Guide to the Carol Kahn Strauss Family Collection
1826-1999

AR 25211

Processed by Leanora Lange

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 744-6400

Fax: (212) 988-1305

Email: http://www.lbi.org/ask

URL: http://www.lbi.org

© 2013  Leo Baeck Institute
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Leanora Lange in April 2013. Description is in English.
March 25, 2015  dao links added by Emily Andresini.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Strauss, Carol Kahn
Title: Carol Kahn Strauss Family Collection
Dates:1826-1999
Abstract: This collection documents the history of the Kahn family from the 19th century to the end of the 20th century. The bulk of the materials relate to Alfred and Lotte Kahn, who fled Germany for New York City in 1939, where Alfred made a career as a lawyer and Lotte as a stockbroker. Paper materials include a family tree, vital records, correspondence, memoirs, education and emigration records, World War I military records, clippings, speeches, and ephemera. Papers showing the activities of the Kahn family in the Congregation Habonim in New York City are also included, as well as a large amount of family photographs ranging from the 1880s to 1969.
Languages: The collection is in English and German.
Quantity: 2 linear feet + 2 oversized folders
Identification: AR 25211
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
Return to the Top of Page

Biographical Note

The Kahn family can be traced back to the early 19th century in rural Westphalia. Alexander Kahn (1816-1909), a butcher, moved to Dortmund (Germany) in 1840, where he lived until his death at the age of 93. He married Berta née Zuckerberg (1827-1890), and they had eight children. Their son Abraham (1866-1919) was a businessman in Dortmund. In 1895, Abraham married Wilhelmine Strauss (1866-1956), and the couple had two sons, Walter (1896-1953) and Alfred (1899-1983).

Alfred Kahn entered Realgymnasium in Dortmund in 1910. Both he and his brother Walter served in the German army during World War I. After the end of the war, Alfred completed his final examinations at his Realgymnasium and found a job in an iron wholesale business. He left this job to study law at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, and eventually earned a law degree from the University of Erlangen in 1930. In 1921, Alfred got engaged to Rosa (alternatively Rosel) Baum, whom he had known since his high school years. Rosa contracted pneumonia and, after spending years in a sanatorium, died of the disease in 1931. Alfred’s nascent legal career was cut short after the Nazi party took power in 1933. In 1937, he married Lotte Landau (1912-2004). In December 1938, Alfred and Lotte immigrated via Holland to the United States and settled in New York City.

Alfred’s mother Wilhelmine Kahn and Lotte’s parents Moritz and Ida Landau were on a ship to the United States when Pearl Harbor was bombed and the U.S. entered the war. Their ship was rerouted to Cuba, where they lived for three years before joining Alfred and Lotte in New York.

Alfred’s brother Walter Kahn became a doctor, earning a degree in medicine from the University of Bonn. During World War I, he served as a military doctor, and after his emigration he set up a practice with offices in Chelmsford and Lowell, Massachusetts. He married Margaret (alternatively Grete) Kamp in 1922. They had one son, Ernst, in 1926.

Alfred and Lotte Kahn’s son Steve was born in 1940 and their daughter Carol in 1944. After initial struggles as new immigrants, the family’s economic condition improved when Alfred established a law practice specializing in restitution claims and Lotte made a name for herself as a stockbroker.

Their son Steve studied law at New York University and then pursued a career in advertising and publishing, focusing on teen popular culture during the 1960s and 1970s and then writing books on how to succeed in business in the 1980s. He married Evelyn Grunfeld, and they had a son, Andrew. Steve Kahn died of a heart attack in 1988.

Carol Kahn Strauss studied political science and international relations and took on positions in administration, including work as the Senior Editor at the Hudson Institute and as the book editor at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. She was elected the President of the Congregation Habonim in 1984 and continued in this role until 1992. She served the Leo Baeck Institute as the Executive Director from 1994 until 2012, when she became the International Director.

The Kahn family was very active in the Congregation Habonim, a Jewish synagogue founded in 1939 by immigrants who had fled Nazi persecution. Lotte and Alfred Kahn knew the founding rabbi Hugo Hahn from their childhood and young adult years in Dortmund, and they joined the newly-formed congregation shortly after their immigration to the United States. Both Steve and Carol were confirmed in this congregation, and Lotte and Carol served the congregation in many roles throughout their lives.

