Passages Through the Fire

Posted on June 26th, 2013 by

Sometimes the curator feels as though every new exhibition requires a personal “passage through the fire.” The range of subjects exhibited at the JMM is always broad; the move from comic book superheroes to Civil War commemoration is dizzying.

But it’s fun. There are always fascinating new stories to learn. This week, we visited with Lance Bendann, descendant of Civil War era photographers David and Daniel Bendann, and current owner of the Baltimore gallery the brothers founded in 1859.

Soldiers of the Maryland Militia, 53rd Infantry Regiment, Company G, known as the Zouaves. Following the outbreak of the Civil War, the federal government placed Maryland under martial law and disbanded the state and local militias. Due to strong southern sympathies among Marylanders, an estimated 80% of the 53rd “crossed the Potomac” and joined the Confederacy, forming the nucleus of the 1st Maryland Confederate line. Image courtesy of Lance Bendann, Bendann Art Galleries, Baltimore.

Soldiers of the Maryland Militia, 53rd Infantry Regiment, Company G, known as the Zouaves. Following the outbreak of the Civil War, the federal government placed Maryland under martial law and disbanded the state and local militias. Due to strong southern sympathies among Marylanders, an estimated 80% of the 53rd “crossed the Potomac” and joined the Confederacy, forming the nucleus of the 1st Maryland Confederate line. Image courtesy of Lance Bendann, Bendann Art Galleries, Baltimore.

David and Daniel were young men when they moved to Baltimore from Richmond in the turbulent years before the war began.  Among the first to bring the carte de visite format to Baltimore, they took advantage of the “cardomania” (in which cardboard-mounted portrait photos were used as visiting cards and avidly traded among friends and collected into albums) sweeping Europe and America.

The brothers were artists, posing their subjects with an eye for pleasing composition, and creating elegant backgrounds for the sitters. These backgrounds were much admired by other photographers, so the Bendanns invented a process that allowed studios to purchase negatives for the “Bendann Brothers Backgrounds” to incorporate into their own photos. In 1872 the brothers were awarded a National Photographic Association Holmes Medal for this invention. A detailed explanation of the process can be found at http://photohist.classyarts.com/tag/bendann-backgrounds/.

As was not uncommon among Baltimore Jews, the Bendann men were Confederate sympathizers, having retained alliances dating to their years in Richmond. As a result, both brothers had a brush with the law. In 1862, David Bendann was arrested after an altercation with an unpleasant customer who was also a Union army captain. He was arrested, refused to take a loyalty oath, and served a three-month sentence, after which he signed a statement agreeing that he would “in no wise aid or encourage the Rebels.”  Daniel Bendann was charged in April 1865 on a charge of disloyalty, described in the complaint as “a Jew” and a “notorious, violent, and dirty sneaking Rebel.”

 Image courtesy of Lance Bendann, Bendann Art Galleries, Baltimore.

Image courtesy of Lance Bendann, Bendann Art Galleries, Baltimore.

After the war, both Union and former Confederate leaders continued to seek out the Bendann Brothers studio for a portrait while visiting Baltimore. They photographed Jefferson Davis, John S. Mosby, Chief Justice Taney, General Sheridan, Illinois governor Richard Yates, and more.

The Bendann Brothers story is just one among many that will be told in the upcoming Passages Through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War, originated by the American Jewish Historical Society and Yeshiva University Museum and augmented at the JMM with narratives from Jewish Maryland. The exhibition will open at the JMM on October 13, 2013.

karenA blog post by Curator Karen Falk. You can read other  posts by Karen and additional exhibition related posts  by clicking here.

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Sinai Hospital Nurses

Posted on June 11th, 2013 by

Elaine Hall

A blog post by summer intern Elaine Hall. Elaine is working in our exhibitions department with curator Karen Falk.

This summer I am lucky enough to be an intern doing research for an exhibit at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. I specifically applied to this position because of my interest in the topic of an upcoming exhibit on Jewish Health and Healing. Due to my background in both anthropology and biology as well as my future in public health, this topic seemed like a perfect way to put my education to use and gain some interesting experience relating to health.

The exhibit is in its very beginning stages, which gives me an interesting opportunity to be involved in the design of the overall concepts to be included. However before I can really dive into planning and brainstorming it is important that I become familiar with the topic. I am attempting to get to know this subject by looking through the related collections at the museum, articles that have been gathered on the subject as well as on Jewish doctors, and interviews that the museum and others have conducted. I especially enjoy reading through the interviews of prominent Jewish doctors, nurses, and community members that have been collected. Listening to individuals tell their personal stories always ends up being both emotional and educational, in the best ways.

The women of the Sinai Hospital nursing school from the mid 1800’s to the mid 1900’s were facing discrimination and limitation of opportunities because they were Jewish AND because they were women. They describe going into nursing as a natural choice, since there were not many other options as far as higher education and good career opportunities were concerned and because they were drawn towards service.

