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Education] Hirsch, Baron.

ARCHIVE: Baron de Hirsch Trade School Archive.


An Archive From The Baron De Hirsch Trade School, An Educational Venture For Jewish Young Men
[Education]. [Baron de Hirsch Trade School Archive]. [New York: self-published by the Baron de Hirsh Trade School, 1902-1911].
8vos.; an archive consisting of eight reports from the Baron de Hirsch Trade School in printed wrappers, stapled, all fine but for one with light waterstaining, affecting text only minimally; together with two "catalogues" which are really more like promotional brochures for the school, also in printed wrappers, stapled, also fine. Housed in a specially made cloth box.
A wonderful archive of material that documents the Baron de Hirsch Trade School, an educational-vocational venture for Jewish men that existed on East 64th Street in Manhattan during the early part of the twentieth century. The "reports," most with photographic frontispieces of the school, are essentially reports by the Superintendent of the school on the number and status of graduates, their majors, progress, etc.  
The "Catalogues" (one from 1906, one from 1917) are fascinating in that they really tell the otherwise virtually undocumentable history of the school and of its founder, Baron de Hirsch.  According to the abridged biography published in these "Catalogues" (abridged of necessity even more here),
On December 9, 1831, Maurice, later the Baron de Hirsch, was born in Munich.
He died in Hungary in 1896, at the age of sixty-five years.
….Having inherited a considerable fortune from his father and grandfather, he early embarked upon enterprises on his own account.
….In 1885 he with the assistance of others, drew up a plan for improving the condition of the Russian Jews. As a preliminary endowment he offered the Russian government ten million dollars to be used only for educational purposes.
This offer was declined by the Russian government unless the fund could be under its exclusive control. The Baron objected to this stipulation and concluded that the only hope for the Russian Jew lay in emigration, and he therefore began to study plans for colonization.
This study resulted in the formation of the Jewish Colonization Association, to which he contributed ten million dollars….
The large number of Russian Jews who emigrated to the United States attracted his attention, and in 1891 he founded the Baron de Hirsch Fund with a capital of two million, five hundred thousand dollars, which was subsequently increased.
….In referring to his contributions for the good of his fellow men he once said "In relieving human suffering I never ask whether the cry of necessity comes from a being who was of my faith or not; but what is more natural than that I should find my highest purpose in bringing the followers of Judaism, those who have been oppressed for a thousand years - and are starving or in misery - the possibilities of a physical and moral regeneration [sic.]" (Catalogue of the Baron de Hirsch Trading School, New York, self-published, 1917, p. 3)
In addition to this interesting (albeit slightly condescending) biography/statement of philanthropic intent, the "Catalogue" lists the school's majors (House Painting; Operating Engineering; Sign Painting; Machine Work; Plumbing; Printing; Electrical Work; Sheet Metal Work; Woodworking and Carpentry; Mechanical Drawing; Geometric Drawing; and Shop Mathematics) as well as the school's purpose ("The purpose of the school is to give a course of training whereby young men may acquire the experience necessary to enable them to obtain employment in one of the skilled trades", [p. 4]) and the "Requirements for Admission":
Applicants for admission must be Jews, able-bodied, at least sixteen years of age, and must satisfy the Superintendent as to their general fitness to learn a trade….
All instruction is FREE…(From: Catalogue of the Baron de Hirsch Trading School, New York, self-published, 1917, p.7)
An interesting archive and documentation of the education of immigrant Jewish men at the early part of the twentieth century. As we have been unable to turn up any reference to this school and/or its founder from the traditional sources, we must assume that this material is at the very least uncommon.

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