Did you know April 11 is celebrated as Submarine Day? In 2020, we salute the day as the 120th anniversary of the United States’ purchase of its first commissioned submarine in 1900, the USS Holland. The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin snapped this image at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard’s memorial service highlighting the day in 1960.
You can hop on deck of a real submarine, the USS Becuna, docked at Philadelphia’s Independence Seaport Museum. Designated in 1986 as a National Historic Landmark for its service in WWII and part of the Independence Seaport Museum’s Historic Ship Zone since 1996, USS Becuna continues to be a popular tourist attraction for the city.
The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin captured this image as the Becuna was moved into Penn’s Landing Marina as a new tourist attraction on June 22, 1976.
The SCRC holds many other images of this historic submarine
The Special Collections Research Center is very pleased to announce the opening of Making the Renaissance Manuscript: Discoveries from Philadelphia Libraries, an exhibition at the University of Pennsylvania. It features a manuscript from Temple’s Harry C. Cochran History of Business Collection, built by a Temple business school faculty member. Temple is one of nine regional lenders to this exhibition of eighty-eight items.
Our item is included in the “Politics, Economics, and the Merchant Class” section of the exhibition–and in the stunning exhibition catalog which accompanies it. In addition, Curator Nick Herman’s blog provides additional context and information. A codex in Italian, created by Giorgio de Lorenzo Chiarini (circa 1400- ), “Tracta di mercantie et usanze di paesi (Book of Trade and Customs of Countries),” Florence, Italy, 1481, the manuscript is a “commercial manual for the Renaissance merchant.” It features the “types of goods available in a large number of cities, as well as the units of measure and coinage used, their denominations, and their exchanges rates with principal domestic currencies.”
The exhibit, and its sister exhibit, Reflections on Medieval Life, soon to open at the Free Library of Philadelphia, are a celebration of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries’ Council on Library and Information Resources Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis project, It supported digitization and enhanced cataloging of medieval and renaissance manuscripts throughout the region–including 43 from Temple. The Free Lbrary exhibition will feature two additional items from Temple’s Cochran collection–more on that soon.
Philadelphia paper manufacturer, Leon J. Perelman started collecting mechanical penny banks in 1958 after visiting a hobby show in Fort Madison, Iowa. Eventually, he amassed over 3,000 banks, tin and cast iron toys produced from the late 1860s through the 1910s. First patented in 1865, mechanical penny banks were designed to encourage children to save money by providing entertainment and amusement with one or more mechanical actions when a penny was deposited in the slot for safekeeping. Perelman’s collection was considered the largest private collection of antique toys in the world by some estimates. In addition to penny banks, Perelman’s collection also featured cap pistols, dolls, cast iron vehicles such as fire engines and stage coaches, and a reference library containing patent papers on mechanical banks. Although there is no mention in the official collection guide, the museum also contained antique glass and agate marbles.
Nathanial McDaniel (left) and Chris Cherubini (right) play with mechanical bank at Cayuga Federal Savings and Loan Association, 11th and Market Streets Branch, 1964Perelman initially used his Merion, Pa., home to display his antique toys, erecting an addition in 1962 to accommodate his growing collection and offer public museum hours. In a 1967 agreement with the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, Perelman purchased the historic Abercrombie House near the corner of 2nd and Spruce Streets to create a new museum space. The four-story brick house, named for Royal Navy officer Captain James Abercrombie who purchased the site in 1758 and built the home shortly thereafter, was considered one of the largest Colonial- era homes in the city. The Philadelphia Historical Commission designated the property to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places in 1957. Perelman’s restoration of the building was part and parcel of the mid-twentieth century urban renewal taking place in Society Hill and other neighborhoods throughout the city. Renovations took two years at a cost of $300,000, with John Frederick Lloyd serving as the architect. The new Perelman Antique Toy Museum celebrated its grand opening in January 1969 with the Director of the United States Mint Eva Adams and Mayor of Philadelphia James H. J. Tate in attendance.
