Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Correction: URL for Lower East Side of New York Exhibition

The correct URL for the Museum's "Lower East Side of New York" exhibition is www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/les.htm . It is listed incorrectly in the previous posting.

Also it has been pointed out that the video clip on this page as well as the one included on the Lower East Side fishmongers page is not viewable using either the Firefox or Safari browser and currently must be viewed using Internet Explorer. The situation is currently being worked on and if and when it is remedied, it will be announced on this blog. Please stay tuned....

Short film clip of the Lower East Side, 1903

You can now keep abreast of all the new material the Museum puts online by using the link www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/les-htm . On this webpage, if you click on the arrow in the center of the frame, you can play a silent minute and a half film clip taken on the Lower East Side in 1903.

Further, if you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you can click on the words "Enter here" and you can peruse the entire list of old articles about the Lower East Side that appear at the Museum. The articles currently number twenty-five with more to come. Each listing comes with a link to the pertinent article.

"The Jewish Ghetto," coming in 2010

The Museum of Family History is currently working on an exhibition due out in 2010 entitled "The Jewish Ghetto." It will predominantly be about the ghettos created during the Second World War into which Jewish citizens were forceably relocated. The exhibition will include photographs, first and third person accounts, newspaper articles, audio clips and more.

It is requested of you, the Museum blog reader, to participate in this exhibition by sending the Museum, primarily via email at postmaster@museumoffamilyhistory.com, material you might have that can be used in this exhibition, having to do with these ghettos. If you have any questions about what material might be useful, etc., please contact the Museum at the aforementioned email address.

This is a "people's museum," so to speak, so your participation is greatly encouraged.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

What Was it Like to Attend Services in an East Side Synagogue in 1905?

So, maybe you've wondered what it was like to attend religious services at a Lower East Side synagogue at the start of the twentieth century?? The Museum has already given you so many glimpses into Jewish life on the Lower East Side, this is but another for you to read about and learn about, and an important one at that.

You can certainly form a visual impression of these services by reading the Museum's 25th article within its "Lower East Side of New York" series entitled "Impressive Services in Synagogues of the Ghetto."

Especially mentioned here is the Chaari Zedek Synagogue and their cantor, A. Minkowsky (who had arrived not long ago from Odessa). Also mentioned in this article is a synagogue on Forsyth Street (probably the Kol Israel Ansche Poland synagogue), Kahal Adath Jeshurun (on Eldridge Street), and two locations where many poor Russian Jews would go to pray, the Henry Street Synagogue and the People's Synagogue, the latter of which was sponsored by the Educational Alliance.


You can access this article by clicking here.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Litvak and Galitzianer East Side Tailor: How Both Tried to Better Themselves in the 1890s

It seems that there were two ghettos, or Jewish quarters, on the Lower East Side in the 1890s, at least according to an article published in an 1895 edition of the Sun newspaper of New York City. There was the Russian or Lithuanian (or Litvak) quarter, mostly situated around Hester Street, and a quarter surrounding Pitt Street, where many Galicians, Hungarians and Bohemians lived. Both had their own "Pig Markets," which meant that at that time one could buy almost anything in those markets except pork.

It is pointed out that the Russians far outnumbered the Austrian workers, but that the Austrian worker made up for their lack of numbers by their higher grade of work.

The author of this article compares and contrasts those living in both quarters, and describes how, for instance, the tailors involved in the coat-making industry of both quarters tried to better themselves, e.g. to learn English, and to better educate themselves in order to advance at work, etc.

You can read the interesting article, entitled "New York's Two Ghettos," by clicking here.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Fishmongers of Fulton Street, 1903

Might any of your family members have shopped for fish on the Lower East Side at the Fulton Street Fish Market around 1903?

You can now read an article that talks about that place during that time and discusses the various personalities that were well known to those who worked at and frequented the Fulton Street Fish Market.

Also, the Museum has added a video-only clip of more than two minutes (courtesy of the Internet Archive and Library of Congress) of an East Side fish market, filmed on May 1, 1903, less than five months after this article was published in the New York Daily Tribune.

This article details yet another interesting aspect of daily life that existed for Jews and non-Jews alike on the East Side of Manhattan at the turn of the twentieth century.

The article can be found by clicking here.

Monday, December 21, 2009

"The Russian Jew in the United States" -- Entire book now online

Many of you, those of you who follow the progress of the Museum of Family History, are already familiar with the Museum's exhibition, "The Russian Jew in the United States," which is based on the book of the same name. The book is also known as "The Immigrant Jew in America," both being published as separate editions between 1905 and 1907.

It should be noted that simply because the title implies that the book is about "the Russian Jew," i.e. the Russian Jew in America, during the time the book was written and published, Russia, or rather the Russian Empire, was composed of more countries (or parts of countries) than Russia alone. The editor distinguishes the Russian population in the United States from the Spanish-Portuguese and German populations, each being considered a "distinctly marked strata of population."

