The Grossman Project

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Greetings!  Please allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Max Elijah Grossman.  I was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and am the eldest of the three children of Richard and Joan Grossman.  My  father Richard is the eldest of the five sons of Norman Bud and Alene Grossman.  Bud is the second of the three children of Max and Ida Grossman.

 For many years I thought it would be wonderful to hire a professional genealogist in order to learn something about the origins of the Grossman family.  I approached my grandfather Bud with the idea in the summer of 1996, just after completing my pre-doctoral coursework in art history at Columbia University in New York.  Grandpa was just as enthusiastic as I was, but did not think it necessary to hire a professional genealogist.  Instead, he proposed that I research the project on my own!  He would cover the costs provided I carry out the work.  Realizing the importance of setting down the testimony of our senior relatives, particularly those who knew our foreign-born ancestors personally, I temporarily set my dissertation work aside and dedicated myself to the task.  I reasoned that I and my cousins would one day be thankful to have something to tell our future children and grandchildren if they should ever question us about the origins of our family.

             I spent the entire summer at my fatherís house in Los Angeles telephoning and interviewing over a hundred people.  Many of you will remember that evening phone call from a mysterious, distant cousin in California who shamelessly asked personal and invasive questions about long-gone relatives!  I also met with the most senior members of the family and recorded my conversations with them on indestructible digital compact disks in order to preserve their voices for posterity.  That August I made a trip to the Twin Cities and visited the archives of the Minnesota Historical Society, where I dug up dozens of city, county, state and federal documents containing a wealth of fascinating information about the Grossmans and Biermans (our immediate relatives).  I also visited the Jewish cemeteries in Minneapolis and compiled a database of names and dates which I transcribed from the tombstones.  In September, 1996 I packed up and moved to Italy in order to begin research for my Ph.D. dissertation, and ever since have been working on again off again on the Grossman Project (as I have dubbed it), developing and expanding my arguments in my spare time.  Now that it is March 2003 I am putting the final touches on this essay, which will soon be distributed around the United States and world.

            It is my hope that you, the reader, no matter how you are related to me, take pleasure in the results of my work.  (If you think it is unworthy you always have the excuse that you are related to me only distantly!)  You will almost certainly discover that our family is far larger and more varied than you ever imagined, extending to over 300 living relatives in the United States alone.  Perhaps this essay will serve to bring us into closer contact with one another.  After all, we share the same great, great, great, great grandparents, Moishe and Zeesle Grossman, born in Europe in the time of Napoleon!

            I wish to thank all those who provided me with information, stories, fables, anecdotes and photographs, and especially those with whom I spoke at great length, either in person or over the telephone: Francis Yedidia, Arthur Bierman, Marion Shapiro, John and Joy Marcus, Irene (Silesky) Stillman, Rosalie Borus, Faye Berg, Beverlee Fine, and the Grossmans: Norman and Sylvia, Harold (Louís son), Burt, Harold (Maxís son), Marion and Bud.  I would like to extend a special thanks to the latter, my grandfather, who has supported the project from the beginning, and to my father Richard and stepmother Lisa Lyons, who for three months in 1996 let me use their home as my office and base camp! Finally, I wish to thank Paul Ginsburg, who generously permitted me to use the many materials that he has painstakingly collected over the years, and Sam Rodar at Dirt Road Enterprises in Espanola, New Mexico, who skillfully and patiently assembled this web site and collaborated with me on its design.

            In spite of my best efforts I must confess that the Grossman Project will never be completed, but will remain forever in a state of flux.  Inevitably, more documents and photographs will materialize from some relativeís basement, further illuminating the history of our family.  I therefore invite all of you, in the present or future, to fill in the numerous holes and gaps in my written account with your own research.  Please feel free to add to what I have only just begun.

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