A Closer Look

Posted on May 25th, 2017 by

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

 

Our collections database – which I love, don’t get me wrong – is set up to present the user with a main screen for each catalog record, containing an overview and thumbnail image of the particular object, photo, book, or archival item.  The image can be enlarged somewhat, but in either case it mostly serves as a quick reference during a search, providing enough of a visual that the user (i.e., me) can decide if it’s worth a closer look.  Frequently, pulling up the larger image file is quite rewarding.

Gift of Earl Pruce. JMM 1985.90.21

Gift of Earl Pruce. JMM 1985.90.21

For example, here is a street view that caught my eye recently as I scrolled past: the 1910s block of Madison Avenue, Baltimore, in December of 1912.  It is cataloged in our database as a photo of the Clover Club (previously known as the Concordia Club), occupying the middle of the block. In the small version, you can just barely make out that there are a few figures in the image. I decided to zoom in on the higher-resolution file, and voila! More than a static street scene, the photo shows several people at work.

window washing

At the far left, there’s a woman standing on a ladder washing the windows of No. 1910.  Either she didn’t know the photo was being taken, or she didn’t care; she’s just going about her business.

To her right is the Carroll Apartments, as identified by a small sign next to the door; a uniformed doorman, or someone else in an official capacity (he has keys hanging from his belt), is standing on the stoop, looking toward the photographer. It’s not clear if he’s deliberately posing, or if he was just pausing on his way to get some work done.

To her right is the Carroll Apartments, as identified by a small sign next to the door; a uniformed doorman, or someone else in an official capacity (he has keys hanging from his belt), is standing on the stoop, looking toward the photographer. It’s not clear if he’s deliberately posing, or if he was just pausing on his way to get some work done.

Next is a double-front building, with a central stoop. This is the Clover Club, handily identified with clovers in the window coverings (perhaps crochet lace curtains).  There might be a woman in a white dress or uniform (perhaps a maid?) turning away in the open doorway…?  What do you think?

Next is a double-front building, with a central stoop. This is the Clover Club, handily identified with clovers in the window coverings (perhaps crochet lace curtains). There might be a woman in a white dress or uniform (perhaps a maid?) turning away in the open doorway…? What do you think?

The Clover Club was a Jewish businessmen’s social club, organized in 1896 as the successor to the Concordia Club. It moved around a bit, but by the early 1900s it was located at the pictured address, 1914-1916 Madison Avenue; in 1920 the club moved to 2249 Eutaw Place.  Later, the Madison Avenue building (and adjacent sites) were owned by Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, and later still it served as the home of the Young Woman’s Christian Association. Some of the block has been torn down, but a quick check of Google maps shows the Clover Club’s doorway and stoop still attached to the front of what is now 1912 Madison Avenue.

 

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An Historic Tour, 1984

Posted on April 27th, 2017 by

It isn’t only our historical collections that contain intriguing images. These three come from our institutional photo archives, showing a group of young students in costume at the Lloyd Street Synagogue in 1984.

IA 1.0873

IA 1.0873

IA 1.0874

IA 1.0874

They’re identified simply as “children from School #139 at the Lloyd Street Synagogue for Historic Baltimore Day, May 6, 1984.” A little research into City history shows that Historic Baltimore Day was held in May for about ten years, starting in 1980, with local students serving as tour guides at historic sites around Baltimore. According to the Sun, May 6, 1984 was the fourth annual event, sponsored by Baltimore Council of Historic Sites (later years were sponsored by the Peale Museum), with seventeen sites participating.

IA 1.0875

IA 1.0875

Public School #139 was also known as Charles Carroll of Carrollton Elementary School, located a few blocks away from us at Central and Lexington.  It closed at some point recently; I haven’t pinpointed exactly when.  Alas, our files don’t contain any further information about the event, the student participants, or their work. They clearly prepared themselves well, for they’re wearing name badges and carrying booklets, and look more than ready to tell visitors about our historic synagogue. Do any of our readers remember attending this event, as a visitor or a guide? Can anyone identify any of the young docents shown here?

