Currently viewing the category: "Article"

The Jews are known as the People of the Book = עם הספר = Ahlil-Kitab. Are they worthy to be called also “The People of the Books and Libraries”.

This is the English translation of original article in Hebrew that was published by

ספרית הרמב”ם – באתר של איגוד ספרני היהדות – בגליון לה’ ב-7/9/2015

To view the article, read here or follow the link below to download to your computer:

Download (PDF, 1.77MB)

ד”ר חנן רפפורט

Dr. Chanan Rapaport, born in 1928, served as an officer in the underground of the Hagana during Israel’s War of Independence. When the war ended, he studied psychology and sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and thereafter continued his studies in the United States. Upon earning his degree as a Doctor of Clinical Psychology he completed a post doctorate in psychoanalysis, psychotherapy and research.
Dr. Rapaport returned home to Israel as Chairman and Chief Scientist of the “Henrietta Szold Institute” –the national institute for the research in behavioral sciences. He held that position from 1965 to 1982.
During those years Dr. Rapaport additionally was an advisor on social matters to two Prime Ministers: Golda Meir and Yitzhak Rabin. He served as the psychological advisor to the Minister of Education and Culture and the head of all research at the Ministry of Education and Culture. Since the passing of Dr. Paul Jacoby, the renowned genealogist, he has been faithful to his scientific legacy.
Today he is the director of the Center for the Study of the Rapaport Family and a member of the board of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy and Paul Jacobi Center of the National Library of Israel.

 

My father Max KNISBACHER (Menahem Mordechai) of blessed memory, born April 7, 1913 in Berlin, passed away on June 2, 1995 in Baltimore. Amazingly he managed to keep and left behind various pictures, letters and documents from all the stops on the odyssey that led him to France, Palestine, England and finally the U.S. after fleeing Germany and the Nazis in 1933. Needless to say these documents were in a variety of languages: German, French, Hebrew, Polish, and a smattering of Yiddish. Since I had the good fortune to have worked as a translator and analyst for most of my career, in most of those languages, I felt it a personal duty to preserve my father’s memory and the memory of his immediate forebears, most of whom he never knew. In particular I grew up with an early memory, at age six, of the family gathered around the radio and cheering in late 1947 when the UN announced the partition of Palestine, meaning the recreation of a sovereign Jewish state after 2,000 years. At that time I certainly didn’t know the history but did know that my father had been in the war and that members of both my father’s and mother’s family had been killed. In later years the horror of the Holocaust was something that was always in the back of my mind, something I could never comprehend and yet felt a compelling need to come to terms with. The way I am doing that is what I might call my “genealogical imperative.”

I was still working at the time so my investigations came in fits and starts. Where to begin?  Apart from pictures and documents, my father also left behind a name I had never heard before, the name of his father’s birthplace, a shtetl called Lysiec. Since my job sometimes required morning meetings in DC, I decided to take those afternoons off and visit either the National Archives or the Library of Congress. It was at the latter venue that I found the first printed reference to Lysiec on a map, in Russian, about 10 km southwest of Stanislawow. The place actually existed! (Remember that back in 1995 we didn’t have all the Internet resources that are so convenient today.)

Before going any further, you might well ask why my father had never mentioned Lysiec previously? The answer is that his father Isak Moses (Yitzhak Moshe), for whom I am named, had died in the worldwide flu epidemic in 1918 at the end of WWI, when my father was just five years old. Dad was raised in a large family, but it was his mother’s family. Most of his father’s relatives remained in Poland and he never met them. What he knew about them was from two pictures that included his father, a brief contact with a paternal uncle Hermann (Hirsch), who arrived once from Königsberg to present my father with a red bicycle for his eleventh birthday; and whatever his mother knew. But she was from the big city of Tarnow, not the shtetl of Lysiec, and her knowledge was largely second hand. Still when Dad was in his last days with a terminal illness, it was important to him that we know where all of his folks had come from.

