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Gideon Family.

ARCHIVE: Letters and ephemera of the Gideon Family of Yonkers, New York.

Letter(s)

CORRESPONDENCE OF A JEWISH AMERICAN FAMILY
Gideon, Miriam, Judith Gideon, Henrietta Shoninger Gideon, et al. Family Archive. 1892-1933.
Collection of letters and ephemera of the Gideon Family of Yonkers, New York, Boston, Massachusetts, and elsewhere, including composer Miriam Gideon, her older sister Judith Gideon, their mother Henrietta Shoninger Gideon, and her husband, Dr. Abram Gideon; with related family ephemera:
357 letters (1126 pages, 149 envelopes)
203 pieces of ephemera, including pamphlets, photographs, cards, newspaper clippings, etc.
The Gideon family's friends and family write from California, Colorado, Kentucky, Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Washington State, and other locations, including several from travellers in Europe, to the family in New York City and Yonkers.
As follows:
357 letters (1126 pages, 149 envelopes)
Dates:
1896-1906 3letters, 15pp, 3envelopes.
1910s 30 letters, 126 pp, 13 envelopes.
1920s 184 letters, 606 pp, 85 envelopes.
1930s 78 letters, 216 pp, 44 envelopes.
Undated 62 letters, 163 pp, 4 envelopes.
Correspondents:
Dr. Abram Gideon (6), his wife Henrietta Shoninger Gideon (55), their daughter, the composer Miriam Gideon (45), Judith Gideon (6), Dr. Gideon's brother Henry Gideon of Boston, Massachusetts (6), a family friend and colleague Dr. Louise Hannum, of Riverside, California (27), Henry Shoninger, father of Mrs. Gideon (4), Ida Shoninger Fleischaker, sister of Mrs. Gideon (8), Sol Shoninger, brother of Mrs. Gideon (6), Aunt Clara Rumball (4), Louis H. Baer of Albany, New York (7), Jules Falk, violin teacher for Judith Gideon (6), Etta Deutsch, friend of Judith Gideon (14), Minnie Katz of Osage, Iowa, a cousin to the Gideon sisters, perhaps on their mother's side of the family (16), Blanche, a niece of Mrs. Gideon, possibly Blanche Katz (6), Hannah Grunbaum of Seattle, Washington (4), Irene, of Chicago, Illinois, a niece of Mrs. Gideon (5), Ed Salzar, of Chicago, Illinois (1), Morris E. A. of Albany, New York, an apparent suitor of Judith Gideon (13) the American Zion Commonwealth, Inc. (1), the Jewish Consumptives Relief Society (4), plus others correspondents, either friends, business associates, or other family members.
Recipients:
Judith Gideon (159), Miriam Gideon (2), Judith and Miriam Gideon together (21), Mr. and Mrs. Abram Gideon (15), Judith Gideon and her mother (10), Mrs. Henrietta Shoninger Gideon (77), Henrietta Shoninger Gideon and her two daughters (2), Abram Gideon (20), plus others.
203 Pieces of Ephemera:
5 pieces of paper ephemera for the American Zion Commonwealth, Inc., includes Land Certificate, 2 Ownership Certificate, Account Statements, Canceled Check, dated 1919-1927. Abram Gideon invested in this organization, buying land in Israel (see his biography above), five dunams of land situated in Garden City Zone, Balfouria, Palestine, in 1919. He purchased it in 1919, still owed money in 1927.
5 pieces of ephemera for Abram Gideon, including his minister's license from Jefferson County, Kentucky (1892), 2 library cards for the New York Public Library (1933), a bank account card (not dated), and a manuscript of his "Last Will and Testament" (1918), all dated 1892-1933.
8 pieces of miscellaneous manuscript, or verse, notes, etc.
9 cards, placed in envelopes, dated 1910-1933, written to Mrs. Gideon and her daughters, Judy and Miriam, by friends, or family, with by Miriam Gideon.
12 envelopes that were separated from their letters could possibly be matched again.
