Gumby's Institutions > Beth B'nai Abraham
The occasionally idiosyncratic nature of Gumby's scrapbooks owes itself only in part to Gumby's personal interests; his location in New York City and the fact that in most cases he only preserved items that he could himself directly acquire often played a role as well. This is clearly evident in the above pages from one of his volumes devoted to religion. For it was only in New York that Gumby would have been likely to lay his hands on ephemera related to an institution like Beth B'Nai Abraham, one of a relatively small number of churches devoted to serving what became widely-known as "black Jews" or "black Hebrews." Such religious sects--distinguished by their belief that Africans were the true descendents and heirs of the ancient Israelites and populated by persons of African ancestry--took form in the 1910s and 1920s, chiefly in New York and a few other major cities in the US. In the case of Beth B'Nai Abraham, the connection to Gumby was even more direct: as the newspaper clipping from 1924 that appears on p.  (above right) indicates, the congregation was located at 2144 Fifth Avenue. Gumby happened to be living in the same tenement at the time; a year later, he would open the Gumby Book Studio at the same address.