Cilli and Isak KNISBACHER

The first picture my father had of my grandfather was this undated picture of his parents together, probably taken early in their married life:

 

KNISBACHER marriage certificate

Dad had once told me many years before that his parents were married in London. He never said why, and after his passing I began to wonder if it were even true. After a successful search for a British records source, I eventually received the marriage certificate below in October of 1997:

Isak Moses KNISBACHER and Cilli SZYDLOW were indeed married in London, on 27 February 1911. And there was more. He was 23 years old; she, 24. His occupation was listed as “General dealer”. Their “condition”: he was a bachelor; she, a spinster. They were residing at the time at 27 Tredegar Square. His father was Berl KNISBACHER, whose occupation was “Hotel Keeper.” Her father was Meier SZYDLOW, whose occupation was “Fishmonger.” I suddenly had basic information on the family.

The second picture my father had was of his father and his father’s sister Sarah with their parents, Dov and Cirl (née BONNER or BANNER). That picture was taken in Stanislawow, as indicated on the back, which implies that it was from before Yitzhak Moshe married his wife Cilli in London, in 1911.

Isak, Sarah, Cirl and Dov KNISBACHER

 

The back of the photo, apparently “enhanced” by some childhood scribbling, lists the following:

Max Tannenbaum, Artistic photography establishment, City of Stanislawow, 8 Kazimierzowska Street,
Enlargements can be made for each image, Plates are kept for future orders.

So the initial map, these pictures, and the marriage certificate were the only physical evidence I had at that point. Where to go from there? The more I pondered, the more old memories came flooding back. Dad had once mentioned a very old “Aunt Shoshana” in Israel who was the widow of one of his father’s brothers.  On another occasion he enthralled us with the tale that one of his uncles, unnamed at the time, was in China, which sounded very exotic when we first heard it as young kids. In my childhood fantasy I imagined that my father had a pigtailed Chinaman for an uncle! During the course of this research I learned that this was the same uncle Hirsch (Hermann) who had come from Königsberg to Berlin for Dad’s birthday in 1924. Much more recently the evidence of that journey has become available on the Web, via a Bremen passenger index, which provides more information about brother Hermann:

Herman Knisbacher

 in Web: Brem, Deutschland, Passagierlistenindex, 1907-1939

Name: Hermann Knisbacher
Geburts­jahr: ca. 1938
Geschlecht: Männlich
Wohnort: Königsberg
Jahr des Wohnortes: 1939
Datum der Abreise: 30. Mai 1939
Abreiseort: Bremen
Alter bei der Abreise: 03.04.1890
Zielort: Shanghai, China
Zivilstand: verheiratet
Nationalität: Staatenlos
Beruf: Kaufmann
Name des Schiffs:

Marburg

Schifffahrts­gesellschaft: Nordd. Lloyd, Bremen
Reiseklasse: Kajüte
Passagiernummer: 11
Archivnummer: AIII15-30.05.1939-3_N
Anmerkungen: geb. in Lysiec/Polen
URL:

It confirms what my father had told me, that Hermann was living in Königsberg and provides, as well, his date of birth, April 3, 1890, in Lysiec. Furthermore we learn that he was lucky enough to get out of Germany just in time (shortly before the start of WWII), headed for the safe haven of Shanghai. From the 1939 Shanghai business directory, on p. 76, in yet another valuable new source, the Genealogy Indexer, we even have the exact address for Hermann in that city, 43 Chusan, where he is listed as a merchant.

Aunt Shoshana’s letter, p. 1

So by 1997 I had learned a lot more about my paternal grandfather and now knew who my “Chinese” connection was. I then set my sights on the next order of business: locating Aunt Shoshana in Israel. She turned out to be the mother lode. During an overseas phone call with her, she provided an outline of almost the entire family. Although she was already in her 90s, she followed up with a typed letter, the first page of which I reproduce below (and then summarize in English).