References

“Carol Kahn Strauss.” Leo Baeck Institute. Retrieved 10 April 2013 from http://www.lbi.org/about/staff-directory/carol-kahn-strauss

Return to the Top of Page

Scope and Content Note

This collection documents the history of the Kahn family from the late 19th century through the end of the 20th century, focusing mainly on the lives of Alfred and Lotte Kahn and their children Steve Kahn and Carol Kahn Strauss. The collection is divided into three series: family papers, materials related to the Congregation Habonim, and family photographs.

Materials in Series I: Family papers include a family tree, vital records, correspondence, military records from World War I, education and work records, emigration papers, clippings, speeches, notes, and ephemera. Also included are several short personal remembrances written by Alfred Kahn recalling World War I, vacations with his first fiancée in the 1920s, his time as a young lawyer in residence in the early 1930s, and his emigration with Lotte Kahn. A full memoir of about 100 pages is also included.

Series II: Congregation Habonim includes anniversary journals, programs for special events and High Holy Day services, bulletins and clippings, renovation plans, flyers for outings, and a membership directory. Papers created by Carol Kahn Strauss during her presidency include letters to the congregation, personal correspondence, a handbook for presidents of congregations, notes, agendas, minutes, and outreach letters. Also included are papers created by Lotte Kahn in her roles as chairperson for the 45th Anniversary Committee and of the Journal Committee.

Series III: Family photographs consists of photo albums and loose photographs depicting the Kahn and Landau families from around 1880 to 1969.

Return to the Top of Page

Arrangement

The collection is arranged alphabetically by folder title, most of which are taken directly from the labels on the folders in which the items were originally organized.

Return to the Top of Page

Access and Use

Access Restrictions

This collection is open to researchers.

Access Information

Collection is digitized. Follow the links in the Container List to access the digitized materials.

Return to the Top of Page

Access Points

Click on a subject to search that term in the Center's catalog. Return to the Top of Page

Separated Material

Alfred Kahn's World War I medals were given to the LBI Arts and Objects Collection, as well as an original silhouette cut by Lotte Kahn depicting a couple in a horse-drawn carriage.

A copy of Lotte Kahn’s book Women and Wall Street (1963) was separated to the LBI Library.

Copies of the following books by Steve Kahn were separated to the LBI Library:

The following three items were moved to the LBI A/V collection:

A Spanish-German dictionary from 1912 and a miniature copy of six Grimms' fairy tales were removed. Copies of the title pages and publication information for these items are included in the collection.

Return to the Top of Page

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Carol Kahn Strauss Family Collection; AR 25211; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

Return to the Top of Page

Processing Information

Duplicates were removed. Original folders were removed where necessary. A binder holding clippings about Lotte Kahn’s career was removed and the contents were kept (box 1, folder 21). Clippings that were too delicate to handle were copied onto acid-free paper, and the originals were removed. Empty envelopes were removed. Loose photographs were placed in archival envelopes. The pages of photo albums were lined with acid-free paper to protect the photographs they contain. Loose photographs were placed in archival photograph envelopes. About half of these loose photographs either fell out of the photo albums during processing or were found tucked into the back of the albums. In these cases, the loose photographs were placed into envelopes labeled according to the album from which they came. Loose photographs that were not associated with an album were placed into envelopes according to the family member and era which they depict.

Return to the Top of Page

Container List

Follow the links to access the digitized materials.

 

Series I: Family papers, 1826-1995

In German and English.
0.75 linear feet
Arrangement:

Materials are arranged alphabetically by the name of the individual to whom they pertain. Where more than one folder relate to a person, that person’s folders are arranged chronologically.

Scope and Content:

This series contains the papers of the Kahn family from around 1900 to around 2000. Materials include a family tree, vital records, personal and official correspondence, military records from World War I, education records, emigration papers, documents from the various careers of the Kahn family members, clippings, speeches, notes, and ephemera.

The family tree covers the Kahn family from 1816 through 1969. In the same folder with this family tree are other materials related to the Kahn family in general, including a poem written on the occasion of a family reunion in Palestine in the 1930s and the tile page and publication information from a miniature copy of the Grimm's fairy tales and a German-Spanish dictionary donated with the collection.

Only very limited materials from Kahn family members living in the 19th century are included, such as the Yahrzeit dates for Alexander Kahn and vital records for Abraham Kahn.

