Louise Volmer arrived at the Home at age 3 in 1911 when her parents, Rabbi Leon Volmer and Tresa Kaufman Volmer, assumed the positions of superintendent and matron. Louise was the first child of a Home superintendent to grow up in the Home. Although she lived in her parents’ second floor apartment in the Home, and not in the girls’ dormitory, she became close friends with Home ward Annie Schneider and other Home children, relationships her father encouraged.
Louise Volmer with her parents, Superintendent Leon Volmer and Matron Tresa Kaufman Volmer, in the Home’s courtyard, c. 1916. Courtesy of Liz Crosby, Louise’s daughter.
Louise and her father, Superintendent Leon Volmer, with dog, c. 1915. During his tenure, Superintendent Volmer also encouraged Home wards to take care of pets as a means of learning responsibility. Photo courtesy of Liz Crosby.
Louise kept scrapbooks of her years in the Home, documenting her social life and Newman School activities. Although her status as the superintendent’s daughter distinguished her from Home children, they, too, enjoyed a wide range of cultural and political experiences thanks to a steady stream of donated tickets to concerts, theatrical performances, and excursions, as well as visits to the Home by dignitaries and other notable people. When Louise listed Henry Morgenthau (U.S. ambassador to Turkey and Mexico) and Louisiana Governor John Parker among the “great people” she met in 1920, she noted that she met them in the “Jewish Orphan’s Home.” Courtesy of Liz Crosby.
Louise spent a great deal of her time in the Home with its children. In this undated photo, Louise (tall girl at far left) is shown with a group of unidentified girls in the Home’s yard. Courtesy of Liz Crosby.
Examples of pages from Louise Volmer’s scrapbooks, in which she kept photos of Home children and non-Home Newman classmates. Louise made special note of her close friendships with Home ward Annie (“My Annie”) Schneider and non-Home Newman classmate Muriel Wilson.
Louise annotated her program from the Home’s 1922 Anniversary Celebration, rating the address delivered by Sol Weiss as “fair” and the musical performance of her friend Annie Schneider as “divine.”
Louise also kept this undated photo of her father, Superintendent Leon Volmer, with some of the Home’s toddlers and their caregiver, unidentified. On the back, in what appears to be the superintendent’s handwriting, is written, “Our babies.” Courtesy of Liz Crosby, this photo is displayed in the “Most Fortunate Unfortunates” exhibit at the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience.
The Isidore Newman Manual Training School Class of 1924, a total of 40 students, included six students from the Home: Hugo Fielschmidt, Libby Berkowtiz, Annie Schneider, Jennie Vort, Ronia Levine, and Miriam Tannenbaum. The class is pictured here as juniors in 1923 (Ronia and Miriam not pictured). Courtesy of Genie McCloskey, archivist, and the Isidore Newman School.
When Superintendent Volmer resigned in 1926, Louise had already graduated from Isidore Newman School and was attending Newcomb College. After college, she moved to New York where she married and turned her writing and fashion interests into a career. By the mid-1930s was associate editor of House & Garden magazine. Mining two subjects in which she had personal experience, she wrote a book on furniture repair before co-authoring a book, ABC of Divorce, an excerpt of which appeared in a 1947 issue of Look magazine. After her divorce, Louise loved spending time in Greece which, according to her daughter, she considered her “happy place.” Louise died in 1982 at age 74.
Louise Volmer Sloane, Bridgeport (CT) Times, March 18, 1936
Liz Sloane Crosby with her mother’s scrapbooks and photo albums, 2015. Author’s photo.