Tag Archives: Anglo-Jewry

Salomons family volumes

This week’s blog post looks at two volumes from the manuscript collections relating to Sir David Salomons, baronet, and his nephew and heir, Sir David Lionel Salomons, second baronet.

The Salomons’ family volumes, bound in red morocco and decorated with gilt on the leaves, contain a range of material compiled by Sir David Lionel Salomons, second baronet. An inscription at the front of each volume identifies them as “scrap books” and their content as “letters of interest from well-known men and others, together with interesting matters and scraps.”

The first volume (covering the period 1819-1911) initially consists of items relating to Philip Salomons and other members of the Salomons family. Philip Salomons was Sir David Lionel’s father, with the material pertaining to his application for citizenship to the United States (he became a naturalized citizen in 1826) and his appointment as Deputy Lieutenant for the County of Sussex in 1952. This is followed by a more substantial range of material relating to Philip’s brother Sir David Salomons, first baronet, primarily concerning his appointment as Lord Mayor of the City of London.

Sir David Salomons, first Baronet (1797-1873)

David Salomons was born in London on 22 November 1797. He was the second son of Levy Salomons, a stockbroker, and Matilda de Metz. Following in his father’s footsteps, he pursued a career in banking and in 1832 became one of the founders of the London and Westminster Bank.

Sir David Salomons, first Baronet, MP and Lord Mayor of London, from an engraving by Charles Turner of the painting by Mary Martha Pearson [MS 187 AJ 352/1/2]

Sir David Salomons, first Baronet, MP and Lord Mayor of London, from an engraving by Charles Turner of the painting by Mary Martha Pearson [MS 187 AJ 352/1/2]

Alongside a successful banking career he had a distinguished public career. In 1835 he was elected as Sheriff of the City of London. However, as a Jew, he was unable to enter office due to the mandatory oath of office including Christian statements of faith. Parliament was obliged to legislate and following the passing Sheriffs’ Declaration Act later in the year, he was able to take up the post. 1835 also saw him elected as an Alderman of the City of London. Again, he was unable to take up the post due to the oath of office. On this occasion the law was not changed. It wasn’t until 1847 and the passing of the Religious Opinions Relief Act that he was finally admitted as a City alderman, and in 1885 became the first Jewish Lord Mayor of London.

Copy of a resolution (in Hebrew) from the West London Synagogue of British Jews congratulating David Salomons on his elevation to the high and important dignity of Lord Mayor of the City of London, November 1855 [MS 378 A4162/1/16]

Copy of a resolution (in Hebrew) from the West London Synagogue of British Jews congratulating David Salomons on his elevation to the high and important dignity of Lord Mayor of the City of London, November 1855 [MS 378 A4162/1/16]

Salomons was elected a Member of Parliament for Greenwich in 1851. While the law had now changed to enable professing Jews to hold municipal office, they were still denied admission to parliament. This time, rather than refusing to take the oath (as he had done in 1835) Salomons merely omitted the Christian statements of faith and took his seat on the government benches. He eventually agreed to withdraw, but only after voting in three divisions of the House. He lost his seat the following year at the general election of 1852. It wasn’t until the passage of the Jews Relief Act in 1858 that he was permitted to take his seat without further demur in 1859, serving as the constituency’s M.P. until his death in 1873.

Salomons was created a baronet in 1869. While he was married twice, there were no children of either marriage and his estate and titles passed to his nephew, Sir David Lionel Salomons.

Sir David Lionel Goldsmid-Stern-Salomons, second Baronet (1851-1925)

The majority of material in the volumes relates to Sir David Lionel Salomons. Sir David Lionel was the son of Philip Salomons (noted above) and Emma Montefiore. Following the death of his mother in 1859, and father in 1867, he was brought up by his uncle.

Bookplate of Sir David Lionel Goldsmid-Stern-Salomons, second Baronet, of Broomhill, Tunbridge Wells [MS 378 A4162/1]

Bookplate of Sir David Lionel Goldsmid-Stern-Salomons, second Baronet, of Broomhill, Tunbridge Wells [MS 378 A4162/1]

On the death of his uncle in 1873, he succeeded as second baronet (by special remainder) and inherited the estate of Broomhill, north of Tunbridge Wells. He studied at University College London and at Caius College, Cambridge, before being called to the bar at the Middle Temple. His inheritance from both his father and uncle meant that he was financially secure and was able to pursue scientific and other interests, becoming an inventor who pioneered developments in motoring and electricity. In addition to publishing a range of works on scientific subjects, he had workshops and laboratories added to the house at Broomhill (one of the first houses in the country to have electric lighting).

