Browse Exhibits (12 total)

Armand DiStefano

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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.

Bertha Gruenberg


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. 

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Catherine Ehrmann


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.

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David Kaplan


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


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. 

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Gilda Cetrullo


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.

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Influenza Pandemic of 1918

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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

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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. 

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John Calpin


When he graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1925, John Calpin (1904-1991) became a police reporter for The Philadelphia Bulletin. There, he witnessed first hand the impact of Prohibition on the city of Philadelphia and the vast power of the Republican City Machine. In the decades that followed, Calpin would go on to become a newspaper bureau chief and civic reformer.

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John Flynn (Pseudonym)

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Born in the tough Irish-American neighborhood of Grays Ferry, John Flynn learned how to fight at a young age, started to work full time at the age of 14, and soon was part of a gang that hung out in Philadelphia's infamous Tenderloin District on the north side of Center City. During the labor wars of the Great Depression, Flynn was a union organizer for Teamsters Local 107 and worked as a longshoreman, circular distributor, and in other jobs.