Industry: Developing Baltimore's Business
Like generations before them, Baltimore Jewish women contributed significantly to the economic well-being of their families. Many grew up in households permeated by the sounds and smells of their families' bakeries and butcher shops. As adults they worked alongside husbands, parents, or in-laws, as saleswomen, office managers, cashiers, or hostesses. Those who started their own businesses sometimes found themselves pioneers in worlds dominated traditionally by men. Juggling childcare and household responsibilities with workplace demands required flexibility, dedication, and ingenuity. In creating and sustaining some of Baltimore's most noted and beloved businesses, Jewish women played vital roles in the economic and social lives of their families and communities.
Artist's StatementWendy Jachman
Pinstripes and Pearls is a tapestry concerning the careers of Jewish women who served in a variety of roles within family businesses. These small businesses, which did so much to define the Baltimore Jewish community during the mid-twentieth century, depended upon this family participation for their success. The stories of these women, thus, challenge stereotyped assumptions that Jewish women of this era did little to contribute to the family income. And, as they patronized each other's businesses, they essentially created their own community. The ways in which these women struggled to balance and combine the demands of work and home and community offer challenging lessons for our own time. Burgundy and blue are seasoned hues of pink and baby blue. These two colors differentiate boys and girls at an early age, hence, for adults I used the mature version of these two symbolic colors.
The power desk/table signifies the executive positions that some of these women assumed and their leadership and success. The various items surrounding these women are symbols of their particular businesses. The fact that they are all touching means that they really formed a community of their own and they relied on each other's services and wares. Blue and white pinstripe is traditionally a men's suit cloth, which symbolizes power and money. The pearls and flowers are part of women's raiment, and they extend into the border to form a decorative frame that circulates around the piece. The concept and design aspects relate to each other to make the piece cohesive: women in what has been viewed as a masculine world, but with their own feminine touches.
This is my salute to these women, as they are the pioneer career women in Baltimore's Jewish community. Since I, too, run a family business in the same community, it was very gratifying to accept this special commission from the Jewish Women's Archive.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Industry: Developing Baltimore's Business." (Viewed on December 2, 2023) <https://jwa.org/communitystories/baltimore/themes/industry>.