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The Blitzstein Bank Passage Order Book Records Database

for the Port of Philadelphia and Other US East Coast Ports

Compiled by the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center and Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Philadelphia

· Background
· Using the Database
· The Blitzstein Records
· Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center
· Acknowledgements
· Searching the Database

Background

In the port cities on the east coast of the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century, many charitable organizations aided immigrants arriving from Europe.   The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) was one of those organizations.   The port cities also offered so-called “ethnic” or “immigrant” banks, conveniently located in Jewish neighborhoods where newly-arrived immigrants tended to settle.  These banks were commercial enterprises, started mainly by established German Jews, as a place where recent immigrants could save money and arrange to purchase steamship tickets to bring their families to the US.  In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, HIAS preserved the original records of four immigrant banks formerly operating in the city.  To our knowledge, no other such records have survived, either in Philadelphia or in any of the other port cities.

Today, the record books of the Blitzstein Bank, Rosenbaum Bank, Rosenbluth Bank and Lipshutz Bank are housed at the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center (PJAC).  They offer unique kinds of information, including the name and US address of the person who paid for the tickets, port of entry - usually, but not always the port of Philadelphia – and intended final destination (again, not necessarily Philadelphia).

Through the collaboration of PJAC, the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Philadelphia (JGSGP) and JewishGen, all four of the banks’ records are to be indexed, and eventually, all the indices will be available as searchable databases on JewishGen.  Presently, the Blitzstein Bank records and the Lipshutz/Peoples Bank records are the only ones that have been indexed.

Using the Database

You will need to know the name of an immigrant passenger.  If a ticket was purchased for that immigrant through the Blitzstein Bank, your search will associate the passenger’s name with a Book Number (Books 2–13; there is no Book #1) and a page number in that book.

You should then either visit the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center or contact PJAC with this information and request a copy of the record (See ordering instructions below).  The Archives’ phone number, mailing address, email address and website are listed below.

If you visit, the collections of PJAC are available by appointment only.  Please call or write PJAC in advance and they will schedule a research visit Monday through Friday during normal operating hours.  There is no charge for onsite research.

If you write for a copy of a record, the staff at PJAC will make a copy and send it to you for a fee of $18 per name.  See instructions below.

LDS Microfilms: In addition, these records are available through the LDS (Mormon) Family History Library, which has microfilmed the entire Blitzstein Bank record collection onto four reels of microfilm.  The title is: "Ticket purchase books and index, 1899-1930".  The four microfilm reels for the books are:
Book
Number
Arrival
Number
DatesLDS
Microfilm #
2-42674-8065Jun 1899-Nov 1904#1,550,635
5-78066-13294Nov 1904-Oct 1907#1,550,636
8-1013295-18703Oct 1907-Jan 1913#1,550,637
11-1318704-23482Jan 1913-Dec 1930#1,550,638

The Blitzstein Records

The records were indexed by the bank itself on 3" x 5" cards.  Both the records and the index are housed at PJAC.  There are approximately 18,000 cards with information on 30,912 passengers.  There are four fields: Surname, Given Name, Book Number, and Page Number — this information constitutes the searchable database.

Book Numbers cover the following date spans.   The date of the record probably refers to the date the savings account was opened or a ticket purchased, perhaps several weeks or months before the passengers arrived.

Book # Dates
2June 1899 through April 1902
3April 1902 through December 1903
4December 1903 through November 1904
5November 1904 through January 1906
6January 1906 through August 1906
7August 1906 through October 1907
8October 1907 through December 1909
9December 1909 through January 1911
10June 1911 through January 1913
11January 1913 through February 1914
12February 1914 through December 1921
13December 1921 through December 1930

Information you are likely to find:

  • Date - probably the date an account was opened to save money and/or purchase a ticket
  • Name and age of passenger(s)
  • Where the passenger is coming from (possibly name, street address, town, country of original home)
  • Ports of embarkation and of arrival
  • Names of ship and ship line
  • Name and address of ticket purchaser
  • Remarks - often there is additional information about the passenger and/or the purchaser.

Sample full entry:

Here’s an example of a record that appears in Book 5:

December 2, 1904. Meyer Wagman (Passenger) age 21 from c/o Mr. M. Charkam, 44B St. Georges St., London, England; from London via Antwerp to Philadelphia, on the “Haverford” (ship), American Line (shipping line).  Purchasers: D. Gertzman, 410 Tasker St. and Elie Chasin, 1541 S. 7th St. (Philadelphia)

To Order a Blitzstein Bank Records from the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center

There are two options:

Option A: If you would like to only order copies of Blitzstein Bank records using the index information in this database, you must write to PJAC (no emails or phone calls please) and provide the following:

  • Write “BLITZSTEIN BANK RECORDS” at the top of your request
  • Your full name
  • Your full mailing address
  • Your email address
  • For each record you would like, copy the following information from the Index:
    • Surname
    • Given Name
    • Book Number
    • Page Number
  • A US$ check or money order for $18 per name (Surname and Given Name) made payable to "Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center".

Option B: If you would like PJAC to search their HIAS Genealogical collection (see http://library.temple.edu/collections/pjac/?option=genealogy) for a name (Surname and Given Name) including the Blitzstein Bank collection, please use the form on the PJAC website.  The fee for this more comprehensive service is $18 per name.

Philadelphia Jewish Archives - Contact Information

Website: http://library.temple.edu/collections/pjac/

Address: Temple University, Urban Archives, Paley Library, 1210 Polett Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19122

Phone: (215) 204-8257 (Archivists Donald Davis and Eric Greenberg)

Email: pjac@temple.edu

Acknowledgements

The Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center (PJAC) and Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Philadelphia (JGSGP) would like to thank the following people for their extraordinary dedication in indexing the Blitzstein Bank records.  Without their hard work, this database would not be available to the public.

JGSGP: Selma Neubauer, Project Leader, Eileen Bobman, Maurice Goldberg, Joan Gross, Helen Gusoff, Marty Gusoff, Lora Hull, Renee Nachbar, Joan Rosen, and Steve Schechter.

PJAC: Donald Davis, Archivist, and Eric Greenberg, Associate Archivist.


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