Far more extensive are the papers related to Alfred Kahn, which cover his entire life and include official papers as well as professional and personal items. Among these items are several short personal remembrances written by Alfred Kahn, in which he recalls his experience during World War I, vacations with his first fiancée Rosa Baum in the 1920s, his time as a young lawyer in residence in the early 1930s, and his emigration with Lotte Kahn. A full memoir of about 100 pages is also included, which Alfred Kahn wrote with the intention of publishing it in Dortmund, although it was never published. Correspondence between Alfred Kahn and various prospective publishers can be found in folder 13 alongside other correspondence with officials in Dortmund about a memorial ceremony for Kristallnacht held in 1979. The letters of congratulations for birthdays in folder 12 include one signed by Richard Nixon.

A great deal of this series is also devoted to Lotte Kahn, whose papers also cover the span of her life. Among the education and emigration records in folder 17 are a short memoir about her wedding and subsequent emigration from her point of view as well as notebooks with addresses and limited pieces of correspondence and ephemera. Folders 19-21 contain clippings, press releases, speeches, notes, and her stockbroker registration card, materials which demonstrate her active career as a stockbroker and the writer of Women and Wall Street. The contents of folder 21 were originally held in a binder that may have served as a portfolio or as a personal scrapbook of items on her career. Further items demonstrating her activities in the Congregation Habonim later in her life can be found in Series II.

Materials related to Steve Kahn and his wife Evelyn are more limited. The teen magazines in folder 24 cover American Bandstand and the Beatles and were written using materials gathered by Steve Kahn. Items in folder 25 cover more of Steve Kahn’s work in teen popular culture as well as clippings on his marriage to Evelyn, his career, and his death. An advertisement for artwork created by Evelyn is also included.

Items related to Walter Kahn include his copy of Jewish soldiers who served on the front during World War I, short memoirs of his imprisonment in Sachsenhausen and his brief time living in England, and death notices.

Wilhelmine Kahn’s papers include vital documents, emigration documents, and a short memoir.

The account book belonging to Moses Seligmann, a relative of the Kahn family, contains accounts from 1827 through 1861. There is also a letter attached to the front cover from 1826. All entries are handwritten in German, and the item is very delicate.

The oversized poster is in Dutch and calls for support for Jewish refugees.

BoxFolderTitleDate
11Kahn family tree (1816-1969), family reunion poem, and books undated, circa 1930s
BoxFolderTitleDate
OS 154Kahn family oversized materials: Alfred Kahn's university acceptance certificate and law degree; a poster 1919, 1930, circa 1945
BoxFolderTitleDate
12Kahn, Alexander and Kahn, Abraham 1909, 1938-1941
13Kahn, Alfred: Birthday cards and celebrations, personal correspondence 1899-1919, 1931-1937
14Kahn, Alfred: World War I military papers 1916-1936
15Kahn, Alfred: Education and work records 1917-1938
16Kahn, Alfred: Trips with Rosa Baum, Rosa Baum's confirmation lessons undated, 1924-1928
17Kahn, Alfred: Restitution claims for interruption of legal career and renewal of degree 1930-1959, 1980
18Kahn, Alfred: Jewish life in Dortmund 1935-1938
19Kahn, Alfred: Emigration, personal finances, and career in New York 1938-circa 1950s
110Kahn, Alfred: Personal remembrances circa 1960s
111Kahn, Alfred: Exhibition of artwork undated, 1968
112Kahn, Alfred: Letters of congratulations for birthdays 1969-1974
113Kahn, Alfred: Correspondence with publishers and officials of the city of Dortmund 1969-1979
114Kahn, Alfred: Memoir circa 1970
115Kahn, Alfred: Eulogies 1983
116Kahn, Alfred and Lotte: Vital records 1900, 1937-1974
117Kahn, Lotte: Education and emigration 1929-1945
118Kahn, Lotte: Letters to Gustav Loeffler in memory of the founding of the Verband der jüdischen Jugendvereine Deutschlands, with a letter from Lotte Kahn 1959
119Kahn, Lotte: Career as a stockbroker and writer of Women and Wall Street undated, 1960-1979
120Kahn, Lotte: Clippings covering her career and book Women and Wall Street 1961-1966
121Kahn, Lotte: Contents of binder covering career 1963-1964
122Kahn, Lotte: Membership in Leo Baeck Chapter/Unit 1983, 1993-1994
123Kahn, Lotte: New World Club trips 1990-1995
124Kahn, Steve: Teen magazines 1959, 1964
125Kahn, Steve and Evelyn: Careers and clippings 1953-1988
126Kahn, Walter after 1918-1953
127Kahn, Wilhelmine 1938-1956
128Landau, Moritz and Ida: Familien Stammbuch 1911-1920
129Landau, Moritz and Ida: Emigration and life the in U.S. 1943-1948
BoxFolderTitleDate
R 56Seligmann, Moses: Account book 1826-1861
BoxFolderTitleDate
130Strauss, Carol Kahn: Correspondence as Executive Director of Leo Baeck Institute 1994
Return to the Top of Page
 

