Jewish Heritage Collection: Oral history interview with Robert Moses

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Jewish Heritage Collection: Oral history interview with Robert Moses
Rosengarten, Dale, 1948-, Moses, Elizabeth
Moses, Robert, 1921-
Robert Altamont Moses, the fourth of seven children of Charlotte Virginia Emanuel and Henry Phillips Moses, was born in 1921 in Sumter, South Carolina, where his great-grandfather Montgomery Moses had settled around 1832. In describing the house and the property on Church Street where he and his siblings grew up, he notes that "looking back on it, I would say that it was a near-perfect childhood." The Moses family was Jewish, but celebrated both Jewish and Christian holidays. Robert discusses the deaths of his two oldest siblings due to polio; learning from his mother how to cure mullet roe and make haw jelly, "a Sumter specialty;" the 1950 death of his brother Vivian while flying for the United States Marines; and the life of his uncle Herbert "Unc" Moses, who partnered with Robert's father, Henry, in the Henry P. Moses Company, an insurance and real estate business. Robert attended The Citadel and, in the interview, recalls the difficulty of surviving freshman year. While serving stateside in the U.S. Army in the mid-1940s, he met and married Harriett Pace of Kansas City, Missouri, who was on the road playing violin with a band. They settled in Sumter and raised five daughters. Because Harriett was Catholic, they had to pledge to raise their children in the Catholic Church. Robert kept his promise, but states that it was "a bitter pill to try to swallow, to see your children raised Catholic and forbidden to be Jewish." Ironically, Harriett was not particularly observant after they married, and she later became a member of Temple Sinai's sisterhood. Robert and his youngest daughter, Elizabeth, who is an interviewer, discuss the various religious paths the five Moses daughters chose as adults. Note: see also a follow-up interview with Robert Moses dated August 17, 2013. For related information see the August 7, 1999 interview with Robert's brother Richard Moses and August 19, 2013 interview with Robert's sister Mary Octavia Moses Mahon. Special Collections, Addlestone Library, College of Charleston, is the repository for Moses family photographs and papers.
Jewish Heritage Collection Oral Histories
Contributing Institution:
College of Charleston Libraries
Media Type:
Oral Histories
Personal or Corporate Subject:
Temple Sinai (Sumter, S.C.)
Topical Subject:
Jews--South Carolina--Sumter--Interviews, Jewish businesspeople--South Carolina--Sumter--History, Jews--South Carolina--Sumter--Social life and customs, Jews--South Carolina--Sumter--Cultural assimilation, Intermarriage--South Carolina--Sumter
Shelving Locator:
MSS 1035-375
S.C. County:
Sumter County (S.C.)
Internet Media Type:
audio/mpeg, application/pdf
Digitization Specifications:
Mp3 derivative audio created with Audacity software. Archival masters are wav files.
Preferred Citation:
Robert Moses, audio interview by Dale Rosengarten and Elizabeth Moses, 16 August 2013, Mss 1035-375, Special Collections, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC, USA.
Copyright Status Statement:
© College of Charleston Libraries
Access Information:
For more information contact Special Collections, Addlestone Library, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC 29424.