A significant amount of material in the volumes (the second volume covering the period 1889-1924) touches on his scientific research. These include notices of his public lectures on electricity which were “addressed to the working classes and others”. The lecture series for 1874 consisting of:

Lecture 1. Theories of Electricity and its general laws. Statical Electricity
Lecture 2. Statical Electricity continued.–Galvanic Electricity, and modes of producing the latter. –Comparisons between Statical and Galvanic Electricity. Induction.
Lecture 3. Resistance explained. Some applications of Electricity.
Lecture 4. Applications of Electricity continued, and the Telegraph.
Lecture 5. The Electric Telegraph.
Lecture 6. The Bridge and Differential. Modes of Testing. The application of these in practice. [MS 378 A4162/1/39]

Of Solomon’s inventions, the collection includes a pamphlet on ‘Improvements in the Construction of Fire-Proof Buildings’ in which he proposes placing pipes within the structure of the building which are in direct communication with hydrants or other water supply, “and so arranged that instant communication can be effected between the same an any one section of, or the whole of the internal perforated pipes in the building.” [MS 378 A4162/1/223]

Diagram from Improvements in the Construction of Fire-Proof Buildings by Sir David Lionel Salomons (Patented) [MS 378 A4162/1/223]

Diagram from Improvements in the Construction of Fire-Proof Buildings by Sir David Lionel Salomons (Patented) [MS 378 A4162/1/223]

Other items include letters from renowned scientists of the age, including John Tyndall, Joseph Swan, David Edward Hughes, William Crookes and David Gill. One of Salomons more imaginative ideas can be found in a letter from John Joseph Fahie, dated 19 January 1885, in which Fahie requests an exposition of his suggestion that you could “dissolve a man in London and build him up again in New York through the Atlantic Cable.” [MS 378 A4162/1/78]

Along with letters from famous individual such as Sir Moses Montefiore, Wilkie Collins, and William Gladstone, among others, the collection includes a number of letters that have been marked as “curious”. One such letter, dated 12 July 1878, is from a gentleman of twenty-three years living in Massachusetts. He begs Salomons the favour of providing him with an idea or invention that he can take credit for, and which will, in turn, enabling him to win the hand of a young lady with whom he is in love. Salomons advice to the young man is that “he ought to use his energies and work properly if his affection is sincere” and notes that “no fortune made at a “coup” is valued by its owner, and rarely indeed can such good fortune arrive.” [MS 378 A4162/1/50]

Salomons also had a keen interest in motor vehicles and was an early pioneer for the car on British roads. He was a member of the Automobile Club of France, the Royal Automobile Club of Great Britain, as well as a range of other automobile clubs, and organised the first British Motor Show (named the Horseless Carriage Exhibition) at Tunbridge Wells in 1895.

Salomons married Laura de Stern in 1882 and the couple had one son and four daughters. Their only son, David Reginald Salomons, died at Gallipoli when HMS Hythe carrying his company was sunk in a collision.  Following Sir David Lionel’s death on 19 April 1925 the baronetcy became extinct.

Further details on the Salomons family volumes can be found on the Special Collections website at: https://www.southampton.ac.uk/archives/cataloguedatabases/webguidemss378.page

The Salomons estate is currently home to the Salomons Museum which preserves and displays material relating to the family. Further details can be found at: https://www.salomons-estate.com/about-us/museum

“An evocative poet”: the pianist Solomon Cutner

Solomon Cutner, or Solomon as he became known, made his professional debut at the age of eight playing Tchaikovsky’s First Concerto at Queen’s Hall, London.  From then until his early teens he was to be considered one of the most celebrated child prodigies of his era.

Solomon was born in the East End of London in 1902, the seventh child of Jewish parents of Polish and German extraction. Since both of his parents loved music and there was a piano in the home, Solomon, as he noted in an interview years later, “could have been barely five when I first started strumming on the piano and having lessons.  For hours and hours I would practice upon the old instrument which we had at home and forget all about games and toys…. It was the strangest assortment of trifles that my fingers, as rigid as the keys themselves, would delightedly ramble through, ranging from a Beethoven minuet and snatches of 1812 to the popular tunes of the day.” [MS 430 A4254/4/1]

Solomon as a child performer [MS430 A4254/3]

Solomon as a child performer [MS430 A4254/3]

Solomon’s parents were introduced to Mathilde Verne, who had set up a music school in London in 1909, by a member of the Jewish Aid Society.  And it was a bursary from the Jewish Aid Society that supported Solomon’s lessons with Verne.  He moved into her house and undertook a punishing schedule of eight to nine hours a day practice and of numerous concerts.  At the age of nine Solomon performed with the Queen’s Hall Orchestra under the conductor Henry Wood.  Wood was to write to Mathilde Verne that “I have never met such a talent as Solomon’s at the age of 9. His phrasing and rhythmic grip seemed to me quite remarkable.” [Henry Wood to Mathilde Verne, 25 June 1912 MS 430 A4254/4/1].  By the he age of 12 Solomon was playing six Prom concerts and the following year he played 15 concerts with Henry Wood.