Series II: Congregation Habonim, 1958-1999

In German and English.
0.25 linear feet.
Arrangement:

Materials are arranged chronologically.

Scope and Content:

This series includes papers related to the Congregation Habonim and the activities of the Kahn family within this congregation. Materials include anniversary journals for the congregation, programs for special events and High Holy Day services, bulletins and clippings, renovation plans, flyers for outings, a membership directory, and papers related directly to the work of Carol Kahn Strauss and her mother Lotte Kahn in the congregation. The papers of Carol Kahn Strauss created during her presidency include letters to the congregation, personal correspondence, a handbook for presidents of congregations, notes, agendas, minutes, speeches, and outreach letters. Also included are papers created by or related to Lotte Kahn, particularly from her work as chairperson of the 45th Anniversary Committee in 1984 and of the Journal Committee during the 1980s.

BoxFolderTitleDate
131High Holy Day services and special event programs 1958-1991
132Anniversary journals 1959-1984
133Renovations 1982
134Carol Kahn Strauss as President and other contributions 1983-circa 1997
135Activities of Lotte Kahn undated, 1984-1990
136Outings 1987-1994
137Bulletins and clippings (includes pieces written by Carol) undated, 1988-1997
138Membership directory 1999
Return to the Top of Page
 

Series III: Family photographs, circa 1800s-1969

In German and English.
1 linear foot.
Arrangement:

Photo albums are placed first and arranged chronologically. Loose photographs were placed in envelopes by the album in which they were found or else grouped by individual and time period. Folders with loose photographs are arranged chronologically.

Scope and Content:

This series consists of photo albums and loose photographs depicting the Kahn and Landau families from around 1880 to 1969. While a few formal portraits are included, most of the photographs depict casual family and leisure scenes.

The photo albums were labeled according to the main content of each. Although these labels often include only one or two names, the majority of the albums include photographs depicting many family members and friends beyond those named in the title. Many of these albums are fragile and some photographs are only loosely attached.

The loose photographs were either donated as loose photographs or found tucked in the back of the photo albums included in the series. If they were found in photo albums, they were kept together in envelopes and labeled according to the album in which they were found. The loose photographs that were not connected to any particular album were placed into envelopes according to the individual and time period depicted.

A digitized photograph of Abraham and Wilhelmine Kahn can be viewed online: Abraham and Wilhelmine Kahn.

BoxFolderTitleDate
21Photo album: Alfred Kahn, World War I and 1920s 1916-1926
22Photo album: Walter and Grete Kahn 1920s
23Photo album: Rosa Baum 1923-1931
24Photo album: Lotte Kahn née Landau 1926-1934
25Photo album: Ernst Kahn as a baby and child 1926-1936
26Photo album: Walter and Grete Kahn vacation photos 1928-1934
27Photo album: Walter, Grete, and Ernst Kahn vacation 1935
28Photo album: Alfred and Lotte 1935-1936
29Photo albums: Lotte Kahn vacation (1935), Lotte Kahn family (1940s) 1935-1940s
BoxFolderTitleDate
OS 154Photo album: Alfred, Lotte, Steve, and Carol Kahn 1945-1949
BoxFolderTitleDate
210Photo album: Walter and Grete Kahn: family and vacation photographs 1947-1949
211Loose photographs: Abraham and Wilhelmine Kahn, Albert and Walter Kahn, unidentified subjects circa 1880s-circa 1930s
212Loose photographs found in albums 1926-1949
213Loose photographs: Alfred and Lotte Kahn, Rosa Baum 1930s
214Loose photographs: Alfred and Lotte Kahn and family 1940-1969
Return to the Top of Page