Guide to the Papers of Abraham C. Ratshesky (1864-1943), undated, 1895-1974 (bulk 1930-1948)
 
*P-586

Reprocessed by Stephanie Call

American Jewish Historical Society, New England Archives

99-101 Newbury St.

Boston, Massachusetts

Phone: (617) 226-1245

Email: reference@ajhsboston.org

URL: http://www.ajhsboston.org

© 2014, American Jewish Historical Society, Boston, MA and New York, NY. All Rights Reserved.
Collection originally processed by Tova Kornfeld, May 2005. Machine-readable finding aid created by Stephanie Call as MS Word document, January 2009. Finding aid was encoded by Marvin Rusinek on February 04, 2009. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Ratshesky, Abraham C., 1864-1943
Title: Abraham C. Ratshesky (1864-1943), papers
Dates:undated, 1895-1974 (bulk 1930-1948)
Abstract: Abraham Captain Ratshesky (1864-1943) was a banker by profession who founded the U.S. Trust Company with his brother Israel in 1895, and also served in a variety of political positions, including the Massachusetts State Senate from 1892-1895, delegate to the Republican National Conventions in 1892, 1904, 1908, 1916, and 1924, Assistant Food Administrator for Massachusetts during World War I, and most importantly, United States Minister to Czechoslovakia from 1930-1932. In 1933, Ratshesky was honored with the Order of the White Lion First Class, Czechoslovakia’s highest honor. A noted philanthropist, Ratshesky was involved in relief efforts for the 1917 Halifax Disaster, the donation of the building used for the American Red Cross headquarters in Boston, and the 1925 “Pennies Campaign” to restore the U.S.S. Constitution. He also founded the A.C. Ratshesky Charity Foundation in 1916, still in operation. This collection contains personal and professional photographs of family, friends and trips to Czechoslovakia, reports on actions as U.S. Minister, diaries, films, and letters from new First Lady Coolidge following the death of President Harding.
Languages: The collection is in English.
Quantity: 4.5 linear feet (4 manuscript boxes, 1 document box, 3 oversized folders)
Identification: P-586
Repository: American Jewish Historical Society
Location: Located at AJHS, Boston, MA.
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Biographical Note1

Abraham Captain Ratshesky (“Cap”) was born in Boston, Massachusetts on November 6, 1864 to Asher and Bertha. On February 19, 1894 he married Edith Shuman; they had no children. A banker by profession, Ratshesky started the U.S. Trust Company with his brother Israel in 1895. Ratshesky was also involved in politics, serving as a member of the Massachusetts State Senate from 1892-1895 and as a delegate to the Republican National Conventions in 1892, 1904, 1908, 1916, and 1924. During World War I, he was the Assistant Food Administrator for Massachusetts. His political background helped secure his nomination to the post of United States Minister to Czechoslovakia from 1930-1932 by President Herbert Hoover. In 1933, Ratshesky was honored with the Order of the White Lion First Class, Czechoslovakia’s highest honor.

An active civic leader and philanthropist, Ratshesky was also involved in the relief efforts following the December 6, 1917 Halifax explosion, when two ships, one carrying munitions, collided in the Halifax, Nova Scotia harbor. Much of Halifax was destroyed, and thousands of citizens were killed or injured. Ratshesky financed a team of doctors and nurses with medical supplies as part of the relief effort. Due to this effort, the city of Halifax annually donates an evergreen to Boston for the holiday season.

Ratshesky was one of the original founders of Beth Israel Hospital, donated a building on Gloucester Street for the American Red Cross's Boston headquarters, and, in 1916, founded the A.C. Ratshesky Charity Foundation, still in operation. He also founded and acted as treasurer of the "Pennies Campaign" in 1925, where school children throughout the country raised money to restore the U.S.S. Constitution.

In addition to his home in Boston on Commonwealth Avenue, Rathesky owned "The Birches" in Beverly, Massachusetts, where he and his wife summered and entertained their friends and family.

He died in 1943.

1 Biographical Note based on information from the following: Materials from the Abraham C. Rathesky Collection, the A.C. Ratshesky Foundation website at http://ratheskyfoundation.org, retrieved on 1/26/2009, Who Was Who in America, volume II (1950), and Biographical Encyclopedia of American Jews (1935).

