This post is by Christine Calvo, AHMC Cataloger.
The American Historical Manuscript Collection (AHMC) includes a folder of material from Lillian Jaffe Salt’s days at the Hebrew Technical School for Girls during the first half of the twentieth century. Lillian (originally Leiba) Jaffe Salt was born in 1905 near Glasmonka, Russia, and originally a citizen of Latvia. Her folder includes a school handbook and some of her classroom assignments.
The Hebrew Technical School for Girls, originally located on 2nd Avenue at East 15th Street in Manhattan, was established in 1880 to increase the employment opportunities of immigrant Jewish girls through courses in stenography, typewriting, and penmanship. The handbook Lillian saved outlines the school’s missions or “desires”: “Regularity of Attendance,” “Promptitude of Attendance,” “Conduct in School” “Tidiness,” Course of Studies” and “Character Building.”
The handbook also extols the vocational successes of the school’s alumni: “. . . in May, 1919, 2,786 of its Graduates were at work in good positions in vocations learned at the School and in which they were then earning an aggregate of $2,419, 976 per annum, –an average of $839.45 per annum.”
The school also held high aspirations for its students’ character. A mural in the auditorium (below) painted by Frederick L. Stoddard reflected these standards:
. . . on the left representing the domestic virtues; that on the right, the intellectual. The first group on the left represents Helpfulness to the Aged–one young woman guides an aged woman across the stepping stones; a second maiden bears a small vessel containing food for the family group.
The mural includes images of Charity, Purity of Thought, Mother Love, Family Unity painted in the presence of History, Literature, Science, Mathematics, Geography, Natural History, Music and Painting.
Cataloging of the American Historical Manuscript Collection (AHMC), a group of 12,000 small and unique manuscript collections, is made possible by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the Peck Stacpoole Foundation, and the Pine Tree Foundation of New York.