Posted on July 28th, 2014 by Rachel
During my Exhibitions Research Internship at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, I have had the opportunity to conduct research on the Sinai Hospital Nurses Training Program for the upcoming Jews, Health, and Healing exhibition. This research has included reading several oral history interviews from nurses who trained at Sinai Hospital (the program ended in 1975). These interviews have not only given me new insights into the hospital and its program, but also have allowed me to learn some of each woman’s personality.
A group of Sinai nurses in gathered in their residence eating pizza, no date. Courtesy of Sinai Hospital of Baltimore.
Oral histories collect and record personal memories and commentaries, and are one of the most important sources of information available to historians. An oral history allows one to learn about the lives of people that are not ordinarily covered in history textbooks. The information gathered in an oral history can be used for research, excerpted in publication, filmed for documentary, or displayed in museum exhibition.
The Jewish Museum of Maryland is home to hundreds of oral histories. Those histories that have not yet been digitized or transcribed are kept in audiocassette form and organized in filing cabinets.
Information we have gathered through the nurses’ oral histories will better allow us to place exhibition objects into context and craft a narrative for their display. As Curator Karen Falk wrote in her “JMM Insights, July 2014: Where Culture Meets Science” blog post, Bobbie Horwitz’s interview gave context for the elaborate silver tea gifted to JMM by the Sinai Nursing Alumnae Association. Horwitz explained, “They wanted to make ladies of us.” One of the ways they did so was through a civilized “tea” held every Friday.
Sinai nurses drinking from their silver tea set, no date. Courtesy of Sinai Hospital of Baltimore.
Another interesting story I came across was from former Sinai nurse Senator Rosalie S. Abrams. Abrams recounted how she learned Yiddish while working in the men’s ward. “I was a head nurse for the men’s ward,” she said. “That’s where I learned my Yiddish—on the men’s ward. We used to sing them Jewish songs.” Such stories illustrate the intersection of Jewish culture and medicine in the space of the hospital.
Three Sinai nursing students and their instructor stand around a patient in his hospital bed, June 1960. Accession # 2010.020.316. Courtesy of Nurses Alumnae Association of Sinai Hospital.
After reading so many interesting stories I was excited to receive training, with my fellow interns, from Curator Karen Falk on how to conduct an oral history. We went over how to use the museum’s recording equipment and preparing the proper documentation for the interview. It is crucial to be prepared for the interview. One of the most important things to consider is what you want to learn. You should know your topic and what information you hope to gain. Prepare a list of questions that get at the heart of what you want to know and familiarize yourself with them. Your rapport will be easily interrupted if you keep pausing to look down at your questions. Keep in mind that you should also be flexible with your questions. Your interviewee may bring up interesting points you never considered, but would like to explore.
Prior to conducting your oral history make sure all your recording equipment works. Familiarize yourself with it and practice. You do not want to waste your interviewee’s time trying to set up equipment that you do not know how to use or that does not work.
Some of JMM’s oral history recording equipment, including a digital recorder and microphone.
Upcoming research for the Jews, Health, and Healing exhibition will include conducting more oral history interviews with Jewish medical professionals. I hope that some of the great accounts from the Sinai nurses’ oral histories will be incorporated into the exhibit.
A blog post by Exhibitions Research Intern Sarah Moore. To read more posts by interns click HERE.
Posted on July 2nd, 2014 by Rachel
As a summer 2014 Exhibitions Research intern at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, I am helping develop the upcoming exhibition Jews, Health, and Healing. The 2015 exhibition will explore how medicine shaped both the ways Jews are viewed by others and how they view themselves. This intersection of culture and science has provided some fascinating ways of looking at the construction of identity and empowerment in the Jewish community.
A lot of my research has focused on the Friedenwald family “dynasty” of doctors. Three generations of Friedenwalds practiced ophthalmology in Baltimore. Using JMM’s archive collection I have looked at the Friedenwald manuscript collection, which includes correspondences, speeches, and diaries.
Some of the many boxes containing the Friedenwald collection.
Our exhibit will pay special attention to Dr. Harry Friedenwald (1864—1950). Harry was interested in the history of medicine, particularly Jewish contributions to the field. This research led to the publication of his book Jews and Medicine: Essays in 1944. The exhibition will feature a recreation of Harry’s study.
A photograph of Dr. Harry Friedenwald.