Solomon left Verne when his contract expired and, on the advice of Henry Wood, retreated from performance and immersed himself in study.  He returned to performance in early 1920s, first in London and Paris followed by a short tour of Germany.  He made his New York debut in 1926 and performed at the World Fair there in 1939, premiering the Piano Concerto in B-flat by Arthur Bliss.

Solomon's American debut [MS 430 A4254/3]

Solomon’s American debut [MS 430 A4254/3]

During the Second World War Solomon performed for allied troops in Europe.  In the post-war period he undertook extensive concert tours across the world.

Performing in Australia

Performing in Australia [MS 430 A4254/3]

Solomon embarked on a parallel career as a recording artist from 1929 when he signed to Columbia. He subsequently signed to EMI, focusing on the works of Beethoven and on recording the entire sequence of Beethoven’s piano sonatas.  Solomon was part way through the Beethoven recording when in 1956 he suffered a stroke that paralysed his right arm. This effectively ended his performance career.

Solomon was awarded a CBE in 1946. He died, in London, in 1988 aged 85. He is remembered for his superb technique and his playing as an adult was acclaimed for its clarity and overall poetic feel.  He was described as “one of the few contemporary pianists who is master of the subtleties of Chopin”. [MS 430 A4254/1/206]  William Mann called him “an evocative poet”.  For John Cromer, “while Solomon played … the inanimate piano came alive with a new meaning of sound and patterned harmonies.  The three-legged monster with shining white and black teeth became the living bearer of a thousand messages, soft and sweet, tender and poignant.” [MS 430 A4254/1]

Letter from Solomon to his sister [MS 430 A4254/1/39]

Letter from Solomon to his sister Ettie [MS 430 A4254/1/39]

The recently acquired collection of papers relating to Solomon at Southampton contains extensive correspondence from him, predominately to his sister Ettie.  These letters relate to his concert tours in the 1940s and 1950s across North and South America, Europe, Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania.  They attest both to the rigors of life on tour and to his appreciation of homely comforts such as tea and toast in his hotel room.  The collection further contains photographs of Solomon from a young man to an adult; programmes from concerts all across the world; and volumes of press cuttings mainly of reviews of his performances.  This material provides a glimpse into the world of the person Harold Schonberg of the New York Times called “that most civilized of pianists” and who his family remember as a devoted son and brother.

Celebrating the contribution of women: Lady Swaythling

Today marks International Women’s Day which celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women throughout history and across nations. The Special Collections at the University of Southampton holds material for a range of women whose contribution in many spheres is worthy of mention. For this blog post we will focus on Gladys Helen Rachel Montagu, Baroness Swaythling (MS 383).

Photograph of Gladys, Dowager Lady Swaythling, taken by Dorothy Wilding [MS 383 A4000/6/1/5 f2]

Photograph of Gladys, Dowager Lady Swaythling, taken by Dorothy Wilding [MS 383 A4000/6/1/5 f2]

Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1879, she was the eldest daughter of Colonel Albert Edward Williamson Goldsmid, MVO, and Ida Stewart Beauclerk Hendricks. In 1898 she married Louis Montagu, the eldest son of Samuel Montagu, first Baron Swaythling (MS 117), founder of the banking firm Samuel Montagu and Company. Louis succeeded as second Baron Swaythling in 1911 and inherited the office of president of the Federation of Synagogues (MS 248), an organisation created by his father to promote the acculturation of Jewish immigrants.

Following their marriage they lived at Townhill Park House, Southampton, purchased by the first Baron Swaythling in 1897. Originally dating from the 1790s, they had the house extended and re-designed by architect Leonard Rome Guthrie in the Italianate style. Guthrie also designed the terraced gardens to complement the style of the house, with the plants laid out by the renowned garden designer Gertrude Jekyll. As Lord and Lady Swaythling they were leading members of the Anglo-Jewish community and leading figures in English society, hosting dinner parties and other social events at Townhill Park where visitors included Princess Alice and Queen Mary (with whom Lady Swaythling had a lifelong friendship).

Belgian soldiers and staff at Allington Manor

Belgian soldiers and staff at Allington Manor [MS 383 A4000/6/1/13 ]

They were also active communal workers, with Lady Swaythling applying much of her energy to the local Southampton area. During the First World War she became President of the Women’s Southampton branches of the Auxiliary of the YMCA and Women’s Emergency Corps, as well as the War Hospital Supply Depot, Southampton. In addition, she served on eighteen different committees, including as chair of the Wounded Allies Relief Committee, established for the provision of convalescent homes for wounded Belgian soldiers.

