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100 Years of Scrapbooks

Posted on October 11th, 2019 by

For this month’s edition of Performance Counts, archivist Lorie Rombro shares some of her favorite finds as she’s been researching the history of the Associated in preparation for the upcoming Centennial Celebrations. This week scrapbooks, next week Scrap looks! You can read more posts by Lorie HERE.

Performance Counts: October 2019

For the past two years I have had the pleasure of assisting the Associated in preparing historical information to celebrate the upcoming centennial. Searching through the over 3,000 photographs and archival files about the Associated at JMM (along with an additional 4,200 + photographs and records about the Jewish Community Center, Levindale, and many of the agencies that are part of the Associated), has been fascinating.

Associated Jewish Charities subscription mailer, 1925.

Two of the resources here at the Museum that I have really enjoyed working on for the centennial are the historic Jewish Times and our collection of scrapbooks about the Associated. From 1921 to 1931 the Jewish Times had an almost weekly page dedicated to the Associated. It began as Philanthropictopics: A Forum of the Associated Jewish Charities Baltimore. This name of the page lasted until 1923 (I understand why they changed it. Although fun, it was a mouthful.) to eventually become Associated News by 1929. These weekly updates would give a variety of information, history and yearly statistics on agencies of the Associated, events and classes that were happening, new officers and board members, information on dues collection and campaigning, and general information to help the community understand what the Associated did.

Left: Philanthropictopics, Jewish Times, June 1922. 1917-1925 Scrapbook, JMM 2017.68.1.56. Right: Associated News, January 3, 1930. 1926-1930 Scrapbook, JMM 2017.68.2.

My favorites were the “Day in the life of” series, where a featured Associated agency would give real examples of what they were doing and the story of a person who came to them for help. I also enjoy the helpful hints section, such as the plea to “Please Be Accurate” from January 1930. This feature was a quick note asking benevolent citizens to make sure that when seeking help for others, they gave the correct name and address to the Hebrew Benevolent Society so that the social workers did not have the uncomfortable moment of addressing the wrong family! I also always enjoyed following the sports sections: which Talmud Torah was up in the baseball tournaments and how the various Jewish Educational Alliance teams were doing.  Reading these columns gives not only a clear picture of what the Associated was doing but also what that work meant to the Jewish community.

Associated Scrapbook, 1926-1930, JMM 2017.68.2.

The Jewish Museum of Maryland houses one hundred and sixty-five scrapbooks on the history of the Associated and its campaigns. These incredible pieces of history span the years from 1918 to 1992 and are an enormous resource in looking at the last 100 years of the Associated and Baltimore’s Jewish community. These stuffed scrapbooks are full of newspaper and magazine clippings, mailers from the Associated, synagogue newsletters, and internal documents.

Article about the creation of the Associated Jewish Charities, July 23, 1920. JMM 2017.68.1.11.

Starting with information on both the Federated Jewish Charities and United Hebrew Charities, the scrapbooks collect articles from all the local papers on the amalgamation of the two organizations and the beginnings of the Associated we know today.

Information and statistics from all the constituent agencies of the Associated Jewish Charities, 1926. 1926-1930 Scrapbook. JMM 2017.69.2.1.

These scrapbooks are amazing. As I process them, I find more and more information that adds to our understanding of the history of the last 100 years. What’s also interesting is what’s missing – while we have the scrapbooks from 1917-1935, there are no documents for 1936-1946 in the scrapbook collection. The next materials start with a Women’s Division scrapbook for 1947. In fact, throughout our whole collection at the Museum, we have very few records for the Associated during those years.

When the Associated still sent out letters to the community in Yiddish. 1929-1931 Scrapbook. JMM 2017.68.4.13e.

These are just a few examples of the resources available in our collection that have helped me understand what the Associated Jewish Charities and its agencies did in its early years and its importance to the community. I can’t wait to celebrate the Centennial with our whole community!


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Posted on October 7th, 2019 by

Blog post by JMM archivist Lorie Rombro. You can read more posts by Lorie HERE.

As an archivist, I read all the time. At work I am constantly reading, either quickly looking at something to determine where it belongs and how to catalog the information to more in depth reading. There is also the reading that should be scanning but you become so involved in what is being written that its hard to put the papers down. This doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does it’s hard to tear yourself away. You begin to get to know the people you are working on, not personally, but you get an interesting look at their lives through their correspondence, diaries, and public writing and occasionally you become a fan.

