Become an Upstander!

Volunteer Opportunities
in partnership with
Jewish Volunteer Connection

Maryland Soldiers in World War I

Posted on September 13th, 2012 by

For the rest of the year we will be posting a series of blogs on the second Thursday of each month that highlight some of our collections related to World War I.  Each post will focus on a single topic illustrated with photographs, objects and archives from the museum’s collections.  This first post will focus on the troops.

Benjamin H. Goldstein on a bench, c. 1918. Courtesy of Agota Gold. 2002.73.75

Though the rest of the world waged war throughout Europe, Asia and Africa starting in 1914, the United States did not officially enter the fray until April 1917.  Despite a strong desire by many Americans to stay neutral, the US government had been building up the military before the declaration of war, and mobilization increased quickly after.  Over the next two years, young men from every state in the union entered the military – some willing, some drafted.  Not everyone wanted war, but once it started government propaganda did its best to stir up patriotism and support.

Troops parade down Baltimore Street near Calvert in 1918. Parades and other festivities would have helped stir patriotism and promote cohesion among Americans. Perhaps these young men were new recruits marching off toward their training bases, or maybe they were heading directly toward the war in Europe, either way, this celebration and apparent support from the civilian population must have bolstered them. Courtesy of Stanford C. Reed. 1987.19.22

The enlisted soldiers, who made up the bulk of the army, were ethnically diverse – a full quarter of the soldiers spoke no English and African Americans constituted more than 10% of the troops.  This was not new or unusual.  American troops throughout history included immigrants as well as native-born men.  The Jewish troops from Maryland would also have been a mixture of recent immigrants and descendents of men and women who had come to America during the nineteenth century.

Stanford Z. Rothschild, Sr. in front of his billet (the Rifand family home) in Tours, France during his service in World War I, 1918. Stanford immigrated to America as a child with his parents. Courtesy of Stanford Z. Rothschild. 1991.127.20

Once in the army the young soldiers shipped out to the training camps that sprouted up around the country.  These camps brought both business and headaches to the surrounding residents.  Men shipped out to parts of the country they had never seen before.  Lester Levy, a Maryland native, went to Augusta, Georgia for training in 1918.

Lester Levy’s army camp, Augusta, GA, 1918. Courtesy of Janet Fishbein (daughter of Susan Levy Bodenheimer), Ellen Patz, Ruth Gottesman & Vera Mende. 2002.79.569

Though the bulk of young men were destined for the trenches, others filled a variety of positions that keep the military running.  Only a few short years after the invention of the airplane, men like J. Jefferson Miller (a Baltimorean) became the first military aviators.  Nicholas Beser was a cartoonist for the Stars and Stripes which reported news to the soldiers.  Others were doctors or musicians, or provided any number other services that made the army function.

J. Jefferson Miller, Aviators Flight Log Book. Courtesy of the Weiler-Miller Fund. 2008.76.35 Nicholas Beser and friends in camp in France. Courtesy of the Beser Family. 1993.173.29

Nicholas Beser and friends in camp in France. Courtesy of the Beser Family. 1993.173.29

Print room of Stars and Stripes in Paris. Courtesy of the Beser Family. 1993.173.42


Honors and memorials for soldiers who fought and died during World War I began soon after the war ended.  Besides the public or government honors (statues and medals) individuals and private companies would sometimes recognize the veterans connected to them.

Tablet in honor of M.S. Levy and Sons employees who fought in World War I. T1989.4.1


Next month we will look at the role of women in World War I.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

MS 195 The Sergeant Isaac Gordon Papers

Posted on June 30th, 2011 by

After a couple of archive posts about the collections of organizations, it’s time to get back to an individual.  The following collection is small, but packed, and deals primarily with the service of Sergeant Isaac Gordon during World War I.  Besides letters, Sergeant Gordon also saved several copies of the Stars and Stripes, the newspaper published by the US military.  After more than ninety years the cheap newspaper is a little worse for wear, but the content is still fascinating.  We were also able to find the full issues on line through the Library of Congress, which has digitized the Stars and Stripes published during World War I.  I’ve included a link for that site at the bottom of the finding aid.

Letter from Isaac to his sister Betty, December 28, 1917. 1985.122.2

Sergeant Isaac Gordon Papers

1917-1930 (bulk 1917-1919)

MS 195

Jewish Museum of Maryland


The Sergeant Isaac Gordon Papers were donated to the Jewish Museum of Maryland in 1985 by his daughter, Phyllis Pollokoff. It was received as accession 1985.122. The collection was partially processed at an unknown date and completed by Andrea DeBoef in 2011.

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.

how to make quick easy money


Isaac Gordon was born in Norfolk, VA about 1896. His father, Wolf Gordon, was born in Russia, but came through Baltimore when he immigrated. Isaac Gordon was with the U.S. Army Ambulance Services in France between 1917 and 1919. Isaac Gordon was later married to Mary Esther Gordon*. He died in September 1981.


The Sergeant Isaac Gordon Papers are compiled from his time in the U.S. Army Ambulance Service with the French Army between 1917 and 1919. This collection includes personal letters to brothers Leroy and Jake; his sisters Betty, Anna, Sadie, and Flo; and his parents in Pittsburgh, PA, also military orders, an affidavit, a menu, and newspaper clippings. There are around 250 letters, but approximately 200 of these are photocopies. The owner retained the originals. The files are organized by type (letters, military papers, and newspaper clippings) and then chronologically. For preservation purposes, photocopies of the letters and clippings will be used for research.

The Library of Congress provides access to digitized copies of the Stars and Stripes from World War I at the following site:



*Thank you to Bob Pollokoff, Isaac’s grandson for the correction. Mary Gordon was Isaac Gordon’s mother.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland