The National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia is pleased to announce the newest feature on its free first floor, American Roots: The Andrews Family, on view through February 7, 2016.
Few Americans trace their ancestry back to our nation’s founding. American Roots tells the story of one that does—the Andrews family. This family traces its history in America back over 300 years and eleven generations, and the Andrews family tree includes one of the most well-known Jewish participants in the American Revolution, Haym Salomon (1740-1785).
Polish-born Salomon embraced the cause of liberty upon his arrival to these shores in 1775, as unrest seized the colonies and war seemed inevitable. Escaping British occupied New York City, Salomon relocated to Philadelphia and served as a broker to the office of Finance, securing loans to help finance the American Revolution. His patriotic service earned him respect in his own time and he has been remembered with pride and admiration by generations of Americans.
Salomon is not the only patriot on the Andrews family tree. His contemporary—Major Benjamin Nones (1740-1826)—served under George Washington and received a citation for bravery in the Battle of Charleston. Salomon’s grandson married Nones’s granddaughter, and later generations spread out across the country.
Descendants of these early American heroes were among the earliest Jewish residents of far-off cities like Huntsville, Alabama, while others helped establish the Jewish community of Memphis, Tennessee and put down strong roots in cities from New Orleans to New York City. The Andrews collection is particularly strong in material related to these later generations, whose struggles and successes have impacted this nation for nearly 300 years.
“The historic material in the Andrews Family Jewish Archive is a real treasure to scholars of American Jewish history,” said Claire Pingel, the Museum’s chief registrar and associate curator. “We were honored by its donation and we are excited to introduce some highlights of the collection to the public at this time.”
The artifact installation features letters, ketubot (marriage certificates), prayer books, advertisements, and other artifacts from the Museum’s Andrews Family Jewish Archives. The donation of these objects was made by Joseph L. “Joel” Andrews, M.D. of Concord, Massachusetts on behalf of his family members.