Country houses were required for medical use as the large numbers of wounded meant there were not enough hospitals able to cope with the seriously disabled or even those simply convalescing. These houses were pressed into service or were donated for the purpose, as their clean country air and fine grounds were considered most helpful to rest and recuperation. Allington Manor, a country house in Eastleigh owned by the Swaythlings, was one of the houses donated as a military sanitorium. Lady Swaythling took a deep interest in the welfare of the sanatorium and would sing to the patients during her visits. Later, she was involved in organising hospitality for American soldiers and sailors, with her efforts leading to her becoming known as the “British godmother” among American naval enlisted men. Other activities included working on the executive committee of Queen Mary’s Governess’ Home in Surrey, and assisting the British Women’s Patriotic League.

Certificate granted to Lady Swaythling [MS 383 A4000/2/1]

Certificate granted to Lady Swaythling in recognition of her
charitable services during the First World War [MS 383 A4000/2/1]

After the war she continued her communal actives, with her roles including President of the Southampton Hostel for Unmarried Women and the Southampton branches of the National Society for Combating Venereal Diseases and the University Extension Lectures movement. She was also chair of the conjoint committee of the British Red Cross and the Order of St John of Jerusalem. In 1919 she joined the Council of the Anglo-Belgian Union and continued to support Belgian exiles during the Second World War. She was an active supporter of refugees throughout her life and, in 1925, addressed a letter to President Coolidge pleading for the admission to the United States of Jewish refugees stranded in Southampton.

Other public offices she held included President of the Electrical Association for Women, established in 1924 to interest women in the electrical development of the country; Honorary President of the Jewish Lads’ Brigade (MS 244), a Jewish youth organisation founded by her father in 1895; President of the Southampton branch of the Girl Guides Association; and Vice-President of the NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children). She travelled widely, touring countries such as India, Australia, China, Japan, the United States, and Canada, and was the recipient of many overseas honours. She was made OBE in 1953.

Lord and Lady Swaythling had had three sons and a daughter. Their eldest son Stuart became the third Lord Swaythling in 1927 on Louis’ death. The family continued to live at Townhill Park until 1939 when the house was handed over to the Red Cross and used as a convalescent home for British and American soldiers during the Second World war. Lady Swaythling died in 1965 at the age of 85.

This year, Southampton is joining in the International Women’s Day (IWD) celebration theme by ‘Being Bold’ and inviting everyone to West Quay and fringe events in town on Saturday March 11 to promote and celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, both locally and worldwide. For further details visit:
https://www.southampton.ac.uk/blog/sussed-news/2017/02/28/celebrate-international-womens-day-on-11-march/

The Battle of Cable Street – 4th October 1936

The Battle of Cable Street is a significant moment in the history of London Jewry and has often been represented as a turning point in the struggle against Fascism in Britain. This week, commemorations for the 80th anniversary will include a march and a rally in east London – both to remember the past – and to highlight the importance of combating racism and prejudice today.

Anti-fascist protesters run as police approach a barricade near Aldgate during the clashes – crowds had overturned a lorry in Cable Street and used building materials from a local building yard to block the road.

There were at least 100,000 Anti-Fascist protesters on the streets that day (some sources suggest as many as 250,000 people). Jews, Irish dockers, trade unionists, Communists, Independent Labour Party members, women and children turned out to form a “Human barrier to Stop Fascists” [Sunday Referee, 4 October 1936]. “LIKE A SIEGE. 84 arrests, 200 hurt” ran the headlines of the Daily Express, following clashes with police – who made baton charges into the crowds in an attempt to clear the roads.  Just one week earlier, the British Union of Fascists (BUF) had announced its intention to parade in the vicinity of the Royal Mint, where it would be drawn up in military formation and inspected by Sir Oswald Mosley. From here they planned to march through Aldgate and Whitechapel – the heart of the Jewish East End of London – before holding Fascist meetings at multiple venues in the area. [q BZ8211.P73 Parkes Cable St. press cuttings]

'Stop Racial Incitement in East London!!' poster [MS 60/15/53] – thousands of leaflets were distributed prior to the march

‘Stop Racial Incitement in East London!!’ poster [MS 60/15/53] – thousands of leaflets were distributed prior to the march

The BUF had been running a campaign of provocation and violence aimed at stirring up anti-Semitism in the East End for some time. The newly formed Jewish People’s Council against Fascism and Anti-Semitism (JPC) drew attention to inflammatory speeches, indoor and outdoor meetings, processions into Jewish and anti-Fascist districts, and incidents of violence against Jews. Their statement of policy identified the BUF with a modern political anti-Semitism which threatened the democratic rights of the British people as a whole. [MS 60/15/53]

Strenuous efforts were made by local organisations to persuade the government to prohibit the march – the mayors of five East End boroughs asked the Home Office to ban it – but without success.

