Hochschild, Kohn Collection 1896-1981, MS. 2721

Maryland Historical Society
Library of Maryland History

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Hochschild, Kohn Collection, 1896-1981
Maryland Historical Society
 
 

(Text converted and initial EAD tagging provided by Apex Data Services, March 1999.)
 

Hochschild, Kohn Collection, 1896-1981
Maryland Historical Society

Contact Information:
Manuscripts Department
Maryland Historical Society Library
201 West Monument Street
Baltimore MD 21201-4674
410.685.3750
Fax: 410.385.2105
library@mdhs.org
www.mdhs.org



Descriptive Summary

REGISTER OF THE HOCHSCHILD KOHN COLLECTION

MS. 2721

Maryland Historical Society

Baltimore MD 21201-4674

 


Introduction

A partnership of Max Hochschild, Benno Kohn, and his brother Louis B. Kohn formed Hochschild-Kohn & Company in 1897, in a store at Howard and Lexington Streets in downtown Baltimore. The company prospered, and in 1912 a building at 208 N. Howard Street was purchased. When incorporated in 1922, Hochschild-Kohn was Baltimore's largest department store. Space needs led to the purchase of most of the block at Howard, Franklin, Park and Centre Streets in 1923, but financial difficulties and Max Hochschild's retirement as president led to its abandonment. Benno Kohn died in 1929. Management then consisted of Irving Kohn (Louis' son) president; Walter Sondheim and Walter Kohn, vice-presidents. Although financed by corporate stock, Hochschild-Kohn was still run as a partnership. At that time plans for a new building at Howard and Franklin Streets were abandoned, and the Lexington Street building was leased, improved, and connected to the Howard and Lexington Street property.

During the Depression, Hochschild-Kohn lost more in sales percentages than the aggregate sales lost by other Baltimore--sales were down almost fifty percent from 1930 in the Depression's worst year. Management also suffered from discord between Irving and Walter Kohn, who retired in 1935. Management then consisted of Irving Kohn, Walter Sondheim, and Martin Kohn. After illness caused Walter Sondheim to be less active in 1943, and Irving Kohn's death in 1945, Martin B. Kohn became president of the store. Louis Kohn II and Walter Sondheim, Jr. were his vice-presidents.

Martin B. Kohn's management pioneered the suburban expansion of downtown department stores with the opening of Hochschild-Kohn's Edmonson Village store. Later expansion included stores at Belvedere Avenue in Baltimore and at Harundale Mall south of the city. The Hochschild-Kohn Company went out of business in 1983.

 


Scope and Content

Records of the Hochschild-Kohn Company include subject files, management policy, manuals and reports, staff policy manuals, and financial records that span from the store's beginning in 1897 to the early 1980's.

Subject files are the most varied of the records, and have been kept largely as arranged by the company. Topics include the construction, renovation, & finance of new buildings, working conditions, customer and employee relations, and advertisement.

While the subjects are too numerous to list here (refer to the container list for a specific enumeration), items of particular interest include the in-store newsletters The Better Service Bulletin for employees and for customers, The Exposition Gazette. Advertising files hold newspaper and streetcar ad contracts, and promotion schemes. The anniversary folder describes periodic celebrations of Hochschild-Kohn's anniversary, including songs, speeches, and employee awards. Construction files have contracts, specifications, and finance reports in detail, particularly concerning the proposed store on the block at Howard, Franklin, Park and Centre streets. “Employee Relations” includes letters from employees showing appreciation to Hochschild-Kohn and requesting loans. Early ledgers detail expenses for elevators, advertising, and utilities; another records sales. Legal concerns were liability suits, ground rents, taxes, leases, sales and work contracts, and patent disputes and licenses.

The store's war years in World War I, World War II and the Korean War are all on record. Files from World War I detail policy letters on retail sales in Baltimore from the Retail Merchants Association. More extensive records from World War II detail war raid preparation procedures. Soldiers

in both wars, former employees, wrote to Hochschild-Kohn requesting loans, jobs on return to Baltimore, and describing camp life. From the Korean War, the Office of Price Stablization files detail company policies on government price controls

Information on race relations can be found throughout the collection, as jobs in the store were almost explicitly divided along color lines---whites were in sales positions (women sold clothing; men sold furniture), while blacks were janitors, elevator operators, and restroom attendants until the 1960's. Of particular interest, however, are the letters for and against the integration of the downtown store's tea room in 1960; the first of its kind to integrate in Baltimore. Letters against are bitter and explicit in their “rationalizations”. Almost ten times as many customers wrote in support of the new policy, apparently a financially successful policy.

Finally, a 1952 booklet “A Visit to Hochschild, Kohn's Department Store” was written and illustrated by a class of elementary school teachers at Johns Hopkins University describing their store tour.

