Diving into the Associated Scrapbooks

Posted on December 22nd, 2017 by

This month’s JMM Insights comes from our archivist, Lorie Rombro. You can read more posts by Lorie here.

In the last few months I have begun working on a collection of scrapbooks from The Associated Jewish Charities. The books date back to 1919 and I have been recently investigating the late 1940’s and 1950’s scrapbooks of the publicity and campaign work of the Women’s Division. These books are incredibly interesting, giving a peek into a large, organized group of women working to help not only the Jewish community of Baltimore but people throughout the world. Reading and processing the scrapbooks has been a history lesson of the time period, here and abroad.

Scrapbooks have long been a way to preserve photographs, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, documents, and other assorted items.

The problem with scrapbooks is that they are often put together with materials that are detrimental to long-term preservation. In the past, scrapbook pages where made of poor-quality, highly acidic paper that deteriorates rapidly and discolors. The pages would also become brittle over time and then tear easily and crumble. Often, the binding of the album was not made for the increase in size caused by the materials placed in the scrapbook, causing the spine to break and pages to come out. Papers are attached to the scrapbook with harmful tapes and/or glue. Multi- paged letters or pamphlets may be fastened only by the last sheet, causing rips and tears, or folding and crushing of documents.

For all of these reasons I have been carefully cataloging, photographing and taking apart the scrapbooks. Archivists like me always struggle with the decision whether a scrapbook should stay together or be taken apart. If possible, we try to leave a scrapbook together, since it tells a story not only with the information inside of it but how someone chose to put it together. That is why if I do dismantle a scrapbook, I carefully document its original form for future researchers. To some, these scrapbooks may only seem to contain old bits of paper, but to us they are full of important historical information.

I wanted to share some of what I have found in the scrapbooks. Not only does it give a picture of the time it was made, but some of the pieces could be produced and used today.

The two images above are from the 1949 Women’s Division scrapbook.

We hope you laugh a little at these two postcards that went out to the husbands of the women volunteering! In 1950 over 1200 women participated in the campaign.

This picture is from the 1951 G-day handbook – check out all the do’s and don’t’s they’ve got listed!

Last is my very favorite which I believe could be used today – babies are always a good tug on the heartstrings. These are images from the publicity and booklets for the 1955 Women’s Division campaign.

Making a Scrapbook to Last

Today, making a scrapbook which will stand up to the test of time is easier. Choose a book which is made with acid free paper and pH neutral adhesives for the binding. Use acid free photo corners or other type of binding, make sure all the corners are carefully attached but do not use glue.

In this picture you can see how tape discolors and negatively affects paper.

You want to be able to remove anything placed in a scrapbook, you never know when you might need it again! Scrapbooks are an incredible way to document your family history, a trip, an important event or your organization – they are worth spending a little extra money on good supplies to make sure that future generations can enjoy them.

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Young Adult Night at the JMM with IMPACT and BJC

Posted on March 24th, 2017 by

On March 23, the JMM was thrilled to host a group of 85 young adults who participated in a program sponsored by IMPACT, the young adult division of the Associated and the Baltimore Jewish Council’s Holocaust Remembrance Commission.

Starting the evening with casual schmoozing

Starting the evening with casual schmoozing

The evening included opportunities for networking and schmoozing with food and drink. I was invited to give remarks about our new exhibit Remembering Auschwitz: History, Holocaust, Humanity as well as to lead tours. When asked how many people had previously visited the JMM, it was clear that the majority had not and I enjoyed having the opportunity to welcome the group and to hopefully pique their interest in staying connected with us.

After a few brief remarks about how the exhibit came together and our institutional goals for having it on view, I led a small group through the gallery while many others opted to view the exhibit on their own.

Viewing "Architecture of Murder"

Viewing “Architecture of Murder”

Viewing "A Town Known as Auschwitz"

Viewing “A Town Known as Auschwitz”

It was rewarding to hear such positive feedback from visitors who expressed their surprise at learning new insights into Holocaust history such as the fact that Oswiecim (the town that became known as Auschwitz) once served as home to a vibrant Jewish community. As always, I enjoy hearing from people about their personal connections to the stories on display. One woman in the group told me that her grandmother actually grew up in the town and she was incredibly moved to see photographs featuring the diversity of Jewish life from the 20th century.

Local high schooler Andrew Altman created this model of Auschwitz-Birkenau in honor of his grandfather.