Petition to the Secretary for Home Affairs [MS 116/6]

Petition to the Secretary for Home Affairs [MS 116/6]

In just 48 hours, the JPC gathered almost a 100,000 signatures for a petition which was presented to the Home Secretary, Sir John Simon. This would not have been possible without the “magnificent assistance” of local Anti-Fascist groups, including the Jewish Councils of Action, the East London Association for combating Fascism; the Ex-Servicemen’s Movement against Fascism, and the members of the Workers’ Circle.

Although the parade went ahead, the scale of the counter-demonstration and the threat of blood shed were so great, that Sir Philip Game, the Chief Police Commissioner, called off the march through the East End to prevent further breaches of the peace. Running battles continued for hours in the streets.

'Fascist Hooliganism!' poster [MS 60/15/53]

‘Fascist Hooliganism!’ poster [MS 60/15/53]

The BUF may have suffered defeat on the day but the fight against Fascism was far from won. The passage of the Public Order Act, 1936, after the disturbances, banned marching in uniform and required police consent in order for marches to go ahead. In the short term, however, historians suggest that life became worse for Jews in the East End. The prominent Jewish involvement at Cable Street and the publicity that violent opposition had produced was exploited by the Fascists to gain sympathy and support.

The story and significance of Cable Street is vividly captured in the papers of the Reverend James William Parkes (1896-1981), held here in the Special Collections at Southampton. Parkes dedicated the greater part of his life to combating anti-Semitism. He had first-hand knowledge of the situation in the East End of London and in 1936 he was meeting local people, giving educational lectures, trying to understand the problem, in order to work out possible solutions. His papers shed a fascinating light on the different approaches and viewpoints within the Jewish community and of the efforts of Gentiles and Christians to join them in the fight against prejudice.

To read about the life of the Reverend James Parkes: MS 60

Cable Street 80: http://cablestreet80.org.uk/

Israel Zangwill: the “Dickens of the Ghetto”

Today marks the 90th anniversary of the death of Israel Zangwill. He was a British author at the forefront of cultural Zionism during the nineteenth century. Born in London in 1864 to Jewish immigrants, Zangwill was educated at the Jews’ Free School where he later became a teacher. He produced numerous poems, plays and novels including The Children of the Ghetto: a Study of a Peculiar People (1892) and The King of Schnorrers (1894). His play, The Melting Pot (1908) about a Russian-Jewish immigrant family, popularised this metaphor used to describe American absorption of immigrants and his work earned him the nickname the “Dickens of the Ghetto”.

Israel Zangwill

Israel Zangwill [MS 295 A1018/5]

Correspondence from the collection MS 116/52 Papers relating to Israel Zangwill indicated the circles Zangwill moved in. For example, in January 1894 he wrote to the author and poet Richard Le Gallienne:

I have hesitated to ask you to come up all this way but have decided to give you the option. To-morrow night (Tuesday) from 8.30 interesting men will be dropping in to smoke and talk. The notice is short because the thing is informal. There will be several “Waterloo” men.   [MS 116/52 AJ208/1]

In 1898, he corresponded with Walter Bliss of the American Publishing Company to thank him for sending a copy of Mark Twain’s book: “I hope it will be a big success. Mark is a fine old fellow.”  [MS 116/52 AJ209/5]

Zangwillpostcard

Postcard from Israel Zangwill, Florence, to his mother, Ellen Hannah Zangwill, St John’s Wood, 7 May 1901 [MS 295 A1018/1/2]

We also hold a collection of postcards [part of MS 295 Papers of Louis and Israel Zangwill], many sent by Israel and his brother Louis to their mother while they were on a tour of Europe. Israel was 37 and already a successful author and lecturer.  The text, difficult to decipher in the image, recounts how Zangwill has inadvertently switched hats following a haircut:

I have just discovered I changed hats with somebody in Rome: as good or better but of different shape. I didn’t notice it, perhaps through having my hair cut, so I expected to look different. They wanted 1 franc for Mark’s shampoo, so I had a row and wouldn’t pay it. They always give in. [MS 295 A1018/1/2]

Harry Ward, secretary to the Golders Green Synagogue, was a founding member and honorary secretary of the Israel Zangwill Fellowship. He spent 60 years collecting a vast library of Zangwilliana, now in the University’s Special Collections [MS 294]. Collected over Ward’s lifetime, the material includes Zangwill correspondence – for example with his lecture agent, Gerald Christy, 1895-1906 – as well as Ward’s own correspondence and research papers.  Ward’s comprehensive collection of books by Zangwill, or in which he is mentioned, was added to the Parkes Library.

