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Allegheny County Liquor Records

Description

This set includes three sets of liquor license records:

Location of original records

These are in the Pennsylvania State Archives in Harrisburg. The online finding aids are hyperlinked.

What is posted here

Everything I found for liquor licenses and applications (though for the latter, what survives is very scant).

20 records County records In progress

Allegheny County Tax Records

Example record. Click to enlarge.

Description

Homestead tax records survive for the years 1883-1885, 1887, 1890, 1892-1900, and then every 5 years thereafter through 1935. I reviewed the run selectively through 1935, though the 1930 volumes were out for conservation and therefore not obtainable when I did this research. I did not review the other relevant boroughs (Munhall, West Homestead, Hays, &c.).

County taxes during this period appear to be based on profession and property ownership, making this collection useful for tracking only some aspects of wealth accumulation.* It is certainly a much easier way to track real estate activity than researching at the county deeds office.

* For reference, the federal income tax was introduced in 1913.

Location of original records

Pennsylvania State Archives in Harrisburg, PA and University of Pittsburgh Archives.

What is posted here

Homestead Ward 2, 1893-1910

168 records County records In progress

HHC Cash Book, 1902-1916

Description

This book lists all the income and expenses of the congregation from 1902 (when they began to use their synagogue building) and 1916 (when the book ran out of pages). These entries come only from the half of the book tabulating the shul's income. Through these entries, we can trace how the membership grew (including exactly when individuals joined), as well as how the overall Jewish community grew (through annual High Holiday ticket sales, which drew a much larger crowd than just members).

For context: Joining the shul required paying a proposal fee, initiation fee, and dues. These costs were beyond the reach of most new immigrants, who typically did not join when they arrived in the community. Single men also largely did not join until after they were married. I suspect there were many regular shul-goers who were not members.

This ledger book is the first of a series, but I have not transcribed the others, because after 1909 the shul's surviving record books include volumes organized by person, which require far less time to review to trace the comings and goings of individual members.

Location of original records

Box 4, Folder 4 in MSS #107 at the Rauh Jewish Archives.

What is posted here

~85% of the ~4,500 entries

3,786 records Synagogue records In progress

HHC Hebrew School Records, 1955-1967

Description

Individual cards per student indicate which years the student attended Hebrew school and how s/he performed. The cards often have some detail about the student's family.

Separately, students who were confirmed are tagged as such. This list, which spans 1914-1967 with many gaps, is incredibly scattershot, cobbled together from confirmation programs in Box 16, Folder 2 and newspapers articles.

Location of original records

Rauh Jewish Archives, MSS #107, Box 16

What is posted here

While all the cards are indexed here, the original cards have more detail than I've transcribed or posted here.

67 records Synagogue records Complete

HHC Ledger (plus notes), 1947-1969

Description

In December 1947 the synagogue switched to a very different kind of bookkeeping than it had used heretofore. Instead of maintaining a duplicate set of ledgers -- one with pages for individual members, the other with running totals of all income and expenses -- it consolidated into one giant (literally!) ledger with multiple lists per year of charges to members for things like dues, holidays, seats, donations, and Hebrew school.

It seems that this new methodology involved pre-assembling the lists on notebook paper and then copying them into the big ledger book. It appears that for some years only some of the lists were copied over, or none at all, so this set of records is taken from both the ledger book and the notebook paper.

Location of original records

The ledger book is part of MSS #107 at the Rauh Jewish Archives, but because it's such a large book, it's on the shelf. The notebook paper lists are in Box 6, Folders 1-4.

What is posted here

One member list per year, 1947-1969.

(Note: Due to the ~5 year gap between the previous set of records and these, because these records have just names with no identifying details or account status notes, because so many people even within this small community had the same names, and most especially because the late date puts us out to sea with no censuses or city directories to anchor us, it is extremely difficult to identify many of these people with confidence.)

2,827 records Synagogue records In progress

HHC Ledgers of Individual Accounts, 1909-1943

Example record. Click to enlarge.

Description

This series of books contains entries for everyone who was a member of the synagogue, and select records for payments of non-members. For members the entries span one to three pages and include all financial transactions and payments. The information I've transcribed is a summary of much more detailed records. Ledgers of this format run through 1943. (Accounting records of a different format track the synagogue's members through 1969).

Location of original records

All are in MSS #107 at the Rauh Jewish Archives.

  • 1909-1914: Box 1 (In this book, the first line of each person's entry says "Balance Brought Forward"… presumably from an earlier book that does not survive. :-( )
  • 1914-1921: Box 1
  • 1921-1928: Box 1
  • 1928-1934: Box 2
  • 1934-1943: Box 2

What is posted here

1909-1943, members only

866 records Synagogue records In progress

HHC Miscellaneous Records

Description

Miscellaneous synagogue records that did not fit elsewhere. Sources indicated with each record.

