In the early 1900s, the Labor Lyceum at 1023 E. Baltimore Street was a busy union hall and neighborhood cultural center. Americans once used the term “lyceum” to describe public halls used for lectures and meetings. The Labor Lyceum was one of many halls serving working class immigrants. Local men and women came here to read newspapers, socialize, and discuss job prospects. During strikes, which occurred frequently, the Labor Lyceum became the center for organizing union members, planning strategy and garnering public support.
In March 1913, more than one hundred East Baltimore female garment workers gathered at the Labor Lyceum before marching to a downtown train station, where they joined other women’s groups on their way to Washington, D.C., for a demonstration in favor of working women’s rights and female suffrage. Today, the Lyceum is the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg building, part of the Helping Up Mission complex.
A few steps away stands the former home of the Arbeiter Ring, more commonly known as the Workmen’s Circle. Established in 1898, the 1,200-member Workmen’s Circle was the center of Jewish socialist and labor activities for decades and moved to 1029 E. Baltimore Street in 1930. From 1909 to the early 1920s, the same building housed Talmud Torah, Baltimore’s first large Hebrew school. Founded in 1889 by recently arrived Russian Jews, the Hebrew Free School, as it was known, attracted students from very poor families and often provided shoes and clothing.