Shoshana (née SCHREIER) was the widow of my father’s uncle Eliezer. The fifth paragraph of the letter above lists six of Eliezer’s siblings as follows: Frieda, Sarah, Tova, Shikl (aka Szykl,Yehoshua, Ossias), Hirsch, and Isak, my grandfather. Of course my father knew of Sarah from the picture he had of her that I reproduced above. Just this year I learned that he had left a brief listing of his father’s family with my brother back in 1995, but I had never seen it. Apparently my father knew all the names except for Tova. Interestingly, Shoshana left off Leib, who was on my brother’s list, but, as I discovered later, that was probably because he had been living in Berlin since 1922 and she must never have met him. We later learned that he and his wife had tried in vain to flee Germany and were later murdered in the Holocaust.

Shoshana’s family lived in Stanislawow but her father worked in Lysiec from Monday through Thursday, in a shoe leather factory that he owned, returning home only on Friday. He would regularly eat at the KNISBACHER restaurant (presumably an actual inn since father Berl’s occupation on Isak Moses’ marriage certificate was listed as “hotel keeper”). Shoshana tells the delightful story how, at age 16, she came to a party in Lysiec and Sarah KNISBACHER was so taken with her that she told Shoshana’s father she should marry Shikl (then 18) in two years, when Shoshana turned 18. But her father David SCHREIER became ill, closed his Lysiec factory, and contact with the KNISBACHERs was broken off.

Her actual husband-to-be, Eliezer, whom Sarah hadn’t mentioned, was in the Austrian army in WWI and then went to live with his brother Hirsch in Berlin. When he came back home for Passover in 1931, still a bachelor, his sister Sarah remembered Shoshana and sent someone to find out if she was still unmarried. Eliezer and Shoshana were engaged within the week and three weeks later, Aug. 2, 1931 were married. They moved to Königsberg and opened a restaurant. When Hitler came to power in 1933, they closed the restaurant and returned to Stanislawow and from there immigrated to Israel in 1935.

Here is the picture of the couple from their Polish passport, as shown on their immigration papers to Palestine, and a much later picture of Eliezer alone from the GENI website:

Shoshana and Eliezer KNISBACHER

From Shoshana’s letter, I had learned my first bit of information about my grandfather’s sister Sarah; she was the matchmaker for her brother Eliezer! But there was more to follow. My next break came from a trip to the National Archives in Washington, DC, also in the late 1990s. Toward the end of WWII, as the Red Army was pushing back the German invaders, a “Soviet Extraordinary Commission” was documenting the Nazi atrocities in the liberated areas. A difficult search of often hard to read microfilm turned up this report of a “KNIZBAKHER” family from Lysiec (only readable when you zoom in):

KNIZBAKHERs in Soviet atrocities reported

The entries in this list are written in Ukrainian. There is a bare minimum of information here, just the names and relationships, but it is enough to tell us something we would not otherwise have known. Starting on line 79 the people are:

79 Tsirlya         grandmother (stara matya in Ukrainian)

80 Simon         head

81 Sura            wife

82 Genka         daughter

83 Montzya     daughter  (very faded, name uncertain)

This was clearly one family, and part of my father’s family since Tsirl (or Cirl) was his grandmother, whom we saw on the earlier picture of Isak and Sarah with their parents. On the other hand, Simon here was new to me, possibly a KNISBACHER son that neither Dad nor Shoshana knew about. In fact Sura was Dad’s aunt Sarah. She was the KNISBACHER, not Simon, whose real surname, we would later find out, was GOLDSTEIN (from Yad Vashem pages of testimony filled out by a Meshullam GOLDSTEIN, as well as by uncle Eliezer). As happened so often in Galicia, the Jewish husband wound up taking his wife’s surname. So now we knew Sura’s husband’s name, that she had two children, and that they were still living with her mother at the time of Holocaust. Since Sura’s father Dov was not mentioned, we could surmise that he had passed away previously.

But in 2016 we learned even more about Sura and also about some of the other siblings whom Shoshana had written about. Hirsch’s granddaughter Atara in Israel was going through her mother Dina’s effects when she came across a trove of undated pictures. Apparently Uncle Hirsch had sent his twin daughters Dina and Frieda on at least one summer vacation from Königsberg back to Hirsch’s home town of Lysiec. The two girls were born in September, 1918. From their appearance in the photos below, we can probably date the pictures that include them to the mid 1930s. So now we have some pictures of these lost family members. Here is a picture of Hermann’s twin sisters Dina and Frieda with their first cousins, Aunt Sura’s daughters Henya (the older) and Bronya (the younger), listed in the Ukrainian page above as Genka and (a merely possible) Montzya.. (The Yiddish ‘h’ for Henya, a diminutive of Hannah, does not have an exact equivalent in Ukrainian and is often replaced with a ‘g’ sound, as it almost always is in Russian.)

Dina is on the left, her twin Frieda on the right. In between them are the older girl Henya, in the white blouse, and the younger girl,

Dina and Frieda KNISBACHER, Sarah and Henya GOLDSTEIN

Dina is on the left, her twin Frieda on the right. In between them are the older girl Henya, in the white blouse, and the younger girl, Bronya. And there is another picture, apparently taken at the same time and similarly posed:

Dina and Frieda are in the same relative positions as before, with Henya now on the right. The woman in the middle is presumably Henya and Bronya’s mother, my father’s Aunt Sura, thus a much later picture of her than the one my father had.

Shikl and Dov KNISBACHER

 

Remember Shoshana’s story that this same Sura had been taken with her and originally wanted her to marry brother Shikl when Shoshana turned 18? Well Dina and Frieda also brought back with them a picture of their uncle Shikl with his son Dov when the latter was very young.

Dov KNISBACHER

And here is a later picture of Dov alone, probably already in school:

From other information, we know that Dov was born in 1927. Presumably he was named for his grandfather, Dov BANNER, which corroborates our guess above that the elder Dov had passed away before the Holocaust.

GROCH Yad Vashem Page of Testimony

The next sister of my grandfather’s that Shoshana mentioned was Tova (married to a GROCH), In 1998, at about the same time I got in contact with Shoshana, I was sharing research with a friend in Israel. One of his findings was of a GROCH family on a page of testimony submitted by a KNISBACHER. Years later I found that page on the Web:

Yitzhak GROCH

Submitted by uncle Eliezer KNISBACHER, it lists a Yitzhak GROCH, his parents Natan and Toiva, with Yitzhak born in Horen, Czechoslovakia in the year 1914. Clearly Toibe was my father’s aunt Tova. From other later information, I now know that the birthplace of “Horen” was a misunderstanding of the second half of Teplitz-Türn, where Türn was a suburb of today’s Teplice, in the Czech Republic. Lysiec was in the line of fire at the outbreak of WWI, with Russian troops invading, so many Jews fled west to get away from the fighting. Of course Teplitz at the time was still Austria-Hungary, not Czechoslovakia, which only came into being after the war. Although Dina and Frieda did not have a picture of Tova, they did have two of their first cousin Yitzhak. Here is a picture of Yitzhak alone:

From notations on the back of the photo we know that he went by the nickname Izo (pronounced Eetso)

Frieda KNISBACHER and Yitzhak GROCH

And here is another of him with his first cousin, Hermann’s daughter Frieda:

Now the oldest sibling in my grandfather’s generation was his sister Frieda, whom my father would only meet when he arrived in the States in October, 1938, a few weeks before Kristallnacht. She had left Germany in 1907, before my father was born. Here is her arrival document:

Now the oldest sibling in my grandfather’s generation was his sister Frieda, whom my father would only meet when he arrived in the States in October, 1938, a few weeks before Kristallnacht. She had left Germany in 1907, before my father was born. Here is her arrival document:

A separate Ellis Island document shows her arriving with an infant son, also named Max, like my father.

To conclude, we now know at least a little bit about my Lysiec family, who they were and what some of them looked like, and in that limited way, can honor their memory!

 

 

 

Jeffrey (Yitzkhaq Moshe) KNISBACHER was born in 1941, Baltimore, Maryland of Galician descent on my father’s side and Ukrainian, on my mother’s. His education includes a BA from Johns Hopkins University, BHK from Baltimore Hebrew College, MA and PhD from Brown University.

He has worked at the IBM Research Center, University of Pittsburgh, and as a teacher and analyst for the US government. Jeffrey has published widely.

I recently re-read The Hare with the Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal and gave a wry chuckle when I read that one day, when de Waal is quite advanced in his family research, his father comes down to his studio to join him for lunch and produces a small white book from a supermarket bag. His father doesn’t know what the book is all about but feels his son should have it ‘for his archive’. In this album are beautiful pen-and-ink images of family members from 1878-1903 – a real family treasure.

De Waal remonstrates with his father asking him how he could possibly not know he had this and says: ‘What else have you got in the suitcase under your bed’?

We are all familiar with similar stories when vital family information is being kept by a family member, sometimes disappearing after the family member dies.

I recently had such an experience.

I was bitten by the genealogy bug almost 20 years ago and did much initial research and created family trees with all the information I had, but always knew there was a lot more to find out.

Having retired last year I decided to go back to my genealogical research and write up as much as possible for the next generations of my family.

I have extensive information about my mother’s side and am in contact with various second cousins from that side of my family. However, I know very little about my father’s family. My paternal grandfather died two years before I was born and, growing up, we didn’t see too much of my paternal grandmother, who hardly spoke English, and did not live near us.

All my four grandparents immigrated to England from Poland before WWI as well as both my grandfathers’ parents.

During WWII my extended family was evacuated out of London to a small country village in Surrey. The family remained there for some 5/6 years after the War, before moving back to London. However, my father’s oldest brother remained there, living in the family home with his widowed mother.

Recently I decided to concentrate on my paternal side and contacted two first cousins who I thought might be able to help. I am still waiting for one to reply, but the other one did – and this is what she said:

“I can only tell you that Uncle Joe and I had a ritual.  Every time I went to visit him he would get out some large old brown carrier bags, and in them were photographs of our whole family from many years before.  We would go through them every single time. He explained who everyone was, and their fate. The bags contained so many treasures of the past family from many many years before, from the countries they came from, how many of them ended up in France, how they were rounded up by the Germans and murdered.  There was one family in particular that was so beautiful; the woman was very heavily pregnant, and there was another young child in the family photo.  This whole family was wiped out in the war.  Murdered. We had quite a lot of family in France.  

Schneider Grandparents

Some time after Uncle Joe  died, I asked Uncle Haim (Joe’s brother) what happened to those bags.  He wasn’t sure what I was talking about, but he was not very good at passing anything on. A few years later after Ray, Joe’s wife, died and the house was being cleared, I asked Ray’s brother if he had come across them and he said they were long gone – his granddaughter had used them in a university project about past families.  My goodness, Ingrid, they would have been a huge help for what you are doing now.  There were loads of letters, documents and photos in those bags – information about our family’s past.” 

Family Schneider

Although Uncle Joe was the oldest of the five siblings, (my father was the youngest) he was the last to get married – around the age of 40 I think – and they did not have any children. So Ray obviously gave the bags to her niece without thinking that they should remain in our family!

You can imagine how I felt on receiving this email! Thanks to today’s technology and help from some genners in the UK, I did manage to trace this aunt’s family – but alas no one remembered those bags or using the contents for a university project.

I said to my cousin that I was sure our uncle showed her all this material as he meant her to have that family history after he passed away.

I know all this has been said before, but here is my message: if you are one of the older family members, make sure someone knows who is to ‘inherit’ your family photos, documents and genealogical material, including passwords etc., to your on-line trees.

And if you are one of the younger family members, ask all your ‘older’ relatives – parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins etc…what family photos and documents they might have hidden away and what is to be done with them “when the time comes”, as my mother used to say!

Oh – one more thing – make sure all the family photos have identification of the people on the back of the photo. When my mother passed away, my brothers and I divided all the photos in her possession. Not one had anything written on the back. Fortunately with the help of various cousins we have identified most of them.

NB – names changed to protect privacy

Ingrid Rockberger and her family came to live in Israel in 1981. Ingrid worked as Managing Editor and Publisher of an English-language magazine, and later as a ghost-writer for people’s memoirs and family histories, including some publications for Yad Vashem. Now in her ‘so-called’ retirement she is volunteer Editor of WIZO’s (Women’s International Zionist Organization) international magazine – WIZO REVIEW. Ingrid has been interested in genealogy for some 15 years as has done extensive research on various branches of her family – but still much to do. She has been Chair of the Raanana Genealogy group for 12 years.