12 records Synagogue records In progress

HHC Officers

Description

A list of every person who had an elected position in the congregation or sisterhood.

For the congregation, elections were held more frequently in the early years, but were annual for most of the congregation's history. A couple shifts happened over time: in 1924 they re-organized to form a Board of Directors, and in 1934 they shifted the calendar year from September-August (to correspond with the Jewish holidays) to January-December.

The sisterhood appears to have held elections annually at the beginning of the year, though far fewer records survive to document their procedures.

Disagreements between the different sources are indicated informally using parentheses or notes.

Location of original records

This data comes mostly from the synagogue records in the Rauh Jewish Archives.

The congregational data is assembled primarily from the Box 9, Folder 6 "analog spreadsheet"; the chronologies in Box 4, Folder 1, pp. 158- and Box 4, Folder 2, pp. 67+; and meeting minutes. In a few cases in the 50s when none of the above is available, event programs filled in some gaps. The complete list runs through early 1978, when the traditional officers + board structure was replaced by a management committee comprised of active men and women. Other than the initial list of members, no records exist to trace this group.

Currently the sisterhood data is assembled solely from the one ledger that survives in Box 9, Folder 7.

What is posted here

Congregation: 1894-1978; Sisterhood: 1945-1956

Future work: Some sisterhood gaps can be filled in from newspaper articles and congregational meeting minutes, but I haven't done this work yet. The same may be true for some of the congregational gaps. Both groups had committees whose members needs to be added here. The Chevra Kadisha officers also ought to be added here for completeness.

915 records Synagogue records In progress

HHC Seat Book, 1901-1914

Example record. Click to enlarge.

Description

This ledger book organizes seat-related transactions in the first synagogue—when people bought and sold seats, how much they paid and when, and even seat trading amongst members. Not all members owned seats, due to the cost, so the date of purchase may indicate when the purchaser attained a level of economic stability. The date of sale is often correlated with when the seller left Homestead. The information provided here is only a summary of what appears in the actual ledger book.

Interestingly, it is the only such book that survives, though seat-related transactions continued for most of the rest of the synagogue's history. Other than this period, it is extremely difficult to figure out who owned seats and when.

Location of original records

MSS #107, Box 2. Page numbers indicted in each record.

72 records Synagogue records Complete

HHC War Honor Rolls

Description

The Jewish organizations of Homestead created three plaques to honor the boys from their community who saw service during WWI and WWII and erected a monument in their cemetery to those boys who died fighting.

  • Homestead Jewish Soldiers and Sailors Welfare League (for WWI): Dedicated September 21, 1919
  • Young Men's Hebrew Association of Homestead (for WWI): Dedicated February 22, 1920
  • WWII Honor Roll: Dedicated April 4, 1948
  • War Memorial in cemetery: Dedicated May 30, 1956

Location of original records

Today all the plaques are located in the Homestead Hebrew Chapel in Congregation Beth Shalom in Pittsburgh; pictures online here. The War Memorial remains at the front of the cemetery; pictures online here.

What is posted here

Names of boys who served in WWI and WWII, taken from the synagogue's three honor roll plaques (currently located in Beth Shalom) and war memorial in the cemetery.

224 records Synagogue records Complete

HHC Yahrzeit Plaques

Description

It is a Jewish tradition to commemorate the passing of loved ones on a dedicated memorial wall in the synagogue, often within the sanctuary itself, with nameplates inscribed with the English and Hebrew names and death dates of the departed. Beside each plaque is a memorial light, which is lit annually on the person's yahrzeit (anniversary of his death) and on occasions when yizkor (the memorial service) is recited.

The Homestead synagogue maintained yahrzeit plaques starting in 1943—49 years after the congregation was founded. Some plaques pre-date this year, including for loved ones who never set foot in America, but most are for members of the community who died after 1943.

Prior the yahrzeit plaques, a marble table was maintained in the ohel at the cemetery. Names of loved ones were periodically inscribed; the last one was added in the early 60s.

Location of original records

Today all the plaques are located in the Homestead Hebrew Chapel in Congregation Beth Shalom in Pittsburgh; pictures online here. The marble tablet in the ohel is visible here.

What is posted here

Plaques continue to be added; two were added in spring 2018 for people who passed in 2017.

303 records Synagogue records Complete

Homestead Directories

Description

From 1890 to 1945 Homestead published city directories every 1-6 years (most often every 2-3). For the earliest years of the community, they are about the only record to document residents of the town since the 1890 census was destroyed in a fire, and the 1900 census was badly done. That said, even these early city directories knowingly excluded foreign residents. In later years the directories list more people than the census, and they also provide much insight into the town's businesses and businessmen.