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

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Tangents

Posted on February 16th, 2017 by

A difficulty of working in such a large and varied collection as ours is that it’s very easy to find yourself on a research tangent, leading off into ever-branching questions that take you further and further from your original point… or, occasionally, lead you right back to it.  When looking through my list of “this might make a nice blog post” catalog records, I hit upon this photo of the Washburn Club, about which we know very little other than that, according to the donors, it had one Jewish member: Hiram Herman of Baltimore.

The Washburn Club, circa 1900.  Each member is holding an instrument, primarily strings; their logo, featured in the cardboard cut-out in the center front, consists of a mandolin, guitar, and banjo within a lyre.  Bonus: spot the disembodied hand holding on to the backdrop in the upper left.  Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Morton K. Sugar. JMM 1987.193.2

The Washburn Club, circa 1900.  Each member is holding an instrument, primarily strings; their logo, featured in the cardboard cut-out in the center front, consists of a mandolin, guitar, and banjo within a lyre.  Bonus: spot the disembodied hand holding on to the backdrop in the upper left.  Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Morton K. Sugar. JMM 1987.193.2

This seemed like a pleasant, and quick, research tangent for today’s blog… but, as can be expected, it wasn’t quite that simple. After spending some time on it, I must report that the club itself – not to mention which musician pictured is Mr. Herman – is, alas, still a mystery. However, a little research into the Herman family revealed the bones of an interesting wedding story. And, conveniently, weddings are what much of my non-tangential time has been spent on, thanks to this summer’s “Just Married!” exhibit.  Newspaper wedding descriptions are a favorite of mine, and this photo led me to some nice ones.

Hiram himself was fairly easy to track, but – tangent alert! I wanted a bit more. The photo was donated to us by Mr. and Mrs. Morton K. Sugar; a few other Herman family books were donated by Judith Senker Wise.  Curious as to how these donors – and the Senker family material donated at the same time – were related to the childless Mr. Herman, I poked around a bit in newspaper archives, state marriage records, and ancestry.com.  If this were a clever modern PBS mystery show, you would now see census listings and web links and gravestones floating about my head while I frowningly piece together the various bits of evidence (who am I kidding; I am absolutely a Watson, not a Holmes) but in the absence of those graphic representations of deductive reasoning, suffice it to say that I eventually came up with this story:

In 1905 Hiram Katz Herman, age 27, and Sarah Whitehill, age 23, were married by Rabbi Guttmacher in Baltimore. After the marriage, Hiram worked as a grocer, and eventually went into real estate. Unfortunately, he died in late 1921, leaving Sarah a childless widow.

“HERMAN-WHITEHILL. Miss Sara [sic] Whitehill, daughter of Mr. Albert Whitehill, 431 North Broadway, was married to Mr. Hiram K. Herman Sunday night at the Lyceum Parlors [1109 N. Charles Street] by Rev. Dr. Adolph Guttmacher, of Madison Avenue Temple [Baltimore Hebrew Congregation]. The bride was attired in a white lace robe over taffeta and carried a shower bouquet of Bride roses. Mr. Solomon Whitehill, brother of the bride, was best man. The ushers were Messrs. Jerome Meyer, Justin Rosenthal, Samuel Fernheimer and Lester Marx, of Washington. A reception followed, after which Mr. and Mrs. Herman left for Philadelphia, Atlantic City and New York. They will reside at 431 North Broadway.” From the Baltimore Sun, August 22, 1905.

