WHAT IS THE USE OF JEWISH HISTORY?

Posted on December 4th, 2013 by

People sometimes ask me, “What is the use of Jewish history?” And “why do you study and write about that so much?” Author and historian, Lucy Davidowitz, wrote a book on this subject.

2007.054.027  Book cover, The Hoffburger Journey in America: 1882-2005, compiled primarily by Lois Hoffberger Blum Feinblatt.

2007.054.027 Book cover, The Hoffburger Journey in America: 1882-2005, compiled primarily by Lois Hoffberger Blum Feinblatt.

Others take their concern and doubt to an annoying level, saying, “History is not important.” Perhaps not, for them, compared with the latest Hollywood gossip, the score of Sunday’s  football game or newest technological toy. Their view is short sighted, to say the least.

For me, researching and writing about Jewish history is akin to raising a memorial to departed relatives, ancestors and – yes – to strangers.  Some may be famous community or congregational leaders while others served their families quietly with love and dedication.

Only two of my relatives served the community in public ways – one was a Hershfield who served as secretary of a synagogue in New Jersey. The shul is now defunct, and I have no documentation about this except for Oral History tapes of my mother.

Another Hershfield in the same family in Jersey City served on the public School Board.  But this branch of the family are notorious for not answering letters, and we have been out of touch with them since the 1960s, so no documentation has been found to verify the anecdote.

(As for yichus, that is, genealogical status, I sometimes imagine that I am descended from a 2nd Century Sage or a Levitical priest.  But this may be ego on my part!)

Every time we quest for our family’s history, read an article in a Jewish History periodical or visit the JMM, we are raising a memorial to the whole Jewish people.  It is like placing rocks on the top of tombstones when we visit cemeteries. The purpose is to make the marker-stone larger, thereby, increasing the honor of those who have passed away. Saying Kaddish for one’s father is another example.  Sharing our genealogies with living relatives is a third example of zichron – remembering our ancestors.  And from where we came.

1973.008.001 Collage of Galitzianer gravestones (1903) from Gruft family collection. Artist unknown.]

1973.008.001 Collage of Galitzianer gravestones (1903) from Gruft family collection. Artist unknown.]

The value of learning, teaching and celebrating our many-faceted history becomes more apparent when we consider how often in history that the Jewish people have faced extreme adversity.  Even if our immigrant-ancestors lived a life of obscurity, toiling in the moderate Garment Industry of Jonestown or peddling as an arabisher, there is eternal value to our interest, care and memory of them.  We need the Eternal One’s eyes to perceive the value of Jewish history.

1997.149.003  Button sewing machine (1930s), made by Singer, from D. Schwartz and Sons Garment Machinery Co., of Baltimore Street and later, Gay Street.

1997.149.003 Button sewing machine (1930s), made by Singer, from D. Schwartz and Sons Garment Machinery Co., of Baltimore Street and later, Gay Street.

 

photo of Robert SiegelA blog post by Collections Volunteer Robert Siegel. To read more posts by and about JMM volunteers, click here.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




MS 204 D. Schwartz and Sons Trade Machinery Co. Business Records

Posted on April 5th, 2012 by

Awhile back I wrote a post about processing the D. Schwartz and Sons collection.  The collection is large and filled with details about the products the company offered, the clients they worked with, the changing costs of machine parts, the scope of the business, etc., but I was unable to discover as much about the history of the company as I had hoped.  Usually I think of these finding aid posts as ways to send information out, but I’m hoping that this post will prompt some information to come back into the museum.  Do you know something about D. Schwartz and Sons?  Do you have stories, memories, names, dates, etc.?  We would love to know more.

Organizing the order books, sometimes processing collections requires a lot of room to spread out.

D. Schwartz and Sons Trade Machinery Co.

Business Records

1900-1962

 MS 204

 Jewish Museum of Maryland

ACCESS AND PROVENANCE

The D. Schwartz and Sons Trade Machinery Co. Business Records were donated to the Jewish Museum of Maryland by Jack Schwartz in 1997 as accession 1997.149. The collection was initially processed at an unknown date and unknown person then reprocessed by Jennifer Vess is 2010 and 2011.

Access to the collection is unrestricted and available to researchers at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Researchers must obtain 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 practices

HISTORICAL NOTE

D. Schwartz Dealer in Sewing Machines and Electric Motors opened on1004 E. Baltimore Street.  The business later became D. Schwartz and Sons Garment Trade Machinery on342-348 N. Gay Streetand even later simply D. Schwartz and Sons, Inc.

SCOPE AND CONTENT

The D. Schwartz and Sons Garment Trade Machinery Co. collection contains business records and a few personal records related to the Schwartz family.  The majority of the collection covers orders and invoices from multiple companies.  The collection is divided into seven series.  Series I. Catalogs, 1900-1935 contains Singer Machine and Union Machine parts catalogs.  The catalogs are organized chronologically.  Series II. Ledgers, 1920s-1959 contains ledgers sheets and ledger books for D. Schwartz and sons.  Some of the ledger sheets were missing before the collection entered the museum.  The ledgers are organized chronologically.  Series III. Order Books, 1953-1961 includes a large collection of order books organized by the order book number (generally chronological) as well as a group of costumer orders.  The order books are organized chronologically with out of sequence job books at the end.  Series IV. Invoices, 1949-1962 contains mostly invoices, but also price lists, spec sheets, catalogs and correspondence for the various companies with which D. Schwartz and Sons did business.  A few of the folders contain samples of machine parts or fabric swatches.  These have been noted in the box list.  The invoices are organized alphabetically by the name of the company.  Series V. Financial Papers mostly contains petty cash receipts, but also tax and business charity documents.  The financial papers are organized chronologically.  Series VI. Employee Papers contains employee pay records, pay checks and letters.  The papers are organized chronologically.  Series VII. Schwartz family papers contains a variety of documents related to Irving, Benjamin and Samuel Schwartz.  The papers are organized chronologically with Strauss family papers last.

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This is closer to what the collection looks like now -- neat, orderly, and protected.

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