For nearly twenty years, the Perelman Antique Toy Museum amused children and adults alike, but on August 5, 1988, Perelman lost his marbles in a smash and grab job that would close the museum forever. Although the local press did not report on the museum heist in the days immediately following the robbery, Maine Antique Digest was able to interview museum curator, Michael Tritz about the day’s events. According to Tritz, he was preparing to open the museum for the day, when the thieves entered the museum, bound and gagged him, and forced him into a restroom. He recounted “I heard one of them upstairs hammering at the display cases. I thought he was getting into all of them . . . but all he could break was the case with marbles in it on the third floor.” The 5/8″ thick bulletproof glass foiled their attempt to steal any of Perelman’s coveted mechanical penny banks. Tritz estimated one of the thieves spent about 45 minutes trying to break the display cases while the other watched the door. Perelman shuttered the museum the day after the robbery. It wasn’t until The Philadelphia Inquirer published a piece on August 31, declaring the “Toy museum is no more,” that antique toy enthusiasts and museum goers learned about the robbery. There is no evidence the thieves were ever caught or the marbles recovered. Within a few weeks, Perelman sold the estimated $3 million toy collection to New York-based art and toy dealer, Alexander Acevedo who dissolved the collection in a series of invitation-only sales to collectors and dealers.
Joseph L. Pollock was a social studies teacher, principal, and administrator for the Philadelphia School District from 1947 until his retirement in 1984. In the 1960s, Pollock worked for the Philadelphia Board of Education, first as assistant to the president of the Board of Public Education, and then as director of informational services, a new division formed to improve effective citizen and community participation in school affairs and serve as a resource center and dissemination agency for school information. In addition to his classroom teaching activities, Pollock also wrote and produced radio and television programs for the Philadelphia School District’s Division of Radio-Television Education in the 1950s.
A few years before his foray into the education sphere, while serving in the United States Army, and shortly after V-E Day (May 8, 1945), Pollock co-wrote a burlesque production of Bizet’s opera Carmen with fellow soldier Fredd Wayne Originally intended as a three-day regimental show at the town hall in Tauberbischofsheim, Germany, in June 1945, the performance was so well received by soldiers and military personnel, that the Special Services Division booked the troupe for a tour that lasted eight months, ending in January 1946. Performances were held in Heidelberg, Wiesbaden, Berlin, Bremen, Brussels, Paris, Rome, Vienna, and Nuremberg, among other places. The show’s 142 performances were witnessed by more than 250,000 troops and civilians in post-war Europe.
The original cast of G.I. Carmen consisted of 44 combat veterans from the 253rd Regiment, 63rd Infantry Division. Wayne was tasked with playing the lead role. Pollock initially played the role of Dr. Quilton J. Floss, a character parodying Milton Cross, an American radio announcer best known for his New York’s Metropolitan Opera House broadcasts. Pollock would later serve as company manager. Costumes for the production were obtained from the Scala Theater in Berlin and music provided by a thirteen piece band directed by jazz guitarist Marty Faloon. The bawdy comedy was done in the style of Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson’s Hellzapoppin, a gag-filled musical revue that ran on Broadway between 1938 and 1941.
Throughout the run of the show, articles and reviews in numerous GI, military, and civilian newspapers lauded the quality of the production. A day after G.I. Carmen arrived at Camp Tophat’s Paramount Theater in Antwerp, Belgium, the following rave review appeared in Tophat Tales: “…Wayne and Pollock have caught the GI humour of a [Bill] Mauldin and transplanted it to the stage with a maximum of wit, originality, and the sure-fire knowledge of the likes of a soldier audience.”
Pollock’s papers, including records related to his work as an educator, his World War II military service, and the production of G.I. Carmen are now available for research in the Special Collections Research Center.
For years, there was a widely held belief amongst many members of the Jewish community that Jews were immune from alcoholism and addiction. According to Rabbi Abraham Twerski, a psychiatrist specializing in substance use disorder, “Any other diagnosis [was] acceptable…even schizophrenia.” This belief became untenable in the 1970s as more and more afflicted Jews could no longer be ignored. Some within the community sought to bring to light the pervasive denial while removing the damaging stigma associated with substance abuse. At the forefront was Dr. Twerski. He spoke publicly, advocated for the revision of the 12-step recovery model to fit Judaism, and founded the Gateway Rehabilitation Center in 1972. More advocates joined the fight not long after. In 1980, a group consisting of recovering Jews and their families called Jewish Alcoholics, Chemically Dependent Persons and Significant Others (JACS) formed in New Yok City. The group dedicated itself to encouraging and assisting Jews suffering from substance use disorder and their families while promoting knowledge and understanding of the disease as it involved the Jewish community.
Around the same time in Philadelphia, members of the Jewish Family and Children’s Agency, the Board of Rabbis of Greater Philadelphia, and other community leaders formed the Chemical Dependence Task Force. While the task force was able to plan and execute some amount of recovery programming and education, the group was only able to meet periodically due to their primary responsibilities. Sensing the need for an organization dedicated solely to promoting substance use disorder education and recovery in the Jewish community, task force members, along with other recovery community representatives, united to form the Philadelphia branch of Jewish Alcoholics, Chemically Dependent Persons and Significant Others. While initially associated with the NYC branch, Philadelphia JACS became their own entity by incorporating in August 1984. Philadelphia’s mission remained similar to NYC’s JACS programs including raising awareness through the media; offering yearly retreats to bring the afflicted and their families together; and starting AA, NA, and Al-Anon meetings in synagogues around the area.
