MS 55 The Louis E. Shecter Collection

Posted on December 6th, 2012 by

Louis Shecter as a graduate from Baltimore City College, 1918. Courtesy of Louis E. Shecter. 1974.21.4

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Louis E. Shecter (1901-1992)?Collection

n.d., 1921-1985

?MS 55

Jewish Museum of Maryland


The Louis E. Shecter Collection was found in the collection as MS 55.? Multiple accessions have been identified as materials donated by and related to Louis E. Shecter and probably incorporated into MS 55: 1973.013; 1974.021; 1975.020; 1982.015; 1985.104; and 1985.105.? However, none of the materials in the manuscript collection can be positively identified with these accessions.? Because of this the collection was given the FIC accession number 2012.061. The collection was processed at some unknown date then reprocessed and given a finding aid in June 2012 by Jennifer Vess.

Access to the collection is unrestricted and is available to researchers at the Jewish Museum of Maryland.? Researchers must obtain the written permission of the Jewish Museum of Maryland before publishing quotations from materials in the collection.? Papers may be copied in accordance with the library?s usual procedures.


Louis Shecter (1901-1992) was born in Baltimore and graduated from Baltimore City College in 1918.? He began work at the Baltimore Sun then left for the Joseph Katz advertising company.? In 1928 he became the advertising director for the Hecht stores until 1931 when he and his brother-in-law, Jack L. Levin, started their own advertising company.? Shecter also began to invest in real-estate and businesses, ultimately owning several theaters (The Rosalyn, The Rex, The Roxy, and The Times ? now known as the Charles Theater).? Other businesses included the Famous Ballroom and two bowling centers.

Rosalyn M. and Louis E. Shecter on their way to London aboard the R.M.S Queen Mary, 1946. Courtesy of Louis E. Shecter. 1982.15.17

In 1939 Shecter married Rosalyn Margareten (d. 2009).? Rosalyn was born inNew York City and attended first Hunter College then later the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) for sculpture.? Louis and Rosalyn had three children: Alan, Mark and Alyce.? In 1961 Rosalyn was appointed vice chair of the Maryland Board of Motion Picture Censors.? Rosalyn focused on preventing children from being exposed to adult content in films, and she played a minor role in the implementation of the current movie rating system.

Louis Shecter was involved with a number of political figures and also became a collector and promoter of the arts.? Shecter died on November 9, 1992.? Rosalyn died on November 24, 2009.


The collection is divided into three series: Series I. Louis E. Shecter, n.d., 1921-1985, Series II. Rosalyn Shecter, n.d. 1931-1984, and Series III. Children and Grandchildren, n.d., 1949-1983.? Series I. is further divided into eight subseries: Subseries A. American Jewish Congress, n.d., 1957-1983, Subseries B. Business, n.d., 1924-1984, Subseries C. Politics, n.d., 1944-1985, Subseries D. Genocide Convention and Civil Right Activities, n.d., 1954-1981, Subseries E. Charitable Contributions, n.d., 1945-1985, Subseries F. Art Collection, Museums and Culture, n.d, 1953-1983, Subseries G. Personal Correspondence, n.d., 1921-1984, and Subseries H. Misc, n.d., 1932-1984

Louis Shecter with Ladybird Johnson, 1962. Courtesy of Louis Shecter. 1975.20.33a