Local high schooler Andrew Altman created this model of Auschwitz-Birkenau in honor of his grandfather.

Several program attendees had previously visited Auschwitz-Birkenau and when we stopped at the model by high school student Andrew Altman, they shared their experiences of what it was like to visit.

Viewing the "Holocaust Memory Reconstruction Project"

Viewing the “Holocaust Memory Reconstruction Project”

The final stop at the plaques that are part of the Holocaust Memory Reconstruction Project, served as another place for reflection as participants spent time reading the stories, commenting on the collages and sharing their connections to individuals whose stories are on display.

Small group conversations

Small group conversations

Following the tour, the group gathered in small groups in our lobby to hear from the grandchildren of survivors who shared their stories of survival. This format fostered conversation among participants and helped to continue the discussions that were begun in the gallery.

What a pleasure it was to work with our partners at the Associated and Baltimore Jewish Council to organize such a thoughtful program. We continue to be delighted by just how much Remembering Auschwitz resonates with audiences of all ages and backgrounds and look forward to hosting many more groups and programs. The exhibit remains on display through May 29.

deborahA blog post by Deputy Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts from Deborah click HERE.

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Ten in the Twentieth: Baltimore Jews and Social Justice 1970s

Posted on February 27th, 2017 by

Article by Dr. Deborah R. Weiner. Originally published in Generations 2009-2010: 50th Anniversary Double Issue: The Search for Social Justice.

The Baltimore Jewish community has produced many leaders who have worked to make the world a better place. The range of issues they have addressed is impressive: from women’s suffrage to civil rights, labor relations to helping the elderly, refugee resettlement to eliminating poverty, and much more.

This chronology traces the careers of ten Baltimoreans who stood up for social change, with each person’s entry revolving around a turning point—one for each decade of the twentieth century. This is by no means a “Ten Best” list. The people included here are remarkable for what they accomplished, but others, equally remarkable, could have been chosen as well. These profiles should be seen as representative of a larger group of Baltimore Jews who have made major contributions to their communities and to the broader society in myriad ways.

The 1970s: Harry Greenstein

Click here to start from the beginning.

1971: Harry Greenstein (1895-1971) dies, marking the end of an era in Baltimore’s Jewish communal history. Head of the Associated for almost four decades, Greenstein was a major player in international welfare work who always returned home to Baltimore after his relief missions.

Harry Greenstein (right) and William Bein (left) JDC Director for Poland, standing on rubble of Warsaw Ghetto, Poland, 1949. JMM 1971.20.214

Harry Greenstein (right) and William Bein (left) JDC Director for Poland, standing on rubble of Warsaw Ghetto, Poland, 1949. JMM 1971.20.214

After helping organize the YMHA and serving as president, Greenstein became executive director of the Associated in 1928 and served until 1965. During his tenure, the organization changed dramatically to meet the needs of the Jewish community. Services relocated from downtown to northwest Baltimore, agencies consolidated, and present-day institutions such as Levindale, the JCC, and Sinai Hospital took shape.

Greenstein’s local achievements were all the more remarkable considering that he was frequently “loaned out” by the Associated to state, federal, and international agencies, where his impact was substantial. Appointed Maryland’s first relief administrator in 1933, he set up the state’s public welfare structure. In 1939, with European Jewry in crisis, he prepared a report for American Jewish leaders which FDR termed a “model of constructive absorption of immigrants” and led to the creation of the National Refugee Service. For the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, he helped design and administer plans for helping Europe recover from World War II. Appointed advisor on Jewish affairs to the U.S. Army of Occupation in Germany and Austria in 1949, he was instrumental in liquidating the displaced persons camps and resettling Holocaust survivors.

 Harry Greenstein (right) and General Lucius D.Clay (left) as General Clay welcomes his newly appointed Advisor on Jewish Affairs, in his Frankfurt, Germany headquarters, February 15, 1949. JMM 1985.174.4

Harry Greenstein (right) and General Lucius D.Clay (left) as General Clay welcomes his newly appointed Advisor on Jewish Affairs, in his Frankfurt, Germany headquarters, February 15, 1949. JMM 1985.174.4

The title of Greenstein’s biography, “Justice, Not Charity,” exemplified his approach to welfare work. Communal leader Paul Cordish captured his impact when he called Greenstein “the personification of the collective conscience of our community.”

Continue to The 1980s: Ruth Wolf Rehfeld

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