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Abraham C. Ratshesky Papers

 Collection
Identifier: P-586

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.

Dates

  • undated, 1895-1974

Creator

Language of Materials

The collection is in English.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for researcher use. Please contact us to request access or to make an appointment to view this collection at jhcreference@nehgs.org.

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of this collection. For more information contact jhcreference@nehgs.org.

Biographical Note

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.

References

  1. Materials from the collection.
  2. A. C. Ratshesky Foundation, http://ratheskyfoundation.org, retrieved on 1/26/2009.
  3. Glassman, Leo M. Biographical Encyclopaedia of American Jews, M. Jacobs & L.M. Glassman, 1935.

Chronology

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

Extent

4.5 linear feet (4 manuscript boxes, 1 document box, 3 oversized folders)

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.

Physical Location

Located in Boston, Mass.

Acquisition Information

Donated by the A.C. Ratshesky Foundation, 1987.

Processing Information

Processed by Tova Kornfeld, 2005. Reprocessed by Stephanie Call, 2009.
Title
Guide to the Abraham C. Ratshesky Papers, P-586
Author
Processed by Tova Kornfeld. Reprocessed by Stephanie Call.
Date
2009
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Sponsor
Processed by Stephanie Call, Schilder Assistant Archivist, made possible by a grant from the Schilder Family Fund. This collection has been digitized, made possible by a grant from the Trustees under the will of Herman Dana.

Repository Details

Part of the Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center at New England Historic Genealogical Society Repository

Contact:
99-101 Newbury Street
Boston MA 02116 United States
617-226-1245