Guide to the Ursula Meseritz Elgart Family Collection
1865-2013
(bulk 1920-1950)

AR 25544

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 August 2013. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Elgart, Ursula
Title: Ursula Meseritz Elgart Family Collection
Dates:1865-2013
Dates:1920-1950
Abstract: This collection reflects the experiences of Ursula Elgart née Meseritz (1919-2003) from her youth in Hamburg and Berlin through her immigration in 1938 until eventually settling in California. Personal papers and photographs of some of her family members are also included. Materials include photographs, photo albums, family trees, correspondence, vital records, materials from a Stolperstein ceremony for her parents, a diary, an address book, a datebook, and a cookbook.
Languages: The collection is in English and German with a few documents in Hebrew.
Quantity: 1 linear foot
Identification: AR 25544
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Biographical Note

Ursula Daniela Meseritz was born in 1919 in Hamburg, Germany as the second of two daughters of Fritz Meseritz (1876-1942) and Olga née Chanage (1890-1942). Ursula attended the girls’ school Ria Wirth in Hamburg and then took courses in home economics at the Taubstummen-Anstalt Berlin-Weissensee, an institution for deaf and deaf-mute Jewish children. She worked as a medical assistant for a few years before her immigration to the United States in 1938, where she settled in California. In 1940, she married Béla Grünwald (alternatively Albert Bloom, 1904-1941), the head waiter for a restaurant in Beverly Hills. The couple had one daughter, Belanie Josephine (later Lonnie), born in 1941 shortly after the unexpected death of Béla Grünwald in October of 1941. In 1950, Ursula married her second husband, Paul Joseph Elgart. She died in San Francisco in 2003.

Ursula’s older sister, Suse Mathilde Meseritz, was born in 1913. She married Hanns Schoeps in 1939 and the couple emigrated to Peru. They later moved to Lugano, Switzerland. Ursula’s parents Fritz and Olga Meseritz were both deported to the ghetto in Riga in December of 1941, where they perished. Moritz Meseritz, the father of Fritz Meseritz, was born in Prussia and served as a young man in a New York regiment in the United States Civil War before returning to Germany and running a manufacturing tools business in Hamburg.

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Scope and Content Note

This collection mainly documents the experiences of Ursula Elgart née Meseritz from her early life in Hamburg and Berlin (Germany) through her immigration to the United States in 1938 and later life in California. Some personal papers and photographs of her family members are also included.

The family trees in the collection reach as far back as 1508 and are handwritten in German or English. Two of the family trees are photocopies. The photo albums contain mainly informal photographs of family and friends taken during leisure time or vacations throughout Europe during the 1930s. Some also depict school classes.

The diary holds only five short entries across a span of several years (one each from 1939, 1943, and 1944, and two from December 1945). The datebook contains lists of activities for almost every day in 1938, although entries become less frequent during and after Ursula’s immigration. The address book holds both German and U.S. addresses and likely also stems from the late 1930s and early 1940s. The cookbook belonged to Suse Meseritz and contains about 120 pages of recipes for appetizers, meat dishes, and desserts. It is undated but likely also stems from the 1930s, considering that it is written in German with similar ink and handwriting as the diary and datebook.

Also included are letters from Ursula’s parents written in the two years before they were deported to the ghetto in Riga. Folder 11 holds letters from Irma Grünwald, Ursula’s mother-in-law who lived in Amsterdam in 1941, and other family members who lived in Bratislava. This correspondence includes telegrams regarding the birth of Ursula’s daughter Belanie in 1941, a few letters from the late 1940s, and letters sent from relatives in Israel, particularly from Irma Grünwald, between 1953 and 1962.

