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.

 

 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Whose Wedding?

Posted on November 28th, 2016 by

In our Hendler family collection we have two nearly identical photo albums, each containing a series of images taken at a wedding; there is also a set of loose wedding photographs.  As is often the way – even with carefully prepared albums and scrapbooks – the original album creators left no identifications, dates, or notes to help later historians figure out what’s going on.  We presumed that the people pictured were related in some way to the Hendlers, and I could tell by the clothing and styles that these were 1930s events, but the question remained: whose weddings are they, anyway?

Two albums, two weddings. Anonymous gift. JMM 1998.47.4.63-.85 and 1998.47.4.37-62

Two albums, two weddings. Anonymous gift. JMM 1998.47.4.63-.85 and 1998.47.4.37-62

Happily, there were enough clues for yours truly to tackle the issue. First, it was necessary to sort out which photos went with which event, and how many weddings were actually shown (after all, the Hendlers had four children, three of whom married in the 1930s).  The initial JMM catalogers had discarded the album covers, noting that they were too deteriorated to preserve, but naturally they kept the original order of the pages and filed each album separately. Fortunately one ceremony took place indoors and one outdoors, making it fairly easy to confirm that the two albums showed two different events. A quick comparison of the loose photos showed that they were a match for the outdoor wedding: the same floral chuppah, the same elderly ladies dressed in their finest, the same waiters carrying the same fish.  So we had only two weddings to worry about, after all.

Two of the loose photos next to their matching album photos. Success! Anonymous gift. JMM 1998.47.4.34 and .74; 1998.47.4.30 and .85

Two of the loose photos next to their matching album photos. Success! Anonymous gift. JMM 1998.47.4.34 and .74; 1998.47.4.30 and .85

Now for the actual details of who, where, and when. L. Manuel Hendler was the founder of the Hendler Creamery, a very successful ice cream business in Baltimore. He and his wife Rose had three daughters:

>Flora Bernice (1909-1990), who married Joseph Kolodny on August 27, 1931 at “Harlequin on Severn,” the Hendler country estate.

>Florence (1913-1994), known as “Tootsie,” who married Howard Caplan on January 21, 1932 at the Southern Hotel.

>Naomi (1917-1994), who married Leslie Legum on June 20, 1939, at the Hendler home near Druid Hill Park.

Elsewhere in the JMM collections we have invitations to the weddings of Florence and Naomi, including a pair donated by their cousin Naomi Biron Cohen:

Invitations to Florence’s 1932 wedding (left) and Naomi’s 1939 wedding (right). Gift of Naomi Biron Cohen. JMM 2009.58.9

Invitations to Florence’s 1932 wedding (left) and Naomi’s 1939 wedding (right). Gift of Naomi Biron Cohen. JMM 2009.58.9

These invitations are so carefully, exactly matched – the Hendler parents were clearly concerned about sisterly parity – that I made the initial mistake of assuming the matching albums were from the same sisters.  However, thanks to the Hendler family’s prominence and the searchable Baltimore Sun database, I soon realized that the outdoor wedding was not Naomi’s but Bernice’s. As newlyweds of local importance, Bernice and Florence were featured in the Sun and the Jewish Times, with – conveniently for me – bridal portraits published in the former. The Sun’s photos of Bernice’s pearl crown (hard to see in the album photos, admittedly) and Florence’s medieval-style gown and sassy little veil matched nicely with the formal portraits in each album, as did the newspaper reporters’ breathless descriptions of each ceremony. Thank goodness for the society page!  (And no, that’s not the first time I’ve had occasion to say that.)

Bernice with her attendants, and in her Baltimore Sun feature. Anonymous gift. JMM 1998.47.4.63

Bernice with her attendants, and in her Baltimore Sun feature. Anonymous gift. JMM 1998.47.4.63

Florence, introspective from every angle. Anonymous gift. JMM 1998.47.4.58

Florence, introspective from every angle. Anonymous gift. JMM 1998.47.4.58

The Jewish Times provided detailed descriptions of both sisters’ weddings (quoted below); in addition, Florence’s wedding was reported in the Sun – which lingered lovingly on the fact that the governor and the mayor were in attendance, and that the reception included “a bridal table with dishes and cups of solid gold” which had to be guarded by a police detail – and in the New York Times. (Evidently Florence chose to announce her engagement at Bernice’s wedding, which every older sister totally appreciates.) Florence, it seems, did not pull her punches.

The Jewish Times, August 28, 1931: Kolodny-Hendler:

Miss Bernice Hendler, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. L. Manuel Hendler, was married on Thursday, August 27, at the country home of her parents, Harlequin-on-the-Severn, to Mr. Joseph Kolodny of Boston.  The ceremony was performed by Rabbis Adolph Coblentz [sic] and Morris Lazaron. The bride was attired in a gown of ivory satin and a veil of rose point, and carried a prayer book used by her mother at her wedding.  Miss Florence Hendler, sister of the bride, was maid of honor and Mrs. Milton Silberman was matron of honor. They wore gowns of Chartreuse satin.

The Misses Rose Silberstein, Helen Fish, Florine Duke and Mrs. Abram Kenigson were bridesmaids. They were attired in yellow satin and wore Empress Eugenie hats] and carried bouquets of yellow roses. Mr. Albert Hendler was best man, and the ushers were Messrs. Howard Caplan, Milton Silberman, Bernard Hendler, Harry Hendler and Albert Duke.  Mrs. Hendler, mother of the bride, was gowned in black lace trimmed in rose point, and Mrs. Kolodny, mother of the groom, wore a gown of Patou beige satin. After the ceremony a reception was held for more than four hundred guests.  Mr. and Mrs. Kolodny will sail on Saturday on the S.S. “Kungssholm” for Norway and Sweden. During the evening announcement of the engagement of Mr. and Mrs. Hendler’s younger daughter, Florence, to Mr. Howard M. Caplan, son of Mr. and Mrs. H.L. Caplan, was made.

