June 22, 2016
In honor of Immigrant Heritage Month
Our collection includes very colorful range of objects immigrants brought with them when they came from to the United States. Learn the stories behind some of our most surprising and beautiful immigrant artifacts.
What objects couldn’t you leave behind?
An heirloom like this silver wedding cup is a precious object handed down from generation to generation. It is used during the wedding ceremony while the rabbi recites betrothal blessings.
Our cup was manufactured in Augsburg, Germany, in 1690, and brought to the U.S. by a family in the 19th century. They first moved to Philadelphia and then to Washington, D.C.
The cup was probably used in their descendants’ weddings and could have symbolized the connection to the old home and the founding of a new family in a new place.
Sisters Rose and Emma Auerbach grew up in Kishinev (in today's Moldova). Both immigrated in December 1905 and settled in Washington, D.C., where Emma worked as dressmaker and Rose as a seamstress.
This quilt was a wedding gift from Emma to Rose, who married Myer Dessoff before they came to Washington, D.C. Rose brought it with her on the long trip from Kishinev. The beautifully crafted quilt then decorated their new home on Fifth Street, NW.
This small prayer book (Hebrew on cover: Siddur Tefillah) fits perfectly in a pocket. In fact, this 2x3" book is a traveler’s siddur and accompanied the Litvin family on their way from Latvia in 1911. The family later joined Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, D.C. They likely used the book in the congregation's new synagogue at 6th & I Street, NW (today's Sixth & I Historic Synagogue)
As bulky as a samovar might be to bring on a long trip, Rachel Polakoff from Russia made sure that she could always brew traditional Russian tea in her new home country. Rachel came to Washington, D.C, in 1911 with her family and passed this keepsake down to her son Joseph who became one of the most acclaimed journalists in the Washington area.
Fannie Schindler Sager made her way from Lithuania to Maryland in 1893. We have quite a few objects from Fannie and her family in our collection, but the most astonishing one is this washboard. It came with her on her long journey from Europe. Among the few things she could pack in her bag, she chose this wooden household appliance. We can only guess why she wanted to bring it!
Some objects people brought with them to the United States were picked up along the way and tell us more about their trip and the route they took.
When Jacob Flint came from Russia to the U.S., his passport was wrapped in this cover. It is a promotional item that was distributed by the German travel agency Friedrich Missler in Bremen. This agency specialized in passage for emigrants from Poland and the Slavic countries to the U.S. and had many offices outside of Bremen.
Most probably, Jacob Flint was gifted this passport cover when he purchased a steamship ticket for his immigration to the U.S. via Bremerhaven (harbor of Bremen).