15 pieces of miscellaneous ephemera for Judith Gideon, including graduation brochure from Yonkers High School, report cards from Hunter College (1922-1925), invitation cards for her graduation from Hunter College (1925), commencement brochure from graduation from Hunter College (1925), reference letter from Hunter College (1927), report from some coursework done at Columbia University (1923), registration receipt for the Bureau of Employment of the Chemists' Club of New York (1925), dated 1922-1927.
18 Greeting Cards (Christmas, Birthday, Get Well, etc).1913-1932. Sent to the Gideon family members from friends, other family.
19 receipts (English booksellers, German clothing merchants, American banks, etc.), mainly for Abram Gideon), when he was in Marburg, Germany studying (1896-1898), ordering books from English book dealers, dated 1896-1898. Bank receipts are for Mr. and Mrs. Gideon when they lived in the Bronx, 1933.
29 photographs, mainly snapshots, several studio portraits, about half identified with manuscript notes, , the five that are dated range from 1904 to 1931, with the undated photos about the same time period, in all they measure between 1 3/4" x 1 3/4" to 5"x 7". Two photos are identified as "Miriam," i.e. Miriam Gideon, the composer.
39 postcards (35 of them have been used), dated 1912-1933. The postcards are mainly 1920s, and addressed to Judith Gideon, however there is several that are addressed to Judith and Miriam Gideon (1), Miriam Gideon (2), Mrs. Gideon (6) and Mr. Gideon (2). They are written by her mother, other family members, and friends.
44 pieces of paper ephemera, including coupons for theater shows, souvenir photos of Salzburg, newspaper clippings, calling cards, ink blotter, theatre programs, birth control ephemera pieces - two by the well-known advocate William J. Robinson titled "The Limitation of Offspring" and another advert piece for his "Sex Knowledge for Women and Girls," reorganization letter for Gugenheimer &
Untermyer banking house, abnormal psychology reference list, printed piece and booklet about university scholarships for S.U.N.Y., etc., all dated c1915-1933.
Family history:
Dr. Abram Gideon (1867-c1952) and Henrietta Shoninger (1867-aft 1930)
Dr. Abram Gideon was born 25 October 1867, at Louisville, Kentucky, of German Jewish parents. He became a rabbi and later taught philosophy and linguistics. He received his minister's license from the State of Kentucky in 1892 (included in this collection). From 1903 to 1912, he taught at the State Normal School of Colorado (later known as the Colorado State Teachers College). He was part of the "Simplified Spelling" movement of the time and appears to have done some publishing and printing for them. The Simplified Spelling Board was an American organization created in 1906 to reform the spelling of the English language, making it simpler and easier to learn, and eliminating many of what were considered to be its inconsistencies. The board operated until 1920, the year after the death of its founding benefactor (Andrew Carnegie), who had come to criticize the progress and approach of the organization and did not include the organization in his will. Letters written by Abram Gideon reflect the "spelling" liberality which he appeared to promote for the Simplified Spelling Board. Abram Gideon was the author of several items: The Cosmological Argument of Gaon Saadia (1894 thesis); Der Begriff Transscendental in Kant's Kritik der reinen Vernunft (Marburgh: 1903); and Simplified Spelling from the Scholarly Standpoint and with References to the Masses (Journal of Proceedings and Addresses National Education Association of the U.S., 1911).