Management policies and reports span 1944-1965. Store policy manuals are indexed compilations of policy bulletins on working conditions, employee discounts, the employee honor roll, mark-downs and sales, and banking procedures. The 1950 manual is an ordered version of the above manual, with a table of contents on “Operating Structure”, “General Policy”, “Merchandising Policies”, “Publicity Policies”, “Customer Service Policies”, Personnel Policies”, etc.

The 1949 manual of an annual store superintendents' meeting of representatives from nineteen retail stores in the United States and Canada describes procedures used by Hochschild-Kohn in areas of supply, delivery, personnel training, managing, alterations, etc. The Frederick Atkins Group also prepared the 1961 study of the growth potential and structure of furniture

sales. An undated theft and fraud protection manual gives tips to sales staff and outlines training procedures for store detectives.

The remainder of this section consists of reports. The “Inventory of Ideas” shows results from a standardized survey on employee morale by position, interpreting the results according to age, race and sex. Results are compared to U.S. averages (figures below the national average are in red; above,in black). A 1964 report on selling and merchandising gives sales results, payroll expenses, and proposed cost reductions in an attempt to gauge the maximum staff sales hours at the least expense. This attempt at staff restructure continues in a report on workrooms and branch stores.

Staff policy manuals are often similar to management manuals although they cover an earlier period. Information includes worker regulations, such as passes to leave the building, personal habits, hours, and the highly-structured seasonal dress code. Also, a 1975 emergency procedure manual addresses the possibility of civil disorder.

Minutes of the employee's organization, the House of Representatives, cover 1920-1951 and provide an unusually specific account of working conditions and management relations. Management referred to the “Store Family”; meetings were attended by an executive officer. These records show debates about customer service, equal treatment of employees, one dress code, and the organization of the workplace.

Financial records complete the collection. Account books provide a daily summary of charges and purchases around the turn of the century and a record of profit and loss by department for 1945-1946 and 1955, and of expenses for 1952-1956. Annual gross sales by department (departments are coded by numbers) are included with summarized expenses.

A detailed insurance record for 1906-1930 lists amounts paid for coverage on delivery vehicles, as well as monthly charges, local bank accounts, and

expenses such as merchandise and salaries of Hochschild-Kohn's executives. The Maryland Trust Company account book gives the monthly bank balance, drafts, and payments to the bank.

The last box of the collection is restricted until 20 December 1988. These records show net sales, gross margins, direct and payroll expenses, and annual net profit by department. From 1947 on there are yearly summaries of sales and profits as well as developments such as new buildings, the installation of a computer system, redecorating, etc.

A scrapbook, ca. 1970, primarily holds newsclippings of special events.

by

Susan Weinandy

April 1988

 


Container List 

 

BOX 1

SUBJECT FILES

Accounting, 1911; n.d.

Advertising, 1897-1920; n.d.

Anniversary, 1919-1958; n.d.

(Frederick) Atkins (NY Representative), 1909-1912; n.d.

Better Service Bulletins, 1915-1946

Bills, 1895-1907

(Employee) Bonds, 1898-1899; 1919-1921

BOX 2

Building Expansion and Celebration, 1912

Construction, general, 1898-1905 and:

204-206 N. Howard St., 1900-1901

304 W. Lexington at Howard St., 1900-1904

Clay St. and McKim Alley, 1913-1915

322 W. Lexington Ave., 1927-1928

Tyson St., 1939-1942

Park and Centre Streets, Specifications, 1941

BOX 3

Construction:

Park & Centre Streets, 1941-1942; n.d.

Contracts (Buyers and Department Managers), 1897-1921

Contracts and Agreements for Services, 1897-1920

Customer and Public Relations, 1901-1925; n.d.

Employee Relations, 1890-1922; n.d.

Exposition Gazette, 1905-1913

Founder's Day, 1905-1971

History of Hochschild, Kohn, 1970;n.d.

Max Hochschild, 1945-1955; n.d.

Marvin B. Kohn, 1945-1946; 1966-1967

BOX 4

Ledgers, 1905-1906

Ledgers and Worksheets, 1898-1906; n.d.

Legal Correspondence, 1898-1905; 1915; 1941-1942

Legal and Minor Privileges, 1895-1905

Memorabilia, 1898-1960

Office of Price Stabilization (Korean War), 1949-1952

Penguins, 1963

Promotions, 1932; n.d.

Purchase--City Block at Howard, Franklin, Park and Centre Streets, 1923-Jan. 1924

BOX 5

Purchase--City Block at Howard, Franklin, Park and Centre Streets, Feb. 1924-1928; n.d.