Joseph and Bernice under their floral chuppah with Cantor Weisgal and Rabbi Coblenz, 1931. Anonymous gift. JMM 1998.47.4.83

Joseph and Bernice under their floral chuppah with Cantor Weisgal and Rabbi Coblenz, 1931. Anonymous gift. JMM 1998.47.4.83

The Jewish Times, January 22, 1932: Caplan-Hendler:

One of the most outstanding weddings of the season was that of Miss Florence Hendler, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. L. Manuel Hendler and Mr. Howard M. Caplan, son of Mr. and Mrs. H.L. Caplan, who were united in marriage on Thursday at the Southern Hotel.

The ceremony was performed by Rabbi Morris S. Lazaron, Rabbi Adolph Coblentz [sic] and Cantor Adolph J. Weisgal. The bride was attired in a gown of antique velvet, trimmed in pearls, and a rose point veil worn by her mother, and again last summer by her sister at the time of her marriage to Joseph Kolodny. She carried a bouquet of white orchids and her mother’s prayerbook.  She was attended by Miss Elizabeth Ullman, who wore pale gold taffeta, and carried roses and a prayerbook. The matrons of honor were Mrs. Joseph Kolodny, sister of the bride, and Mrs. David Silberman, sister of the groom; their gowns were gold lace over taffeta. The bridesmaids, the Misses Naomi Hendler, Lorraine Katz and Dorothy Kemler, wore dresses of deep gold taffeta, carrying roses. The best man was Mr. Albert Hendler, brother of the bride, and the ushers were Messrs. Joseph Kolodny, David Kaufman, Mendel Silverman, Albert Duke and Irving Blaustein. After dinner and reception Mr. and Mrs. Caplan left for New York, sailing for Europe on the Europa on Friday. They will spend three months in travelling, after which they will return to the city, where they will make their home.

Florence smiles at the photographer while Howard greets a guest, 1932. Anonymous gift. JMM 1998.47.4.62

Florence smiles at the photographer while Howard greets a guest, 1932. Anonymous gift. JMM 1998.47.4.62

And what about the third sister? Though we have a few lovely wedding souvenirs donated by Naomi herself, the only information I can find about the ceremony comes from the invitation in our collections, and brief engagement notices in the Sun and the Jewish Times.  Unlike her elder sisters, Naomi’s wedding – though fancy and fashionable, as best I can tell from the pieces in our collection – was not featured prominently in the press.  I suspect that this was a least in part due to the fact that in late 1932, brother Albert Hendler was kidnapped and held for ransom. (He was rescued, and went on to celebrate his own marriage to Peggy Siff in 1943.)  The Hendlers faced other extortion threats during the 1930s. This could make any family shy away from publicity, and I completely understand it… but I do wish that I had a description of Naomi’s ceremony.  Did she wear the her mother’s veil, and carry her mother’s prayerbook, as her older sisters did?  We sorted out the mystery of the photo albums, but there are still a few pieces of the sisters’ story missing.

Bride and groom dolls used on the wedding cake of Naomi Hendler and Leslie Legum, 1939. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Leslie Legum. JMM 1991.156.3a-b

Bride and groom dolls used on the wedding cake of Naomi Hendler and Leslie Legum, 1939. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Leslie Legum. JMM 1991.156.3a-b

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




When the Collections Are Not What They Seem

Posted on November 2nd, 2016 by

Researching a new exhibit can have unexpected side benefits, including the opportunity to learn even more about our collections.  The “more product, less process” method of archival work means we do our best to get at least minimal access to our archival collections as quickly as possible, but it also means that researchers – including museum staff ourselves – need to dig a little deeper when our records tell us the collection contains something of interest.  This can be frustrating, in a world where so much content is instantly available at your fingertips… but it’s also very fun.  (And, of course, our further investigations are recorded, so the next person has a slightly easier task.)

As we prepare for next summer’s Just Married! exhibit, it’s been my happy job to delve into the archives and take a closer look at everything wedding-related.  Whenever our previous catalogers noted a “bridal book,” “wedding sermon,” or “engagement card” calling out for more specific description, there am I, like a superhero researcher… okay, that metaphor doesn’t really work.  But nevertheless, thanks to the heavy lifting of the initial catalogers, I know where to look for the goodies, and I can swoop in and finish the job.

There have been lots of great discoveries in this process, and a few disappointments as well.  Here’s one of the latter: a fun piece in itself, but not quite what I was expecting…

Outside:

JMM 1993.63.24

JMM 1993.63.24

Inside:

JMM 1993.62.24

Announcement card, late 1930s. Donated by Sadie B. Feldman, JMM 1993.63.24

Fake-out! It’s not a delightful wedding announcement card, as it appears at first glance; it’s delightful advertisement for the work of Baltimore artist and designer Samson Feldman (1900-1983). So, in a sense, this ad did exactly its job: it drew my attention – promising one thing, then, surprise! it turned out to be something else – and it was memorable, since it was the first thing I thought of when it came time to write this blog.  The work of Samson Feldman (1900-1983) will likely be featured in Just Married!, along with several other Maryland artists who produced ketubahs, invitations, and the like.  But this particular piece is not quite what I was hoping for.

Alos, don’t forget – we want your wedding invitations and photos! Check out our Marrying Maryland” page for more info.

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

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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