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Allegheny County Liquor Records Admin

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 Incomplete

Allegheny County Tax Records Admin

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 Incomplete

HHC Cash Book, 1902-1916 Admin

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 Incomplete

HHC Ledgers of Individual Accounts Admin

Example record. Click to enlarge.

Description

This series of books contains entries for everyone who was a member of the synagogue. 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 (and then accounting records of a different format track the synagogue's members through 1969).

In the first book covering 1909-1914, the first line of each person's entry says "Balance Brought Forward"… presumably from an earlier book that does not survive. :-(

Location of original records

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

  • 1909-1914: Box 1
  • 1914-1921: Box 1
  • 1921-1928: Box 1

What is posted here

1909-1928

490 records Synagogue records Incomplete

HHC Officers Admin

Description

This data lists every man who had an elected position in 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.

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. They are 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 1978, when the congregation ceased formal operations.

What is posted here

1894-1919

163 records Synagogue records Incomplete

HHC Seat Book, 1901-1914 Admin

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

Homestead Directories Admin

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

2,388 records Directory records Incomplete

Miscellaneous Records Admin

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, book excerpts, and one-off synagogue records that did not fit elsewhere.

31 records Uncategorized records Incomplete

Newspaper Articles Admin

Description

This repository primarily consists of 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. Fortunately your intrepid researcher has gone through and extracted the articles of interest from 1881-1925. The main Homestead Hebrews website has them organized by date up through 1920.

The Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project has the full run of Pittsburgh's Jewish newspapers. Your intrepid researcher has reviewed them all for mentions of Homestead.

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 and Pittsburgh Jewish newspapers through 1910

2,133 records Newspaper records Incomplete

R.G. Dun & Co. Merchant Ratings Admin

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 1904-1912 (so don't be fooled by gaps in the records on a person's page)

2,055 records Directory records Incomplete