Jewish Heritage Collection: Oral history interview with Harriet Birnbaum Ullman and Albert Jacob Ullman

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Jewish Heritage Collection: Oral history interview with Harriet Birnbaum Ullman and Albert Jacob Ullman
Rosengarten, Dale, 1948-
Ullman, Harriet Birnbaum, 1927-, Ullman, Albert Jacob, 1923-2008
Albert Jacob Ullman, born in New York in 1923, discusses his family background. His father, Samuel Ullman, emigrated from Russia around 1912 and worked for a time in New York, before following landsmen, men from the same town in Europe, to Savannah, Georgia, where he met and married Freda Wolson in 1922. He brought his bride to New York, but they returned to Savannah about seven years later. Samuel soon took over a cousin’s Bluffton, South Carolina, business, Planter’s Mercantile Company, known locally as the Jew Store. Albert describes the store and growing up in Bluffton, where, in 1932, his father was elected mayor. The family moved to Ridgeland, South Carolina, in 1938, after Freda opened a second, more successful store in that town. In 1941 Albert attended The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina. He recalls the local families who hosted Jewish cadets on Shabbat, and the appeal of the St. Philip Street neighborhood’s Yiddishkeit. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese in December 1941, Albert volunteered for the army and served as a paratrooper and medic in the Pacific theater. When he returned from three years of active duty, he joined his parents in the Ridgeland store, and he met Harriet Birnbaum of Savannah, Georgia. Harriet had emigrated from Kobrin, Poland, in 1937, at the age of ten. Her mother, Chamke Birnbaum, widowed when Harriet was nine months old, agreed to marry Samuel Tenenbaum, who came from her hometown of Kolonie, Poland. Sam, himself a widower, had immigrated to Savannah with his family and established a scrap metal business. When he received word from a visiting landsman that Chamke had lost her husband, he returned to Poland, married her, and brought her and her two children to the United States. Harriet describes growing up in Kobrin and Savannah. The Tenenbaums were members of Agudath Achim, the Conservative synagogue in Savannah, co-founded by Samuel. Albert and Harriet married in 1947 and ran Ullman’s Department Store in Ridgeland, where they raised four boys, started a private kindergarten, and Albert served as mayor. Fifteen years later they moved to Savannah and, soon after, Harriet gave birth to a daughter. Among other topics discussed are Agudath Achim Congregation’s controversial vote to increase women’s direct involvement in the synagogue, and Albert’s experiences with the Ku Klux Klan and his work for the Anti-Defamation League.
Jewish Heritage Collection Oral Histories
Contributing Institution:
College of Charleston Libraries
Media Type:
Oral Histories
Personal or Corporate Subject:
Ku Klux Klan (1915- ), Anti-defamation League, Agudath Achim (Savannah, GA)
Topical Subject:
Jews--South Carolina--Interviews, Jews--Immigrants--United States--History, Jews--Poland--Kobrin--Social life and customs, Jews--Georgia--Savannah--Social life and customs, Jews--South Carolina--Bluffton--Social life and customs, Jewish merchants--South Carolina--Ridgeland--History, Jewish merchants--South Carolina--Bluffton--History, African Americans--South Carolina--Relations with Jews, Race discrimination--South Carolina--History, Race discrimination--Georgia--History, World War, 1939-1945--Participation, Jewish
English, Yiddish
Shelving Locator:
MSS 1035-197
S.C. County:
Jasper County (S.C.), Beaufort County (S.C.)
Internet Media Type:
Digitization Specifications:
Mp3 derivative audio created with Audacity software. Archival masters are wav files.
Preferred Citation:
Harriet Birnbaum Ullman and Albert Jacob Ullman, audio interview by Dale Rosengarten, 24 May 1998, Mss 1035-197, Special Collections, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC, USA.
Copyright Status Statement:
Digital resource copyright 2013, College of Charleston. All rights reserved. For more information contact Special Collections, Addlestone Library, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC 29424.