From its inception, JACS shared strong ties to the Board of Rabbis of Greater Philadelphia. The Board of Rabbis provided office space as well as material, logistical, and programming support. But beyond support for JACS, perhaps the Board of Rabbis’ most significant contribution to the recovery community was the co-sponsoring and coordination of the 2nd National Conference on Addiction and Jews in 1987. After the success of the first conference in New York in 1986, the Council of Jewish Federations asked the Board of Rabbis “to convene and coordinate the next national conference to be housed in Philadelphia.” The title of the conference was “Addiction and Jews: Its Impact on the Individual, The Family, and the Community.” The programming cast a wide net and was considered a step forward for the Philadelphia recovery community.
To learn more about Board of Rabbis’ records collection, contact Temple University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit https://library.temple.edu/collections/5
It’s been a long time since you’ve heard from us in the Special Collections Research Center…because of our move to the new Charles Library.
In the interim, we’ve learned how to use the “Boxbot” and loaded over 12,000 boxes into it. We’ve shifted over 5000 feet of materials into the Library Depository. And we’re hoping to start moving the final 7000 feet of materials, including the contents of the rare book vault, into basement storage in Charles in early August.
We’ve been answering your questions as best we can, given the periodic inaccessibility of parts of the collection. Thanks to so many of you who are waiting patiently for us to reopen and answer your questions or who have changed your research schedule to allow for our closure. Thanks, too, to our patient donors who have held collections until we are ready to receive them this fall.
Now is the time for faculty members who want to schedule instruction sessions with us to start sending us those requests. We very much look forward to hosting you in our new instruction room and working with you and your students.
Please don’t hesitate to be in touch with questions: 215-204-8257 or email@example.com . We look forward to serving you in our new space in late August/early September.
The Special Collections Research Center is pleased to announce the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Philadelphia Records are now open for research use. The JCRC records were donated to the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center between 1976 and 2006 and acquired by the Special Collections Research Center in June 2009 where they were the focus of a two-year processing project. View the online finding aid or guide to the collection on the Libraries’ website.
The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Philadelphia (JCRC) was founded on January 30, 1939, as the Anti-Defamation Council but changed their name in 1943. The impetus for the formation of the JCRC was the rise of antisemitism in America after fascism took hold of much of Europe in the late 1930s. Jewish community leaders perceived the need for a unified voice dedicated specifically to fighting antisemitism and protecting the rights of the Jewish Community in Philadelphia. The JCRC’s mission has traditionally been defined as “…helping members of all religious, racial and ethnic groups to work and live together democratically and cooperatively by equalizing their treatment, enlarging their opportunities and deepening their mutual appreciation.” The Jewish Community Relations Council is still in existence and works as a constituent agency of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.
The bulk of the records span JCRC history from its founding in 1939 through the mid-1990s. Subject strengths include the struggle against antisemitism and racism in any form, including violence, vandalism, and propaganda, or in any aspect of society, such as education, employment, and housing. Other well-documented subjects include prayer in schools, interreligious relations, the relationship between the black and Jewish communities, Holocaust remembrance, Soviet Jewry, and the state of Israel.
Of particular interest are data, surveys, and compiled reports on the admissions practices of Philadelphia’s professional schools in the 1940s.
Also noteworthy are records pertaining to the Black-Jewish Loan Fund, a JCRC–created program which offered low or no interest loans to members of the black community interested in purchasing Jewish-owned business in neighborhoods of shifting demographics.
As part of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL) project Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis, the Special Collections Research Center has been cataloging and digitizing its medieval and early modern collections, which include financial ledgers, notated music, a Book of Hours, and philosophical texts.
While illuminated manuscripts are what immediately comes to mind when most people think of medieval manuscripts, Temple’s collections are a little different. We do hold the beautiful Book of Hours: Use of Toul from the 15th century, but the bulk of our medieval and early modern manuscripts are financial or legal documents.
While less artistically inclined, these manuscripts provide a glimpse into the everyday life of the period: how people held and transferred property, how businesses conducted their work, how banks managed their customers’ money, and how governments taxed their citizens.