Ursula’s personal papers include her educational records starting from 1928, letters of recommendation from offices where she worked as a medical assistant from 1936-1938, the ketubah from her first marriage, her naturalization papers, a few tax records, and some correspondence regarding social security benefits after her second marriage. The personal papers of Béla Grünwald include tax records from 1940, insurance papers, mortgage papers, his death notices, and announcements for a benefit that was thrown shortly after his death to raise money for Ursula at which several celebrities appeared or performed. The personal papers of other family members include education records, a eulogy for Sophie Abraham-Vogel (a relative of Ursula’s grandmother Sara Vogel), and a copy of Moritz Meseritz’s discharge papers from the Union army after the end of the U.S. Civil War. Folder 16 holds speeches given at the 2010 ceremony for the laying of the Stolperstein in memory of Olga and Fritz Meseritz at their former home address, Jungfrauenthal 53 in Hamburg. These materials are accompanied by copies of vital records, correspondence, and clippings related to family members mentioned in the speeches.

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Arrangement

The collection is arranged by document type and then chronologically.

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

This collection is open to researchers.

Access Information

Readers may access the collection by visiting the Lillian Goldman Reading Room at the Center for Jewish History. We recommend reserving the collection in advance; please visit the LBI Online Catalog and click on the "Request" button.

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Access Points

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

Separated Material

A VHS of Ursula Elgart’s video testimony for the Survivors of the Shoah (Visual History Foundation) was removed to the LBI A/V Collection. A copy of “Öffne deine Hand für die Stummen” Die Geschichte der Israelitischen Taubstummen-Anstalt Berlin-Weissensee 1873 bis 1942 edited by Vera Bendt and Nicola Galliner was removed to the LBI Library. This book had been given to Ursula from her cousin Klaus Martin Kornik in 2002.

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Digitization Note

The collection was digitized in its entirety. Access to box 1 folders 13 and 15 is restricted due to privacy concerns. Researchers with questions regarding suppressed materials may contact the LBI Archivist at lbaeck@lbi.cjh.org.

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Ursula Meseritz Elgart Family Collection; AR 25544; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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Processing Information

Materials were rehoused into acid-free archival folders. Duplicates were removed. Most of the paper materials were donated in folders already labeled. In these cases, original order was retained. All loose photographs were placed in archival envelopes. Those that were found tucked inside a book were labeled accordingly. Negatives were found among the photographs in the photo albums and in the diary; these were removed from the other materials and placed in negative sleeves. The photo albums were interlaid with acid-free archival paper. In the case of one photo album that was deteriorating almost empty, the album itself was removed and the photographs and postcards contained within it were placed in an archival envelope which was labeled accordingly. The handwritten label on the album and the inscription were also written on the envelope holding the items the album contained. Empty envelopes from 1940 were removed as long as they contained no further information than what can be found on the letters and other representative envelopes kept in the collection. The Stolperstein ceremony speeches and related materials were removed from the plastic sleeves in which they were donated and placed in folder 16 in their original order. Flyers and brochures for Greyhound bus lines, Cunard White Star cruise ships including the Britannic, Radio City Music Hall in New York City, Hotel Dalton in Chicago, Colorado Springs, and the Grand Canyon were removed from the emigration materials in folder 14.

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Container List

 

Ursula Meseritz Elgart Family Collection, 1865-2013

BoxFolderTitleDate
1 1 Negatives circa 1930s, circa 1970s
1 2 Photo album - school classes 1920-1928
1 3 Photo album - family and leisure 1929-1939
1 4 Photo album - family and leisure 1911-1938
1 5 Photo albums (small) - family and leisure 1930s, 1937-1939
1 6 Loose photographs 1898-1944, circa 1950s-1999
1 7 Family trees 1885, 1962-1990, 2013
BoxFolderTitleDate
OS 158 Oversized family trees circa 1970s
BoxFolderTitleDate
1 8 Diary (1938-1945), address book (undated), and datebook (1938) 1938-1945
1 9 Cookbook circa 1930s
1 10 Correspondence from Olga and Fritz Meseritz 1940-1941
1 11 Correspondence from Irma Grünwald and other family 1941-1962
1 12 Correspondence to Ursula Meseritz 1996-2002
1 13 Personal papers - Ursula Meseritz Grünwald Elgart 1928-1951
1 14 Emigration papers - Ursula Meseritz Grünwald Elgart 1928-1951
1 15 Personal papers - Béla Grünwald 1940-1942
1 16 Personal papers - other family members 1865-1981
1 17 Stolperstein ceremony in Hamburg for Olga and Fritz Meseritz 1903-1945, 2010
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