Ingrid and her husband Michael live in Raanana, have three children and seven grandchildren.

 

Dr. Rapaport wrote, “I was searching for the origins of a known reputable Ashkenazi family, and I found them”.

About three years ago I was informed by my close friend, the late Mrs. Mathilde Tagger, about a book (written in Catalan) titled “Jewish Doctors in Majorca During the Middle Ages“. There on page 131, was a lawsuit lodged in 1345 by the court doctor ….”

 

To read the full article, please see 

Download (PDF, 487KB)

 

 

 

Dr. Chanan Rapaport, born in 1928, served as an officer in the underground of the Hagana during Israel’s War of Independence. When the war ended, he studied psychology and sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and thereafter continued his studies in the United States. Upon earning his degree as a Doctor of Clinical Psychology he completed a post doctorate in psychoanalysis, psychotherapy and research.

Dr. Rapaport returned home to Israel as Chairman and Chief Scientist of the “Henrietta Szold Institute” – the national institute for the research in behavioral sciences. He held that position from 1965 to 1982.

During those years Dr. Rapaport additionally was an advisor on social matters to two Prime Ministers: Golda Meir and Yitzhak Rabin. He served as the psychology advisor to the Minister of Education and Culture and the head of all research at the Ministry of Education and Culture. Since the passing of Dr. Paul Jacobi, the renowned genealogist, he has been faithful to his scientific legacy.

Today he is the director of the Center for the Study of the Rapaport Family and a member of the board of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy and Paul Jacobi Center of the National Library of Israel.

Sometime late last year I was alerted to or offered a new app for my Android Samsung Galaxy 3 cellphone called Old News USA. I downloaded it and promptly forgot about it. A week ago I happened to notice the icon for it, a US map seemingly covered in newsprint with the word “News” in the center, and decided to try it out with one of my family surnames where I knew that Aaron Samuel TISSENBAUM, my gggrandfather, had arrived in Baltimore in 1900 (June 16 on the Dresden and died in Baltimore on June 6, 1907, just under seven years later). To my surprise I got two hits, one for 1903 in Baltimore from a German language newspaper I had never heard of, Der Deutsche Correspondent. It turns out that this was an important paper in its day, published from 1841-1918, when anti-German feeling at the end of WWI doomed it. See, for instance, the Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Der_Deutsche_Correspondent. The second hit was from a 1921 issue of the New York Herald, with a mysterious notation at the bottom: “tissenbaum not found in OCR text”. Since I knew this TISSENBAUM could not be Aaron, I initially ignored that hit but will come back to it below since it relates to an even more important find, the Library of Congress (LoC) digitized newspaper collection “Chronicling America.”

When I clicked on the 1903 find, it brought up a dense eight-column page of Gothic newsprint, with perhaps 70 or 80 lines of text in each column and nothing to indicate where my TISSENBAUM find was. (In other searches conducted since then, the search item is highlighted in green.) On the small cell phone screen, the full page was unreadable so I tried zooming in, but was put off by a seemingly endless process of moving the zoom window around to find what I was looking for, and what was supposed to be there, without success. So I moved to Plan B: download the app on my computer with its much more manageable screen size. But that turned out to be a dud, too. The app has, apparently, only been written for Android cell phones and tablets! See: http://revgenea.com/ and http://revgenea.com/features/.

Having learned that Revgenea’s app was apparently not available for my HP PC, I then moved to Plan C: find another source for these old newspapers. The first one that came up was Newspapers.com and I did, indeed, find Der Deutsche Correspondent there: https://newspapers.com/title_4198/der_deutsche_correspondent/. This site has the issues arranged by year, but you cannot search all years simultaneously. No matter, I already knew that the year I wanted was 1903. Starting from 1841, newspapers.com then skipped various early years before seeming to cover most later years in sequence. But then another gotcha: as I scrolled down to 1900, I found that the next year listed was 1904—they didn’t have the 1903 issue that Revgenea had.

