Welcome Spring 2014 Interns!

Two fantastic interns have joined the Rosenthall project for the Spring semester, bringing with them Hebrew and German language skills, knowledge of Jewish and German culture, and a desire to learn more about the the prints and postcards held in the collection as they work to scan, re-house, and describe them. Meet our new interns:

Jamila Anderson

Jamila Anderson

Jamila Anderson is a senior at the College of Charleston with double majors in German and business administration, with a concentration in marketing. She is a native German speaker, and she is currently using her language expertise to research and translate a portfolio of prints containing German-language anti-Semitic caricatures. Jamila described why she enjoys working with the collection, and which print has interested her the most so far:

“What I found most interesting about the collection is that I am actually handling pieces of history, some of which are centuries old.  I find it amazing that I can start out with just a simple caricature, and after a bit of research have an entire story that goes along with the piece.  My favorite item is actually a series of seven engravings that reference the play “Unser Verkehr” by Karl B. Sessa.  These are my favorite items because they are all intertwined, and represent different components of the play.  I find it really interesting that there are so many different perspectives of this single topic, and that the entire series of engravings depict the plot of the play.”

Gabe Davidson

Gabe Davidson

Gabe Davidson is a junior at the College of Charleston majoring in philosophy. While living and studying on Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu in Israel for five months last year, he began to cultivate an interest in studying Jewish texts and familiarizing himself with some of the prominent thinkers and rabbis behind them. Gabe is looking forward to furthering his knowledge of Jewish history while working with an extensive collection of figures central to Jewish thought. He has been using his Hebrew language skills to complete a portfolio of postcards featuring rabbis and Jewish leaders, most of which contain texts only in Hebrew and Yiddish. Gabe found a postcard featuring a photograph of World War I flying ace Wilhelm Frankl to be the most interesting item he has seen so far:

“I chose the postcard of Wilhelm Frankl postcard as my favorite, due to the outstanding legacy of Frankl. He volunteered to fly for the German army in World War I, and quickly rose to the rank of lieutenant. He died in battle at the age of 23, but not before converting to Christianity for his wife.”

We appreciate all of the work our interns have done so far, and look forward to the remainder of the semester!

Welcome Fall 2013 Interns!

This semester, we are fortunate to have three dedicated interns assisting us with the rehousing, digitizing, and metadata for Rosenthall prints and postcards. We could not be more thrilled with the work they are doing, and we’re excited to be able to introduce them here:


Philip Putnam

Philip Putnam is a senior at the College of Charleston with double majors in history and historic preservation. Philip has experience working at museums in Charleston, including the Edmondston-Alston House and Charleston Museum. He has worked with archival materials but never digitized them, so he is looking forward to participating in the digitization of the Rosenthall Collection.

Philip has been working on digitizing a portfolio of Eastern European, Hungarian, and Russian synagogues. He selected this postcard as his favorite among those he has digitized so far.

“I chose the Szeged Synagogue as one of my favorite postcards because I have never seen a postcard like this before. The postcard itself does not have a synagogue on the actual front. However, the center of the postcard has a hidden flap that pulls out and shows a long strip with about ten small images. One of those images is the synagogue, but the images also include many other sites around Szeged, Hungary. I believe this postcard is somewhat of a rare thing to see.”



Brooke Roman

Brooke Roman is a sophomore at the College of Charleston with double majors in history and arts management; she is particularly interested in European history. Brooke is excited to work with such an extensive and unique collection.

Brooke is working on a portfolio of synagogues in the former Czechoslovakia and Italy. She chose this postcard of the Karlsbad Synagogue as her favorite.

“My favorite postcard is one of a color-drawing of the Karlsbad Synagogue in present day Czech Republic.  The postcard is not an actual picture, but the colors the artist used are absolutely gorgeous. Unfortunately, the synagogue no longer exists, so the postcard at least provides some memory of it.”


Danielle Ziff

Danielle Ziff is a student in the joint College of Charleston/Citadel master of arts in history program. She is a longtime resident of Charleston and member of Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, Rabbi Rosenthall’s synagogue in Charleston.

Danielle is at work on a portfolio of prints and engravings with themes of Moses, the Exodus, and the Ten Commandments; Aaron and the high priests of the Israelites; and dress pertaining to Jewish rituals. She chose these related prints as her favorites.

“One of my favorite prints is this frontispiece to William Hurd’s Religious Ceremonies and Customs of All Nations, published in 1788.  The image contains a symbolic representation of the world’s religious traditions, explained in detail by the text on the accompanying page.”

 Welcome to our interns, and our thanks for all of their work so far!

