MedChi turns 215!

Posted on January 27th, 2014 by

Bookplate designed for Dr. Julius Friedenwald, son of Aaron. The inscription reads “Wise words from the healer.” Collection of MedChi.

Bookplate designed for Dr. Julius Friedenwald, son of Aaron. The inscription reads “The words of the wise are healing.”
Collection of MedChi.

In 1799, Paris was the place to get a modern medical education, inoculation against smallpox was finally gaining widespread acceptance (having first been discovered nearly fifty years earlier), most drugs were made from herbs, and Marylanders usually tended their sick at home, sometimes with the help of a doctor. Also in 1799, as new ideas about health and medicine were percolating throughout the western world, the Medical and Chirurgical [surgical] Faculty of Maryland was organized in an attempt to regulate and support the medical profession throughout the state. One of a handful of such societies in the United States at the time, its papers of incorporation stated its mission to “prevent the citizens (of Maryland) from risking their lives in the hands of ignorant practitioners or pretenders to the healing art.”

Dr. Abram B. Arnold, c. 1890.  Collection of MedChi; photograph by Meg Fielding.

Dr. Abram B. Arnold, c. 1890.
Collection of MedChi; photograph by Meg Fielding.

Now known as MedChi: The Maryland State Medical Society, the 215-year-old association—celebrating its anniversary this week—has notched some significant achievements. MedChi directors founded Maryland’s first medical school (1807), the world’s first college of dental surgery in the country (1839), and a school of pharmacy (1857)—all are now part of the University of Maryland.

Entrance to MedChi’s headquarters, built in 1909.  Image courtesy of MedChi; photograph by Meg Fielding.

Entrance to MedChi’s headquarters, built in 1909.
Image courtesy of MedChi; photograph by Meg Fielding.

While this is very impressive, its trove of state medical history is the source of its interest to the JMM.  Collections of medical instruments, portraits of board members and other Maryland physicians, antique medical journals, and the papers of the Society are housed in its early 20th century campus in mid-town Baltimore.  JMM Curator Karen Falk and Board Member Dr. Robert Keehn were lucky enough to visit behind the scenes at MedChi last week for a first-hand look at these riches.

Dr. Joshua I. Cohen, c. 1865. Image courtesy of MedChi.

Dr. Joshua I. Cohen, c. 1865.
Image courtesy of MedChi.

Three early Jewish physicians in Baltimore were among the directors of MedChi: Joshua I. Cohen, a member of one of Baltimore’s earliest Jewish families, was an ear specialist, audiologist of some renown, and president of MedChi in 1857-58; Abram B. Arnold received his MD from the Washington University Hospital of Baltimore (the hospital where Edgar Allen Poe died, later known as Church Home and Hospital) around 1850, published a Manual of Nervous Disorders in 1855, and served as president of MedChi  in 1877-78; and ophthalmologist Aaron Friedenwald, a University of Maryland Medical School graduate (1860), Jewish communal activist, and president of MedChi 1880-90. There is even an “Aaron Friedenwald Room” in the current MedChi building, complete with portrait, dedication plaque, and personal objects from the Friedenwald family.

Dr. Aaron Friedenwald, c. 1900. Collection of the JMM; photograph by Shelby Silvernell.

Dr. Aaron Friedenwald, c. 1900.
Collection of the JMM; photograph by Shelby Silvernell.

Aaron Friedenwald, his sons Edgar, Julius and Harry, and grandson Jonas formed a dynasty of physicians in Baltimore that will play an important role in our upcoming exhibition on “Jews, Health and Healing,” planned to open in fall 2015. Many thanks to Meg Fielding at MedChi for taking us on a tour of the collections, providing images for this post, and for responding enthusiastically to our exhibition project.

Library stacks of the MedChi archives. Image courtesy of MedChi; photograph by Meg Fielding

Library stacks of the MedChi archives.
Image courtesy of MedChi; photograph by Meg Fielding

karenA blog post by curator Karen Falk. To read more posts by Karen, click HERE.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




MS 198 The Straus-Hecht Family Collection

Posted on December 15th, 2011 by

A large portion of the collections at the Jewish Museum of Maryland document families and organizations centered around the city of Baltimore.  But we do have objects, photos and archives that depict the lives of Jewish families and organizations throughout Maryland.  This collection has several items from a family who lived in Havre de Grace.