“HERMAN-WHITEHILL. Miss Sara [sic] Whitehill, daughter of Mr. Albert Whitehill, 431 North Broadway, was married to Mr. Hiram K. Herman Sunday night at the Lyceum Parlors [1109 N. Charles Street] by Rev. Dr. Adolph Guttmacher, of Madison Avenue Temple [Baltimore Hebrew Congregation]. The bride was attired in a white lace robe over taffeta and carried a shower bouquet of Bride roses. Mr. Solomon Whitehill, brother of the bride, was best man. The ushers were Messrs. Jerome Meyer, Justin Rosenthal, Samuel Fernheimer and Lester Marx, of Washington. A reception followed, after which Mr. and Mrs. Herman left for Philadelphia, Atlantic City and New York. They will reside at 431 North Broadway.” From the Baltimore Sun, August 22, 1905.

Meanwhile, Hiram’s sister Beulah Herman married Solomon Senker in 1910. (The Herman and Senker families were probably neighbors or friends; for example, a list of the attendees of the Majestic Assembly’s first monthly dance of the 1903 season includes Hiram, Beulah, and Solomon’s sister Maud.) Solomon worked for Strauss Bros. clothing as a bookkeeper and office manager; he and Beulah had four children, and lived on Menlo Drive in Park Heights. Beulah died, age 45, in 1932.

“Senker-Herman. Miss Beulah Herman, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jonas Herman, was married to Mr. Solomon Senker at her home, 616 East Baltimore street, at 6 o'clock last evening. The ceremony was performed by Rev. Dr. S. Schaffer [of Shearith Israel], assisted by Rev. Dr. E. Jaffe. The couple stood under a canopy of smilax [link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smilax]. The bride wore a hand-embroidered marquisette gown over white satin with a yoke and sleeves of lace. She wore a tulle veil draped with orange blossoms, and carried sweetpeas. A reception followed the ceremony, after which Mr. and Mrs. Senker left for a trip to Atlantic City and the North. They will live at 1717 West North avenue and will be at home to their friends after August 1.” From the Baltimore Sun, July 8, 1910.

“Senker-Herman. Miss Beulah Herman, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jonas Herman, was married to Mr. Solomon Senker at her home, 616 East Baltimore street, at 6 o’clock last evening. The ceremony was performed by Rev. Dr. S. Schaffer [of Shearith Israel], assisted by Rev. Dr. E. Jaffe. The couple stood under a canopy of smilax. The bride wore a hand-embroidered marquisette gown over white satin with a yoke and sleeves of lace. She wore a tulle veil draped with orange blossoms, and carried sweetpeas. A reception followed the ceremony, after which Mr. and Mrs. Senker left for a trip to Atlantic City and the North. They will live at 1717 West North avenue and will be at home to their friends after August 1.” From the Baltimore Sun, July 8, 1910.

Ancestry.com is a helpful creature, and it kept linking the various records for Sarah and Beulah as if they were the same person, despite the fact that each has her own gravesite in Baltimore Hebrew Cemetery; the connection seemed to be Solomon, I checked the obituary of Solomon Senker and discovered that when he died in 1948, his surviving wife was named Sarah Whitehill.  Thus, sometime between Beulah’s death in 1932 and the recording of the 1940 census, Hiram’s widow and Beulah’s widower had married each other.  (Unfortunately, unlike the original marriages, this one was not described in the Sun.)

Thanks to Solomon Senker’s obituary, we know that Hiram Herman’s photograph and books were donated by his sister Beulah’s children, Harriet Senker Sugar and Judith Senker Wise. From the Baltimore Jewish Times, October 22, 1948.

Thanks to Solomon Senker’s obituary, we know that Hiram Herman’s photograph and books were donated by his sister Beulah’s children, Harriet Senker Sugar and Judith Senker Wise. From the Baltimore Jewish Times, October 22, 1948.

Without more information, we can only guess at the specific circumstances that would flesh out their history; though useful, wedding notices and census records and obituaries can only tell us so much. Nonetheless, the story of Hiram and Sarah and Beulah and Solomon is a lovely addition to my wedding research, and one that’s a little out of the ordinary.  On the other hand, I’m still left with the unsolved problem of the mysterious Washburn Club….

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

 

 

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