Location of original records

All the Homestead city directories 1890-1945 are fully searchable online at DonsList.net.

What is posted here

1890-1918

2,404 records Directory records In progress

Miscellaneous Records

Description

Miscellaneous records from various sources (indicated with each record). They include:

  • Genealogical records like marriage returns and naturalizations that are not online
  • General archival material like orphanage records and court records
  • Event programs from the Carnegie Library Music Hall, and
  • Book excerpts that did not fit elsewhere

37 records Uncategorized records In progress

Newspaper Articles

Description

This collection comprises three sets of newspaper articles:

  • The Homestead town newspaper: The coverage of Homestead's Jewish community in the town's paper ebbs and flows over time. When the town was smaller, more individual members' personal and professional happens received greater coverage than in later periods when the paper lost its folksy edge. In all periods, the more established people—store-keepers, property owners, society officers, &c.—received much more coverage those who were of a more humble station—unless, of course, something sensational happened.
  • The Pittsburgh Jewish newspapers: Coverage of the Homestead Jewish community begins with the dedication of the first shul in 1902 and grows especially in the 1910s when the paper made a special point of covering the small towns in Western PA.
  • Various Pittsburgh newspapers

Location of original records

  • All of the Homestead newspapers from 1881-1970s are available on microfilm in the main Carnegie Library branch in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh and other places. (More details here.) This microfilm has not been digitized, let alone indexed, so it is not searchable.
  • The Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project has the full run of Pittsburgh's Jewish newspapers, which include the Criterion, American Jewish Outlook, Y- & JCC-sponsored newsletters, and the Chronicle.
  • The Post-Gazette archive of historical Pittsburgh papers has the full run of these papers. I have not reviewed them in any systematic way; only a small number of these articles are posted here.

What is posted here

  • Homestead newspapers through 1910 (all articles concerning Jewish residents or the Jewish community). The main Homestead Hebrews website has them organized by date through 1920.
  • Pittsburgh Jewish newspapers through 1941 (all articles mentioning Homestead, Munhall, West Homestead, Homeville, Lincoln Place, Whitaker, West Mifflin, or Mifflin Township (Hays ought to be included here, but it's not practical to search such a common name). Please note that this limited search means there are many more relevant articles not included in this database—residents of these places are not always listed with their town, and Homesteaders who move to Pittsburgh and disaffiliate with Homestead institutions then disappear from this collection, though they still appear in the paper.

5,274 records Newspaper records In progress

Oral Histories

Description

In the 1960s-1980s, the Pittsburgh Section of the National Council of Jewish Women undertook an expansive oral history project covering hundreds of individuals. I selected for this database 7 interviews that mentioned Homestead. (Full transcriptions are not available, so potentially there are more relevant records, and I excluded a couple oral histories whose mentions of Homestead weren't significant.)

In 1993-4 after the Homestead synagogue closed, the last members of the congregation helped the Rauh Jewish Archives take oral histories of 29 surviving members of the congregation. I added an additional oral history taken in 2013 of a longtime Homestead merchant.

Location of original records

The oral histories are housed either at the Heinz History Center or the University of Pittsburgh Archive Service Center. Most are online here or here.

37 records Uncategorized records Complete

R.G. Dun & Co. Merchant Ratings

Example record. Click to enlarge.

Description

The R.G. Dun & Co. Merchants Ratings are a little-known collection of records listing the merchants in every town in the United States, no matter how large or small, along with the nature and credit-worthiness of their businesses. Published quarterly, they provide extremely granular data for the comings and goings and advancement of the Jewish merchants of Homestead, who comprised a large percentage of the overage Jewish community. More about these records here.

Consulting these records is tricky, not only because they are in Washington, DC, and not only because navigating the Library of Congress' reservation system is (surprise!) complicated, but also because there are many gaps in what survives and the fragile condition of some books has made them off-limits. So far for this project, I have looked at books from 1880-1887 (though much of 1885 is missing). Books also survive for 1888-1890 and 1899-1900, though I have not reviewed them (and may never be permitted to do so). For the period of 1900-1904 and 1908-1914, I viewed the books on microfilm (yes, there is another gap in what survives). I have not attempted to look beyond 1914, though the microfilm continues for many more years.

Location of original records

The Library of Congress has a mix of physical books and microfilm. Consult this finding aid for more information.

What is posted here

1880-1887, 1900-1904 and 1908-1912 (so don't be fooled by gaps in the records on a person's page)

2,055 records Directory records In progress