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Porcelain plate featuring a picture of Isaac Hecht, Elizabeth Hecht, and Lawrence Hecht in Karlsbad, 1911. 2010.8.4

 The Straus-Hecht Family Collection

1905-2003

 MS 198

Jewish Museum of Maryland

ACCESS AND PROVENANCE

The Straus-Hecht Family Collection was donated to the Jewish Museum of Maryland by Catharine Straus via Eleanor Yuspa in 2009 as accession 2009.023 and Eleanor Yuspa in 2010 as accession 2010.008. The collection was processed in August 2011 by Jennifer Vess.

A portion of the collection is restricted until 2066 and unavailable to researchers.  Access to the remainder of 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

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Isaac Hecht was born on December 25, 1864 in Philadelphia,PA to Hannah Simon and Leibman Hecht.  For most of his life Isaac lived in Havre de Grace,MD.  On June 1, 1887 he married Elizabeth Weiss and the couple had two children Lee Isaac Hecht and Lawrence W. Hecht.  Isaac Hecht owned Hecht's hotel in Havre de Grave, and was a banker.  Isaac Hecht died on May 20, 1913 in Havre deGrace,MD but was buried in the Hebrew Fellowship Cemetery in Baltimore,MD, although he never traveled between the two cities.

“Rat-Tat,” St. John’s College (Annapolis, MD) Yearbook, 1906; Lee I. Hecht class of 1903. 2010.8.6

Lee Isaac Hecht married Miriam Dannenberg Hecht and they had at least two children: Isaac “I” Hecht and Alan D. Hecht.  Isaac Hecht, nicknamed “I,” was born on December 28, 1913 in Baltimorein the home of his grandmother, Henrietta Weinberg Dannenberg, on Eden Street. He attended the Forest Park High School,Johns Hopkins University, and University of Maryland School of Law. After he graduated he became an attorney.  On March 26, 1941 he married Catharine Straus.  Isaac “I” Hecht received his Hebrew education at Temple Oheb Shalom and continued his affiliation with the synagogue through adulthood, serving as president from 1958 to 1961. He was part of the Legal Aid Society and participated in other charitable work.  He died January 23, 2003 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Catharine Straus Hecht, nicknamed Kitty, was born on June 18, 1915 inRichmond,VA.Her mother was Rita Baer Straus, born September 29, 1890 in Washington DC, and her father was Henry Cullen Straus, born August 15, 1886 inRichmond,VA.  Henry Straus was in the liquor business, but in 1917 after Virginia went dry (in November 1916) the family moved to Baltimore,MD.  Catharine was about 2 years old at the time of the move.  When Maryland passed Prohibition, Henry left the liquor business and went into clothing manufacturing.  He founded the company Straus, Royer & Strass.

“The Ha-Kol,” Religious School of the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Yearbook, 1929; Catharine Straus, class 7a. 2010.8.6

Catharine attended Forest Park High School then Goucher College, earning her degree in 1937.  Following graduation Catharine became a buyer at Hutzler’s until her marriage to Isaac “I” Hecht in 1941.  The couple had three children, Eleanor Miriam Hecht Yuspa, Henry Lee Hecht, and Marjorie Rita Hecht Kaplan.  She remained involved with the Central Scholarship Bureau, the Red Cross, the PTA, and other charitable organizations, and was affiliated with the Oheb Shalom Congregation.  Catharine died on July 16, 2009.

SCOPE NOTE

The Straus-Hecht Family Collection consists of objects, printed materials, and photographs related to the families of Catharine Straus Hecht and her husband, Isaac Hecht.  The printed materials contain yearbooks, programs, records books, and ration books.  The collection is divided into four series: Series I. Yearbooks, 1905-1965; Series II. Personal Papers, n.d., 1941-2003; Series III. Oheb Shalom Documents, 1928-1993; and Series IV. Business Records, 1937-1966.

Series I. Yearbooks, 1905-1965 consists of yearbooks for Havre de Grace high school, St. John’s College, Ha-Kol, Forest Park High School, Johns Hopkins University, Goucher College and the University of Maryland School of Medicine.  The yearbooks are organized chronologically.  When possible the owner of the yearbook is indicated.  Few of the yearbooks contain any notations though all three of the University of Maryland School of Medicine yearbooks contain signatures of each member of the graduating class.

Series II. Personal Papers, n.d., 1941-2003 contains World War II ration books, a book on the history ofBaltimore city attorneys and judges and articles related to Isaac and Catharine Hecht.

War Ration book used by Hecht family during World War II. 2010.8.6

Series III. Oheb Shalom Documents, 1928-1993 contains congregational histories and anniversary programs.

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Series IV. Business Records, 1937-1966 contains a minute book for Straus, Royer & Strass and pay records for Hecht and Hecht.  The Hecht and Hecht records are restricted.

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