Welcome, Will, Steph, and Amber

This spring, we’ve had the pleasure of working with three new College of Charleston interns, William Baltz, Stephanie Burns, and Amber Coutsos.  We’ve asked each of them to share with us their favorite items from the Rosenthall collection.

IMG_3843-300x225William Baltz, an Art History and Historic Preservation major, chose a postcard of a synagogue from his hometown. “I chose the Lake Placid Synagogue as one of my favorite images because I was born in Lake Placid, New York and vividly remember driving by the building all the time while I was growing up. I was really surprised when I recognized the building before discovering what and where it was. I never thought I would come across a postcard in Rosenthall’s collection depicting my hometown.” William also liked a piece from the Biblical Illustrations portfolio. “I also chose ‘Moses and the Burning Bush’ because I greatly appreciate the artistic value of this painting. The artistic quality is remarkable and I thoroughly enjoy the formalistic treatment of the composition. The painting is well balanced, features good proportions and has a harmonious vibe while being artistically successful.”

IMG_3842-300x225Stephanie Burns, an Art History major, selected a print from a portfolio about cemeteries. “Out of all the prints I scanned for this portfolio, this was my favorite. I liked it because it was the most colorful, it was a break from all the black and white prints.” Her second choice is a 1906 postcard of the Wilson Avenue Temple in Cleveland, Ohio. “I liked this postcard because the building was outlined in glitter, it felt more personal. It had a personal touch that all the other postcards did not.”

IMG_3841-300x225Amber Coutsos, a History, Art History, and Women’s and Gender Studies major, chose a print from a portfolio entitled Ceremonies: Calendrical and Special. “My favorite image in the portfolio I have completed is the ‘Day of Atonement’ print. It was so interesting researching and learning about the ritual depicted in this image. I discovered that in the Jewish tradition, on the Day of Atonement, they would swing a rooster over their head and that would transfer their sins to the bird. I love the amount of detail and skill in the image, especially considering it is an engraving. This image illustrates family life and traditions that I was not previously familiar with. I also enjoy the detail of the inside of their home, including all the books on the bookshelves.”

Hellos and Goodbyes

January brought three more fantastic College of Charleston interns to the Rosenthall project: William Baltz (Art History and Historic Preservation), Stephanie Burns (Art History), and Amber Coutsos (History, Art History, and Women’s and Gender Studies). We will be posting more about their work on the project soon.


Project Archivist Sarah Dorpinghaus

Additionally, staff changes have led us to make the difficult decision to postpone further work on the project. Sarah Dorpinghaus, Project Archivist for the Jewish Heritage Collection and main coordinator of the Rosenthall project, accepted a position at the University of Kentucky and left Charleston at the end of February. Due to an already strained staff and budget, we will not be able to continue our rigorous pace of digitizing images. What has been completed so far (a minor percentage of the total collection) will be uploaded to the new Lowcountry Digital Library this spring. Meanwhile, Dale Rosengarten, Curator of the Jewish Heritage Collection, will seek further funding to make this internationally important collection of Judaica accessible.


Identifying prints

When creating metadata, we pay particular attention to the format of the material being described. Identifying postcards and photographs is fairly straightforward, but determining the differences between the various types of intaglio and relief prints has proved to be quite challenging. So we invited Barbara Duval and Elizabeth Stephenson from the College of Charleston’s Department of Studio Art to give an informal instructional session on identifying different types of prints. Their tips were incredibly helpful. For example, we learned that the presence of a plate mark or embossing indicates that the print is an etching or engraving not a lithograph. And prints that have a pitted or grainy quality were likely created using a method of intaglio printing called aquatint. Additionally, Barbara and Elizabeth recommended several publications to consult as needed: How Prints Look by William Ivins, Jr. and How to Identify Prints by Bamber Gascoigne.

Steph, Will, Barbara, Elizabeth, and Amber

In other news, the Lowcountry Digital Library is in the final stages of building a new digital repository. We hope to have about 1,000 more images from the Rosenthall collection available in a new user-friendly digital library by the end of March!

Belated welcomes and holiday greetings

We’re a few weeks late on this holiday post, but Happy Rosh Hashanah! To celebrate, Gillian Rogers (our newest intern) has been digitizing and creating metadata for not one, but two of Rosenthall’s New Years postcard albums. Gillian is a senior majoring in history at the College of College of Charleston.


Below are a few of her favorite postcards from the collection.

Romantic Rosh Hashanah postcard

Rosh hashanah postcard with greeting from America to the Old World

Zionist Rosh Hashanah postcard

Caricatures and cemeteries portfolios now available

Over 300 images were uploaded to the Lowcountry Digital Library earlier this week. Approximately 80 images from Rosenthall’s “Jewish caricatures” portfolio were added to the prints and photographs digital collection. Many of these images play upon Jewish stereotypes and illustrate anti-Semitic beliefs.