Series I. Louis E. Shecter, n.d., 1921-1985 contains correspondence, programs, clippings, and writings related to Shecter?s business dealings, civil rights activities, charitable contributions, art collecting, and personal life.? The series is divided into eight subseries. Subseries A. American Jewish Congress, n.d., 1957-1983 contains correspondence, press releases, newspaper clippings, meeting minutes and programs related to Shecter?s work with the American Jewish Congress in Baltimore.? Subseries B. Business, n.d., 1924-1984 contains correspondence and clippings related to Shecter?s work with the Joseph Katz advertising firm, the Hecht Company, his own advertising firm, his real-estate ventures, the Advertising club, etc. Subseries C. Politics, n.d., 1944-1985 contains invitations, correspondence, clippings and programs related to Shecter?s interaction with politics and political figures at the local and national level. Subseries D. Genocide Convention and Civil Right Activities, n.d., 1954-1981 contains correspondence, clippings and talks related to Shecter?s work promoting the Genocide Convention and Civil Rights.? Subseries E. Charitable Contributions, n.d., 1945-1985 contains correspondence, clippings, invitations, etc., related to Shecter?s involvement with charitable organization and his own charitable contributions.? Subseries F. Art Collection, Museums and Culture, n.d, 1953-1983, contains correspondence, newspaper clippings, lists, newsletters, magazines and minutes related to Shecter?s art collection activities, his donation of art, and his interactions with museums and other cultural institutions and organizations. Subseries G. Personal Correspondence, n.d., 1921-1984, contains Shecter?s personal correspondence including a collection of letters (photocopies) to and from H.L. Menken.? Subseries H. Misc, n.d., 1932-1984 contains membership materials to the Masonic Lodge and Beth Tfiloh, invitations, play programs, writings, etc.? All of the materials are organized alphabetically within each subseries.

Louis Shecter and Senator Edward Kennedy reviewing a painting of President Kennedy and Governor Tawes at the opening of JFK Highway. Courtesy of Louis E. Shecter. 1975.20.25a

Series II. Rosalyn Shecter, n.d. 1931-1984 contains correspondence, diplomas, booklets, publications, newspaper clippings, scrapbook pages and genealogical material related to Rosalyn?s education, work and family.? A large portion of the collection relates to Rosalyn?s work with the Maryland State Board of Motion Picture Censors.? The folders are organized alphabetically except for the genealogy materials which are placed at the end of the series.

Rosalyn Shecter being sworn in as chairman of the Maryland Board of Motion Picture censors, 1968. 1974.21.18a

Series III. Children and Grandchildren, n.d., 1949-1983 contains correspondence, invitations and writings related to Louis and Rosalyn?s children and grandchildren.? The series is arranged alphabetically.

Rosalyn, Louis, Alan and Mark Shecter, 1950's. Courtesy of Louis E. Shecter. 1974.21.20


The American Jewish Historical Society and Syracuse University Library both have Louis E. Shecter Manuscript collections.

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Louis Shecter with Israeli athletes at the Olympic Games in Helsinki, Finland, 1952. Courtesy of Louis E. Shecter. 1975.20.1


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Once Upon a Time…11.04.2011

Posted on June 12th, 2012 by

The Baltimore Jewish Times publishes unidentified photographs from the collection of Jewish Museum of Maryland each week. Click here to see the most recent photo on their website. If you can identify anyone in these photos and more information about them, contactJobi Zink, Senior Collections Manager and Registrar at 410.732.6400 x226 or

Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times:  November 4, 2011

PastPerfect Accession #:  2010.016.003

Status:  Identified! State Senator Joan Carter Conway at a BLEWS event.

Special Thanks To:  Judy Baylin

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Making The Case For Social Studies

Posted on February 10th, 2012 by

A blog post by Assistant Director Deborah Cardin.

Does it surprise you to learn that when asked about the role of social studies in their classroom, 88% of Maryland teachers surveyed indicated that it is not a high priority? How about the fact that most middle school social studies teachers have not received certification in this subject? Or that many elementary school students – especially in schools in high poverty areas that are often struggling to meet federal accountability standards – may be pulled out regularly from their social studies classes to receive remediation in reading and math? We shake our heads as the news media reports distressing studies indicating that high school students demonstrate limited knowledge about how our government functions or the fact that voter registration is down among young people. Can there be any correlation between these facts?

These statistics – as alarming as they are – are understandable in the context of a much larger issue, the decline in social studies instruction in Maryland schools since the implementation of the federal No Child Left Behind legislation in 2002. With its emphasis on three core academic areas – reading, math, and science – and the strict accountability tied to student achievement in these three areas, school systems across the country made changes to their curriculum in order to meet this federal mandate. One unintended consequence of this legislation was the marginalization of other subject areas, including social studies.