According to information within this collection, after his teaching stint in Colorado (where the family lived at Greeley, Colorado), he worked for the Jewish Consumptive Relief Society for a year, fell ill due to an accident, following which his family sued and settled with the Society. Several letters in this collection speak to this incident. Dr. Gideon from then on appears to have been a broken man and though still highly respected as a scholar and friend, suffered a mental and physical breakdown. This may have caused him to write his Last Will and Testament in 1918, which is included in his collection. Gideon studied at Marburg, Germany, for at least two years (1896-1898), as represented from various bookseller receipts and clothing receipts in this collection. Gideon married Henrietta Shoninger on 22 December 1903, at Chicago, Illinois. At the time of his marriage, he was teaching in Colorado. She herself was also a teacher, but at the elementary level. They were both German Jews. Henrietta was the daughter of merchant Henry Shoninger (1833-1921) and Sophia Weinman (1833- 1917), of Louisville, Kentucky. Henry emigrated from Europe and settled at first in Albany, New York, during the time of Rabbi Wise, whom he befriended. He later moved to Chicago as early as 1854, where he was one of the original subscribers of the Chicago Israelite. While in Chicago, Shoninger lived at 4218 Calumet Avenue. After Chicago, he moved to Louisville, Kentucky, about 1872, where in 1880 he founded the Congregation Berith Sholom and helped to build the temple on First Street in that city.
From 1912, when Abram Gideon left Colorado, to 1916 when the family moved to Yonkers, New York, he held various teaching jobs at Los Angeles, California, Illinois, and Laramie, Wyoming, while also working as a lecturer. The Gideons had two daughters. A number of the letters in this collection are sent to Henrietta, Abram's wife, as well as their daughters, Judith and Miriam Gideon.
There are letters in the collection which document the family's interest in a Jewish homeland in Palestine, with land investment documents and related ephemera (Land Certificate, Ownership Certificate, 2 Account Statements, Canceled Check) of American Zion Commonwealth, Inc. (AMZIC). AMZIC was established in New York in 1914. Its purpose was to aid in the settlement of Jews in Palestine and to secure for their members and their descendants rights, interests and privileges in lands occupied by the Zion Commonwealth Inc., to the end that social justice, in harmony with the ideals of the prophets of Israel, may be the cornerstone of the Jewish Commonwealth in Zion. Members would receive the rights to the agricultural exploitation of the surface of the land, while the AMZIC retained the rights over commercial, industrial, and mineral interests. Members could sell or transfer their lands, but the AMZIC reserved the right to veto such transactions and to repurchase lands at an assessed value. The constitution further granted exclusive rights to the Zionist Congress through the Jewish National Fund or any Zionist Congress - appointed agency to purchase at any time all or any of AMZIC lands. These conditions guaranteed that its lands would remain in Jewish hands, even if they belonged to private investors.
By the time the 1930 Census was taken, the family was living in the Bronx (in 1925 they were still in Yonkers). Judith lived at home in 1930 and both Mr. and Mrs. Gideon were still living, though apparently retired. Abram died about 1952, Henrietta perhaps soon after.
Miriam Gideon (1906-1996) was born in Greeley, Colorado, on October 23, 1906. Her family moved to Yonkers, New York in 1916. While most biographies of Miriam state she left Yonkers in 1921 to go to live with her uncle in Boston, the letters here show that she was already enrolled and going to school in
Boston in September 1920. She left Yonkers to study organ with her uncle Henry Gideon, an organist, conductor and composer. Henry was Harvard educated and taught at the Boston Conservatory of Music. He was hired by Temple Israel in Boston as organist in 1907 and stayed until 1938. He published a "Jewish Hymnal" in 1909, and "From the Cradle to the Chuppe" in 1924, a collection of Yiddish folk- songs. Miriam graduated from Boston's Girls High School in 1922 and entered Boston University, graduating in 1926. Miriam also studied piano with Hans Barth and Felix Fox. Barth and Fox were both students of Carl Reincke, who had studied under Mendelssohn, Schumann and Liszt. Miriam also studied with Martin Bernstein, Marion Bauer, Charles Haubiel, and Jacques Pillois. She studied harmony, counterpoint, and composition with Lazare Saminsky and at his suggestion also studied composition with Roger Sessions after which she abandoned tonality and wrote in a freely atonal or extended post-tonal style.
Miriam moved to New York City where she taught at Brooklyn College, City University of New York (CUNY) from 1944 to 1954 and City College, CUNY from 1947 to 1955. She then taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America at the invitation of Hugo Weisgall in 1955, and at the Manhattan School of Music from 1967 to 1991. She was rehired by City College in 1971 as full professor and retired in 1976.
