#32 and I are going to Memphis in May. We’re super excited about it. I had to do all the planning though – as is usually the case with #32. Aside from figuring out if we should stay at the hotel with paper-thin walls versus the hotel in the flight path of the airport…where the Fed Ex planes start to take off at 3 AM, planning my trip wasn’t complicated. I entered my information into Orbitz, provided my credit card number, and in about 10 minutes, I had myself two round trip tickets to Memphis PLUS a rental car! Easy peasy!
Planning a trip – a voyage, really – in the early 1920s was a little more complicated. Sure, you know all about ship manifests now (and if you don't, go back and re-read all those posts!) but how did the names get on the manifests so that the people could board the ship to go wherever they were going?
It’s the same thing #32 and I needed for our flight to Memphis.
Steamship companies – and airlines, for that matter – sure weren’t in the business of giving people free rides. If they did that, well, they would be out of business! Or at least up a creek without a paddle.
But what happens when there’s no Orbitz?! Or no certified travel agent?!
Well, in the early 20th century, along the Eastern seaboard, immigrant or ethnic banks were established in neighborhoods where newly-arrived immigrants tended to settle. Primarily established by German Jews, the banks were oftentimes located in Jewish neighborhoods. Calling them banks is a bit of misnomer, however, because while immigrants could deposit money with them, the banks’ real bread and butter came from selling steamship tickets and arranging passage for immigrants to come to the United States. Four such banks operated in Philadelphia including the Blitzstein Bank, the Rosenbaum Bank, the Lipshutz/Peoples Bank, and the Rosenbluth Bank. Only Rosenbluth exists today – and not as a bank but as - no joke - Rosenbluth Vacations, a
Little is known about the Lipshutz/Peoples Bank. The 1919 Annual Report of the Philadelphia Board of Trade lists the address for this bank as 7th and Girard Avenue with Charles Lipshutz and Maurice Wurzel listed as president and vice president, respectively. During the 1920s, German-Americans tended to live in that area of the city – in fact, until Max moved to South Philadelphia, he lived at 1512 North 7th Street and the Wissmanns lived on North Leithgow Street which was a few blocks away. So, chances are Max…or Anna…or Anna’s mother…was familiar with this bank.
This may explain why Max conducted his business at the Lipshutz/Peoples Bank on April 16, 1926.
But what kind of business was he doing?
Like me, he seems to have had to make his brother’s travel arrangements. Of course, his brother was immigrating to America and not going to Memphis for some barbecue. But you get the picture.
This is the prepaid steamship ticket for Max’s younger brother, Adolph, as purchased on April 16, 1926.
If you ever want to hear this archivist swoon…well, this record would do it. This isn’t a vital record like a marriage or death certificate. It isn’t a government record like the census forms or even the ship manifests. All it really is, is a record of a mundane business transaction that took place on April 16, 1926. If you don’t think that’s awesome – what is?!