Israel Zangwill

Israel Zangwill

Zangwill was a founder of the Jewish Territorial Organisation (ITO).  This group of Zionists wanted to find an alternative to Israel for the creation of a Jewish homeland.  In 1906, Zangwill wrote to Carl Stettaeur seeking support for the organisation. Stettauer had visited Russia the previous year to arrange relief work following the pogroms:

At most you can say that your desire to identify yourself with other causes prevents you identifying yourself with the practical work of our Organisation, but what prevents you from paying 1/- a year as a passive member to produce an effect, however distant, that cannot possibly be other than beneficial?   [MS 128 AJ22/F4]

Another smaller collection of papers is that of Ruth Phillips, secretary to Lucien Wolf and Israel Zangwill [MS 116/5].

Zangwill died in 1926 in Midhurst, West Sussex.  In celebration of his life, the Jewish Museum, London has created Zangwill’s Spitalfields, an audio-visual walking tour of the historic Spitalfields area of London’s East End.

World Refugee Day

Today is #WorldRefugeeDay and the start of @RefugeeWeek.  This UK-wide programme of arts, cultural and educational events and activities celebrates the contribution of refugees to the UK and promotes better understanding of why people seek sanctuary.

The University’s Special Collections documents stories of millions of refugees who have sought sanctuary in the UK from Spanish refugees seeking assistance from the first Duke of Wellington after fleeing their country in the 1820s, to those who have been victims of more recent wars.

For example, in 1922 Atlantic Park opened in Eastleigh, at the time one of the biggest transmigratory camps in the world. Its purpose was to bring migrants together in one place, provide them with better conditions and protect them from unscrupulous people. A large proportion of the people at the camp were Ukrainian Jewish refugees.

ms311.53_cropped

Booth in the interior of the hall at Atlantic Park, Eastleigh, with a number of the refugees in residence at the transit camp, 1920s [MS 311/53]

Conditions in the camp, however, were generally far from acceptable and deaths were not infrequent. Due to increasingly strict immigration laws, many refugees remained in the camp for longer than intended, unable to settle in a new, safer home.  A report on condition in the camp can be found in the minutes of the Executive Committee of the Union of Jewish Women. [MS 129/B/6 AJ 26]

The Kindertransport is perhaps one of the more famous humanitarian efforts of the Second World War.  Chief Rabbi Solomon Schonfeld – executive director of the Chief Rabbi’s Religious Emergency Council from its foundation in 1938 until 1946 – supported children coming to the UK in 1938 and was personally involved in escorting groups of Jewish children from the ghettos in Poland to Great Britain in 1946-7.

MS183_1006_1_cropped

Polish refugees (oldest and youngest) brought to the UK by the Chief Rabbi’s Religious Emergency Council, c.1946 [MS 183/1006/1]

The archive (MS 183 section F) contains a great deal on the administration and organisation of CRREC’s work in the field of both the rescue and support of refugees, particularly child refugees, 1938-49.  For refugees brought over to Great Britain by the Council, for example, information can be found in the form of photographs, biographical profiles, correspondence and refugee fund assistance cards.  Landing cards and identity cards complement the block passport and other mass travel documents which exist for child refugees who travelled with the Council.

This collection is one of a number of archives relating to Jewish refugees in the 1930s and 1940s – detailing both the work of organisations and providing individual or personal accounts. Other collections include the Polish Jewish Refugee Fund (MS 190); papers of Diana Silberstein, 1936-46, a native of Sarajevo, who came to Britain as a refugee (MS93) and a typescript autobiography of Dr D.Fuerst, a refugee dentist from Nazi Austria (MS116/68).

The world is currently experiencing the largest refugee crisis of recent times and questions surrounding asylum and immigration are more topical than ever.  These stories – some inspiring, other distressing – must serve to provide some lessons from history.  This is undeniably an important part of the history of the United Kingdom which should be preserved and remembered.

Jewish friendly societies

In this week’s blog post archivist John Rooney takes a look into the world of Jewish friendly societies.

I have recently spent time arranging and cataloguing the collection MS 422 Papers of Jewish friendly societies. Material in the collection was original compiled by Raymond Kalman while conducting research on the history of friendly societies. Kalman was born in Paris and raised in Spitalfields. He was a member of Council of Jewish Historical Society of England and a member of the Friendly Societies Research Group and wrote extensively on Anglo-Jewish and East End social history.

Copy of a Lodge Group photograph of the Grand Order of Israel, dating from the early 20th century [MS422 A4216/10/3]

Copy of a Lodge Group photograph of the Grand Order of Israel, dating from the early 20th century [MS422 A4216/10/3]

Jewish friendly societies played a particularly important role in Anglo-Jewish life during the late 19th century and through much of the 20th century. Their object was primarily one of mutual benefit. In return for weekly contributions, members would receive support during illness or in the case of their death. In the latter instance, societies would contribute to the costs of funeral and tombstone expenses and, in some cases, provide payments to the family of the deceased. In his writings on the subject, Kalman emphasises the constant concern within the Jewish community of ensuring a decent burial, with friendly societies provided one of the cheapest methods of doing so. The importance of the societies in this regard can be seen on tombstones bearing inscriptions of their names, a condition stipulated in the rules of many of the societies.