In 1949, Miriam married Brooklyn College assistant professor Frederic Ewen. He taught in the English Department at the school. Politically both were leftists. Ewen, who refused to testify before the Rapp- Coudert Committee in 1940, was summoned to testify before the Senate Internal Security Committee chaired by Democratic Senator Pat McCarran in 1952. In 1952, he took early retirement from a tenured position in preference to going before a committee to discuss his and other's political views. According to Mary Robb "Miriam Gideon was investigated by the FBI, and in 1954 and 1955 and she was forced to resign from her music teaching posts at City College and Brooklyn College as her contracts were not renewed. Gideon's daily life began to change as commissions dwindled and the main source of household income dried up. She became psychologically anxious and fearful working as a music teacher in a politically repressive academic environment...Under the dangers of McCarthyism, Gideon limited her speech, her personal behavior and exerted extreme control in her music structures." (Mary Robb, University of Edinburgh, "Seeking Control: McCarthyism and Miriam Gideon's Epitaphs from Robert Burns," a paper given at "Red Strains: Music and Communism outside the Communist Bloc after 1945." 2013 Proceedings of the British Academy.)
Gideon composed much vocal music, setting texts by Francis Thompson, Christian Morgenstern, Anne Bradstreet, Norman Rosten, Serafin and Joaquin Quintero and others. She was the second woman inducted into American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1975, following Louise Talma who was inducted in 1974. Her compositions include Lyric Piece for Strings (1942), Mixco (1957), Adon Olom, Fortunato, Sabbath Morning Service, Friday Evening Service, and Of Shadows Numberless (1966).
Her husband of forty years died in 1989, she died seven years later at her home in Manhattan in 1996, at the age of 89. At the time of her death she was survived by her sister, Judith Gideon of Manhattan; a daughter-in-law, Petra Ewen of Roanoke, Virginia, and three grandchildren.
Gideon's music was often lean in texture but driven by a lyrical impulse and an intensity that clarified the texts she set. In her song cycles, she sometimes mixed poetry from different centuries and in different languages, with an eye toward illuminating a common theme. She was a modernist, and did not shun rhythmic complexity or free atonality when those qualities suited her needs; yet when she used angular lines or abrasive harmonies it was always to point up an emotional or dramatic element in the work at hand.
A specialist in Jewish liturgical music, and a composition teacher at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Gideon composed many settings of Hebrew prayers, both for chorus and solo voice, including a complete Sabbath service.
Although she was often cited as a role model for women who wanted to make their careers as composers, Gideon was always ambivalent about her status as a pioneering woman, and she disapproved of concert and broadcast series that presented only women's works. Gideon was quoted as saying, "I didn't know I was a woman composer until 'the movement' in the 1960s...I knew I was a young composer, and then, suddenly, an older composer, but never a woman composer."
There are 45 letters (108 pages) in this collection from the young Miriam Gideon, written mainly to her sister Judith and occasionally her parents. There is also some incoming correspondence to Miriam personally, plus another couple of dozen that are addressed to her, her sister and mother collectively. Miriam's letters are dated between 27 September 1920 to 2 August 1933, when Miriam would have been between 14 and 27 years old. They cover a couple of years while at high school in Boston and through college and into adulthood. They are written mainly to her sister Judith, or her parents. She signs many of them "Mitzi" her nickname. Most of Miriam's letters are of a very candid nature and interspersed throughout are references to composing, writing and playing music and producing musical and theatrical events, which gives a most intimate background to her acknowledged musical and compositional talents and adds to the biography of this pioneering woman composer.
