music and dance, can food be far behind?  Get a real taste of Iraqi Jewish culture, literally. Jackie Feldman of Sephardic Jews in DC, will lead a workshop making Baharat, a spice mixture eaten across the Middle East which is a critical building block for most Iraqi Jewish recipes. This tasty mixture can be taken home and combined into a variety of delicious recipes.

And one more treat for our youngest visitors.  We will also be joined by Violet Battat, representing SHIN DC who will be offering a special Jewish Iraqi story times. Violet will share with us stories passed down through her family, combined with singing and an exploration of Iraq. These sessions are specially designed for children aged 3 to 7 though the young at heart are also welcome.

If that isn’t enough we will also have several arts and crafts opportunities. Activities include making evil eye bracelets, decorating your own tik (the container traditionally used to hold an Iraqi Torah) and even making some delicious date balls to take home, or eat immediately, if you are feeling peckish!

The day is certain to be fun filled, we couldn’t have managed such an extravaganza were it not for the support of the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Fund for the Enrichment of Jewish Education of the Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

For more details or to buy your tickets please check our event page here. 

Hope to see you there.


Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Journey with JMM

Posted on October 20th, 2017 by

JMM Insights: October 2017 

A blog post by Deputy Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts from Deborah click HERE.

Students explore Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage

Students explore Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage

JMM exhibits and programs often transport our visitors to another time and place, whether to mid 19th century Palestine in The Amazing Mendes Cohen, pre-Holocaust Poland in Remembering Auschwitz, or one of our recent lectures in conjunction with Just Married! “Sephardic Weddings: Traditions of Yesterday and Today.” We are pleased to carry on this tradition with our newest exhibition, Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage which opened this past Sunday to a crowd of 100+ visitors, including a special student group from Oheb Shalom.

Created by the National Archives and Records Administration, with generous support from the U.S. Department of State, the exhibit documents the long and rich history of Jewish life in Iraq which flourished for hundreds of year, beginning with the Babylonian exile through the middle of the 20th century. Evidence of this long history is on view in the exhibit through such artifacts as a Hebrew Bible with Commentaries from 1568, a Babylonian Talmud from 1793, and a Haggadah from 1902. Records including school primers and business correspondence testify to the community’s strong presence up until the mid-20th century when Jews faced increasing antisemitism in connection with the rise of the Nazis in Europe. In the aftermath of World War II and the creation of the State of Israel, most of the Jewish community emigrated and today, only five Jews remain.

A case of books preserved by the National Archives.

A case of books preserved by the National Archives.

While the artifacts on display tell a fascinating narrative of a once storied community, the story of how the exhibit came into being is equally remarkable. During the Gulf War in 2003, American troops entered a bombed building that had housed Saddam Hussein’s intelligence services. They found, in the basement under four feet of water, thousands of books and documents relating to the Jewish community of Iraq that had been gathered by the secret police. Thanks to the efforts of the National Archives, a team of conservation experts flew out to Iraq to assess the damage and to make recommendations for how best to preserve the material.

What a great audience for our opening day speaker!

What a great audience for our opening day speaker!

We were pleased to welcome Doris Hamburg, former Director of Preservation Programs at the National Archives as our opening speaker on Sunday. Ms. Hamburg spoke about the challenging conditions she and her colleagues faced as they tried to save these documents while operating in the midst of a war zone. Despite the many obstacles they encountered, they were able to ship more than 2,700 Jewish books and tens of thousands of documents to the US where conservation and preservation efforts continued as well as the creation of a traveling exhibit. JMM is proud to be the 6th stop on its national tour.

Discovery and Recovery remains on view through January 18, 2018. We invite you to take advantage of the many companion programs that will take place the next few months to learn more about the rich history of Iraq’s Jewish community through food, dance, art, film and personal testimony of former Iraqi residents.


Posted in jewish museum of maryland

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