The impact of this decline has been thoroughly documented. In 2004, a task force was formed under the auspices of the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) to study this issue. I was privileged to serve on the Maryland State Social Studies Task Force along with teachers, social studies content specialists, university professors, principals, parents, and other museum professionals. Over the course of three years, the group met regularly. One of the studies we commissioned, the Status of Social Studies Education in Maryland Survey, included the results of an extensive survey of Maryland teachers and principals about the amount of time devoted to teaching social studies in elementary, middle, and high schools. The results of this survey confirmed our suspicions, with the majority of teachers reporting that social studies is not a priority subject at their school, and that instructional time in the subject area had decreased dramatically especially in elementary schools and, perhaps most distressingly, in schools in high poverty areas.

The Task Force work concluded with the publication of a report, Task Force Report on Social Studies Education inMaryland.

The full report can be accessed at http:///

The report included nine recommendations for improving social studies instruction. The most controversial was a recommendation to create statewide assessments in social studies. Our group struggled with this recommendation because, after all, who wants to increase the pressure on students, teachers, and schools by adding more testing requirements. Unfortunately, the Task Force studies demonstrated the reality of what happens when there are no high stakes tests required for a specific subject area – classroom time devoted to that subject is decreased and students suffer the consequences.

Surprisingly, the report’s call to action went unanswered, as the report was not widely distributed and its recommendations were not enacted. This was most likely attributed to the one recommendation linked to testing which was an unpopular stance among school superintendents. However, the concerns raised by the Task Force did not go away. Furthermore, social studies advocates received another blow whenMaryland’s only high stakes test in social studies – the high school government assessment which students had to pass as a graduation requirement – was eliminated due to budgetary pressures.

Last spring, an advisory council was convened to again take up the case for social studies. I was asked to participate in this group. Taking off where the Social Studies Task Force left off, the group worked together to advocate on behalf of improved social studies instruction to many different community stakeholders crafting a case for support  that included compelling data about how social studies effectively prepares students for assuming civic responsibilities and many different careers.

This Wall Street Journal article by Norm Augustine makes a persuasive case for how social studies prepares students for business careers – http:///

Advisory group subcommittees worked diligently on a plan for implementing the Task Force report recommendations. One of the group’s greatest success has been the recent introduction in the Maryland State Legislature of a bill, Senate Bill 293 (Education – Core Content Areas – Accountability Program), that would require school districts to implement social studies assessments.

The text of the bill, including the names of its sponsors, can be found at http:///

On Wednesday, 8 February, I had the opportunity to travel toAnnapolisto testify on behalf of SB 293 along with 22 other individuals.

MD State House

The bill’s lead sponsor, Senate President Mike Miller, gave an impassioned opening speech about our need to better prepare today’s students to become tomorrow’s engaged citizens. Social Studies Advisory Council chair, Scott McComb gave further testimony in support of the legislation citing the work of the Social Studies Task Force and the bleak details about the lack of time that is currently devoted to social studies. Witness after witness reiterated these points from the points of view of teachers, business leaders, parents, and university professors. Perhaps most compelling, a group of high school seniors from Blake High School in Montgomery County spoke eloquently about how their participation in high quality social studies courses at their school have provided them with such essential communication and analytical skills and has even shaped their thinking about future career plans.

I testified on a panel with two other museum colleagues from the Maryland Historical Society and Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum. Together we talked about the impact of decreased social studies instruction on field trips to our museums and the important role that museums play as partners in an enhanced social studies curriculum.

Students visiting the JMM for an archival exploration program.

It was heartening to hear the comments and concerns raised by Senate committee members and their desire to improve the conditions of social studies instruction in Maryland schools.

Press Release by sponsors of SB 293, Page 1.

Press Release by sponsors of SB 293, Page 2.

Press Release by sponsors of SB 293, Page 3.

While we do not yet know the status of the bill’s passage nor when it will be introduced in the House of Delegates, there is good reason for celebrating the fact the case for social studies is finally being heard.

It is not too late to voice your support for improved social studies instruction in Maryland schools. Contact your Senators today and urge them to support SB 293.

A list of Maryland State Senators can be found here: http:///



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