Browse Exhibits (15 total)
Anna Lavin came with her family from Russia to Philadelphia in 1896 aboard the S.S. Pennland and landed in the immigration station at the foot of Washington Avenue. It was South Philadelphia where her family settled and where Lavin started to work at the age of twelve. In a life of struggle and poverty, Lavin worked for 53 years in the garment industry.
Armand DiStefano (1912-1987), the son of Italian immigrants, grew up in a small row house in South Philadelphia. There his father instilled in him the value of hard work and a love of opera. In his 1984 interview, DiStefano shared the story of how his father opened a record stop in 1917 and then converted it to a restaurant during the Great Depression. Today, The Victor Cafe still operates at 1303 Dickinson Street, and the wait staff still sings opera to dining patrons.
Born in Austria, Bertha (Sanford) Gruenberg (1888-1987) moved with her family to Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1893 and then to Philadelphia in 1910. There, she and her husband volunteered at two settlement houses, joined the Philadelphia Ethical Society, and became involved in the women's suffrage movement. In her 1982 interview, Gruenberg shared her observations of Philadelphians, both rich and poor, and told about her participation in the suffrage movement and how in 1916 she helped stage the first Women’s Birth Control League meeting in Philadelphia.
Catherine Ehrmann came with her family from Hungary to Philadelphia in 1904, when she was two years old. She grew up right around the corner from the Stetson Hat Company in the Kensington neighborhood. In 1916, at the age of 14, she began to work at Stetson, and stopped working there when she married at the age of 21. In her July 1982 interview Ehrmann talked about her time as a Stetson employee and how she married against her Old World father's wishes.
David Kaplan (born c. 1889) was born in a Russian village to a Jewish family. With his father in America, Kaplan had to work as a child to support his family. Fearing military conscription he fled Russia in 1911 and immigrated to Philadelphia. In 1946, after decades of financial struggle. Kaplan found a steady job in the clothing industry and retired with a pension at the age of 77.
Dennis Clark (1927-1993) grew up in the Kensington neighborhood of north Philadelphia during the Great Depression. A glazer by profession, Clark's father could rarely find employment during the 1930s, so the family struggled to afford rent or food and moved from one row house to the next to avoid the rent collector. Clark went on to get his doctorate in history at Temple University and to write histories of the Irish in Philadelphia. In his two 1982 interviews, Clark shared memories of his childhood in an Irish community and a history of Kensington's shops and mills.
Gilda Cemi Cetrullo (b. 1903) was 17 when she left Abruzzi, Italy, to join her parents in Philadelphia. In her 1982 interview Cetrullo talked about her life in Italy and the United States, including her long separation from her family, her first impressions of Philadelphia, her education and work experiences, life as an illegal immigrant in the U.S., and raising a family.
Charles Hardy, then a producer at WHYY, in 1982 wrote and produced I Remember When: Times Gone But Not Forgotten, a series of 13, 30-38 minute radio documentaries broadcast on WHYY-FM, Public Radio in Philadelphia. The series, drawing on interviews Hardy and a team of interviewers conducted with aging Philadelphians, explored the history of Philadelphia during its industrial heyday through the memories of those who had lived through it. The programs documented work experiences, family and neighborhood life, the life experiences of immigrants and industrial workers, city politics, the Influenza pandemic of 1918, courtship and romance, and city culture.
At the end of World War I, an especially deadly strain of influenza swept across the United States and the world, taking tens of millions of lives. Within weeks of its arrival in Philadelphia, the city's hospitals and mortuaries were overrun with the sick and the dead. Influenza claimed the lives of 675,000 Americans, including 12,200 in Philadelphia, which experienced the greatest losses of any American city.
John "Herb" Rudolph (b. 1901), worked at the Stetson factory in North Philadelphia for forty-nine years. In his 1982 oral history interview Rudolph provided a first-hand account of the changing nature of factory work and of the American hat industry from his hiring in 1917 to his last day in 1966.