The Museum would like to announce that the entire book (with minor exceptions) is now online at the Museum of Family History and is ready for your perusal. The first part of the book was put online in time for the IAJGS Philadelphia 2009 conference. Post-conference the New York section was added, and just completed is the section about Chicago. I recommend that you at least "leaf through" the three sections; perhaps you will find material of interest to you. It does give a good picture of what Jewish life was like around the turn of the twentieth century for many Jewish immigrants.

Each major part of the book, i.e. for Philadelphia, New York and Chicago, is composed of ten sections, i.e. the introduction, "General Aspects of the Population," "Philanthropy," "Economic and Industrial Condition," "Religious Activity," "Educational Influences," "Amusements and Social Life," "Politics," "Health and Sanitation," and "Law and Litigation." Separate sections published irrespective of any particular city, are named "Distribution," and "Rural Settlements" in the Eastern and Western States. There are also pages dedicated to the Jew in Russia as well as the Russian Jew in the U.S., the latter written by famed Abraham Cahan, editor and founder of the Yiddish newspaper, the Jewish Daily Forward.

The link to the overall exhibition is www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/ija-main.htm. Simply click on the "enter" link found within the bottom half of the paqe. You may then chose the section or sections of your liking.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

More on the Lower East Side

The Museum of Family History has now tripled the number of articles made available to you about the Lower East Side of Manhattan from the late 1800s through the first decade of the twentieth century. Here is the list of the eleven "new" and interesting articles:

--East Side Women Riot.
--East Side Love of Learning.
--East Side Fashions.
--East Side Weddings.
--The East Side Boy.
--A School for Hebrew.
--American Jews Becoming Unorthodox.
--A New Social Centre: The Candy Store.
--In the East Side Cafes.
--A Visit to the Largest Public School in the World.
--New Names for East Siders.

The full list of more than one hundred articles found within the Museum can be found by clicking here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Life on the Lower East Side of New York, circa 1900

None of us were alive around the turn of the twentieth century, so we've never had the opportunity to experience life within the overcrowded lower East Side of New York City. All we can do is read and listen to stories told about life during this time, and by utilizing our imagination, form a picture in our mind--probably many pictures--of different scenes or events that might have taken place then.

One such avenue for learning about life then is by reading old newspaper articles. After all, they were timely, having been written most often within a short time of any event that might have been written about in an article.

For your perusal then, four more articles have been added to the Museum's ongoing exhibition, "The Lower East Side of New York."

Here is a bit about the four "new" articles, all originally published in the New York Daily Tribune:

--"Playgrounds on the Asphalt," published in 1896, discusses how the asphalt pavement in the city allows for a greater choice of play area's for the city's youth, and in some ways is advantageous;

--"Thursday in Hester Street," published in 1898, talks about the pushcarts and the many street peddlers who once plied their wares on Hester, Essex and Norfolk Streets;

--"East Side Shopping: Where the Delights of Haggling are Practiced...," published in 1901, tells us of the interactions between the buyer and seller and how "haggling" is almost an art form;

--"Rowdies Annoy Jews," published in 1905, explains to the reader how "ruffians," often times local gang members, used to harrass the Jews of the lower East Side as they go to the synagogue and elsewhere to celebrate the Jewish New Year (and how little the local police did about it.)

Links to these, as well as ninety other old newspaper articles, can be found at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/archive-newspaper.htm.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

"Not Now, Not Ever" - Jadzia's Story of Survival

You will most likely be interested in reading the story of Jean Klein/Frank (Jadzia), who is a Holocaust survivor; or rather she was, as she passed away in Malibu, California in June of 2009.

She was born in Kalisz, Poland, and during the war traveled to, and lived in, Belchatow, Lodz, Warsaw and finally Czestochowa. I just finished reading and getting her complete book (only seventy-six pages) online. It is a sad story as most of these stories of survival are, yet it is also an intimate and moving account of her life and her survival.

Much of the account takes place in Czestochowa, so this should be interesting for you to read, at minimum those of you who had family there during World War II.

The link to this is www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/wims-klein-jean.htm.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Jews of Asia: Synagogues and Memorials

In the beginnings of this new exhibition at the Museum of Family History entitled "The Jews of Asia," you will over time find a myriad of subject matter that might be of interest to you.

As many of you know, the Asian continent is quite large, with a population of approximately four billion people. Many of you also may know that the population of Jews who live in Asia today is relatively small, yet, in the first half of the twentieth century many Jews immigrated there to escape their lives in Europe for any of a number of reasons.

The Museum will be presenting to you various aspects of Jewish life in Asia, from various perspectives, predominantly historical.

The Museum's first offering to you is an exhibition subsection entitled "Synagogues and Memorials." This offering is yet incomplete, but nevertheless what is available to you now will be worth visiting if only for a few minutes. Currently you can see photographs taken in the 1990s and 2000s in the following locations: Hong Kong and Shanghai, China; Bombay (Mumbai) and Cochin (Kochi) in India; Rangoon (Yangon) in Burma (Myanmar), Singapore and Istanbul, Turkey (i.e. the Asian side of the Bosphorus).

More synagogue and memorial photos will be added over time, along with other relevant information. Of course, if you've visited any such sites not currently included within this exhibition and have photos, video of such sites, please consider contacting me at steve@museumoffamilyhistory.com.