Friendly societies acted as miniature social security systems which were entirely private and voluntary. As such, they helped preserve their member’s personal independence and keep them away from other forms of charitable or state support. However, unlike other kinds of insurance organisations, many friendly societies also served a social function by holding regular meetings and social events for their members. In this regard, they provided a unique opportunity for members to meet with a close circle of friends outside of synagogue services and were a particularly useful way for newly arrived immigrants to engage with other members of the local Jewish community.

A number of friendly societies took the form of ‘Orders’, establishing associated lodges with membership ceremonies and rituals. These included the use of secret password and special titles, together with the wearing of regalia (such as the collar below) by the president and other senior members of the society. Other societies, the Order of Ancient Maccabeans being a notable example, were political affiliated with organisations such as the Jewish National Movement and the English Zionist Federation. However, it was generally the cultural activities and social amenities (alongside the provision of mutual insurance) that attracted members.

Photograph of Past Grand President’s Collar, United Jewish Friendly Society, 1960-1 [MS422 A4216/2/4]

Photograph of Past Grand President’s Collar, United Jewish Friendly Society, 1960-1 [MS422 A4216/2/4]

The role of friendly societies was dramatically diminished with the development of the welfare state in the late 1940s. While some continued as insurance companies, others remained as local social groups with the insurance element no longer playing a key role. Over the years the number of active societies has significantly decreased from the 98 recorded in the 1900-1 edition of the Jewish Year Book.

The collection MS 422 contains the papers relating to a range of friendly societies, including the United Jewish Friendly Society, Manasseh Ben Israel Friendly Society, Hebrew Order of David, Grand Order of Israel and Shield of David Friendly Society, Grand Order Sons of Jacob, and the Association of Jewish Friendly Societies. Given the manner in which the material was collected it is quite an eclectic mix with certain societies (Hebrew Order of David, Grand Order Sons of Jacob, and the Association of Jewish Friendly Societies) being better represented than others.

Key material relating to the organisation and running of the societies includes rule books, annual reports, minute books and financial records, with material reflecting their social function including notices, programmes and tickets relating to installations and social events, together with monthly bulletins and newsletters. Records of members include application forms and index books for the Burial Society of the Association of Jewish Friendly Societies and member nomination and death claim books for the Grand Order Sons of Jacob. Other material includes booklets and photographs, both of members and of tombstones inscribed with the names of various societies. The collection also contains material relating to Kalman’s research, including a small selection of his research notes and papers, press cuttings, correspondence, and articles, along with copies of statistical data and lists of charities, societies and orders.

Special Collection holds a number of collections relating to Jewish friendly societies. These include a ‘History of the United Jewish Friendly Society’ by Harry Hyams, 1960, which traces the activities of the society from 1888 (MS 116/25); papers of the United Jewish Friendly Society (MS 180); papers of Jewish benevolent societies (MS 193); and papers of Jewish friendly societies and cultural organisations (MS 214).

Celebrating the contribution of women

Held annually on 8 March, International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women throughout history and across nations.

The Special Collections at the University of Southampton holds material for a range of women whose contribution in many spheres is worthy of mention. For this blog we will focus on Sarah Laski (née Frankenstein). Born in Manchester in 1869, Sarah Laski married Nathan Laski in 1889, becoming the mother of two sons – Neville John, the future QC, and Harold, who became Professor of Political Science at the University of London – and a daughter Mabel. Her husband played a prominent part in Manchester Jewish life and its welfare and Sarah Laski was to dedicate considerable time and effort throughout her lifetime to social work in the city of her birth.

Mrs Laski, 1933

Mrs Laski, 1933

Initial work confined to Jewish charities, such as the Ladies Visiting Committee and Soup Kitchen, but in 1914 Sarah Laski became a member of the Manchester Board of Guardians, and was its chairman, 1926-9. From 1926 onwards, she served as a member of the Manchester City Council representing Cheetham ward. She was elected an alderman in 1942.

Sarah Laski was remembered as one of Manchester’s “foremost citizens”, for her “fine record of [40 yrears of] quiet, unselfish, public service”” and her “wide and understanding sympathy with the problems of poverty.” [MS 134 AJ 33/51]

She was particularly interested in the welfare of women and children, in youth and in education. She was an advocate of education opportunities for women, urging girls, in an address in October 1916 to “learn to fit ourselves for the new era that is slowly but surely dawning” [MS 134 AJ 33/39].

