[Family Album of the “Kaplan Klan”].
[Family Album of the “Kaplan Klan”].
[Family Album of the “Kaplan Klan”].
[Family Album of the “Kaplan Klan”].
[Family Album of the “Kaplan Klan”].
[Family Album of the “Kaplan Klan”].
[Family Album of the “Kaplan Klan”].
[Family Album of the “Kaplan Klan”].
[Family Album of the “Kaplan Klan”].
[Family Album of the “Kaplan Klan”].
[Family Album of the “Kaplan Klan”].
[Family Album of the “Kaplan Klan”].
[Family Album of the “Kaplan Klan”].
[Family Album of the “Kaplan Klan”].
[Family Album of the “Kaplan Klan”].

[Family Album of the “Kaplan Klan”].

Brooklyn, New York: [1907]–1943. 4to, black leather over boards, cord tie at spine, paper labels on covers. 262 photographs, with miscellaneous clippings, postcards, and other printed materials.

A lively and diverse album documenting Jewish-American life in New York before and in the early years of World War II.

This album richly captures more than a decade of life for the “Kaplan Klan,” a Brooklyn-based Jewish family, from the 1920s into the early ‘40s. The captions are spirited, funny, and often quite in-depth. Early images are mainly family and individual portraits, although one photograph shows “Mudyer” and “Little Auntie Anna” among their colleagues at The Atlas Portland Cement company in New York City (this company produced a common cement variety and supplied production at the Panama Canal). After a series of portraits over several years of one man—probably the album’s compiler—we follow the family on a patriotic tour of Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Evidently they stayed at the “Cairo Hotel, Tallest and Coolest Hotel in Washington,” while visiting the Capitol, the National Mall, Mount Vernon, Roger B. Taney’s wine cellar “where Dred Scot decision was written,” and other places of historical interest. Views of the sights are accompanied by detailed notes on their significance, either historical or personal. At Arlington National Cemetery, for example, they glimpse a “Funeral Cortege…we saw entire service, Picture Taking Prohibited But I had taken this before I knew about it.”

The album’s author evidently finds women rather captivating, and frequently seems to believe—if only facetiously—that the fascination is mutual. In August 1935, for example, the family takes a sunny vacation to “Sunrise Lake N. J.” where one photo shows “The 8 Living Spinsters of Bungalow 15, startled beyond words at the sight of a man (yes – me) Look at them stretching their necks for the pleasure of one good look at a man...” He spends a week in Beth El Hospital, where he takes pictures of all the pretty nurses (including “Miss Fox, The very best reason for my not minding the slight loss of anatomy, and you should see her in person”), before going on more vacations with his family to various woodland and lake-side locations, including outings to Coney Island where, in the margin next to its photo, he tracks and calculates quite meticulously the operating costs of a house. A photograph of a picnic at Hempstead State Park, a wayside stop off Southern State Parkway, is captioned: “’Luxion’ to the right of us ‘Luxion’ to the left of us Sweet essence of olive oil all over-us Spaghetti & Italian cheese golore [sic] That explains Ted’s Bore And why I almost went nuts.” (“Luxion” being presumably the author’s dubious spelling of “Lokshen,” or “noodles” in Yiddish). He apparently had some sort of interest in coal mining, and devotes several pages to clippings and notes that explain a mine he visited.

Of particular interest in the album is a large representation of photographs devoted to a Jewish Boy Scouts camp—part of the Ten Mile Island camp—which “Howard” attended for several summers around 1938. One nearly full page clipping showing a sea of earnest faces (with some names written in) as boys performed a song, “Am I an American?…Im [sic] just an Irish, Negro, Jewish, Italian, French and English, Spanish Russian, Chinese, Polish, Scotch, Hungarian, Litvak, Swedish, Finnish Canadian, Greek and Turk and Czech and double Czech American…and that ain’t all!” which, after a third performance in August [1941?], made its way to Life magazine. Photographs at camp show the “Synagogue of the Woods” where a vast crowd of boys, neckerchiefs tied and yarmulkes on, sit on wooden benches before the rustic bimah and listen to the “Rabbi at Camp Manhattan ‘carrying on.’” Many other shots portray the natural scenery, campers and councilors in and around their bunks and tents, on the water or with their sports equipment, in the “Nature Craft Lodge,” and so on.

Almost from its nascence, Jews were involved with the Boy Scouts of America—a way for urban boys to be immersed in nature, as well as perhaps an important means of establishing American identities and moving away from the stigmas attached to the traditionally scholarly and un-athletic Ashkenazic image, but more importantly as a diverse but unified effort, “in these dark, difficult and fateful days for democracy,” to instill “higher values in the boyhood of today, in such a way as to safeguard the manhood of tomorrow” (West). Alongside photographs are several maps of the Delaware Water Gap area and the camp grounds, a brochure describing the food, programs, and fees of the camp (“13,856 pounds of fresh country butter adds nourishment, aided by 171,000 fresh eggs...”), and a newspaper clipping describing a fire that burned its largest building. The album closes with a series of postcards and clippings pertaining to the 1940 World’s Fair, which took place in New York.

CONDITION: Cover and edges somewhat worn, otherwise very good.

REFERENCES: West, James E., Scouting for the Jewish Boy from the Jewish Committee on Scouting for New York.

Item #3903

Price: $1,800.00

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