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Inventory of the Rhetta A. Mendelsohn Collection, 1850s-1986

Descriptive Summary

Abstract: Photographs, assorted correspondence and papers of the Block, Rich, and Aronson families of Camden, South Carolina, Orangeburg, South Carolina, and Kingstree, South Carolina collected by Rhetta A. Mendelsohn.
Title: Rhetta A. Mendelsohn collection
Creator: Mendelsohn, Rhetta A., collector
Date(s): 1850s-1986    
Extent: 1.55 linear feet
(1 document box, 1 flat box, 1 oversize folder)
Repository: Jewish Heritage Collection, Special Collections, College of Charleston Libraries
66 George Street
Charleston, SC 29424
Phone: (843) 953-8016
Fax: (843) 953-6319
Call Number: Mss 1105
Language of Material: Materials in English

Biographical Note

Louis Leopold Block (1868-1940), from the Black Forest of Bavaria, arrived in Camden, South Carolina, in the late 1880s where his cousins, the Geisenheimer family, lived. He went into business with Jake and Gus Hirsch, and married their sister Rosa Hirsch (1862-1902). Hirsch Brothers & Block grew into the biggest store in Camden. The Block's had three daughters: Bella Block (1896-1987), Henrietta Block (1897-1985), and Rosalie Carolyn Block (1900-1977). In March 1920, Bella married Keeve Marks of Richmond, Virginia, and a month later, Henrietta married Lipman Rich (1894-1968), son of Philip Rich (1862-1911) and Rosa Platchek Rich (1871-1935), of Orangeburg, South Carolina. Rosalie remained single, living with her father until he died in 1940, afterwards splitting her time between her sisters' homes in Richmond and Orangeburg. Lipman Rich, who in 1911 took Philip as his middle name in memory of his father, operated two stores in Orangeburg, South Carolina—an Army surplus store and a ladies' ready-to-wear shop. His businesses fell victim to the Great Depression and he took a job as an insurance agent for Metropolitan life. He later became a consultant to the company and retired five years before his death in 1968. Their one child, Rose Louise Rich (1922-2004), was instrumental in organizing Temple Sinai, Orangeburg's Jewish congregation.

Solomon Samuel Aronson, or Sam, emigrated from Kovno Gubernia, Russia, circa 1900, when he was about thirteen years old. He joined the family in Charleston, South Carolina, that sponsored his immigration, and worked for various merchants before opening a dry goods store in Lane, South Carolina. Henrietta Furshman (1897-1985), his wife, was the daughter of Russian immigrants. Born and raised in New York City, she met Sam through her sister, who married his older brother Aron. Sam and Henrietta's sons, Albert Aronson (1916-1990) and Harold Marion Aronson (1919- ), were born in Lane before the family moved to Bayonne, New Jersey, where they had relatives. In New Jersey Doris Aronson (1924- ), was born. In 1937 the family moved back, this time settling in Kingstree, South Carolina. During World War II Harold served as a B-17 pilot, conducting weather reconnaissance missions out of England. Reassigned to the States, Harold married Rose Louise Rich in 1944. After he was discharged, they settled in her hometown, Orangeburg, South Carolina, where they established a successful aluminum awning business. Rose and Harold had two daughters, Rhetta Aronson Mendelsohn (1946- ) and Carol Aronson (1949- ).

Collection Overview

Photographs, correspondence and assorted papers of the Block, Rich, and Aronson families of Camden, South Carolina, and Orangeburg, South Carolina. The collection primarily consists of black and white photographs of the Block, Rich, and Aronson families, relatives, and friends. Photographs include images of Louis Leopold and Rosa Hirsch Block; Philip and Rosa Platchek Rich; Lipman Philip and Henrietta Block Rich; daughter, Rose Louise Rich Aronson; Henrietta Furshman Aronson; and her children, Albert Aronson, Harold Marion Aronson, and Doris Aronson. Also included is a small amount of correspondence consisting of the wedding invitation of Bella Block and Keeve Marks and letters to Bella Block from Louise Rosefield concerning family genealogy. Assorted papers include the marriage certificate of Louis Leopold Block and Rosa Hirsch, the High school diploma of Harold Marion Aronson, a small journal of Gustav Kaplan Rich containing handwritten poetry and assorted clippings of poetry taken from newspapers, a small infant gown, and napkin.