Also in the works are historical accounts--some first-hand accounts--of Jewish life in Asia, and when such material is ready for your perusal, it will be announced on this Museum of Family History blog.

The link to the aforementioned exhibition is www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/ce/jasia/jasia.htm

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Pogrom in Gomel, September 1903

For those of you are interested to learn more about the pogrom that occurred in Gomel, Belarus (then part of the Russian Empire) in 1903, you now can read an article from the San Francisco Call newspaper published less than two weeks after the pogrom. The article is based on a report written by an Associated Press correspondent who visited Gomel after the pogrom.

Also included on this webpage is a letter written to the Editor of the Washington Times, published five days after the Call article was published. The letter was written by Rabbi J. T. Loeb of Congregation Adath Israel in Washington, D.C.

The link to the article ane letter is www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/mfh-pogroms-gomel.htm.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Museum's Cemetery Project's New Burial Data

The Museum of Family History has increased its offering of burial data and gravestone photographs to include ten more plots from Beth Moses Cemetery and one more from Wellwood Cemetery, both located in Pinelawn, New York.

These society plots are associated with the following towns and countries:

Bitola (Monastir), Macedonia
Divin, Belarus
Khoshchevatoye, Ukraine
Novogrudok, Belarus
Pomoryany, Ukraine
Pukhovichi, Belarus
Raygoroduk, Ukraine
Samokhvalovichi, Belarus
Shargorod, Ukraine
Shumskoye, Ukraine
Stavishche, Ukraine
Voynilov, Ukraine

The information from these gravestones has not yet been entered into the Museum's database, but hopefully this will be done within the next two to three months. If your family genealogical research involves any of these towns, please let me know (along with the surname associated with the specific town), and I will keep an eye out for you.

Once databased, you will be able to check an alphabetized list of unique surnames for each plot. Just visit the Museum's Cemetery Project and look at the list of towns and simply click on the name of that town. The link for the Project is www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/cp-main.htm.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Liberation of the Ohrdruf Concentration Camp, as told by a G.I. who was there....

Every day that he served overseas, for fifteen months, (with a very few days exception due to conditions and movements in the Battle of the Bulge), Carl Henry used the office typewriter from his desk job as Warrant Officer Junior Grade and then Chief Warrant Officer to write to his wife - one, two, three or four pages a day. The letters are preserved in books assembled by his wife Edith, one book for every month of his service overseas.

These letters are typed on onion-skin paper and with very few excisions from the censors, since he knew how to censor himself, contain detailed, sometimes intimate, record of the experiences, sights, and feelings of a literate and affectionate man. His somewhat obsessive personality serves to increase the detail of the description, both about war-shattered Europe and his own feelings and those of his buddies. From “Somewhere in England” to “Somewhere in Germany”, here then is an enthralling document of the Third Army’s liberation of Europe.

The first letter to be presented to you is dated April 11, 1945, a week after the camp was liberated. Henry describes the horrific scenes he witnessed.

The link to this letter is www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/mfh-rm009-ohrdruf-henry.htm. The Museum hopes to present more such interesting letters in the future.

Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 1904

For those of you with at least a passing interest in the history of Brooklyn, New York, you should read the Museum's newest article entitled "New Hebrew Quarter Across New Bridge." This article originally appeared in the New-York Daily Tribune in April of 1904, not longer after the opening of the Williamsburg Bridge, which connects Manhattan with Brooklyn.

The article discusses the transformation of Williamsburg (referred to as "Dutchtown"). This transformation was inevitable once the bridge was built, as it connected the overcrowded and more expensive island of Manhattan with one of its outlying boroughs, Brooklyn, which was back then "bucolic". Also, since it was now easier to get to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, it should be a surprise to no one that real estate prices went up and a boom occurred.

You will get a flavor of the neighborhood if you visit www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/bklyn-williamsburg-dt.htm .

A link to this article, along with more than eighty other interesting articles, mainly published in the early years of the twentieth century, can be found within the Museum's Newspaper Archives at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/archive-newspaper.htm .

Sunday, December 6, 2009

More on the Bialystok Pogrom of June 1906

As a follow-up to the recenty announced article on the pogroms that befell the Jews of Europe between 1903 and 1906, the Museum of Family History now makes available an article that appeared in the June 29, 1906 edition of the San Francisco Call newspaper. As some of you already know, the Bialystok pogrom occurred just two to three weeks before this, between June 12 and June 14, 1906.

You can read this article which also contains reports from a correspondent who went to Bialystok after the pogrom. While censored, he reported back on what he found.

The link to this article is www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/mfh-pogroms-bialystok-sfcall.htm .

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Letters from Leipzig

Within the six years preceding the start of World War II, a non-Jewish German woman named Ilse Gerngrofs wrote four letters to a Jewish friend in New Zealand. The Museum presents these to you now so that they may serve as an example of the anti-Semitic sentiments that existed in Germany before and after Hitler came into power.

You will most likely feel offended as I do by her remarks, but nevertheless it will give you some insight into the mind of many who lived in Germany during these pre-war years.
The link is www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/as-letters-leipzig.htm .