// William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum
Jewish Research and Education - Cuba Family Archives, Finding Aids

Date Span:  1920-2002

Creator:  Jule and Rose Esserman Levin Family

Summary/Abstract:  The Esserman family settled in Rome, Georgia, in the early 1890s. Jule and Rose were very involved in the Jewish community and the 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 Levin’s were very involved in the progression of the Civil Rights Movement.  The collection contains papers written by students after participating in the sit-in demonstrations.

Quantity/Physical Description: 1.8 linear feet

Language(s):  English

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

Restrictions on Access:  There are no restrictions on accessing material in this collection.

Restrictions on 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  Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright.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.

Preferred Citation:  Box #, Folder #, Mss 162, Jule and Rose Esserman Levin Family Papers, The Cuba Family Archives for Southern Jewish History, The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, 1440 Spring Street NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30309.

Separated Material:  Photographs removed to visual arts collection

Processed by:  Demece Harvey (October, 2007)

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

Biographical/Historical Note:  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 May1898.  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; 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 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, Georgia.  In 1942, Jule Levin purchased partnership in the Esserman and Co.  Jule and Rose had two daughters, Ellen and Ann. Jule and Rose were very involved in the Jewish community and the 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 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.  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, the United Appeal and the Jaycees and founder of the Rome Junior Chamber of Commerce.  He was president of the United Givers, the Merchandise Association, and Rodeph Sholom Congregation.  He also served on the boards of the Boys’ Club, the Red Cross, the USO, the Rome 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.

Scope and Content 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.

Collection Inventory

Box File Description Date
1 1 Adler, Ellen Levin wedding 1969
  2 Anderson, Laura Caldwell paper: “We’ve Had a Peaceful Relationship Between the Races Here” 2002
  3 Beeferman, Ann Pressley Levin wedding 1972
  4 Civil Rights Letters 1960 – 2002
  5 Civil Rights, sit – in papers, Edwards, Rosa Farmer, Eula Mae Ferguson, Glenda Hamilton, Harry Hardy, Ender Hayes, Robert Haynes, Robert Hill, Mary Louise Hoke, Eleanor Elaine Holland, Hubert Jr Houston, Eleanor Hunter, James Kinnebrew, Mattie Lucretia Lyons, Vicki Malone, Lonnie Reynolds, William Smith, Daisy Thomas, Mary Joanita Thompson, Bobbie Jean Ware, Sharon A. 1963
  6 Desegregation 1960 – 2005
  7 The Elmax Corporation 1970
  8 Esserman & Co. 1901 – 1990
  9 Esserman & Co. closes 1987
  10 Esserman, Andrea Lee Weiss Undated
  11 Esserman, Anna D. Friedman, condolence cards and letters 1928
  12 Esserman, Ben 1920 – 1989
  13 Esserman, Edna 1930 – 1983
  14 Esserman, Fay 1942 – 1975
  15 Esserman, Hyman 1943 – 1989
  16 Esserman, Joseph Charles 1973
  17 Esserman, Pressley I. 1894, 1898
2 1 Esserman, Pressley I., condolence cards and letters 1944
  2 Esserman Realty Company 1948
  3 Esserman, Rose, Autograph Books 1928 - 1932
  4 Esserman, Rose, High School Diploma 1932
  5 Esserman, Rose, High School Papers 1929 - 1932
  6 Esserman, Rose, Report Cards 1923 - 1932
  7 Family Tree 1981
  8 Farewell letters 1962 - 1963
  9 Feinbloom, Mildred Esserman 1928 – 1982
  10 Freidman, Jacob Rev. 1938
  11 Golden, Harry, correspondence 1959
  12 Hannah and Bill 1989
  13 Herst, Roger E. Dr., A Roman Incident (on the death of John F. Kennedy) 1999
  14 Jewish Community Center 1974 - 1994
3 1 Kirschner, Ida Friedman 1988
  2 Letters – miscellaneous 1945 - 1993
  3 Levin Family Photo and article Undated
  4 Levin, Jule, Community Service papers 1944 - 1978
  5 Levin, Jule, Condolence cards and letters 1994
  6 Levin, Jule, Eulogies 1994
  7 Levin, Jule, Obituaries 1994
  8 Levin, Jule, Oral history transcription on Civil Rights Undated
  9 Levin, Rose Esserman, Birth certificate 1963
4 1 Levin, Rose, Condolence cards and letters 2002
  2 Levin, Rose, Eulogies and Obiturary 2002
  3 Levin, Rose Esserman, Memories Undated
  4 Morris and Jule Levin Endowment for Children at the Jewish Community Center 1993
  5 Rodeph Sholom 1920 – 2001
  6 The Roman 1921 – 1924
  7 The Roman 1925
  8 The Roman 1926- 1928
5 1 The Roman 1929 – 1932
  2 Rome, Floyd County: History of Rome and Floyd County with Georgia’s Rome a Historical Coloring and Activity Book Undated
  3 Rome-Floyd County Library, donated materials 1993 – 1994
  4 Rome High School, Class of 1932 50th Reunion 1982
  5 Rose Esserman Levin and Jule Gordon Levin Fund for Social Justice 1993 - 1995
  6 Schechter, Sandra Lynn Esserman 1970
  7 Shorter College 1933
  8 Vini, Vidi, Vici, Voice of Protest 2007
  9 Wachsteter, David 1985
  10 Wachsteter, Paula Ann Esserman 1968
  11 Wedding Memorabilia 1940
  12 Wedding Scrapbook 1940
  13 Wolf, Richard Dr., Interview with Jule and Rose Esserman 1984
  14 World War II Correspondence 1945


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