The Lipshutz/Peoples Bank
· Using the Database
· The Lipshutz/Peoples Bank Records
· Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center
· Searching the Database
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. The Blitzstein Bank records have been indexed and a searchable database of these records has been online since early 2004. Now the second Immigrant Bank collection is also available.
There are a total of 25,112 records in the Lipshutz/Peoples Bank collection, covering the years 1906 through 1949. The records in the earlier years (up through 1930~1935) were mainly purchased for immigration. In the later records, many are for travelers who used the "Bank" to purchase tickets for cruises, other vacations of many kinds, and train travel within the US. There is also some evidence of airplane travel in the 1940s. There are still a few immigration records in these later years. For those tickets purchased for reasons other than immigration, some interesting tidbits about family can still be discovered, as some of the records for cruises, etc., contain other family information — addresses, names of relatives, passport numbers, etc.
You will need to know the name of an immigrant passenger and/or the name of the purchaser. If a ticket was purchased for that immigrant from the Lipshutz/Peoples Bank, your search will identify that passenger and associate the passenger’s name with an Order Number and a date if that person, already living in the U.S., used the Lipshutz/Peoples Bank to purchase a ticket for an immigrant.
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 Lipshutz/Peoples Bank record collection onto eight reels of microfilm. The title is: "Prepaid Steamship Ticket Record, 1906-1948". The eight microfilm reels for the books are:
|7793-18941||May 1923-Dec 1926||#1,550,631|
|18942-19863||Jan 1927-Dec 1931||#1,550,632|
|17793-18361||May 1923-Dec 1924||#1,026,296||Overlap previous records. Filmed backwards.|
|18362-19363||Feb 1924-Dec 1928||#1,026,397||Overlap previous records. Filmed backwards.|
|19364-20361||Jan 1929-Dec 1936||#1,026,298|
|20362-20822||Jan 1937-Dec 1948||#1,026,299||Also Index 1923-1948|
The Lipshutz index offers more information online than the Blitzstein database, including the date of the transaction, the Order Number, the passengers' names, and the purchasers' names. There are approximately 23,690 records, covering the following years:
|1907||January through October|
|1909||November - 1 entry; December - 2 entries|
|1910||January through December|
|1911||January through December|
|1912||January through December|
|1913||January through December|
|1914||January through October|
|1915||January, February, June, August - December|
|1916||January - May, October - December|
|1917||January, February, March|
|1919||April - December|
|1920 - 1941||Full Years; January - December|
|1942||Only 4 records|
|1944||Only 6 records|
|1945||Only 6 records|
|1948||Only 1 record|
|1949||Only 1 record|
The information in the books is in two different formats. The earlier years are handwritten record books. For most of the later years, there are Order Forms, generally typewritten. Generally, both formats contain similar information. A good portion of the handwriting was difficult to read. Many names were spelled as they were in Europe. We made every effort to get the correct name, or as close as possible.
The records that do not have purchaser information seem to be people leaving the U.S. on cruises and/or returning to Europe. 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.
Many of the Lipshutz/Peoples ticket orders are marked "Cancelled." Among the possible reasons for cancellation: the prospective immigrant decided not to make the trip or became unable, or the purchaser could not make the necessary payments or was not willing to sign a required affidavit assuming financial responsibility for the immigrant, or the account was transferred to another bank, etc. The database includes all information recorded for cancelled as well as for completed orders.
Information you are likely to find:
There are two options:
Option A: If you would like to only order copies of Lipshutz/Peoples Bank records using the index information in this database, you must write to PJAC (no emails or phone calls please) and provide the following:
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 Lipshutz/Peoples Bank collection, please use the form on the PJAC website. The fee for this more comprehensive service is $18 per name.
Address: Temple University, Urban Archives, Paley Library, 1210 Polett Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19122
Phone: (215) 204-8257 (Archivists Donald Davis and Eric Greenberg)
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, Deborah Glassman, Joan Gross, Joan Rosen, and Steve Schechter.
PJAC: Donald Davis, Archivist, and Eric Greenberg, Associate Archivist.
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