One of Miriam's earliest letters is written on 27 September 1920. She writes to her sister Judith from Boston:
"Boston, Mass. Sept 27, 1920. Dear Judy, I have been intending to answer your long & interesting letter ever since I got it, but this is the first chance I've had. I'm writing it in school, in the 6th per study hall, and as all my lessons are done & I have nothing to do, I'm using my time this way. A girl gave me a whole batch of paper of different colors and I picked out this lovely shade [pink] to write to you on. School is great. I'm really getting to like it better than Yonkers High. I very seldom have to spend more than 5 or 10 minutes at home on my homework, as we have so many study periods, including an hour at the beginning of school. But I don't think that hour will last more than this week...I have been going to the Temple after school or in the evening almost every day. Yesterday A.M. they had a children's service. Ma & Pa came to it & spent the day with us. In Sun's Boston Globe I saw an ad that said if you sold a certain no. of Sealed Pkgs of Ladies Hanks you'd get certain things. I sent for 40, which gives you a victrola with 1 record. Unc said I could sell 20 in the choir alone…"
Another letter of 19 November 1920 appears to show Miriam's first paid music position: "...I have a pile of practicing to do. tho, but I certainly like my lessons. I know 4 pieces by memory. Our English class is going to give a play for Thanksgiving & I'm going to play for them. Unc & I are going to play a solo (harpsichord & organ) next Sunday. It is the 'Angelo Serenade,' a very slushy but pretty piece. News!! I have a job, and it isn't taking care of kids. I'm going to be accompanist at the Elizabeth Peabody House every Tuesday evening, for their Folk & Modern Dancing classes. I didn't ask for the job, but they just wrote Unc & asked him if he would let me do it. Please send my doll Eleanor immediately. I want to make a wig out of my hair & put it on her…"
Other paid opportunities arise as well:
"Nov. 1, 1921...I'm rich now. I played for Mr. Huddy last Fri. evening for one hour and he gave me one buck. I'm gonna do that every Fri. and also play for a couple of other people..."
One reason for Miriam to go to live with her Uncle Henry was to train under him and have more exposure to music, since Miriam's parents were not musicians. A letter of 27 November 1920 gives evidence to this:
"I really like school much better here than in Yonkers. The teachers, while they may not be better, are nicer, & there's a much better class of kids. I still have no lessons, but I practice at least an hour, and sometimes more every day. I've stopped riding my bike as its getting altogether too cold. We've hadabout 4 snowfalls already. Last Sunday the snow was about 2" deep, and just the right kind for snowballs, so Mike & I went out and had a snow fight with the 3 Goldberg kids, who live in the Charlesbank to. There is a boy, Harry, about 8 or 9; Annie, who is awfully nice, about 16; and Louis, who's a peach of a violin player, about 18. I go over there sometimes in the evening & we spend the whole time with music, Louis playing the violin & I accompanying him. The family is very musical."
While it took her awhile to get her music lessons, Miriam finally starts to study with Felix Fox: "Oct 25, 1921...My lessons with Mr. Fox are going all right. Unc went in to see him the other day and asked him about 'financial arrangements.' He said he hadn't thought about it at all, so maybe he'll let me off easy...I forgot to tell you about my other musical proceedings. Unc has an old cello, which he is going to have fixed up, and I'm going to take lessons from Mr. Piller, of the Boston Symphony orchestra, or from Mrs. Weaver, a well-known cellist. I have a ten cent flute with a range of 4 octaves and I can play anything on it. Ruth Pollen, a very nice girl I have met recently, and I played at our school on the entertainment program for the Senior Acquaintance Party. We were both dressed up like men. Everybody said we were the best on the program…"
While Jewish and members of a temple, Miriam and her family appears to have celebrated Christmas: "Dec 26, 1920. Dear Ma & Judy...Xmas eve we had the house all decorated with holly, bells, etc. At night on our floor they put red shades over the lights and all the people had their houses decorated and their doors open. They had a party together, being all friends. In the apartment across from us we saw a table covered with Christmas paper and streamers from ceiling coming down to it, and a big Xmas cake with red & green candies all around. The people sang and raised the Dickens till after midnight. Unc and I went out on Beacon Hill to hear the Carol Singers. Every house had candles in every window, and bright colored lights. The shades were all up and we could see inside. There were several groups of singers and attending each group were crowds of people. All together there must have been 10,000. Unc and I stood up on a step of one of the houses & looked around. All we could see was people, and they were all singing and having a good time. We came home about 10."