Collection Arrangement

1.  Block and Rich family, 1850s-1977
2.  Aronson family, 1907-1986

Search Terms

The following terms have been used to index this collection in the Library's online catalog. They are grouped by name of person, family, or organization, by topical subject, by place, and by types of material.


    • Aronson family
    • Block family
    • Rich family


    • Jewish families--South Carolina


    • Camden (S.C.)
    • Orangeburg (S.C.)
    • Kingstree (S.C.)

    Types of Material

    • Black-and-white photographs
    • Cabinet photographs
    • Correspondence
    • Clothing
    • Diplomas
    • Marriage certificates

    Related Resources

    Related Material

    Related materials in Special Collections include oral history interviews with Harold M. Aronson (Mss 1035-053), Rose Louise Rich Aronson (Mss 1035-054), and genealogical materials located in the Jewish Heritage Collection vertical files.


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    1. Block and Rich families, 1850s-1977  

    Photographs, 1850s-circa 1960

    Louis Leopold Block, 1921-1940, undated   box 1 | folder 1-2

    Includes images of Louis Leopold Block behind the counter of Hirsch Brothers & Block and photocopied images of Block with his daughter Rosalie Carolyn Block.

    Rosa Hirsch Block, 1865, 1915, undated   box 1 | folder 3

    Includes photocopied images of her parents, Leopold and Judith Fried Hirsch.

    Philip Rich, 1850s-1880s   box 1 | folder 4

    Includes a small image of his uncle, Lipman Philip.

    Rosa Platchek Rich, 1880s-1930s   box 1 | folder 5

    Lipman Philip Rich, 1896-1950s   box 1 | folder 6

    Henrietta Block Rich, early 1900s-circa 1960   box 1 | folder 7

    Oversized portraits, 1850s-1890s   Oversize Paper Folder 1
    (Flat storage)

    Portraits of Louis Leopold Block and Philip Rich.

    Unidentified, 1860s-1920s   box 1 | folder 8

    Correspondence, 1920, 1977, undated   box 1 | folder 9

    Contains wedding invitation of Bella Block and Keeve Marks and letters to Bella from Louise Rosefield regarding family genealogy. Also includes photocopied birth certificates of Leopold Hirsch and Gustav Hirsch.

    Louis Leopold Block and Rosa Hirsch marriage certificate, 1895   Oversize Paper Folder 1
    (Flat storage)

    Infant gown and napkin, undated   box 2

    Journal, 1920s   box 1 | folder 10

    Small journal of Gustav Kaplan Rich containing handwritten poetry and assorted clippings of poetry taken from newspapers.

    Miscellaneous, 1940, 1955, undated   box 1 | folder 11

    Contains obituary of Louis L. Block, photocopied certificate of incorporation for Temple Sinai, and photocopied Hirsch family tree.

    2. Aronson family, 1907-1986  

    Photographs, 1907-1986

    Henrietta Furshman Aronson, 1907-1942, undated   box 1 | folder 12

    Include images of Henrietta F. Aronson with husband, Solomon Samuel Aronson, and assorted family and friends.

    Albert Aronson, 1919, 1945, undated   box 1 | folder 13

    Includes images of Albert Aronson with his wife Fay Aronson, and daughter, Sheila Aronson.

    Harold Marion Aronson, 1937-1945, undated   box 1 | folder 14

    Includes images of Harold M. Aronson in flying school in Santa Anna, California, and Dalhart, Texas.

    Rose Louise Rich Aronson, 1922-1986, undated   box 1 | folder 15

    Doris Aronson, 1938-1948, undated   box 1 | folder 16

    Assorted Aronson relatives and friends, 1940-1947, undated   box 1 | folder 17

    High school diploma of Harold Marion Aronson, 1937   Oversize Paper Folder 1
    (Flat storage)

    World War II ration books, 1942, undated   box 1 | folder 18

    Administrative Information

    Access Restrictions

    This collection is open for research.

    Copyright Notice

    The nature of the College of Charleston's archival holdings means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. Special Collections claims only physical ownership of most archival materials.

    The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. copyright law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Rhetta A. Mendelsohn collection, College of Charleston Libraries, Charleston, SC, USA.

    Acquisitions Information

    Materials were donated in 2005 by Rosalie Marks Nachman and in 2008 by Rhetta Aronson Mendelsohn.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Joshua Minor, July 2012.

    Encoded by Joshua Minor, August 2012.

    Reviewed and uploaded by Martha McTear, February 2013.

    Funding from the Council on Library and Information Resources supported the processing of this collection and encoding of the finding aid.

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