Tobi Mower, a former Sinai Hospital nurse gave her stories of Nursing School in an interview conducted by the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Tobi Mower graduated from Sinai Hospital Nursing School in 1963 and is a fascinating and passionate woman. She is well known for her pursuance of women’s rights and her rule-breaking attitude. The Sinai Hospital was created in the mid 1800’s to provide a place where Jewish patients could eat Kosher food, be a part of holiday rituals, and be given appropriate care. However it also served as a place for Jewish nurses and doctors to do their internships and residencies in a time when they were blocked from many opportunities.

Nursing School graduating class of 1963.

Nursing School graduating class of 1963.

“It was more or less like sink or swim, and if you didn’t swim, you sunk, and you were kicked out.” Tobi Mower

Instructor and student nurses around 1959.

Instructor and student nurses around 1959.

“I was picked out as a troublemaker early from my training… Because I was an older girl and I thought some of the rules were really, really stupid” Tobi Mower

 A nurse, possibly Molly Roseman, pinning a cap on a student nurse in a capping ceremony.

A nurse, possibly Molly Roseman, pinning a cap on a student nurse in a capping ceremony.

“If you had a wrinkle in your uniform, you found out about it from Molly, or if you had a scuff mark on your white shoes, you found out about it from Molly, or if your starched nursing cap was disheveled, you found out… she scared everybody, except me…She was screaming at the top of her voice. And I just looked at her, and I said to her, ‘Ms. Roseman, are you finished?’ And she said ‘yes,’ in a very harsh voice. I said ‘fine,’ and as nice- as polite as I could be, but as forceful as I could be, I said, ‘Don’t you ever do that to me again. I don’t allow my mother to yell at me like that anymore, and I will not allow you to do that to me anymore.’ And she just looked at me like I slapped her in the face, but I never had another problem with Molly after that. She loved me, and I think that’s the way when we stood up for ourselves, those of us that felt comfortable with it, we were treated with more respect.” Tobi Mower

Student nurses and doctor with a patient.

Student nurses and doctor with a patient.

“And I remember one doctor asked me for scissors, and I gave him a scissor, and he threw it across the room. And I started crying- well, I wasn’t about to let him see my tears. And he said ‘Young lady, didn’t anybody ever teach you that when we do a breast, we use a [curved or straight] instead of what you gave me?’… And I said ‘no sir, I’m here to learn and be taught.’… While we were waiting for the results of the biopsy, I walked away from the table and broke scrub… ‘I’m not going to have that man [meaning the surgeon] abuse me anymore.’ … And never had a student broken scrub on a private doctor … That doctor did come over to me and apologized, and asked me if I’d rescrub. Yeah. Once again I stood up for myself.” Tobi Mower

Student nurse and doctor with a young patient.

Student nurse and doctor with a young patient.

“And then there was- you know, there was a lot of sexual harassment in those years… But in those years it wasn’t considered sexual harassment. In fact, I reminded this guy, who’s now an old man, that if he had done the same thing 20 years later, he would’ve had his rear end hauled to court a lot of times.” Tobi Mower

References:

  1. Kellman, Naomi. “The Origins of Health Care for the Hebrew Poor.” Generations (Spring 1988): 13.
  2. Mower, Tobi and Morton. Interview By Barry Lever. Jewish Museum of Maryland, Baltimore, MD, 2001.
  3. Umansky, Paul I. “The Story of Sinai Hospital, 1866 to 1959.” Generations (Fall 1998): 12-16.

 

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Friday Frenzy!

Posted on January 14th, 2013 by

A blog post by Senior Collections Manager Jobi Zink.

Now that the Jewish Museum of Maryland is open to the public 10-5 Sunday-Thursday, staff has a lot less time to get the behind-the-scenes work-in-public-spaces done. Here’s what we accomplished today –all before 2 PM!

Jobi, Darrell, and the Ravens-loving installation crew were unhappy that a Mayflower truck came to pick up the Chosen Food exhibition. (And if you don’t know why there was resentment scroll down to the March 24, 1984 entry http:///en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baltimore_Colts_relocation_to_Indianapolis.  Heck, now I’m inspired to see the Almost Religion: Baltimores Colts exhibit at the Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards before Saturday’s playoff game!)

There was a moment of cheering when the truck drove away a few minutes later. The driver returned with a new truck, fully equipped with a proper lift gate.

The crew was quick to start loading the truck.

Rachel and Jennifer de-install the Hutzler’s lobby display…

… and spackle all of the holes…

… and tape the walls before re-painting!

Downtown Coordinator Kim Jacobsohn spent the morning with a half dozen children at Tot Shabbat.

It’s the 2nd Friday of the month. Time for our regularly scheduled visit from the exterminator.

Karen gives the crew instructions for handling a mount.

Jobi moves objects onto a cart.

Sue went to the gift shop to straighten things up… and ended up ringing a sale!

Karen tests her balance skills while tracing the arch above the gallery for a new sign. Good thing she does yoga!

Intern Molly might not know how busy it is up front, but she’s busy copying all of our recent press coverage—proving how busy we’ve been!

Victory! After a brief hiatus, we've got our first call identifying the "once upon a time" photo from our Snapshots column in the Jewish Times.

Marvin is eagerly awaiting the arrival of Zap! Pow! Bam!

Be sure to come to the Museum January 27-August 18, 2013 to see the amazing new exhibition about comic book super heroes.

 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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