In that last category, the Spanish Treasury in Peru Account Book is a ledger maintained by the Royal Treasury of Peru in 1571, then under Spanish control. The volume records not only general revenue and expenses, but also the tributes forcibly levied against the native people whose land was colonized by Spain. Another 16th century volume, an Italian Banking Ledger covering 1593-1595, is notable primarily for its extravagant binding and large size: over 19 inches tall. It contains debits and credits for a banking firm based in Rome.
An earlier manuscript, the Florentine Grain Dealer Account Book, which covers the years 1466-1524, contains entries showing payments made for grain, rent, taxes, alms, and other income for this Italian business. The Marcoux Family Estate Account Book, which begins around the same time but continues into the 18th century, documents income for the estate, which was located in Dauphiné, France. The volume contains pages written right side up and upside down, as well as multiple paging conventions—perhaps to be expected in a ledger used for around three hundred years.
These are just four of the finance-related manuscripts recently digitized for the project. All four belong to SCRC’s Harry C. Cochran History of Business Collection, which was established by Temple University Head Librarian Walter Hausdorfer in 1950. The Cochran Collection includes a wide range of manuscripts and a smaller number of books documenting the evolution of commerce in Europe and the Americas between the 4th and 20th centuries.
The Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis project is funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), and aims to digitize and make available online medieval manuscripts from fifteen institutions in the Philadelphia area. Images and descriptive metadata will be released into the public domain and easily downloadable at high resolution via University of Pennsylvania Libraries’ OPenn manuscript portal. Temple is contributing nearly forty manuscripts to the project. SCRC’s digitized manuscripts are also being added to Temple’s Digital Collections website.
–Katy Rawdon, Coordinator of Technical Services, SCRC
On October 25, 2018, SCRC Associate Archivist Jessica Lydon, joined historian of Vietnam and migration, Professor Dieu T. Nguyen, and Executive Director of HIAS Pennsylvania, Cathryn Miller-Wilson, in Paley Library for a panel discussion. Professor Lila Corwin Berman, Director of the Feinstein Center for American Jewish History, moderated the panel which featured HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) Pennsylvania’s history, its various resettlement efforts, and the work HIAS PA is doing to address today’s refugee crisis.
Lydon highlighted portions of the HIAS Pennsylvania Records collection held in Temple University Libraries Special Collections Research Center, most notably the organization’s resettling of Jewish refugees fleeing persecution in the Russian empire during the late 19th and early 20th centuries; advocacy work against restrictive immigration legislation including literacy tests and head taxes; and collaborative resettlement work with local VOLAGs (voluntary agencies) to assist Southeast Asian refugees in the aftermath of the Vietnam War.
Nguyen shared with attendees a chronology of key events surrounding Vietnam War-related refugees, how Vietnamese refugees regarded American aid associations that assisted them in the resettlement process, current characteristics and figures of Southeast Asian populations in Philadelphia and beyond, as well as her personal connections to these events, through the experiences of her two brothers.
Miller-Wilson spoke about HIAS PA’s current efforts to assist vulnerable populations and some of the challenges to this work including the Department of Homeland Security’s proposed wealth test regulation known as the “public charge rule,” which if enacted would deny green card and other visa applicants for using “one or more public benefit” in the past or being “likely at any time” to receive such benefits in the future.
All of SCRC’s medieval music manuscripts are leaves, meaning single pages. Originally, these leaves would each have been one page in a larger bound volume. Practice in previous times was often to cut apart such volumes in order to sell the individual pages at higher prices–which meant that the context of the original item was lost. The practice did, however, allow libraries which might not have been able to afford an entire medieval manuscript volume to acquire an example in the form of a single page.
The fate of the remainder of the volumes from which the SCRC leaves came is unknown. One benefit to digitizing dis-bound leaves is the possibility of one day finding their former companions and digitally reuniting the dismembered book, such as the project to reconstruct the Beauvais Missal.
One leaf typical of SCRC’s holdings is from a 16th century Spanish antiphonary or choir book displaying a page of music with Latin text for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. This leaf would have been bound in a huge volume—over 30 inches tall—originally used by the choir of Jaén Cathedral in southern Spain. Antiphonaries were volumes containing the sung portions of the Divine Office and were intended to be placed in front of the choir for reference, hence their large size.
A French missal leaf from 1285 is an outlier in size at only a little over 7.5 inches tall. A missal is a liturgical book containing the texts necessary for the celebration of the Mass.
All images and descriptive metadata for manuscripts in the Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis project will be released into the public domain, easily downloadable at high resolution via University of Pennsylvania Libraries’ OPenn manuscript portal. Temple is contributing nearly forty manuscripts to the project. SCRC’s digitized manuscripts are also being added to Temple’s Digital Collections website.
–Katy Rawdon, Coordinator of Technical Services, SCRC