The letters also give a look at how Miriam was getting along living with her Uncle:
"Jan 11, 1921. Dear Mother and Judy...The ten spot you sent for my further music lessons can go to pay for the coat while I can pay for my music lessons after the first ten, of which $7.73 is now spent, gives out. You must know that your daughter has regular weekly income - $1.50. The .50 I get for playing at Elizabeth Peabody House, and the $1 Unc gives me for a weekly allowance. This will pay for my music lessons and carfare, and I'll still have enough left for spending money. I get the allowance for taking care of the house, doing some of the cooking, washing my own things and some of Unc's, taking care of his socks, and ironing some of his shirts."
There are several letters from the winter and spring of 1921 where Miriam writes to her sister Judith discussing t their summer plans which involved the two sisters living and working at a farm for the summer to earn some money, go swimming, and to learn farming.
Several of Miriam's letters are written in French, as she is trying to practice her French that she is studying in school. There is also one letter, where she is aware that her English spelling is not that great: "Excuse the spelling. I always used to be able to spell all forms of rhyme and rhythm correctly until my English teacher called attention to the fact that they could be easily misspelled and since then I've always misspelled them."
One letter shows a 20 year old Miriam financially struggling to pay her bills while starting the life of a musician:
"July 13, 1927. Hanover Inn, Dartmouth College, NH...Dear Judy...Please forgive me for not sending 10 bones in this letter - but gosh! I'm in the hole all around at present. They don't pay you in full till the end of the summer - and what with a tooth that broke off and has to be attended to, and a hundred other thingsthat a person never counts on, I haven't been able even to pay Dr. M. the 5 bucks I borrowed from him. I'll send the 10 quam celerrime' or whatever it is. Please let me know if you are very broke....The trio is being much appreciated here and we have written for concert engagements in the camp & clubs in the neighborhood. Ruth phoned me very excitedly from Cohasset that their Roasian pianist had been fired and I must come to the $25 a week job toot sweet. I spent 24 hrs deciding - and Hanover won. I couldn't give up the opportunity of fooling around Webster hall all night practicing and forgetting the rest of the world. Really, it's the most wonderful relaxation - not a "dout" in the world…"
A letter from 1932 finds Miriam in Maine performing at Trip Lake Camp, where she might be living for the summer:
"Our big show takes place tonight and tomorrow, so all the last minute fuss has to be done in sweltering heart. I have been working damn hard. But it's all quite a lot of fun. I am really enjoying the summer and managing to accomplish a little original work too!"
Another letter that same summer shows her working on her composition and receiving encouragement from an old teacher, Lazare Siminsky, the great Jewish composer: "I have been working persistently at composition. Nearly finished a sketch for a symphonic poem based on the 'Hound of Heaven.' Saminsky has written me very encouragingly."
In an undated letter, Miriam pokes some fun at Jewish stereotypes:
"Oct 25....Ma and Judy darling, According to promise, I waited until after my birthday presents come, and then got you something. Accept this beautiful gift which I am sending, the postage for which costing more than the gift itself, with my heartiest wishes, etc. Yours was more than acceptable. It completely put me on my feet, financially. In addition, I got one buck from Auncie, one and a half from Aunt Clara R. and five from Elmer. I got various other things which weren't money, so, being a Yid, I don't mention them."
Judith Gideon (1904-1997) was born 22 October 1904, at Greeley, Colorado. She graduated Yonkers High School and entered Hunter College of New York City, where she graduated in 1925 and became a chemist and laboratory researcher. Her letters portray the difficulties faced by a woman scientist, especially in finding work in the 1920s -1930s. After graduating from Hunter College she was connected with Littauer pneumonia Research under Drs. Wm. H. Park and Jesse G. M. Bullowa at Harlem Hospital. She later worked with a pneumonia research group at Bellevue Hospital and the Research Laboratories at the City Department of Health at Willard Parker Hospital. Her specialty appears to have been bacteriology, clinical pathology, serology and some blood chemistry.
