A pioneer in residential real estate, Fiola Blum founded a thriving company that bears her name in an era when few women were successful real estate entrepreneurs. Born in Baltimore in 1911, Fiola married her husband, Jimmy, in 1930. After moving with their two sons, James, Jr. and Harry, into a custombuilt home in Northwest Baltimore, she started her professional life as a ""kitchen broker."" She worked for several real estate agencies before going into business with her husband in 1949. Fiola learned about real estate on the job and rose to high levels on the Baltimore Board of Realtors and the Multiple Listing Board, where she was the only woman and the only Jew. She and her husband were among the first tenants to buy into Eleven Slade, the first high rise condominium in the Pikesville area.
In the first session, Fiola talks about her earliest childhood memories and religious background growing up in Baltimore, Maryland. She talks about her grandparents, the neighborhood where she lived, and the house she grew up in. Fiola explains how, in 1949, she started her business, Fiola Blum Inc., a realty company. The company operated out of her home until it grew and relocated to Slade Avenue. Blum reflects on her role as a Jewish woman in real estate, building her business, and fighting against sexism, racism, and discrimination professionally and personally.
During the second interview session, Fiola expounds on her family background, heritage, and immigration history. Her maternal grandparents were from Germany, and her paternal grandparents emigrated from Russia. Blum tells more stories from her childhood about being the only Jewish family on her block, the Sunday School she attended, and the food her mother would cook. She also talks about meeting her husband, getting married in 1930, and starting a family. Finally, Fiola reflects on changes in Baltimore, the real estate market, and the Jewish communities in Baltimore.
How to cite this page
Oral History of Fiola Blum. Interviewed by Elaine Eff. 20 August 2001, 6 September 2001. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on December 11, 2023) <https://jwa.org/oralhistories/blum-fiola>.
Oral History of Fiola Blum by the Jewish Women's Archive is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jwa.org/contact/OralHistory.