College of Charleston student Cameron Moon scanned, rehoused, and created metadata for this portfolio. One of her favorite items is the hand-drawn illustration below, which stood out among the printed images that make up the majority of Rosenthall’s collection.

Additionally, over 200 images of Jewish cemeteries, tombs, and monuments were uploaded to the postcards digital collection.

Summer update

It’s been a busy summer at JHC, and we’ve been trucking along with the Rosenthall digitization and rehousing project. So busy, in fact, that I haven’t had time to introduce our latest intern–-Rebecca Zola.

Rebecca will be a senior this fall at Lexington High School in Lexington, Massachusetts. She spent the summer visiting family in Charleston and joined the Rosenthall project in July. We were happy to take advantage of her fluency in Hebrew and knowledge of Jewish customs.


Rebecca scanned, rehoused, and created metadata for over 200 images, including portraits, sheet music, and maps. The sheet music is particularly interesting as some of the cover images and lyrics play heavily on anti-Semitic stereotypes. The images were uploaded to the Rosenthall prints and photograph digital collection earlier this week.

Rebecca pointed out the similarity between this print of Herzl and the Obama “Hope” poster. Both images have a “screen print-y”* style.

*For the record, I have never taken an art course.

Another group of fantastic interns

June brought us great beach weather, the Spoleto Festival, and two new interns. We are happy to have Cameron Moon and Colleen OConnor join our project.

Cameron finished her junior year at the College of Charleston this spring and is majoring in Historic Preservation and Community Planning. Her first assignment is to digitize a portfolio of cartoons and caricatures.


Colleen recently started the Master of Library and Information Science program at the University of South Carolina. She received her BA from the College of Charleston in Historic Preservation and Community Planning. Colleen is currently digitizing a portfolio of synagogue postcards from Israel, Africa, Canada, and the West Indies.


In other news, I have been working with Heather Gilbert, the Acting Project Coordinator of the Lowcountry Digital Library, on making some changes to the William A. Rosenthall Judaica digital collection. We hope to have the updates finished in the next few weeks.

Where it all began…

While scanning a portfolio of postcards from Germany and Austria, our intern Heidi Wilson (CofC undergraduate, historic preservation program) discovered the very first item of Rabbi Rosenthall’s Judaica collection!

Rosenthall discussed his collecting in a 1997 oral history interview with Dale Rosengarten.

“WR:      My collecting—aside from philately which, how shall I say, charmed me from early youth, my Grandmother Rosenthall, née Moss, had gone to Europe a few years before my birth and had, in our attic in Ohio, huge boxes of travel folders, souvenirs, and hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of postcards. One of the postcards, among others, intrigued me because it showed the interior of a very beautiful synagogue with round balconies in Augsburg in Germany [ed.: Mainz, Germany], which she had visited. Eventually I asked her for it and, of course, she gave it to me.

Then when my father died and the household was in disruption, we moved and it got lost. I kept trying to find it periodically and, in the meantime, started collecting other Jewish postcards. Low and behold, one year or month or day, I found it, although I had lost some boxes, incidentally, in the moves. That started the postcard area, but that was related to graphics in general.

And, let’s say by the time of my marriage, I had already started to pick up a print here, a print there, and then going to Europe and Israel immediately thereafter increased this. Then the years following, living in New York for so many years and traveling to Europe, basically, and Israel so often, it just kept accumulating. I lay it all, basically, to a double entry that would be my interest in stamps and the search for my grandmother’s postcard. So now I have more than three thousand different Jewish postcards and the print collection, I think, in private hands in the United States, is the largest Jewish interest.

DR:         What would you say motivated your collecting?

WR:        The same thing that motivated my eventual entry into the rabbinate, I guess: an interest in Jewish history and affairs. I was the only Jewish boy in my hometown and, therefore, questions of identity entered into it. There was a Jewish girl a couple of years younger that I used to run from [laughter] every time I saw her because she was kind of, shall we say, pursuing [laughter]. But that fact, that I had to represent Jewry among the young, I think, had a lot to do with it, and I was very pleased to do it.

DR:         It was really more from the angle of your Jewish identity than it was from—

WR:        You see I was always interested in drawing and so forth, and in painting. There were a few things around the house, not much. So from early school, from early elementary school, I was usually the class artist. When I was in high school, I edited the yearbook, but I also was the artist thereof, and was interested in general art always and did painting and drawing. I don’t do much now, although I go to the Gibbes classes every now and then. I may do something again if I feel up to it—soon.”