Many of the letters in this collection are addressed to Judith (159 out of 257); however she only writes 6 of the letters. It would appear that this collection came down through Judith.
There are letters in the collection from her suitors, especially of note from one "Morris", also a chemist, who writes of various products and experimental formulations (sometimes with chemical notation) being worked on by him at his job at Bayer chemical corporation in Albany, New York including the anesthetic Avatrin and the anti-malarial drug plasmochin. He also writes of his plans of attending medical school. Judith however, never married. Judith Gideon died on 22 September 1997, at New York City.
Friend and colleague Dr. Louise Morris Hannum (c1863-1964) was a constant correspondent with 27 letters sent to Henrietta Shoninger and her family. Hannum was born 21 July 1862, probably at Sherman, New York, the daughter of Cyril Shumway Hannum (1829-1912) and Sarah A. Morris (1828-1885), of Mayville, Chautauqua Co, New York. She was educated at Wellesley and graduated with a B.S. in 1891 and with a PhD from Cornell in 1894. She was an instructor of English at Wellesley College in 1899- 1900, then the dean of women and professor of English Literature and Language at the State Teachers College of Colorado, Greeley, Colorado, from 1900 to 1912. She was at this college the same time that
Abram Gideon was there and evidently had formed a close friendship with the family. She and the Gideons both left their positions at the State Teachers College on 1 September 1912. Post-Colorado, Hannum taught at Rockford College (1915-1918), in Illinois (formerly Rockford Female Seminary) and briefly at Appleton Wisconsin (1919-20) before retiring in genteel poverty to Riverside, California, which she details in lengthy letters.
One of the most interesting sections of her correspondence are those letters dealing with the end of her career at Rockford, where a deep scandal erupts surrounding a male teacher and his abuse of young men, the brothers of some of the Rockford students and of boys in the community, which involved action by the police. Dr. Hannum especially writes of the ensuing cover-up by the dean of the school and the community. Hannum lost her job due to what she felt was her moral stand on the issues in the case and it is apparent from her letters that the situation was traumatic to her and to the institution.
"July 126, 1919...For several years students had complained that the head of the Chemistry department, J. G. Goodwin, was inefficient and otherwise unpleasing to them. I know nothing about that except the fact that he took a patronizing tone toward teaching and toward his students. What I had remarked, my table being next that of Miss Gulliver, was that she treated the man with marked favor, was greatly influenced by all his opinions, and showed in excess the special favor which it appeared natural to her to bestow upon all half way personable men. But all that seemed trivial. Then I learnt that he had been arrested two years ago last May for immorality with boys and that Miss Gulliver had got him off by leaving May Party to assure the Chief of Police in person that he was a Christian gentleman and that the case must be one of mistaken identity. But that last was not at all the case. He was an old offender. Miss Gulliver however had become fond of him before she [learned] the facts; she probably intended to marry him (there is some evidence on this score) and appears to have supposed that her position would support her in this course. If a woman in private life had exhibited this curious taste, it would have been chiefly her own affair; but it got to be pretty embarrassing in the college even while the girls remained in ignorance of the practices he carried on. While gossip was rife and one or two of the girls' brothers became his victims, Miss Gulliver was receiving him constantly late at night and bringing him forward to all occasions. She even sent him as her representative to the most important alumnae meeting. During the Christmas vacation those of us who remained in college were kept in turmoil of discontent and disgust. The man had been ejected from the town by the Chief of Police, but he returned after a few days, my first knowledge of his presence occurring through hearing his voice in Miss Gulliver's private rooms as I came down the stairs during the evening. She had dined with him in private and next day she brought him into the dining room. Chief [Bardem] sent him away a second time; warning him that he would probably be shot by an irate parent if he returned. Then we learned that Miss Gulliver had tried to affect an exchange with Sweetbriar College in the South, putting him in the place of a Miss Dudley who had once taught in Rockford and asking her as a special favor to do his work that he "might have change of climate." When this attempt failed, she gave him a testimonial - or rather wrote it to the Albert Agency - which contained the sentence: "He has a deep religious nature and the highest ideals."