Purchase--Equipment, Fixtures, Supplies, 1904-1919

Red Cross Essay Contest, 1919-1922

Reminiscenses, n.d.

Silver Anniversary Letters (Incoming), 1922

BOX 6

Silver Anniversary Letters (Outgoing), 1922

Statistics, 1965; n.d.

Suburban Store Opening, 1948

Taxes and Water Rents, 1898-1905

Tea Room Integration Letters, 1960

BOX 7

Utilities, 1879-1919

World War I Correspondence, 1916-1919

World War I Bulletins and Miscellaneous, 1917-1919

World War II, 1940-1944; n.d.

Trademark Certificates (State of Maryland), 1925-1941

Trademark Certificates (United States), 1915-1930

Trademarks and Patents, 1915-1936

Booklet, “A Visit to Hochschild, Kohn's Department Store”, 1952

BOX 8

MANAGEMENT POLICIES AND REPORTS

Manuals: Store Policy, 1944-1949

Store Policy, 1950

Store Superintendents' Meeting, 1949

Furniture Study, 1961

Protection from Theft and Fraud, n.d.

BOX 9

Reports: Inventory of Ideas (Part 1), 1947

Survey of Service Building Space Needs (Preliminary), ca. 1955

Survey of Service Building Space Needs (Final), 1955

Selling, Merchandising, 1964

Workrooms, Branch Stores, Check Lists, ca. 1964

Expense Control Analysis, 1965

BOX 10

STAFF POLICIES AND ORGANIZATIONS

Manuals: Store Policies, 1907-1912

Staff Policies, 1907-1910; 1916-1921

Emergency Procedures, 1975

Minutes: House of Representatives, 1920-1928; 1943-1951

BOX 11

Minutes--Methods Committee, 1946-1950

Reviews, notes--Methods Committee, 1946-1947

Minutes--Buyers' Meetings, 1909-1911

Department Managers' Meeting, 1915-1920

Department Heads and Buyers' Club Meetings, 1922-1927

Expense Committee--Project Changes, 1975-1981

Expense Committee--Accounts, Requests, Minutes, 1981

BOX 12

FINANCIAL RECORDS

Account Books: Charges and Purchases, 1896-1906

Departmental Profit and Loss, 1945-1946

Departmental Net Profit Reports, 1955

Direct Expense, 1954-1956

BOX 13

Account Books: Gross Sales, 1952-1956

Insurance; Expenses, Sales, 1905-1930

Maryland Trust Company, 1935-1952

“Report of the Actuarial Study of the Retirement Program for Employees”, 1966

BOX 14

Financial Statements, 1943-1968

Miscellaneous Financial Notes, 1959-1966

OVERSIZE

Hochschild, Kohn Scrapbook, ca. 1970

 


Subject Headings

 

Account Books, 1896-1966

Advertising, 1897-1920

Baltimore, Md--Businesses, 1896-1981

Baltimore, Md--Merchants, 1896-1981

Banks--Savings Bank of Baltimore, 1923-1928

Banks--Maryland Trust Bank, 1906-1930

Business--Baltimore, Md., 1896-1981

Bonds--Employee, 1898-1921

Civil Rights, 1960

Clothing Industry and Trade, 1896-1981

Construction, 1898-1942

Department Stores, 1896-1981

Employees, 1898-1966

Employment, 1898-1966

Fashions, 1896-1981

Frederick Atkins Group, 1949

Furniture--Sales, 1961

Hochschild, Max 1854-1955

Insurance, 1951-1952

Integration and Segregation--Racial, 1960

Kohn, Benno 1866-1929

Kohn, Irving (fl. 1929-1945)

Kohn, Louis B. (fl. 1950-1971)

Kohn, Louis B. (fl. 1897-1920)

Kohn, Marvin B. (fl. 1945-1967)

Korean War, 1949-1952

Maryland Trust Company, 1935-1952

Merchandising, 1896-1981

Merchants--Baltimore,Md., 1896-1981

Office of Price Stabilization, 1949-1952

Patents, 1915-1936

Racial Discrimination, 1960

Red Cross--American, 1919-1920

Retail Merchants Association, 1917-1919

Retail Trade, 1896-1981

Retirement, 1966

Riots, 1975

Savings Bank of Baltimore, 1923-1928

Scrapbook, ca. 1970

Shoplifting, 20th c.

Sondheim, Walter 1877-1952

Sondheim, Walter, Jr., 1908-

Taxation, 1898-1905

Taxation--Corporations, 1898-1905

Textile Industry and Trade, 1896-1981

Trademarks, 1915-1941

Urban Renewal

Utility Companies, 1879-1919

Wages, 1906-1930

World War I, 1916-1919

World War II--Civilian Affairs, 1941-1945

World War II--Civilian War Effort, 1941-1945