One of the most interesting things I have found in the Friedenwald manuscript collection is a letter from Harry to his son Jonas (another ophthalmologist) describing medical school quotas for Jewish students. The July 21, 1922 letter describes a meeting that Harry organized with fellow doctors to review Jewish admissions to John Hopkins Medical school. In the early twentieth century there were quotas to limit the number of Jewish medical students. Harry wrote of the “inquisition” into the religious adherence of applicants. This was conducted by asking for statements from each person’s mother. Such policies were used to determine if an applicant was Jewish. Harry hoped to end the quotas.
Harry’s July 21, 1922 letter to Jonas describing quotas at Hopkins. One of the most difficult aspects of my research has been deciphering Harry’s handwriting!
Hopefully, this letter can be used in the Jews, Health, and Healing exhibition to illustrate the history of quotas on Jewish students in medical schools, as well as the broader story of discrimination in medicine.
A blog post by Exhibition Research Intern Sarah Moore. To read more posts by and about interns, click Here.
Posted on July 1st, 2014 by Rachel
It’s that time of year again – Intern Season! You’ve already heard from a few of these bright, eager interns, as they’ve taken to blogging like ducks to water. But we still thought it would be nice to give you a little more in-depth information on the 2014 summer intern class. This year we asked the interns to interview and write profiles on each other. Enjoy getting to know them – we certainly have been!
Emma Glaser is a new Education and Programming Intern at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. I had the opportunity to sit down with my fellow intern and discuss what brought her to the JMM, what she plans to in Baltimore, and, most importantly, how I could obtain her mother’s challah recipe. ~Intern Mandy
Emma is originally from Tacoma Park, Maryland, a suburb of Washington D.C. that offers both small town charm alongside big city attractions. Emma jokes, “The best thing is our July 4th parade, which is very small-town America, but with a lot of liberal twist!” Yet, though she grew up just a short car ride from the Smithsonian, she cites the New York Historical Society and the Natural History Museum in New York as her favorite museums as a child. Emma explains that her grandmother would often drag her to those museums all the time growing up, stressing the importance of history on Emma at an early age.
Well, Emma must have been listening to her grandmother, because she majored in History and Classics at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. Smith is known to have a unique housing system, where traditional undergraduates are expected to live in a housing community for four years. Naturally, I ask Emma to sell me on her house, Washburn. Emma gleefully states, “Washburn has a reputation for being a little weird, not in a bad way, and the house community is very strong. We also have the best mascot on Smith’s campus—Safety Man.” Apparently, Safety Man is a relic from an old commuter student whose father did not want her driving alone at night. So, she drove with half a mannequin. Now, the students as Washburn continue to take great pride in Safety Man, hiding him in showers and closets. Needless to say, Emma received an amazing college education both inside and out of the classroom.
In fact, it was during her undergraduate career that she realized her passion for museum work. Growing up, museums surrounded her. Trips to the Smithsonian or to the historical society grew old fast to a young and curious mind. Though she loved history, she viewed museums as rather passive institutions. Her feelings completely changed when she studied abroad at King’s College in London. Suddenly, Emma was surrounded by new objects and narratives, just begging to be explored. Emma declares, “I probably saw about 96% of the British Museum while I was there—I had make about six trips, and spend a couple hours each time!” Her feat was so impressive, that one of her classmates claimed she never met someone so into museums before. That’s when Emma realized she might want to look into museum careers and see where she fits best in the field.
Since her English epiphany, Emma has sought out countless opportunities in Public History and Jewish History. She interned in the curatorial department at the National Museum of American Jewish History, and has also for her synagogue, helping to archive materials related to her congregation’s cemetery. At the JMM, Emma wants to build on those experiences while also exploring different areas in the field. As an Education and Programming Intern, Emma is busy working on lesson plans for the A-mazing Mendes Cohen exhibit and gearing up for the upcoming Electric Pickle exhibit.
Mandy Benter is a new Exhibition Research Intern at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. ~Intern Arielle
Mandy is the Jewish Museum of Maryland’s fresh, new, and awesome Exhibition Research Intern for this upcoming summer. Mandy went through most of her life without nicknames, but by some she is called Mandy B (even though there’s no other Mandys in her circle of friends), Mahatma Mandy (because of her relaxed and friendly disposition), and Patches (which was earned while she was in AmeriCorps, where nicknames run wild). She is originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She describes it as a quintessential blue collar city, known for its breweries and motorcycles; but also experiences a renaissance of sorts and developing quite a reputation for its quirky art venues and festivals – similarities she has noticed between Milwaukee and Baltimore!
