Most archives focus on paper as a form of transmission: AJHS alone has 30 million pages of documents. But a store, led by four overlapping generations of a family, is also a vessel of history, capturing century-old practices. The Russ family members relay stories of herring sellers and customers for more than a century. Knowing how to slice lox thin is important; just as important is knowing when to innovate, what to preserve, and staying attuned to customers past, present and future.
“RUSS & DAUGHTERS: AN APPETIZING STORY” explores how the family, over four generations and 105 years, has balanced innovation with tradition, and has moved beyond the Lower East Side without abandoning the LES culture. The exhibit celebrates the legendary Jewish appetizing store’s role in shaping New York’s culture and culinary heritage.
“For generations, my family has worked tirelessly to represent the Jewish immigrant community and add our own traditions to New York’s food culture. This is now iconic New York food, and Russ & Daughters is quintessential New York.”
– Josh Russ Tupper, 4th Generation Co-Owner of Russ & Daughters.
“We’re honored to have our family’s history preserved at one of the foremost archives in the country. The process of archiving and creating the exhibition allowed us to see how our family story ties in to the larger history of the Jewish American experience.
– Niki Russ Federman, 4th Generation Co-Owner of Russ & Daughters.
The exhibit will feature original materials from the Russ & Daughters family archive, placed in historical context alongside elements of the AJHS collection. Visitors will be able to listen to previously-unheard audio clips from the Second Generation Hattie Russ Gold and Anne Russ Federman, known as the “Sturgeon Queens,” and see historic photographs of the store and the family, and view posters featuring Yiddish theater performers Molly Picon and Aaron Lebedoff, who were regular customers. The exhibit focuses on the story behind the food, and invites visitors to contribute their own food stories, which will be preserved in the Russ & Daughters collection at AJHS. Visitors can also don the famous R&D white coat uniforms and pose behind a replica of the famed appetizing counter.
Click here to listen to the oral histories of the Russ family, featured in the “Russ & Daughters: An Appetizing Story” exhibition!