The card you see above comes from the file of a student named Selma Kaufman, who attended Manhatttan Trade in the 1930s (you can click on it for a larger version). The entry for Sept. 14, 1934, begins with: "Selma's father came in. Typical overfed Jewish silk salesman, with no taciturnity. He has some very good instincts, however, and is really a good father."
Yeah, those Jews, always with the good instincts. I must say, I'd never heard of the stereotype of an overfed silk salesman before, nor had I ever encountered the word "taciturnity."
The Manhattan Trade report cards are filled with offhand commentary like this -- sometimes offensive, sometimes heartbreaking, always fascinating. Today's Permanent Record entry on Slate focuses on this commentary. Check it out here.
I'll be discussing Permanent Record today (Thursday) on Minnesota Public Radio's Midmorning Show. I'm told I'll be on from about 10:40-11am Central Time. You can access the live streaming audio here.