Frustrated, but determined not to give up, I then noticed something at the bottom of the Old News USA search screen that I had missed before when I was totally absorbed in searching for my gggfather. There was this notice: “This app makes it easy to find interesting articles in the Chronicling America collection of historic newspapers.” I had never heard of “Chronicling America” before, and had assumed that Old News had digitized this collection, wherever it originated, and made it available to the user. But lo and behold, not so! That collection was created and digitized through the auspices of the United States Library of Congress (LoC) which makes it freely available to anyone, including software developers, so long as they attribute the source. Of course Old News did not provide a link to the Library of Congress site because, as it turns out, it is perfectly possible to do all your searches directly from there. What Revgenea has done is merely to provide a front end to the LoC collection, albeit a very nice one, that makes it very easy to manage and save your searches. For the millions of users who mainly or exclusively use Android devices for their computing needs (especially if they have a larger screen tablet), Old News USA is a very acceptable solution, but not necessarily the final one as I will explain below.

The Chronicling America web site at: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/.  is both visually attractive and easy to use. At the top you have a search bar very similar to what Old News USA gives you, with a choice of viewing all states at one time or limiting your search to a particular one, and searching over the entire date range of 1789-1924 or limiting the time to any shorter period you choose. The bar below the search bar provides four more choices on the right: Print, Subscribe, Share/Save, Give Feedback. The first and last of these are self-explanatory. The Subscribe option allows you to be notified by email or RSS feed as new titles are added to the collection. The Share/Save option allows you to share your find via several of the most common social networking apps, or directly email it to someone, or save it to your Website or blog. On the left side of this bar is the current total of pages available–as of March 29, 2107: 11,790,560.

Most of the page below these two bars is devoted to showing large thumbnails of three pages from historic newspapers of exactly 100 years ago, which, of course, you can zoom in on to read at your leisure. A very nice touch! Other options at the left side of the screen lead you to more information about the collection. From some of these you learn that the site was created as a joint venture between the United States National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the LoC. Grants are applied for by state institutions to participate in the project: http://www.loc.gov/ndnp/awards/index.html  “In 2004, the NEH announced guidelines for annual cycles of two-year [National Digital Newspaper Program] NDNP awards to enhance the study of American history. These awards enable cultural heritage institutions to join the NDNP for the purpose of selecting, digitizing, and delivering to the LC approximately 100,000 newspaper pages per award. Following a competitive application process, the NEH made its first awards in 2005. No awards were issued in 2006. The application process resumed in 2007, and since that time the NEH has annually solicited proposals for both initial awards to new institutions as well as continuing awards to returning partners.”

The institution that provided the digitizing of the early Maryland newspapers that appeared in my search was the University of Maryland at College Park. Considered a state partner of the NEH, it received a new grant in 2016. Currently 43 states and one territory are represented with the goal being to have early newspapers from all 50 states. There are now over 2,000 newspapers in the collection, and the digitization project is to be expanded to cover newspapers from 1690-1963.

Back to Aaron TISSENBAUM. It turns out that he was one of five incorporators of the Baltimore Hebrew Colonial Association, that was later supported by Baron de Hirsch. This was one of several attempts to set up Jewish agricultural colonies in the U.S.  See the Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_Colonization_Association. The Jewish name for the Baltimore colony was “Ya’azor Town” (from the Hebrew ya’azor ‘God will help’), but at the time it was colloquially referred to as “Jew Town” and lasted up until the early 1940s. See the Baltimore Sun article from 2008: http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2008-03-30/news/0803300241_1_commune-colonial-society-shtetl. Until this find, we knew very little about Aaron apart from the story that he had once passed a child out the window of a building to safety during the great Baltimore fire of 1904 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Baltimore_Fire) and that he had a dairy farm in Ya’azor Town with a horse named Daisy.

