Thursday, September 22, 2011

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The card you see above comes from the file of a student named Selma Kaufman, who attended Manhatttan Trade in the 1930s (you can click on it for a larger version). The entry for Sept. 14, 1934, begins with: "Selma's father came in. Typical overfed Jewish silk salesman, with no taciturnity. He has some very good instincts, however, and is really a good father."

Yeah, those Jews, always with the good instincts. I must say, I'd never heard of the stereotype of an overfed silk salesman before, nor had I ever encountered the word "taciturnity."

The Manhattan Trade report cards are filled with offhand commentary like this -- sometimes offensive, sometimes heartbreaking, always fascinating. Today's Permanent Record entry on Slate focuses on this commentary. Check it out here.

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I'll be discussing Permanent Record today (Thursday) on Minnesota Public Radio's Midmorning Show. I'm told I'll be on from about 10:40-11am Central Time. You can access the live streaming audio here.

1 comment:

  1. I was listening. Wow at the last caller's story.