Sunday’s Obituary: Sophie Broida of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Broida Family (Click for Family Tree)

We are not sure just who this Sophie (maiden name unknown) Broida is, nor her husband Max Broida. They are not known to any of the long-time Broida researchers, so if you have any clues, please let us know!

‘Broida’ is a fairly unique name in the United States- if you have it, you are most likely related. The Karklinsky family changed their name when they immigrated to the US, and the lines were very prolific so there are a lot of Broida descendants.

There are some folks who had the name Brode, Brodie, Broido, Broidy, etc., that have sometimes been confused with our Broida name. Not in this case, however, as we have found Sophie’s death certificate, which states her name exactly as in the obituary. It also indicates she was 65 years, 10 months, and 2 days old at her death on 17 February 1940, and she was born in Russia. The names of her parents were unknown but they too were born in Russia.

Sophie’s son Harry Broida of 2164 Dellwood, Jacksonville, FL was the informant on the death certificate. The death certificate also states that she was married to Max Broida- it does not list her as widowed. All this information correlates with the obituary.

Where to look next? A search on Find A Grave brought up a memorial for Sophie, and in the image a headstone for Max was slightly visible to the side. Checking for other Broidas in the cemetery, yes, there was a Max Broida, with his own memorial and stone next to Sophie’s. Sophie’s stone states “Beloved Wife and Mother” so we know she predeceased her husband and had children; the headstone for Max says “Beloved Father.” They were both buried in the Gates of Wisdom section of Shaare Torah Cemetery in Pittsburgh. (Click on the cemetery name in Find A Grave to learn about any old names for the cemetery, exactly where it is located, and contact information. That helped us to know that this was the correct Sophie and Max, even though initially the cemetery name seemed wrong.)

Next step? We now have the date of death- 24 Jan 1948- for this Max Broida, so back to looking for a Pennsylvania Death Certificate. now has the PA Death Certificates, and here is the pertinent information for Max:

Section of death certificate of Max broida, who died 24 Jan 1948 in Pittsburgh, PA. From, PA death Certificates 1906-1963.
Section of death certificate of Max Broida, who died 24 Jan 1948 in Pittsburgh, PA. From, PA Death Certificates 1906-1963. (Click to enlarge.)

Let’s see what we can learn from the death certificate:

Wife Sophie, and predeceased him?

Residence 36 Vine in Pittsburgh? 

Birthplace Russia? 

( Lithuania belonged to Russia at various times.)

Informant known to us to have knowledge of the family? 

(Yes, it was their son Jacob Broida, who lived in West Virginia, who we know from Sophie’s obituary.)

And the best thing about this death certificate? It names Max Broida’s father as Abraham. That is a big clue.

Another big clue? The birthplace of Lithuania for both mother and father of Max, and the fact that Max was born there as well- our Broidas came from Lithuania which was also called Russia on many of their documents. There was a famous Rabbi in Lithuania which may be why our ancestors took the Broida name, and this could have been the case with this family as well. Or they could be descendants of the Rabbi, or even related to our Broida lines.

So back to the Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project to find an obituary for this Max Broida:

Max broida obituary in American Jewish Outlook on 30 Jan 1948, page 13, column 1. With kind permission of the Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project.
Max Broida’s obituary in the American Jewish Outlook on 30 Jan 1948, page 13, column 1. With kind permission of the Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project.

Again, the obituary corroborates other information we have found, but disappointingly nothing new.

So where do we go from here?

A quick addition of these two persons to generates some of the famous shaking leaves. In addition to the information already found, there is a 1932 Pittsburgh City Directory entry for them. Maddeningly, it does not list the occupation of Max, but he may have been retired by then. It does list Sophie as his wife, and notes they live at 36 Vine.

The leaves aren’t leading to censuses, so an Ancestry search can help us there. A 1930 census for the family in Pittsburgh shows daughter Florence living with Max and Sophie, but also a 19 year-old son named Albert, who is a salesclerk in a grocery store; Florence is a salesclerk in a department store. Albert is not listed as surviving in either obituary, so he may have died in his 20s. Sophie and Max own their home at 36 Vine which was worth $3,000, and they even had a radio. BUT- they are listed with the last name of “Brodie”- very clearly written, and indexed that way too. Both Sophie and Max spoke Yiddish according to the census, so maybe the two names sounded the same to the census taker, or a neighbor gave the information incorrectly?

So let’s keep on searching- the 1920 census is next as we move back in time. Max and Sophie BRODY are listed in Pittsburgh Ward 3, living at 32 Townsend. Max is listed as a tinner for the electric company, and there are 5 children living with them: Gilbert, Minnie, Harry, Florence, and Abe. (Two- Gilbert and Minnie- that we did not know about. Again, maybe they died as young adults since they are not noted in the obituaries.) The three oldest were born in Russia, with Florence and Abe born in Pennsylvania. Apparently Max immigrated in 1904, and the family followed in 1907; they all became naturalized in 1915.

We can’t find the family in 1910, although they all would have been in the US by then if the 1920 and 1930 censuses are correct.

So where are we with this family? Are they some of the folks who shifted their name from census to census, sometimes using our family name of “Broida,” or sometimes a similar version? Using more census records, city directories, and newspapers would be another way to learn more about this family, and we could possibly even find immigration records.

Focusing on the father of Max would be important- was Abraham related to our Broidas? Did he ever come to the US himself? Maybe following up on the children of Sophie and Max Broida might give us more clues, and maybe cousins. And that is part of the reason this blog was begun: cousin-bait.  Hopefully some of these Broida (we-don’t-think-are-) cousins might find this and help us learn they really are related to us.

Or not– sometimes knowing who is NOT related is important in genealogy too.


Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Obituary of Sophie Broida who died 23 Februrary 1940 in Pittsburgh, PA used with the kind permission of the American Jewish Outlook, page 13, column 1. Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project,
  2. Thanks to Mitch and Ann, as usual, for their thoughts on this family.
  3. Intriguingly, there is a partial view of a stone next to that of Max on FAG that has the name of “Max B” showing, and the date of death starts with an “F” (for February?) Only Sophie and Max are noted as Broidas in the cemetery, but it would be interesting to see what the full name is on the adjacent headstone. (Research is like potato chips…)
  4. Find A Grave Memorials:
    Max Broida-
    Sophie (__) Broida-


Please contact us if you would like higher resolution images. Click to enlarge images.

We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.

Original content copyright 2013-2015 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted.
Descendants and researchers MAY download images and posts to share with their families, and use the information on their family trees or in family history books with a small number of reprints. Please make sure to credit and cite the information properly.
Please contact us if you have any questions about copyright of our blog material.