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How We Worked


From Eastern Europe to North America, South America, Palestine and elsewhere in the world, our ancestors worked at many different jobs, hoping to earn enough money to support themselves and their families. Many in nineteenth and early twentieth century Eastern Europe worked hard so that they could save enough money to pay for a steamship ticket that would send one or more family members to a new country, to start a new life. There, this cycle would continue, in order that other family members might join them.

In truth, there are a myriad of reasons why our ancestors worked. No matter what level of education they had, no matter what their socioeconomic class, life could be very difficult at times, considering that for many in Eastern Europe educational and job opportunities were not always fully accessible to the Jewish population. Unfortunately, this was not just true in Eastern Europe, but elsewhere as well.

Our family members spent a good deal of their lives working and sacrificing so they and the other members of their  family could enjoy a good life. Though they did spend so much time at work, we often lack photographs of them in their workplace. In the early years, it could certainly be because not as many people owned cameras or did not think of taking  such photographs. Whatever the case, these photographs are important images, especially when we discuss our family history, as they snapshots in time that give us an glimpse into our family member's "other" identity, i.e. other than a father, mother, husband or wife. Hopefully these photographs will remind us of the struggle that many of our "breadwinners" had to endure for so many years, so that their families and descendants could enjoy a better life with greater  opportunities than they had, and we must be very thankful to them and grateful for their love and strong worth ethic.

Below are listings for such photos that exist with the archives of this virtual museum. Hopefully, more will be added over time. They are separated by geography, i.e. where the photographs were taken, and are dated, just so the viewer can get some sort of historical perspective.

Austria-Vienna: Adolph Kopekin, Uhrmacher (c.1886-1904)
Belarus-Kurenets: The Pharmacist (c. 1930)
Belarus-Lida: The Pottery Shop (bef 1939)
Belarus-Lida: The Water Carriers (bef 1939)
Belarus-Vileyka: Sarah the Baker
Germany-Berlin: The Men's Clothing Story and Factory (bef 1933)
Lithuania-Krakes: The Jewish Fire Department (bef 1939)
Lithuania-Lozdzieje: The Hospital in Lozdzieje
Poland-Bialystok: The Shoe Workshop of I. Baran
Poland-Bocki: Fireman's Identity Card (c. 1920)
Poland-Bocki: The Four Seamstresses (c. 1928)
Poland-Lodz: The Silberstein Beauty and Barber Shop (c. 1925-1932)
Poland-Mielnica: The Tailor Shop (c. 1905)
Poland-Nasielsk: Boyes Szejnbaum, Coachman (c. late 1800s)
Poland-Ozarow: Hersh-El'ye the Mason (1936)
Poland-Ozarow: The Sekwestrator
Poland-Ozarow: The Ritual Slaughterers (The Schochets)
Poland-Rutki: The Sewing Project
Poland-Zambrow: The Apple Orchard
Ukraine-Odessa: The Tobacconists (bef 1890)


Quebec-Montreal: The Licensed Wine and Spirit Store (c. 1912-1915)

United States:

Connecticut-Colchester: Plowing the Fields (c. 1900)
Illinois-Chicago: Adolph Kopekin, Watchmaker & Jeweler (c. 1884-1886)
New York-New York City: Lower East Side Sweatshop (c. 1910)
New York-New York City: Lower East Side Hat Factory (c. 1915)
New York-New York City: The Census Taker (1940)
Pennsylvania-Philadelphia; Sam Rosenthal, Woolens Salesman (1930s)

Newspaper Articles:

Will They Make Farmers? Russian Jews Trying a New Occupation in New Jersey (The Sun, Aug. 17, 1890).

Secret to the Jews' Success in Trade (New-York Daily Tribune, Dec. 16, 1906).






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