My initial find of this information was via the Android-only app Old News USA. For me its most useful feature was a .pdf download option, the fourth of five options at the right of the search bar. If you open the .pdf file in Microsoft’s Edge browser you can select text for copying and pasting just as you would in a word processor document. For my document, where the original was in the old Gothic German script, the pasting of the relevant text into my word processor (Libre Office Writer) came with a surprise: the pasted text came out in a Roman script, Liberation Serif. Here is the way MS Edge transcribed the selection along with my translation of it:

Die ”Hebrew Colonial Association” wurde ohne Aktienkapital von Harry Weinstein, Abraham Weinstein, Max Weinstein, Tobias Goodman u. Aaron Tissenbaum incorporirt.

Translation: “The Hebrew Colonial Association was incorporated without share capital by Harry Weinstein, Abraham Weinstein, Max Weinstein, Tobias Goodman and Aaron Tissenbaum.”

I will not go into further detail of the Android app since the Chronicling America site also provides the .pdf option for viewing or saving, as well as a large .jp2 format. Furthermore it provides a highlighting of the search term, where, in this case, at least, Old News USA did not. That highlighting also made it easy to find the second hit for TISSENBAUM, the one I mentioned at the beginning with the mysterious notation: “tissenbaum not found in OCR text.”  And here on the LoC site was additional information that would explain the comment. In addition to the .pdf and .jp2 formats, the LoC site also has a Text option, based on Optical Character Recognition (OCR). OCR is a technique for recognizing and discriminating the individual characters or words in a photographed or scanned image of text, so that the text can be searched by computer. In the second hit that I first got for “TISSENBAUM,”  from the New York Herald of October 3, 1921, p. 18, in the first column under Miscellaneous Leases was this text (obtained by OCR, but only provided on the Chronicling America site):

  1. M. Hirsch & Co. leased floors as
    follows:’ For Cross & Brown in 38-42 |
    Fast Twenty-ninth street to Cohn &
    Holt, in 32 Kast Thlrty-tirst street to
    the Smart Set Dress Company, in 144
    West Twenty-seventh street to Haus- j
    man & Brickman, in 44-50 tCast Thirty- j
    second street to Semmel, Bash & Tissenbaum.

I know of a whole family of NewYork TISSENBAUMs who are distant cousins. But from the last name alone in the item above there is no way to tell which specific person is referred to. Possibly the only way to find out (unless someone alive today remembers that company name) would be to search New York incorporation records. In any case this is not a major preoccupation for me, but this citation provides the explanation for the OCR comment on the Old News hit for the same item.

OCR is rarely perfect depending on the size and condition of the original image, spelling variations, punctuation marks, the discriminatory power of the software, etc. In the text above several errors are immediately obvious. In the third line “Fast” should be “East”, with E and F being hard to discriminate. Similarly in the next line “Kast” should be “East” and “Thirty-tirst” is likely “Thirty-first”. It would also appear that there were seven (7) previous Leases discussed under the Miscellaneous Leases heading on the page. But when I checked the original image, there was no numbering of the various leases listed. Most likely the number “8” here at the beginning of the citation is a misreading of a capital S, so that the leasing firm was S.M. Hirsch & Co. As shown above TISSENBAUM is correctly identified, but when I checked the original page image, the search term was hyphenated and spread over two lines: ”Tis-senbaum”. The OCR search algorithm used by Old News could not make the connection; apparently the LoC software used a stronger algorithm that could!

The bottom line here is that the Chronicling America collection of digitized early American newspapers is a valuable new resource. If you have ancestors who were in the United States between 1789 and 1924, it is definitely worth looking into. But even if you use the user-friendly and intuitive Old News USA interface to access it, be sure to go back and check with the LoC website so that nothing is missed.

The original .pdf page from Friday, May 22, 1903 of Der Deutsche Correspondent is shown below.

 

 

 

Jeffrey (Yitzkhaq Moshe) KNISBACHER was born in 1941, Baltimore, Maryland of Galician descent on his father’s side and Ukrainian, on my mother’s. His education includes a BA from Johns Hopkins University, BHL from Baltimore Hebrew College, MA and PhD from Brown University.

He has worked at the IBM Research Center, University of Pittsburgh, and as a teacher and analyst for the US government. Jeffrey has published widely.