Chronology

1864ACR born in Boston, MA
1892-1895Member of Massachusetts State Senate
1894Marries Edith Shuman
1895-1939Founds the U.S Trust Company with brother Israel and continues to serve as President and later Chairman of the Board
WWIAssistant Food Administrator for Massachusetts
1916Donates building to American Red Cross
1917Organizes and finances relief efforts for Halifax Explosion
1925Organizes "Pennies Campaign" to restore the U.S.S. Constitution
1930-1932Serves as U.S. Minister to Czechoslovakia
1933Receives the Order of the White Lion First Class from Czechoslovakia
1943Ratshesky dies
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Scope and Content Note

This collection contains numerous photographs of the Ratshesky family, including Abraham and Edith, Edith’s parents, Samuel and Julia Shuman, and her sister Laura; Abraham’s sister Rebecca Morse and her family, and Edith’s nephew Robert Brandt and his family. In addition, photographs of the exterior and interior of “The Birches,” the Ratshesky summer home in Beverly, Massachusetts, are included in this collection. Paul Weber, an architectural photographer based in Boston, took the majority of interior shots.

Photographs of Czechoslovakia and Czechoslovakian Presidents Jan Masaryk and Benes, as well as the Minister of Czechoslovakia to the United States Ferdinand Veverka, are in this collection. Photographs of Czechoslovakia and Ratshesky Goodwill tour have accompanying reports.

In addition to photographs, the collection includes a memoriam speech written by Ratshesky on the occasion of Lina Frank Hecht's death, founder of the Hebrew Industrial School (later the Hecht Neighborhood House) as well as a speech written for the occasion of Edith Ratshesky's 75th birthday.

Rounding out the collection are diaries belong to Ratshesky, two of which are titled "Prague Dinners" and "My Trip Abroad," handwritten greetings to the couple on their 25th wedding anniversary, bounded in a hand-made book, and an estate ledger. These books are fragile and wrapped in tissue, but provide further information about Ratshesky and his life. The Order of the White Lion First Class medal, scrapbook, and films complete the collection.

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Arrangement

The collection is arranged in four series, as described below:

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers by permission of the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society, except items that are restricted due to their fragility.

Use Restrictions

Information concerning the literary rights may be obtained from the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society. Users must apply in writing for permission to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection. For more information contact:
American Jewish Historical Society, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY, 10011
email: reference@ajhs.org

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Related Material

Halifax Explosion 1917 Online Resources, Nova Scotia Archives & Records Management (http://www.gov.ns.ca/nsarm/virtual/explosion.asp)
Letter Accepting the Resignation of Abraham C. Ratshesky as United States Minister to Czechoslovakia (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=23145)

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:
Identification of item, date (if known); Abraham C. Ratshesky (1864-1943), papers; P-586; box number; folder number; American Jewish Historical Society, New York, NY, and Boston, MA.

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Acquisition Information

Donated to AJHS by the A.C. Ratshesky Foundation in 1987.

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Access Points

Click on a subject to search that term in the Center's catalog. Return to the Top of Page

Container List

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

 

Series I: Photographs, undated, 1890-1941, with gaps

The Series is in English.
.5 linear feet & 2 folders. Boxes 1-2.
Arrangement:

Photographs are arranged by family name or subject.

Scope and Content:

This series contains photographs of the extended Ratshesky family, including the Ratshesky’s sister, Rebecca Morse and her family, Edith Ratshesky’s parents and sister Laura, who passed away at 27, as well as Edith’s nephew Robert Brandt and his family. In addition to the family photographs there are numerous exterior and interior shots of “The Birches,” the family’s summer home, as well as photographs of Czechoslovakian Presidents Masaryk and Benes and Minister to the United States, Vererka. Photographs of trips to Czechoslovakia and from the Goodwill Tour are also included with reports.

BoxFolderTitleDate
1 1 Morse Family undated
1 2 Mr. and Mrs. Abraham Ratshesky undated, 1890s-1941
1 3 “The Birches,” Beverly, MA undated
1 4 “The Birches” and other subjects undated, 1919-1945
1 5 Dedication of 17 Gloucester Street as Red Cross House undated, 1938-1939
1 6 Plaque on the Administration Building of Beth Israel Hospital undated
1 7 Ratshesky Family undated
1 8 Mr. & Mrs. Samuel Shuman undated
1 9 G. Laura Shuman undated
1 10 Brandt Family undated, 1933-1938
1 11 Goodwill & Industrial Tours 1930
1 12 Jan Masaryk 1931-1939
1 13 President Benes 1933
1 14 Ferdinand Veverka undated
BoxFolderTitleDate
2 1 Views and Life in Czechoslovakia undated, 1930
2 2 Presentation of Credentials & Diplomatic Usages in Prague 1930
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Series II: General, 1895-1974, with gaps

The Series is in English.
1 linear foot. Boxes 2-3.
Arrangement:

Alphabetical by sub-series.