The University of Southampton will be hosting a number of events to mark international women’s day and details can be found at the following links:

University blog –
https://isoton.wordpress.com/2016/03/04/celebrate-international-womens-day-at-the-university/

Events page –
http://www.southampton.ac.uk/diversity/news/events/womens_day.page

Food and reflection

As we settle into 2016 we reflect on recent activities from the past year…

Over the holiday season many of us have indulged in a range of winter comfort foods and festive treats, from turkey and sprouts to mince pies and puddings. In the lead up to the Christmas break visitors were invited to Special Collections for our third and final Explore Your Archives event of the year, with the focus of the afternoon being (somewhat appropriately) food! The material on display covered areas such as the cultivation of food, food preparation, household management, food supplies, consumption of food (including some fine dining), and food relief.

Lankester & Crook price lists for the Christmas Season on display for the 'Food, Glorious Food' open afternoon

Lankester & Crook price lists for the Christmas Season on display for the ‘Food, Glorious Food’ open afternoon

Beginning with a section on cultivation, one of the first items was a plan and catalogue for trees in the kitchen gardens at Broadlands from 1769 which, incidentally, coincided with work done on the estate by ‘Capability’ Brown whose 300th anniversary will be celebrated later in the year. This was followed by a selection of material relating to the management of crops and livestock.

The United Nations has declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses, with the aim being to “promote broad discussion and cooperation at the national, regional and global levels to increase awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by pulse farmers, be they large scale farms or small land holders.” As the planet’s population continues to increase, pulses such as beans, lentils and peas, are recognised as a sustainable crop which provide a low-fat source of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals.

The Perkins Agricultural Library, which primarily supports research on the general practice and improvement of agriculture in the 18th and 19th centuries, also holds a range of material focusing on areas such as household management. On display was William Ellis’ The country housewife’s family companion (London, 1750) which contains the following useful tips for preserving broad beans and peas: “To preserve broad beans and pease dry: take them out of their pods before they are ripe and while their skin is green strip them of their skin and dry them thoroughly in the sun; rub them all over with winter-savory, and barrel them up in straw or chaff, or without either, provided you keep the air from them. In winter or spring, or when they are wanted, soak them six hours in warm water, and then boil them for eating…” [Perkins TX 151]

A highlight from the selection of cook books and recipes was Florence Greenberg’s classic Jewish Cookery Book. First published in 1947, the book proved hugely popular with post war Anglo-Jewish households, bringing a mix of British and continental cooking. She described the Jewish influences as being seen clearly in the fish dishes, sauces and puddings.

There were also many examples of fine dining drawn from the papers of third Viscount Palmerston, Lady Swaythling, Lord Mountbatten, and W.W.Ashley and Cunard cruise ships, including menus, dinner books, and letters reporting on dinner parties and social gatherings. In contrast, somewhat less savoury culinary descriptions were to be found among the journals of William Mogg. Written during his time on Captain Edward Parry’s expeditions to the Arctic in the 1820s, Mogg describes methods used to thaw the crew’s frozen supplies — leaving them in a fire hole for three days — as well as the Christmas festivities enjoyed by the crew.

Chris Woolgar giving his talk on food related resources

Chris Woolgar giving his talk on food related resources

The visit to Special Collections was followed by a talk by Chris Woolgar who provided a highly engaging and comprehensive analysis of a number of the items on display. The evening was then rounded off with some tea and seasonal treats!

As we plan events for the year ahead we would like to thank everyone who attended our open afternoons over the past few months. Details of forthcoming events will be announced on our blog and website in the near future.

We hope to see you in Archives soon!

Exhibition: Creating a Legacy: the Parkes Library

Creating a legacy: the Parkes Library

Drawing on material in the Special Collections, the exhibition will consider the legacy created by Revd Dr James Parkes, through his library and his research on Jewish/non-Jewish relations. James Parkes began collecting material in the 1930s and by the time it arrived at Southampton in 1964, the Library consisted of 4,000 books, 2,000 pamphlets and 140 journals. It has developed into one of the largest Jewish documentation centres in Europe and complements the Anglo-Jewish Archives, also part of Special Collections, which is one of the largest collections of Jewish archives in Western Europe. These research collections have led to the development of the Parkes Institute, which is a research centre focusing on Jewish history and culture, and which continues Parkes’s legacy of teaching and research.

The exhibition will run in conjunction with the Parkes Institute Jubilee Conference, the climax of the Golden Jubilee Celebrations 2014-2015. It will open on Monday 7 September and run until 6 November 2015.

During exhibitions the Special Collections Gallery is open to the public Monday to Friday 1000 to 1600. Admission is free. Visitors may be asked for proof of identity by Library Reception staff.