But anyhow he was gone, and we hoped the thing would pass. On the re-opening of school after vacation, Miss Gulliver announced in chapel that Mr. Goodwin had been unable to throw off an attack of influenza (which existed only at her convenience) and would not return for the present. Now the students were that very day hearing from town girls that the man had been expelled, and that Miss Gulliver had known of his immorality for many months. The thing quickly circulated through the college. Miss Gulliver herself had gone to Chicago. Girls began to pack their trunks, telegraph to their parents, and to decide that the college was not a fit or safe place for them to be in. I was asked by the Registrar to make a statement of the situation to an informal meeting of the faculty, and consult as to what should be done. This I did, and it was decided to address a respectful letter to Miss Gulliver, explaining that the students had learned the facts through disclosures of the Police, that they were spreading them around, and that after the statement made in chapel, they assented that they would believe nothing not endorsed by the faculty, following which we requested her advice as to how we should proceed in order best to guard her honor and that of the college. This communication was signed only "By order of the Faculty."
There are nine more pages to this letter, in which Louise tells Henrietta all about the incident and how she came to be dismissed from Rockford College and her ensuing worries over being able to find work at her age as a college teacher and her prospects of applying to "Old ladies' homes." It was soon after this that she wound up in Riverside, California, where she retired in "genteel" poverty. Another interesting letter is one that Louise writes to Judith Gideon, telling her of an interesting conversation she on the train with a Catholic girl of 18 years old. Louise's letters are written by a very educated woman, a professor of English Literature, and her letters tend to be multiple pages.
Other Correspondents
Henry Gideon, brother of Abram Gideon, writing from Boston, who continued to travel, entertain, and play musical engagements publicly, at the Temple Israel and privately and also taught, and offered instructional courses. Miriam Gideon, the composer, went to live with Henry and study under him when she was 15 years old. One letter from "Harry" is written from France where he was on a tour playing for soldiers just after WWI:
"16 July 1919, Dear Henrietta: I have before me the children's letter of March 11, yours of April 16 and June 3, and the program of Miriam's recital on June 1st. I am delighted with them all, but most especially with the program. My Harriam has surely made progress, to be able to play in public Esipoff, Mendelssohn, Durand, and two Chopin numbers. Wont we have a time with four- hand music when I return - that is, if she is willing to play with a man who has built up a repertoire of coon songs, French ditties, and rags! The violinist traveling with us - a Russian violinist - would make a great musical chum for Miriam. He expects to go to America when we go, landing in New York, so there is a good chance of our bringing you together at once. With reference to our homecoming: we are not just sure what the powers-that-be will do with us next. The forces are being cleared from France so rapidly that the need for entertainment is diminishing to zero. We are now in Paris for re-assignment. We shall hear today or tomorrow whether we are to go back to Brest (where we have been entertaining for four weeks) for three weeks of final entertainment, or whether we are to be released at once. In the former case, we shall probably sail for New York the second week in August. Otherwise, we leave Paris about the twentieth for Brest, go out on the first available transport and reach New York just after August first."
Several members of the Shoninger family are correspondents of Henrietta and her daughters. They are: Henry Shoninger (1833-1921), of Louisville, Kentucky, the father of Henrietta Shoninger Gideon, was the founder of the Congregation Berith Sholom in Louisville and a merchant.
Solomon Henry Shoninger, brother of Henrietta Shoninger Gideon, based in Chicago, a "commercial traveler" or salesman, writes a half a dozen letters on the letterhead of hotels as he traveled on business around the U.S.
Ida Shoninger Fleischaker (1871-1933), the sister of Henrietta Shoninger Gideon. She married Louis Fleischacker (1855-1948), she too writes a half a dozen or so letters.
All of these Shoninger letters tend to update Henrietta Shoninger Gideon on news of the family and other members of the Jewish community of Louisville, and elsewhere.

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