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From Arabic Translations to a Linzer Torte Recipe: Schlesinger Exhibit Showcases Materials from Immigration Organizations

“Stepping Stones for New Americans” will be at the Radcliffe Institute’s Schlesinger Library through September, 18 2013.


July 30, 2013—"Stepping Stones for New Americans," at the Radcliffe Institute's Schlesinger Library showcases books, photographs, audiovisual materials and ephemera related to four Boston-area organizations founded to support new immigrants. The exhibit is a companion to Radcliffe’s conference "Gender and Immigration."

The organizations featured in the exhibit are Denison House, Window Shop, North Bennet Street Industrial School and the Lebanese Syrian Ladies' Aid Society—which together represented new Americans from countries such as Syria, Lebanon, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Greece and China. "We tried to choose diverse organizations," Stacet Flatt, manuscript cataloger, said. The audiovisual component includes interviews from immigrants helped by these and other, related organizations.

Working with Flatt on the exhibit were Cat Holbrook, manuscript cataloger; Johanna Carll, metadata specialist and manuscript cataloger; and Bridgette Woodall, manuscript cataloger. Amanda Hegarty, collections conservator, designed the layout for the exhibit, and Melissa Dollman, audiovisual cataloger, designed the audiovisual exhibition. Bruce Williams, Schlesinger's operations coordinator, also helped with planning and construction.

In selecting materials for the exhibit, Flatt said they were particularly excited by some items they discovered in scrapbooks—for instance a promotional flyer for Denison House boasting that Amelia Earhart had been a volunteer. The materials from the Lebanese Syrian Ladies Aid Society include an original poem written in Arabic, which Nada Hussein, Widener Library’s Middle Eastern librarian, helped translate.

Although she feels connected to many items in the display, Flatt's personal favorite is an original handwritten recipe card for Window Shop's Linzer Torte. “When the public service librarians [at Schlesinger] heard that we were researching this organization, they kept mentioning the apparently famous Linzer Torte," she said. "We were particularly excited to find the original recipe." 

Visit "Stepping Stones for New Americans" in the Schlesinger Library lobby through September 18, 2013.