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Object of the Month: September 2011 0 Comment(s)

Archives Record

Object #: 2001.07.1
Donor: Sol Lynn
Description: Flier for Aleph Zadik Aleph’s Yom Kippur dance, 1939

Background: Starting in 1933, the local Alpha Zadik Alpha (AZA), a Jewish boys' fraternity affiliated with B'nai B'rith, sponsored an annual post-Yom Kippur Dance.  AZA was one of one of the more than 60 fraternities, sororities, clubs, and Zionist youth groups around which the social lives of Washington's Jewish teenagers revolved for nearly half a century. These organizations provided settings where teens could mingle and forge an American identity. Jewish teens canoed on the Potomac, danced in Glen Echo's pavilion, and organized Purim Balls at the Jewish Community Center.

Excluded from the sororities, fraternities, and clubs of their non-Jewish classmates, Jewish teenagers created their own social sphere blending their Jewish identity with secular activities. AZA's mission was "to provide athletic, social, and educational programs, to serve both community and Judaic interest, and to host oratory and debate competitions." Members met on Sunday afternoons at the Jewish Community Center at 16th & Q Streets, NW.

In 1934, the local AZA hosted more than 500 members from across the country at the 11th annual national convention at the Willard Hotel. Six years later, they welcomed some 300 members from neighboring states to the nation’s capital for a conference and party at the Raleigh Hotel (12th & Pennsylvania Ave, NW). The four-day event included oratorical and debate contests and bowling and basketball tournaments, as well as a banquet and dance.

Do you have material documenting local Jewish teen life that you'd like to donate to the Jewish Historical Society’s collection?  Please contact us at info@jhsgw.org or (202) 789-0900.

Learning the Trade 0 Comment(s)

Working with the
Jewish Community Center records
Cataloging the Rosenfeld Collection also afforded an opportunity to experiment with JHSGW’s database software to express more nuanced relationships between items within larger collections, which could eventually benefit online searchers. I look forward to continuing the arrangement of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington Collection as I volunteer in the coming weeks.

Working as archival intern at the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington this summer proved both great fun and valuable professional experience. I very much enjoyed pouring over photographs, papers, and scrapbooks in the collections I helped process. Along the way, I learned much about the development of businesses, community institutions, and even families I know today, with walks around my adopted city enriched by the many images of Washington’s past I’ve seen in JHSGW’s collection. Considering that there have always been integral ties between the Jewish and larger communities in the District and beyond, JHSGW’s archival collection reveals much about the broader history of greater Washington as it addresses its core narrative of local Jewish history.

In addition to participation in a range of public and behind-the-scenes activities at JHSGW, my primary responsibilities involved the “processing”, or preparing for accessibility to researchers, of several archival collections. Although I’ve benefitted from some relevant coursework and contributed to a manuscript conservation project in the past, my previous experience with the (I think) fascinating business of arranging and describing archival collections was mostly limited to hypotheticals. This internship offered more active participation, with much of my summer devoted to scanning and cataloging photographs comprising the Naomi and Nehemiah Cohen Foundation collection; arranging and rehousing the Tifereth Israel collection; and arranging, cataloging, rehousing, and drafting both a finding aid and an Object of the Month entry for the Robert Rosenfeld Collection.

Shelly Buring is a second-year Master’s student at the George Washington University, where she studies museum collections management and history.

October’s Object of the Month 0 Comment(s)

JHSGW 50th anniversary logoTo honor our 50th anniversary, we invite you to peek into our archives each month.

From the Archives...
Jewish Lions Club banner


Archives Record
Object #: 2010.21.1
Donor: Jewish Lions Club
Description: Banner, 33 ¼" x 53 ½"

Background: The Jewish Lions Club formed in 1937 as a social club for local teenage boys. Members were 16 to 18 years old and met on Sundays at the Jewish Community Center. The 1941 Certificate of Incorporation describes the business of the club as “social, athletic, and for the promotion of friendship.” During World War II, as each club member left to serve in the armed services, a star with his name was embroidered on this club banner. All 25 club members who served eventually returned home safely.

Learn more about the Jewish Lions Club and how the Jewish Historical Society received the banner here!

Do you have Jewish teen life material that you’d like to donate to the archival collection? Contact us at info@jhsgw.org or (202) 789 0900.

Object of the Month: August 2010 0 Comment(s)

JHSGW 50th anniversary logoTo honor our 50th anniversary, we invite you to peek into our archives each month.

From the Archives...
Camp Louise Bracelet

Archives Record
Object #: 2005.1.1
Donor: Penny Feuerzeig
Description: Metal chain bracelet. Individual letter charms on the bracelet spell out CAMP LOUISE.

Background: Located in western Maryland’s Catoctin Mountains, Camp Louise was founded by Lillie and Aaron Straus and Baltimore’s Jewish community in 1922 to provide a week’s rest to immigrant women who worked in sweatshops. With assistance from Ida Sharogrodsky of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, it evolved into a summer camp for girls. Nearby Camp Airy for boys opened in 1924. The Jewish Community Center in D.C. gave scholarships for local children to go to these camps until it opened its own camp in 1942. Learn more!

Do you have materials documenting your summer camp experiences? To donate, contact us at info@jhsgw.org or (202) 789 0900.