Mandy studied history and political science as an undergraduate at the University of Wisoconsin-Madison. When she was a junior she realized that she wanted to work as a museum curator so she began to look for internships. Since then she has works with the Institute of Southern Jewish Life and the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience. Though she is neither Southern nor Jewish, she felt overly welcomed in her new community and learned a lot about the museum field. She has worked extensively in educational programming, particularly for Mississippi Public School students. After she graduated from UW, Mandy took a year off from her schooling and joined AmeriCorps, working for City Year Little Rock/North Little Rock as a supplemental third grade literacy tutor. She describes this experience as the hardest and most rewarding of her life.
This past fall, Mandy moved to Raleigh, North Carolina to get her MA in Public History from North Carolina State University. Since then she has developed a strong allegiance to Eastern Carolina’s vinegar-based barbecue and has a tendency to call a group of people “y’all”. You can guess that she loves the South!!
Now Mandy has one more year of school before she will earn her MA and is thrilled to be spending her summer as an intern at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. She will be working with Curator Karen Falk on the upcoming Jews, Health, and Healing exhibit. She hopes to bring a fresh perspective to the project and is excited to learn more about what it takes to put an exhibit together and the fundamentals behind the research process. She is thrilled to work on this exhibit while it’s still at the early stages and is honored that the JMM is entrusting her with this opportunity. She can’t wait to spend the summer in Baltimore and embrace her time working at the Jewish Museum of Maryland!
Barbara Israel is a new Exhibition Research Intern at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. ~Intern Emma
Barbara Israel is a sophomore at UMBC, majoring in Ancient Studies and Archaeology. She grew up in Youngstown, OH, but has lived in Baltimore for forty years. After she graduates, Barbara would like to work in a museum, so she is excited about the experience she will gain during her internship. She will primarily be working on the Jewish Health and Healing exhibit. So far, she has really enjoyed learning how to transcribe documents which are in poor condition. Her favorite document that she has worked on is a manuscript from 1896.
Barbara’s favorite historical figure is Thomas Jefferson because she took a class focusing largely on him. She also had a wonderful time taking an archaeology course in Greece this year. The traditional Jewish food that she most enjoys is brisket. Her hobbies include gardening, cooking, travel, and reading.
Sarah Moore is a new Exhibition Research Intern at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. ~Intern Barbara
Sarah Moore is an intern who came to the Jewish Museum of Maryland from Morgantown, West Virginia, and she graduated from the University of West Virginia at Morgantown. She came back to the museum after a week’s absence with a bout of illness and took on her tasks here with earnestness.
Her favorite food is burritos and she loves Mexican food.
I asked Sarah what her goals were for the immediate future. She plans to take a year off from school to find a job in a museum. In five years she plans to be finished with graduate school in Museology or Art History and find a museum job. In ten years she would like to have a curatorial position in a museum.
Her favorite book is “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austin and her hobbies are reading and swimming.
It is my pleasure to introduce you to one of the Jewish Museum of Maryland’s summer 2014 Education and Programming interns: Arielle Kaden. ~Intern Sarah
Arielle is a rising junior at Johns Hopkins University. She is majoring in Writing Seminars, which she describes as creative writing combined with liberal arts, and minoring in Jewish Studies. Her favorite place in Baltimore is the Johns Hopkins University Campus. She’s studied there for two years and it is her home outside of New Jersey. Arielle grew up in Randolph, New Jersey, with two younger siblings, a brother who is 18 and a sister who is 12. She considers her best friends.
Arielle recently returned from a two week research trip in Poland. She her new favorite museum is in Poland, The Museum of the History of Polish Jews. “I saw it before its official opening, which is later this summer, and I thought it was fabulous,” says Arielle. “It covers 1,000 years of Jewish life in Poland and pays a beautiful tribute to the rich Jewish life that once thrived in Eastern Europe and is resurrecting itself today.”
Arielle hopes to find a career in a field pertaining to Jewish education. She says, “I love finding creative ways to help educate people about Jewish themes whether it is through creative writing, putting together a museum exhibition, or making a film.” She plans to pursue a master’s degree or PhD, and hopes spread the Jewish message around the world. Arielle decided to intern at JMM because she thought it would be a unique, fun, and fulfilling experience. She had visited the museum before and loved its exhibitions. As and Education and Programming intern Arielle looks forward to helping to plan and facilitate educational and programming activities for all of the guests.