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The Rosenbaum Bank
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During the immigration boom of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, various agencies including private community and state run banks sold steamship tickets to immigrants and their families, arranging for passage to and from America. Many of the private banks selling steamship tickets were referred to as immigrant banks and catered to specific immigrant communities and the neighborhoods they lived. Although steamship agents and immigrant banks in Philadelphia were plentiful, few records of their activities are known to have survived with the exception of four steamship agents who primarily served the Eastern European Jewish population. These four steamship agents--M. L. Blitzstein and Co., M. Rosenbaum and Co., Peoples Bank and Trust Company, and Rosenbluth Brothers--recorded the sale of tickets purchased by their customers in ledgers listing the sales transactions.
Unlike passenger lists which document an immigrant's entry into port, these ledgers record details about the purchase such as the name of the ticket purchaser, the individual(s) for whom tickets were purchased, the name of the steamship line, fees, and travel itinerary. These details reveal information about the passengers, the family members who were arranging passage, and the associated costs of travel. In 1951, HIAS and Council Migration Service of Philadelphia, formerly the Association for the Protection of Jewish Immigrants, an organization dedicated to providing legal and supportive services to immigrants and refugees acquired the steamship ticket purchase ledgers. HIAS Philadelphia utilized these ledgers to verify immigration information when assisting individuals with the naturalization process or facilitating passage for family members seeking asylum. From 1977 to 2009, the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center (PJAC) administered the collection of steamship ticket purchase ledgers. In June 2009, Temple University Libraries acquired HIAS Philadelphia's archived records and the collection of ledgers. Indexes to the ledgers from three of Philadelphia’s steamship agents are available as searchable databases on JewishGen.
The Rosenbaum index contains three fields of information for an entry: the date of the transaction, passenger name, and purchaser name. There are approximately 83,000 entries listed in 24 volumes covering the years 1890-1934.
You will need to know the name of a passenger and/or the name of a ticket purchaser to search the index. If a ticket was purchased from M. Rosenbaum and Co., your search will identify that passenger and associate the passenger’s name with a date. Likewise, your search on the name of a purchaser will also lead to the date associated with a ticket purchase transaction. Often times, names listed as purchasers are actually employees of or agents of M. Rosenbaum and Co.
LDS Microfilms: In addition, microfilm copies of the ledgers are accessible through the LDS (Mormon) Family History Library. The title is: Rosenbaum Steamship Company (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania). The ten microfilm reels for the books are:
|#1,550,639||Book 1-3 (1890-1894)|
|#1,550,640||Book 4-7 (1895-1898)|
|#1,550,641||Book 8 (1899) -- Book 9 (Aug.-Dec. 1900) --
Book 10 (Jan.-Aug. 1900) -- |
Book 11 p. 1-150, no. 1-1950 (Jan.-Oct. 1901) [continued in book 24]
|#1,550,642||Book 12 [p. 1-201], no. 1-2613 (Jan.-Oct. 1902) -- |
Book 13 [p. 1-251], no. 1-3262 (Jan.-Nov. 1903) [books 12 and 13 continued in book 24]
|#1,550,643||Book 14 [p. 1-251], no. 1-3263 (Jan.-Sept. 1904) [continued in book 16] -- Book 15 (1905)|
|#1,550,644||Book 16 [p. 252-end], no. 3264-end
[continuation of book 14] (Sept.-Dec. 1904, Jan. 1906) -- |
Book 17-18 (1906-1907)
|#1,550,645||Book 19 (Dec. 1907-Dec. 1909)|
|#1,550,646||Book 20 (1910-1911)|
|#1,550,647||Book 21 (1912-1913)|
|#1,550,648||Book 22 (1914-1927) -- |
Book 23 (1926-1934) [includes index 1914-1934 at end] --
Book 24: [continuation of book 11, p. 151-end], no. 1951-2301 (Oct.-Dec. 1901); [continuation of book 12, p. 202-end)], no. 2614-2990 (Nov.-Dec. 1902); [continuation of book 13, p. 252-end], no. 3263-3665 (Nov.-Dec. 1903)
The information in the record books is handwritten. A good portion of the handwriting was difficult to read. Many names were spelled as they were in Europe. We made every effort to record the correct names, or as close as possible. The date of the record may refer to the date an account was opened, or an order was placed, or a ticket purchased, perhaps several weeks or months before the passengers arrived. The records that do not have purchaser information seem to be people leaving the U.S. on cruises and/or returning to Europe.
Information you are likely to find:
The SCRC has digitized all of the steamship ticket purchase ledgers in their collection and make them freely accessible online. The digital collection of ledgers is accessible through the following link:
Steamship Ticket Purchase Ledgers digital collection
Reference requests for copies of entries from ledgers not yet accessible in the digital collection may be submitted to SCRC reference staff.
JewishGen, the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Philadelphia (JGSGP) and Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center (PJAC) would like to thank the following people for their extraordinary dedication in indexing the Rosenbaum Bank records. Without their hard work, this database would not be available to the public.
JGSGP: Selma Neubauer, Project Leader, Eileen Bobman, Al First, Joan Gross, Harriet Kasow, David Mink, Joan Rosen, Steve Schecter.
PJAC: Donald Davis and Eric Greenberg (former archivists).
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