Charter Document of the Fastover American Progressive Aid Society

Unknown Maker

Through the years, an estimated hundred thousand Jewish men and women in Chicago participated in some seven hundred landsmanshaft fareinen, or “homeland societies” formed by people who emigrated from the same Eastern-European town or region. They were assembled as prayer groups, burial societies, social clubs, loan societies, insurance benefit associations, or some combination of these. They offered their members an opportunity to reminisce about the old country, contribute charitable aid to their native towns and dispel the loneliness often felt by new immigrants. They also served as a crucial safety net, providing sickness and life insurance benefits at a time when public aid was limited. One such organization was the Fastover American Progressive Aid Society, founded March 12, 1913.

The two factors most responsible for the decline of landsmanshaften were the Holocaust, which obliterated the old country communities that the landsmanshaft drew their immigrant members from, and the passing of the founding generation. Typically, American-born children of immigrants had little interest in perpetuating the societies and as a result, by 1980 the number of landsmanshaften had shrunk by over ninety percent.

Name: Charter Document of the Fastover American Progressive Aid Society
Artist: Unknown Maker
Origin: Chicago, Illinois, United States, 1913
Medium: Gold Foil, Ink, Photographs, Watercolor, Work on paper
Dimensions: 55 ½ x 39 ½ inches
Credit: Spertus Collection
Catalog Number: Unfiled