Scope and Content:

Included in this series are letters from President and Mrs. Coolidge following the death of President Harding, as well as Ratshesky’s eulogy for Lina Frank Hecht. Also in this series are Ratshesky’s diaries and a 25th wedding anniversary book that was handmade and includes handwritten greetings from their friends and families. Please note that the diaries, ledger and greeting book are fragile and wrapped in tissue. In addition to these materials, Ratshesky’s Order of the White Lion First Class medal, scrapbook and press clippings are included. The scrapbook contains clippings and information pertaining to the Halifax Explosion and the Red Cross building donation.

Subseries I: Correspondence and Speeches, 1920, 1923, 1948

The Subseries is in English.
Box 2, Folders 3-5.
BoxFolderTitleDate
2 3 President & Mrs. Coolidge Correspondence 1923
2 4 Edith Ratshesky’s 75th Birthday 1948
2 5 Eulogy for Lina Frank Hecht 1920

Subseries II: Diaries and Other Books, 1904, 1911, 1913, 1919, 1930-1936

The Subseries is in English.
Box 2, Folder 6 -- Box 3, Folder 2.
BoxFolderTitleDate
2 6 Memoriam Books for G. Laura Shuman and Lilian Gertrude Shuman 1904, 1913
2 7 Silver Wedding Anniversary Greetings 1919
BoxFolderTitleDate
3 1-2 Diaries 1911, 1930-1936

Subseries III: Estate Business, undated, 1914, 1920

The Subseries is in English.
Box 3, Folders 3-4.
BoxFolderTitleDate
3 3 Ratshesky Estate Ledger undated
3 4 Property Holdings 1914, 1920

Subseries IV: Press Clippings, 1930-1931, 1933

The Subseries is in English.
Box 3, Folders 5-6.
BoxFolderTitleDate
3 5 Press Clippings/Appointment of U.S. Minister to Czechoslovakia 1930-1931
3 6 Press Clippings/The Order of the White Lion First Class 1933

Subseries V: Miscellaneous, 1917, 1927-1929, 1933, 1974

The Subseries is in English.
Box 4.
BoxFolderTitleDate
4 Block Print of A.C. Ratshesky 1974
4 “The Order of the White Lion First Class” Medal 1933
4 Scrapbook 1917, 1927-1929
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Series III: Film, undated, 1930

The Series is in English.
1 cubic foot. Box 5.
Arrangement:

By number, in canisters.

Scope and Content:

This series contains film reels of various activities and events in Ratshesky’s life. The films are restricted due to their condition.

BoxFolderTitleDate
5 Boy Scouts’ Activities (2 canisters) undated
5 Activities in Prague (2 canisters) undated
5 On Board the S.S. George Washington/Plymouth Harbor/American Legation Garden-Prague/Panoramic View of Prague from Garden/Ceremonials, May 2, 1930/July 4 Garden Party undated, 1930
5 Street of Alchemists/Elborgen Castle Surroundings/St. Charles Bridge in Prague/Statue of John Hews/Market Place in Teplitz/Opera Square-Dreden/Elbe River/Brno/Luhacovice/At Zlin With Mr. Bat’a undated
5 Activities in Prague, Czechoslovakia: At Bratislava/At Topolchianky meet with President Masaryk/ At Pistany/ At Goblonz/ Leaving Hotel Esplanade in Prague/ Leaving Chamber of Commerce in Pilsen/St. Barbara’s Church in Kutna Hora/ Barrandov Restaurant in Prague/ Picking Hops/ National Czechoslovak Costumes undated
5 Untitled undated
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Series IV: Oversized Materials, undated, 1895, 1933-1937

The Series is in English.
3 OS2 folders. Shared OS2 box.
Arrangement:

Photographs and prints are in a folder in the shared oversized box.

Scope and Content:

This series contains oversized photographs of family members and a signed photograph of President Herbert Hoover. Most photographs and prints are identified, and include those of Max Ratshesky, Greta C. Brandt, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel and Julia Shuman, Jessie Hays, Laura Shuman Memorial Building, and T.G. Masaryk. Also included is a copy of a ledger page for property holdings and the certificate for the “Order of the White Lion.”

BoxFolderTitleDate
Shared OS2 Box Ledger Page (copy) 1895-1944
Shared OS2 Box "Order of the White Lion" certificate 1932
Shared OS2 Box Photographs & Prints undated, 1930, 1933-1937
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