Carolyn Blumenthal Danz
A Seattle native of Ashkenazic-German descent whose family roots extend back to the 1880s, Carolyn Danz grew up in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle and is a lifelong member of Seattle’s first Reform congregation, Temple De Hirsch Sinai. Carolyn graduated in 1939 from the University of Washington with a BA in Fine Arts, married Jerry Taylor in 1940, and had two children. Jerry, diagnosed with MS early in their marriage, died in 1959. Carolyn supported her family by opening and running a dressmaking business. A skilled seamstress, she and her talented African American assistant, Maude, made beautiful clothing. She served on the boards of many Seattle Jewish and civic organizations and has been passionate in her work on behalf of those in need.
Carolyn was born in 1918 during the Great Influenza Epidemic. She traces her family history and how they came to settle in the Seattle neighborhood where she grew up in and lived until she was married. Carolyn talks about the schools she attended, early influences and role models, and the Jewish holidays she and her family celebrated. Carolyn and her siblings were all encouraged to go to college. She graduated from the University of Washington with a fine arts degree, was married in 1940, and moved with her husband Jerry to Portland, Oregon, where she volunteered with the National Council of Jewish Women and other community service organizations. Carolyn describes her married life, starting a family and a dressmaking business, and the early signs of Jerry’s Multiple sclerosis. After Jerry died in 1959, Carolyn needed to work full-time and her business began to expand in the 1960s, and she was one of the first people to hire Black fashion designers for her shop. Carolyn reflects on her life as a single parent (before remarrying Bill Danz and expanding her family through stepchildren), businesswoman, and volunteer for Jewish and civic organizations that serve those in need. Additionally, Carolyn has been on the board of the Kline Galland Home since 1963, in charge of fundraising and activities.
In the second interview session, Carolyn recalls more childhood memories and family traditions from growing up in Seattle, a city she would return to after her first husband’s death in 1959. She details more of her college and educational experiences, her involvement in various civic organizations around Seattle, and how her children’s lives have unfolded. Carolyn talks about founding the Northwest Croquet Association and playing in tournaments through the United States. Finally, she reflects on her active life, the various organizations she was involved with, the friendships she’s formed over the years, and what she hopes for the future.
How to cite this page
Oral History of Carolyn Blumenthal Danz. Interviewed by Roz Borsntein. 11 May 2001, 16 May 2001. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on December 11, 2023) <https://jwa.org/oralhistories/danz-carolyn>.
Oral History of Carolyn Blumenthal Danz 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.