Benjamin Levaco was a Russian-born Jew
who moved to China with his family in 1915 at the age of four. He grew up in Harbin and
Tientsin, and after graduating high school began working for a sausage casing company in the
1930s. After World War II, he opened his own casing company with plants in Shanghai,
Hangchow, Tientsin and Peking. He fled China with his wife in 1950, immigrating to New York
City. He retired in the Los Angeles area, and traveled to China multiple times in the 1990s
before his passing in 1998. The collection contains items from Levaco's life in China, as
well as items related to his continued interest in the Old China Hands experience during his
Benjamin (Ben) Levaco was born to Michael and Rachel Levaco in Kainsk, Siberia in 1911. His
family moved to Harbin in 1915 to escape the rising Bolshevik forces in Russia, where his
father ran a variety of businesses. In 1918, the family moved again to Yokohama, Japan,
where Levaco attended Saint Joseph's College. The family lived in Japan until 1923, when the
Great Kanto Earthquake hit and destroyed most of the city of Yokohama. The Levaco's were
left without a home, business, or liquid assets as all records of their bank accounts were
lost to the destruction of the earthquake. The family then moved to Tientsin, China, where
Michael Levaco was able to establish a haberdashery. Benjamin attended the British Grammar
School in Tientsin, graduated in 1927, and found employment in an American firm dealing in
natural sausage casings, the Oppenheimer Casing Company.
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