On June 1st, Julius Rosenwald was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A gala was held for the induction at Gotham Hall. Alongside Rosenwald’s induction, the efforts of several “modern-day Rosenwalds” were acknowledged, celebrating Paramount Pictures CEO Sherry Lansing and Harlem Educational Activities Fund founder Daniel Rose being among them. The Rosenwald trailer was also screened at the event.
The Woodville School is one of the few remaining Rosenwald schools. Erected in 1923, the building is found off of Route 17 in Ordinary, Gloucester County, Virginia. The school Woodville School, contrasts with most remaining Rosenwald schools due to remaining in fairly good condition. This is in part because the school has never been completely abandoned, serving as both a home and storage house for antiques since the school’s closing. Wes Wilson, of the T.C. Walker-Woodville Rosenwald School Foundation, hopes not to restore the school, but to rehabilitate it, saying, “Restoration is to take it back to the way it looked at a point in time. Rehabilitation would be to make it a usable product while retaining as much a historical presence as you could.” The foundation plans to add bathrooms, air conditioning, electricity, and other modern conveniences to allow the building to serve as a center for the community.
Thanks to the Library of Congress, the film based on the best selling novel, Native Son, will finally be screened uncensored and in its entirety at Museum of Modern Art. The film, which features dialogue written by the novel’s author, Richard Wright, also places him in the lead role of Bigger. Richard Wright was also the recipient of a Rosenwald fund.
You can read more about the story in the New York Times article, here.
Recently, a fan of the Rosenwald film, Christine Clark, reached out to us with information about a ship named after Julius Rosenwald. Christine writes;
“I don’t have information on the Rosenwald schools, but I have often wondered who Julius Rosenwald was. My father, Francis Clark, was a Merchant Marine and during WWII (when the Coast Guard commissioned the Merchant Marines into service), my Dad was on the liberty ship, Julius Rosenwald. … [Rosenwald] touched more lives than we can imagine”
“I am pretty sure that photo is from World War II. My Dad enlisted in the Merchant Marines in 1941 and stayed with them until his retirement in 1969. He died in 1984 and I never knew which liberty ships he was on during the War. My Mom died in 2014 but had dementia so I was never able to get details from her. I found this photo after we cleaned out Mom’s home. I just did some research via the Net to find out who Julius Rosenwald was because I was curious as to why a ship was named after him.”
Between 1941 and 1945, the United States produced 2,710 Liberty ships for use by the U.S. fleet and for delivering war materials to Britain and the Soviet Union. The first Liberty ship constructed, the SS John Henry, set a precedent for naming the ships after prominent American figures. The cargo ship design was chosen for its low-cost construction. Surprisingly, many of the ships outlived their 5 year life expectancy with over 2,400 surviving World War II.
On the note of surviving Liberty ships, Christine also shares this information with us:
“… only two that I know of remain, one is the Jeremiah O’Brien in San Francisco and the other is John W. Brown (not sure where that is located)”
“This Liberty Ship was built by J.A. Jones Constr. Co., Panama City, Florida, Hull #1533. It was at Normandy on June 6, 1944.
It was scrapped in March 1963.
Hope this information helps some.
The ship was laid in the Panama City shipyard on July 7th, 1943, and launched on September 13th of the same year. Throughout the next year, the ship spent a total of 84 days on ways and in the water. During this time it was badly damaged during an enemy attack. It was sold to a private seller in 1947, and as we’ve learned from Christine, scrapped in March of 1963.
Rivka Schiller, a Yiddish translater and Chicago native, was asked to help provide research for the film, Rosenwald, last spring. On her blog, she writes about the information she uncovered while researching Julius Rosenwald. An interesting and informative read- we highly recommend you read it for yourself!
Ever since the new Degas/Cassatt show opened at the National Gallery of Art here in Washington D.C. a few weeks ago, I’ve been meaning to check it out. The NGA came up recently on The Rosenwald Schools production when I interviewed Linda Levy, whose grandfather Lessing Rosenwald (JR’s first son) donated a substantial amount of art to the venerable gallery.
Lessing Rosenwald in later years
Photo credit: The estate of Nancy Salazar
Because I had two good reasons to visit the NGA this weekend I decided to make the trip with my editor, Marian Hunter. When I arrived at the gallery, I asked a tour guide where I might find Lessing Rosenwald’s contributions to the museum and she directed me to Room 75 upstairs.
It was only once I arrived at the “Lessing Rosenwald Room” that I realized his donated artworks were part of the wonderful temporary exhibition of works by Degas and Cassatt. Six pieces donated by Rosenwald have made their way into this show.
It’s great to know that Lessing Rosenwald’s contributions to the NGA remain vital and interesting to museum-goers and remain publicly available, as was his wish. Rosenwald also donated many materials to the Library of Congress in Washington D.C., and they have a “Rosenwald Room” that is set up to resemble Lessing’s reading room at “Alverthorpe,” his home in suburban Philadelphia (which is now a park belonging to the borough of Jenkintown, PA).
The Degas/Cassatt exhibition is open at the NGA until October 5th, so take the time to visit before then.