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Jule and Rose Esserman Levin Family Papers

 Collection
Identifier: Mss 162

Scope and Contents

Researchers studying the Jule and Rose Esserman Levin Family Papers will gain insight into Jewish life and the progression of the Civil Rights Movement in Rome, Georgia. All material is arranged in alphabetical order by subject and chronologically within each folder.

Dates

  • 1920 - 2002

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on accessing material in this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

The Esserman family settled in Rome, Georgia, in the early 1890s. In 1896, Pressley I. Esserman founded Esserman & Company, a retail clothing company. Mr. Esserman married Anna D. Friedman in May 1898. Mr. and Mrs. Esserman had six children: Hyman, Ben, Mildred, Edna, Faygie, and Rose. Rose Esserman Levin was born in Rome on December 18, 1914, the youngest of the six children. Anna Esserman died in 1928 when Rose was fourteen years old. Rose attended Rome public schools and Shorter College. She worked for many years as a salesperson and buyer at Esserman and Co. Rose was a leader and active member of the Rome Jewish community. She taught Sunday school at Congregation Rodeph Sholom for many years, and, studying on her own, she developed a curriculum for students of the religious school. During World War II, Rose worked as a volunteer with the American Red Cross. Jule Gordon Levin was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on March 6, 1913 to Hyman and Celia Levin. Jule attended Woodward High School and the University of Cincinnati College of Law. At the age of eighteen he was one of the founders of the Jewish Community Center in Cincinnati and served as its secretary and first membership president. While Jule was traveling on business in the South (selling dresses) he met Rose Esserman. In November 1940, they married and settled in Rome. In 1942, Jule Levin purchased partnership in the Esserman and Co. Jule and Rose had two daughters, Ellen (later Adler) and Ann. Jule and Rose were highly involved in the Jewish community and the larger community of Rome. The Levins were strongly committed to civil rights and were involved in the 1950s and early 1960s in efforts to achieve racial equality and integration throughout the South. The Levins worked to ensure that the African American community attained rights, privileges, and opportunities that were previously denied them or made difficult to achieve. They worked with others in the Civil Rights Movement to ensure peaceful desegregation of schools, lunch counters, and other public facilities in Rome. Esserman & Co. was the first retail store in Rome to desegregate its restrooms, water fountains, and fitting rooms and the first to employ Blacks as sales clerks. Jule Levin was a Rome businessman and civic leader for more than two decades and a past president of the Rome-Floyd County Chamber of Commerce. He was the first Jewish president of the Chamber of Commerce. He was also president of the United Jewish Appeal and the founder of the Rome Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees). He was president of the United Givers, the Merchandise Association, and Rodeph Sholom Congregation. He also served on the boards of the local chapters of the Boys’ Club, the Red Cross, the USO, the Girls’ Club, and was on the executive board of the Rome-Floyd County Council of Social Agencies. As president of the Rome Chamber of Commerce in 1962, Levin worked with members of the Black community to organize and obtain local funding for the Rome Girls’ Club, a social service group for young Black women. He initiated the first Career Day at the then all-Black high school to provide employment information for prospective graduates. Rose Levin was a founding member of the Rome chapter of the Georgia Human Relations Council, an organization that supported human rights and racial equality. In 1963, Mr. Levin and his family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, so that he and his twin brother could fulfill a life-long dream of being business associates of the I.C. Elman Company, which later became Elmex Inc., a national toy wholesale company. The family joined Isaac M. Wise Temple. There they continued serving on boards of trustees and working with the congregation’s youth group. Jule passed away on August 21, 1994 at the age of 81, and Rose passed away on July 18, 2002 at the age of 87. They are buried beside each other at the Clifton United Jewish Cemetery in Cincinnati.

Extent

1.8 Linear Feet

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

The Esserman family settled in Rome, Georgia, in the early 1890s. Jule and Rose were involved in the Jewish community and the wider community of Rome. Of special interest in this collection are the personal stories, and history of Rose Esserman Levin while growing up in Rome. The collection includes a brief history into the life of the Esserman Family, how Esserman & Co. became a successful clothing business and their many contributions to the community. One can also get a brief look into individual family members. The Levins were also involved in the progression of the Civil Rights Movement. The collection contains papers written by students after participating in the sit-in demonstrations.

Arrangement

All material is arranged in alphabetical order by subject and chronologically within each folder.

Physical Location

The Cuba Family Archives for Southern Jewish History, The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, 1440 Spring Street NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30309.

Separated Materials

Photographs removed to visual arts collection
Title
Jule and Rose Esserman Levin Family Papers
Author
Demece Harvey (October, 2007); Moirin Cody (June, 2020)
Date
October, 2007; June, 2020
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum Repository

Contact:
1440 Spring St. NW
Atlanta Georgia 30309 United States
678-222-3700