While working on the Associated Centennial I have become a fan. Beyonce has her Bey Hive, Taylor Swift has her Swifties and I AM A “GREENSTEINER” (still working on that one). I am proud to admit that I have become a huge fan of Harry Greenstein. I have read his speeches, his biography, and looked at his travel diaries. The more I read the more impressed I am with Mr. Greenstein. There is not enough room in a blog to write all that he has done but I would like to give a short history of a man who devoted his life not only to the Baltimore Jewish community and the larger world-wide Jewish community, but to changing our city, state, and country for the better.

Harry Greenstein graduation photograph, c.1916. Gift of Mrs. Samuel Block, JMM 1971.20.36.

Harry Greenstein was born in Baltimore at 625 West Lombard Street on October 31, 1894, the only son of Abraham and Fannie Greenstein. Harry would grow up in Baltimore with four sisters, and by all accounts was devoted to his family. While Harry began his high schooling at Baltimore City College, when his father returned from the Trudeau Sanitarium in Saranac Lake, New York where he had been treated for tuberculosis, the family moved to a forty-acre farm in Reisterstown. Harry would thrive in the country, graduating valedictorian from Franklin High School and eventually moving back to the city with his sister, Bertha, to take a job and help support his family.

In 1913 he began his studies at the University of Maryland School of Law, graduating with honors in 1918 and then establishing a successful law practice.  Harry first participated in Baltimore Jewish affairs as a member of the American Jewish Relief Committee, which assisted European Jewish victims of World War I.  Later he helped organize the Young Men’s and Young Women’s Hebrew Association, and served as its president for ten years, from 1922 to 1932.

Harry Greenstein on UNRAA Middle East Mission, 1944. Gift of Mrs. Samuel Block, JMM 1971.20.163.

But Harry would become best known in Baltimore for his 37 years as Executive Director of the Associated Jewish Charities (1928-1965) and Executive Director of the Jewish Welfare Fund of Baltimore (1941-1965). During his tenure Harry took several leaves of absence to assist in local and national affairs. During the Depression, he served as Maryland’s first State Relief Administrator and the Director of the Maryland Board of State Aid and Charities, administering over $65 million in aid to the poor from 1933 to 1936.  In 1933 he was also appointed Maryland Civil Works Administrator and at least 49,000 people were provided job opportunities through civil works programs during the Depression.

Harry Greenstein travel journal, Cairo 1944. Gift of Mrs. Samuel Block, JMM 1971.20.293b.

Harry’s work extended beyond the state level. In 1939 he worked on the creation of the National Refugee Service in New York, which would later become the United Service for New Americans. From 1941-1943 he served as the as the Chief Regional Welfare Evacuation Officer, tasked with planning (and executing if necessary) evacuation plans for Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington D.C.  From 1943 to 1945, Harry was appointed the Director of Welfare for UNRRA, the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, for Greece, Yugoslavia, and Albania. In 1949, the Secretary of War appointed him Advisor on Jewish Affairs in post-war Germany to assist the United States Army in dismantling Displaced Persons Camps in Germany and Austria, and in securing war reparations from Germany for the Israeli government and for the rehabilitation of Jewish life in Europe.

General Lucius D. Clay welcomes Harry Greenstein his new Advisor on Jewish Affairs in his Frankfurt, Germany. February 14, 1949. Gift of Mrs. Samuel Block, JMM 1971.20.229.

This position outside the Associated may have been the most impressive. The main purpose of his position was to accelerate the closing of the DP camps in US occupied Germany. In the 8 and a half months Harry was there, 67,200 Jews left the United States zone of Germany and Austria: 40,300 went to Israel; 23,500 to the United States; and 3,400 to other countries. Harry Greenstein helped thousands of people with no country and no home begin new lives in the countries of their choosing.

Harry Greenstein in a Levy hat at a celebration for his 30th anniversary as Executive Director of the Associated Jewish Charities, May 1958. Gift of Janet Fishbein, Ellen Patz, Ruth Gottesman & Vera Mendelsohn Mittnick, JMM 2002.79.998.

Through his leadership the Baltimore Jewish community survived the Depression and World War II; assisted Displaced Persons and immigrants from around the world to settle in Maryland, helped create innovative social services and support Jewish education. His work allowed for the growth of the Jewish community and helped prepare the community for the numerous changes of the 20th century.


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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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